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When is drunk driving a felony in Michigan?

Felony charges can expose a person to major punishments in the event that the charges result in a conviction. So, when a person has had felony charges brought against them, what ends up happening in their case can have some very big impacts. So, when facing any sort of felony charge, it can be important for a person to have the guidance of lawyer skilled at handling defense matters involving this serious class of charges.

When a person thinks of allegations that could expose someone to felony charges, drunk driving might not come directly to mind. It is true that standard OWI charges here in Michigan are non-felony charges. However, there are certain special circumstances that can push drunk driving up to a felony in the state.

One of the things that can expose a drunk driving suspect to felony charges is if they are accused of causing a crash that exposed others to great harm. The crimes of OWI resulting in serious injury to another and OWI resulting in the death of another are felony crimes here in Michigan.

Another thing that would generally lead to a person facing felony-level charges in relation to drunk driving is them having a certain type of past criminal record. Specifically, under state law, if a person facing an OWI charge has two or more prior OWIs on their record, it would be a felony conviction if they are convicted on the current charge. There is not a certain time window a past OWI needs to fall into to be counted for these purposes. A person’s lifetime record is looked at in determining if they have enough past convictions to bump an OWI up to a felony here in Michigan.

Skilled felony defense lawyers can help individuals facing felony-level drunk driving charges with understanding what implications the charges brought against them could have and what defense options they have.

Source: Michigan Secretary of State, “Substance Abuse and Driving,” Accessed Jan. 19, 2017

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