Michigan DUI Laws 2023 Guide – Forbes Advisor

Christy Bieber, J.D.
Christy Bieber, J.D.

Christy Bieber, J.D.

Christy Bieber is a personal finance and legal writer with more than a decade of experience. She earned her JD from UCLA School of Law and was an adjunct professor at the start of her career, teaching paralegal studies and related courses. In addition to writing for the web, she has also designed educational courses and written textbooks focused on a variety of legal subjects.


Adam Ramirez, J.D.
Adam Ramirez, J.D.

Adam Ramirez, J.D.

Adam Ramirez has been writing and editing about the law and legal issues for more than 20 years. After earning a law degree from the University of Arizona, he clerked for two years for a U.S. District Court judge. He researched and wrote legal precedent in published opinions on behalf of the Court. He previously was an editor, columnist and journalist at the Miami Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The Oregonian, Golf Digest, FindLaw.com and other media outlets.

Published: Aug 15, 2023, 3:41am

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Michigan DUI laws prohibit operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI)or operating a vehicle while visibly impaired (OWVI). If you are charged with OWI or OWVI, your right to drive could be at risk. Repeat offenders may also face jail time, as could first-time offenders with aggravating circumstances.

This guide explains Michigan DUI laws and helps you to understand what could happen after an arrest.

DUI Michigan Laws: The Basics

Michigan DUI laws prohibit operating while intoxicated. OWI is defined to include driving in any place open to the public or accessible to motor vehicles under the following circumstances:

  • While under the influence of alcoholic liquor, controlled substances, any other intoxicating substance, or any combination of these substances
  • With a BAC of at least .08% or higher
  • With a BAC of 0.17% or higher

There is also a law in Michigan that prohibits Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI). This is a less serious offense that you can be charged with if you appear to be impaired because of alcohol or drugs.

What Happens When You Are Arrested for a Michigan DUI?

When you are arrested on suspicion of OWI or OWVI in Michigan, you must submit to a BAC test or you will face the automatic suspension of your driver’s license. This is a one-year suspension, which goes into effect 14 days from the time of your arrest. You do have the option to try to appeal this suspension.

You can also be prosecuted for OWI or OWVI. If a prosecutor brings charges against you, you will face criminal penalties only if you are convicted. Conviction happens when the prosecutor demonstrates your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. You have the right to raise defenses.

You can also argue that evidence was collected unlawfully in violation of your rights. If you successfully make this argument, the evidence may be suppressed so a prosecutor will be unable to present it in court to help demonstrate your guilt.

Penalties for an Michigan DUI

The penalties for OWI or OWVI vary depending on whether you are a first-time offender or a repeat offender. The table below shows some potential consequences you could face under Michigan DUI laws. Remember, these penalties will apply only if you are convicted of this crime after a prosecutor proves the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

In addition to these penalties, you can also expect to have your license suspended for both OWI and OWVI. For a first offense for OWI, your license is suspended for 180 days or a year if your BAC was .17% or higher. However a restricted license may be available after a 30 day waiting period or after a 45 day period with a BAC of .17% or above.

Can You Get DUI Charges Dropped in Michigan?

Getting DUI charges dropped isn’t a likely outcome in a Michigan drunk driving case. However, as mentioned above, there are times when you may be able to get evidence suppressed if it was collected unlawfully. If there is not enough evidence to create probable cause and proceed to trial, then the DUI charges might be dropped.

There are also other potential ways you could avoid a criminal conviction for OWI or OWVI in certain circumstances, such as negotiating a plea agreement to reduce the charges against you or entering into a pretrial diversion program. It’s less likely these options would be available to you if you are a repeat offender, though, or if you had a high BAC.

Going to trial may be frightening, but remember that this does not always mean you will be convicted. A prosecutor still has the burden of proof and must show your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or you will be acquitted of the charges.

Get Help from a Michigan DUI Lawyer

A Michigan DUI lawyer can help you to fight charges against you or can help you to determine the best course of action, such as negotiating a plea agreement. Contact a Michigan DUI lawyer as soon as you have been arrested for OWI or OWVI to try to reduce the serious consequences that can result under Michigan DUI laws.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What happens when you get your first DUI in Michigan?

A first DUI in Michigan could potentially result in jail time, a fine, required community service, suspension of your license and seizure of your vehicle. Michigan DUI laws are very strict and it is important to work with an attorney to understand your options for responding to charges including negotiating a plea agreement, entering into a diversion program or defending yourself in court.

How likely is jail time for a first DUI in Michigan?

Jail time is possible after a first DUI in Michigan. In fact, you could face up to 93 days of incarceration or up to 180 days if your BAC was .17% or higher. This does not mean you will always go to jail, but a court could sentence you to a period of incarceration. You should work with a DUI defense lawyer to help you explore all the options available that could reduce the chances you will be incarcerated.

Is a first DUI in Michigan a felony?

A first DUI in Michigan is not typically a felony offense, but the penalties for it are still serious. These penalties can include a permanent criminal record on top of your vehicle potentially being immobilized and your license being suspended. If there are aggravating factors, such as causing an accident while impaired that results in injuries, felony charges could be a possible result.

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Christy Bieber is a personal finance and legal writer with more than a decade of experience. She earned her JD from UCLA School of Law and was an adjunct professor at the start of her career, teaching paralegal studies and related courses. In addition to writing for the web, she has also designed educational courses and written textbooks focused on a variety of legal subjects.

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