Michigan DUI & OWI Laws: Penalties & Fines

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Michigan law enforcement refers to most drunk driving offenses as OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) rather than DUI, although for all purposes, the terms are synonymous.

What are the penalties for a DUI/OWI in Michigan?

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense


Up to 93 days

5 days to 1 year

30 days to 1 year

Fines and Penalties

From $100 to

From $200 to $1,000

From $200 to $1,000

License Suspension

Up to 6 months

Min. 1 year

Min. 1 year

IID** Required




Lookback Period: 7 years (Period of time that prior OWIs are relevant for sentencing 

**Interlock Ignition Device

How much do you have to drink (BAC*) for a OWI in Michigan?

Under 21

.00% - zero tolerance

21 or older




*BAC = blood alcohol content

How many drinks does it take? Check the BAC chart.

What if you refuse to take a chemical test in Michigan?

Michigan has an implied consent law. That means that if you refuse to submit to a chemical test you will be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension. Learn more about Michigan’s implied consent law.


1st Offense

2d offense

3rd Offense

Refusal to take test

1 year license suspension

2 year license suspension

5 year license suspension

Disclaimer: We try to keep the information provided here up to date. However, laws often change, as do their interpretation and application. Different jurisdictions within a state may enforce the laws in different ways. For that reason, we recommended that you seek the advice of a local attorney familiar with OWI cases in your area

Drinking and Driving Laws in Michigan

The drunk driving law in the State of Michigan makes it illegal to drive with a .08 percentage blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or above. The .08 limit is the standard measure of the "impaired" driver across the United States. Michigan has lower BAC limits for drivers under the age of 21 and commercial drivers. In addition to Michigan's OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) law, Michigan has another law called the OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired ) law. This law means that because drugs or alcohol (or both) are in your body, that your ability to drive was visibly impaired. Operating a motor vehicle with any amount of a Schedule 1 drug (Cocaine, Barbiturates etc.) is illegal under Michigan's OWVI law.

How many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit in Michigan? This question is often asked by people who want to know how many drinks they can have before they are considered legally drunk. There are calculators and charts that will give you some idea of how close you are to reaching the legal limit, however these devices are reference tools, and should not be used to determine if you are sober enough to drive.

The best answer is not to drink and drive. The State of Michigan has strict laws for drunk driving, and when you drink and drive in Michigan, you risk your freedom, finances and your future.

Can you plead to a lesser offense than OWI in Michigan?

A defendant might receive a "wet reckless," or a conviction of reckless driving involving alcohol, as a result of a plea bargain in which a charge of drunk driving is reduced to a case of reckless driving. There is no statutory provision on whether a wet reckless plea bargain will be accepted in Michigan but it's possible a lawyer may be able to create a plea bargain for you.

To learn more see, Do I Really Need a DUI Attorney?

by: , Attorney

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