In Michigan, a first-offense OWI (operating while intoxicated) generally results in a fine and driver's license restrictions as well as jail time or community service. (Many people also use the term "driving under the influence" (DUI).)
This article covers the basics of Michigan's OWI laws and the penalties you'll face for a first OWI conviction.
Michigan has two general categories of intoxicated driving. A person can be convicted for operating a vehicle while:
To be convicted of an OWVI, on the other hand, the prosecution just needs to prove the driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle was visibly impaired (less than the ability of a normal careful driver)—not necessarily that the driver was materially impaired.
The consequences of an OWI are more severe than those for an OWVI. This article outlines the possible penalties for both offenses on a first conviction.
An OWI or OWVI is considered a first offense in Michigan if the driver has no prior convictions within the last seven years. In other words, priors that occurred more than seven years ago don't count.
Jail time. Generally, the judge can order up to 93 days in jail for both an OWI or OWVI. But for OWIs involving a BAC of .17% or greater, the maximum jail time is 180 days.
Community service. An OWI or OWVI conviction can also result in up to 360 hours of community service.
Fines. The fine is generally $100 to $500 for a first OWI conviction. If the driver had a BAC of .17% or greater, the fine will be $200 to $700. The fine for a first OWVI cannot exceed $300.
Vehicle loss. While not required for a first OWI or OWVI, the court is permitted to immobilize the vehicle owned by the convicted person for 180 days. An OWI or OWVI conviction can also result in complete vehicle forfeiture.
Passengers under 16. OWI and OWVI offenses involving passengers under 16 years of age carry enhanced penalties. The driver must pay a mandatory fine of $200 to $1,000 and serve either 30 to 90 days of community service or five days to one year in jail. Finally, the judge will order the driver's vehicle to be immobilized if not already forfeited.
A driver convicted of a first-time drunken driving offense can after five years petition the court to set aside the conviction, provided the driver has "availed himself or herself of rehabilitative or educational programming."
Intoxicated driving will also result in license-related penalties.
OWI. A person convicted of an OWI will suffer a 180-day license suspension. However, after 30 days of the suspension, the driver can apply for a restricted license. With a restricted license, the person can drive for limited purposes with the use of an ignition interlock device. But if the driver's BAC was .17% or greater, the suspension period will increase to one year and the driver can obtain a restricted license only after 45 days of suspension.
OWVI. An OWVI conviction does not usually result in actual suspension time. The driver's license will be officially suspended for 90 days—180 days if drugs were involved—but a restricted license is immediately available.
Passengers under 16. The suspension period will increase to 180 days if there was a passenger under 16 years of age in the vehicle. A restricted license is available after 90 days.