November 12, 2018
As a criminal defense attorney, I get a lot of calls from people charged with driving under the influence every November. These calls usually come around the end of the month, right after Thanksgiving. People go home for the holidays and go out with friends the night before Thanksgiving. The night before Thanksgiving is known as one of the biggest bar nights of the year.
What is a DUI?
A DUI is a shorthand for driving under the influence. In Michigan, we do not actually call a drunk driving charge a DUI. It’s legally known as an OWI, the acronym for operating while intoxicated.
Operating while intoxicated means a person has a blood alcohol content of over .08 or is “under the influence” of alcohol. “Under the influence” means a person’s ability to drive is significantly affected by the consumption of alcohol. An OWI occurs where a person is either over .08 or under the influence. Technically, a jury does not have to agree on the theory of guilt for a person to convicted. The jury just needs to believe the person is one or the other.
Will an OWI Hurt My Driver’s License?
An OWI conviction will hurt your driver’s license at least somewhat. The type of OWI charge will determine the severity of the license sanction. For example, a standard OWI charge will result in a 30-day hard driver’s license suspension, followed by driving restrictions. A “lesser” offense of an OWI, called operating while visibly impaired (OWVI), has somewhat less severe driver’s license sanctions. An OWVI will not result in any suspension, but the license will be restricted for a while.
The most severe driver’s license sanction comes from a conviction for operating while intoxicated with a high BAC (.17 or over). A conviction for this offense results in a 45-day hard suspension, followed by one year of restrictions. In addition, the person will have to put a breath ignition interlock device into the car for that whole year. Most people would prefer to keep this out of their car.
It’s important for people to keep in mind these various driver’s license sanctions when considering the options for dealing with an OWI charge. Sometimes the prosecution will offer a plea bargain resolution that will help relieve a person from the driver’s license sanctions.
Drive safe this November! Best practice is to avoid getting in this situation in the first place. Plan to call a cab or designate a person to drive that evening.
Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a in Ann Arbor, MI. Sam can be reached at 734.883.9584 or by e-mail at [email protected] ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.
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