Westland OWI Defense Lawyers

Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated with alcohol, illegal drugs or some prescription drugs in Michigan is a very serious charge, even at low blood alcohol content (BAC) levels and even for first-time offenders. Law enforcement officers are able to charge suspected offenders with operating while intoxicated (OWI) or operating while visibly impaired (OWVI), which gives the police license to arrest and charge you on the spot if they believe they recognize common signs of impairment just by sight.

In any traffic stop or arrest, you are not obligated to speak to the police, submit to field sobriety tests (i.e., one leg stand or walk a straight line), or take a preliminary breath test (PBT). Police officers often will tell you that you will automatically lose your license if you refuse to take these tests under the Michigan Implied Consent Law; however, that is not true. There is no penalty for refusing to submit to field sobriety tests and refusal of a PBT is only a civil infraction, bearing only a fine. The only test you are obligated to submit to is a chemical test, but only upon arrest for OWI, OWVI or other equivalent law. If you are arrested for an offense other than OWI or OWVI, the Implied Consent Law does not apply.

Should you be arrested for OWI, OWVI or an equivalent offense, and refuse to submit to the chemical test, you will be issued a temporary driving permit, but your license will automatically become suspended for one year, unless you timely apply for and successfully argue at an administrative hearing.

Aggressive Defense to Counter Tough Charges

At Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C., we fight for our clients' rights with every resource at our disposal. In protecting your driving privileges, our Westland OWI defense attorneys can build a stronger case if the breath test and chemical test are not administered, or are administered improperly. The police and prosecutors rely on this evidence for conviction, but these tests are not infallible.

A Summary of Michigan Drunk Driving Laws

Michigan law regarding drunk driving has changed drastically in the last decade. The legal limit has been lowered from .1 to .08. The legal limit for impaired driving used to be .08. Now impaired driving could be charged if a person has a blood alcohol level between .02 and .08.

The maximum jail sentence for a drunk driving or impaired driving misdemeanor conviction is 93 days and the fines are limited to between $100 and $500. Probation for up to one year and community service of up to 360 hours is standard for any conviction. Vehicle immobilization and actual forfeiture of the vehicle are also possible sanctions, and sometimes mandatory, depending upon the charge.

In light of the increased penalties and the fact that a conviction for drunk driving follows you around for life, it is more important than ever for a person facing such a charge to put the best defense forward as possible. A solid defense can most often save you in fines, costs and terms of sentence/probation. Proper challenges to the traffic stop or the testing procedures used by the arresting agency could result in the negotiation of a lesser charge, or possibly even dismissal of the charge, depending upon the circumstances of the case. Therefore, it is imperative that a person facing a drunk driving charge obtain professional assistance.

Other consequences and costs should also be considered such as court fees, license reinstatement, rehabilitation programs, increased insurance premiums, penalties for driving with a suspended or revoked license, possible work complications, and possible increased living expenses.

Felony OWI in Michigan

A person can be charged with felony drunk driving if he or she has been twice previously convicted of drunk driving, or impaired driving, or any combination of the two, during his or her lifetime. Previously, the law required three convictions within 10 years of each other in order to be charged with a felony. Upon conviction, there are driver responsibility fees ranging from $500 to $1,000 per year for two years that must be paid to the state, in addition to the regular fines, costs and fees.

Michigan's 'Super Drunk' Law

Since October 31, 2011, there is a "super drunk" driving law in Michigan, with greater penalties and costs. Under the latest version of the Michigan drunk driving laws, the legal limit remains at .08. However, now, under what is being referred to as the "super drunk" law, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .17 or greater could include increased penalties upon conviction, including imprisonment for up to 180 days and fines of not less than $200 or more than $700.

Assisting Clients With Driver's License Restoration

At Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C., we also help our clients with license restoration. Please see our attached article for more in-depth information on that issue. Also, be aware of the heightened penalties for anyone with a commercial driver's license (CDL). A conviction of drunk or drugged driving, even if not operating a commercial vehicle at the time, will still result in suspension of your commercial license, even if you are granted a restricted operator's license. Our lawyers will walk you through the process, help you prepare for the driver's license hearing and represent your best interests.

Michigan Anti-Drug Laws and Your Driver's License

Driver's license suspensions are required for drug convictions in Michigan. Regardless as to whether or not you were actually driving at the time of your arrest, your license will be suspended for six months following a drug conviction. If you have one or more drug convictions within seven years, your license will be suspended for one year.

Contact Our Westland and Livonia Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys

We pursue every opportunity to reduce penalties and maintain your driver's license. Should you lose your license as a result of a conviction, we also work with you to restore your license. Contact the Westland office of Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C., to schedule a free initial consultation. We offer evening and weekend appointments based on the needs of our clients. We accept all major credit cards as payment for services.