While among criminal offenses they are relatively common, no one in the Brighton area should take an OWI lightly. Even a first-time offense, the penalties for an OWI in Michigan are serious.
For example, a basic OWI, including allegations that a person drove over the .08 legal limit for blood alcohol content or with certain drugs in his system, can lead to up to about 3 months in jail and up to 360 hours of community service. A fine of between $100 and $500 is another possible penalty.
Additionally, a person will have to serve a license suspension of 30 days but may then qualify for some restrictions on her license that will last for 150 additional days.
She will also have points assessed on her driving record, which can lead to additional administrative penalties as well as negative consequences from her insurance company.
The lesser charge of Operating While Visibly Impaired carries with it similar penalties. However, if a person was impaired only on alcohol, he may be able to drive with restrictions that will last only 90 days. A person impaired on drugs will drive with restrictions for 180 days.
On the other hand, someone who admits to driving with a blood alcohol content of .17 may have to spend up to around 6 months in jail, pay a higher fine, and will receive a 1-year license suspension.
While the person may obtain a restricted license after 45 days, she will have to install ignition interlock devices at her expense.
Aggravating circumstances can lead to severe penalties
It is important to keep in mind that these penalties are people who have no history of drunk or drugged driving and in cases without aggravating circumstances.
A person who drives drunk or drugged and causes an injury accident or a fatal accident will face a felony and the potential for years in prison. He will also face a hefty fine and lose his license. This is true even if he has no prior record and had no intention of harming anybody.
People who have repeat offenses may also face stiffer penalties, including felony charges, lengthy license suspensions and mandatory jail sentences that cannot be suspended to probation.
The bottom line is that anyone charged with an OWI or a related offense should evaluate his legal options carefully.