DUI in Michigan – Driver’s License Penalties

As a Criminal Defense Lawyer who handles a substantial number of DUI Cases each year in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties, there are some questions that I am asked again and again. Chief among them are questions about what will happen to the Driver’s License. This article will focus on what happens to a person’s Driver’s License as a result of an OWI (Drunk Driving) conviction.

MI License.gifLet’s begin with the arrest part first. Under Michigan Law, when a Police Officer arrests someone for Drunk Driving, they must confiscate and destroy that person’s Driver’s License. In its place, the person will be given a Michigan Temporary Driving Permit, sometimes called a “paper license.” Because the person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, that paper license is every bit as good as the original which it replaces. In other words, a person still has the same license they did before the arrest, except that their picture ID has been replaced by the “paper license.”

If a person is subsequently convicted of a Drunk Driving offense (whether by a Plea, Plea-Bargain, or a Trial Verdict), the Michigan Secretary of State, and NOT the Court, imposes the License Penalties. These penalties are absolute; they cannot be modified in any way, under any circumstances. They are as follows:


1st Offense:

OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) – 6 month suspension of the Driver’s License, with no driving whatsoever for the first 30 days, and a Restricted License for the remaining 5 months. Restricted License allows driving to, from, and during the course of work, school, and to and from any necessary medical treatment, AA or support-group meetings, and to complete anything the Court ordered as a result of the conviction.

OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired)
– 90 day Restricted License.


2nd Offense (within 7 years of the 1st):

OWI and OWVI – Mandatory 1 year minimum License Revocation. This means no License, and NO POSSIBILITY for any kind of License, for at least 1 full year.

3rd Offense (within 10 years of the 1st):

OWI and OWVI – Mandatory 5 year minimum License Revocation. This means no License, and NO POSSIBILITY for any kind of License, for at least 5 full years.

These License Penalties kick in after the Court handling a Driver’s case sends Notice to the Secretary of State of the Conviction. The Secretary of State then sends a Notice of the Licensing Penalty (called an Order of Action) to the Driver. Usually, the Driver will receive the Notice several days before the License Penalties start.