When police officers arrest someone because they suspect them of impaired driving, the person accused will risk multiple penalties imposed by the state of Michigan. An operating while intoxicated (OWI) offense can lead to jail time. Judges can order someone to pay a large fine. It is also standard practice to suspend someone’s driver’s license over an OWI offense.
Those who live in West Michigan are well aware of the limitations of local public transit systems. Losing one’s driver’s license will mean that there may not be any truly reliable transportation to get them everywhere they need to be, which could affect their family and/or their job stability.
Repeat and extreme offenses lead to longer suspensions
The judge sentencing someone has some discretion over the penalties they apply, but the consequences must align with state law. If someone has never had any major traffic violations before, an OWI arrest may be their first brush with the law. Although they expect leniency, the penalties they face could disrupt their lives significantly.
A first OWI in Michigan could mean that someone loses their license for up to 180 days. Those who make the same mistake more than once can expect a harsher punishment from the criminal courts. The Secretary of State can suspend someone’s driver’s license for up to a year for a second OWI within seven years. Someone with three OWIs could lose their license for five years or even longer.
A high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) could also increase the length of the suspension. A first-time OWI involving a BAC of 0.17% or higher could lead to the loss of someone’s license for a full year.
Licensing and insurance costs will go up too
Even after someone gets their license back, the costs related to their license suspension will continue. They will likely have to pay a driver responsibility fee to the state for multiple years and cover a substantially higher insurance premium after their OWI conviction.
The best option for most people who cannot give up their driver’s license because of their work or their family obligation is often to aggressively defend against a pending OWI charge in criminal court. Looking into different defense strategies with the assistance of a legal professional can potentially benefit those who are facing OWI charges in Michigan.