If you are facing a Michigan DUI charge, the list of things that can happen to you certainly seems long and scary. In my role as a local, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County DUI lawyer, I have written extensively (this is my 300th DUI article) about how very few of them will ever happen. In a 1st offense drunk driving case, for example, and with only 1 possible exception out of the 115 district court Judges in the Metro-Detroit, Tri-County area, jail is simply NOT on the menu, meaning it’s just not going to happen. In this short article, I want to shift the focus away from fear-based marketing and scare tactics found in so many other places, and look, instead, at the 3 things that WILL happen in every drinking and driving case that goes through the court system.
First, there will be at least some restriction to your driver’s license. Even so, let’s start with the good news: if this is a 1st offense charge (that includes an OWI with BAC .17 or more, also known as “High BAC”), you will NOT lose the ability to drive. If, however, you are convicted a 2nd DUI charge within 7 years, or a 3rd within 10 years, your license will be revoked (meaning taken away for good, and not simply suspended for a time), unless you enter into a sobriety court program. The majority of DUI cases in the court system are 1st offenses, so if yours is one of them, this means that instead of worrying about losing your license, you should be looking at the restrictions likely to be placed upon it.
In a 1st offense case, what ultimately happens to your license depends on what your lawyer negotiates as part of a plea bargain, NOT on your initial charge. Thus, someone charged with OWI or High BAC should not worry about the license penalties that go along with the offense listed on their ticket or court notice, but instead on what sanctions follow the final deal ultimately worked out by their lawyer. Consider this: In a High BAC case, a person will be required to drive using an ignition interlock, and on a restricted license for 10 and 1/2 months after serving a 45-day “hard” suspension where he or she cannot drive at all. However, I am able to negotiate most of my client’s High BAC charges down to Impaired Driving (OWVI), and the license sanction for that is merely 90 days of a restricted license, allowing the person to drive to, from and during the course of work, for school, medical treatment and such. The real upshot of the 90-day restriction is that a person just cannot do any pleasure driving for 3 months. This is much better than the penalties he or she feared when originally charged with High BAC.