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What is “the legal limit” in Michigan?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Drivers in Michigan need to obey the legal limit when it comes to alcohol intoxication. Breaking this limit allows the authorities to presume impairment. They can measure a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) using methods like a breath test or a blood test to determine whether a motorist’s BAC exceeds the legal limit at any given time.

What exactly is the legal limit? Despite what some people assume, it is not the same for all drivers. It’s crucial for drivers to know which category they fit into and how BAC restrictions can impact their situation.

The primary limit

The legal limit for BAC for most drivers in Michigan is 0.08%. This means that if someone is operating a motor vehicle while their BAC level is at or above 0.08%, they can be arrested and charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI) in a per se capacity. This is the main limit that the majority of drivers are aware of, and it is used all across the country.

The limit for commercial drivers

Things are a little different for professional drivers. The legal limit for commercial drivers in Michigan is set at 0.04%, or half of the main limit discussed above. This limit applies to individuals who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and are operating commercial motor vehicles at the time of the traffic stop. These drivers are subject to stricter BAC limits compared to non-commercial drivers because they are responsible for the safe transport of goods and passengers.

The limit for underage drivers

The legal BAC limit for underage drivers – individuals under the age of 21 – is set at 0.02%. Like many other states, Michigan uses a much lower limit for these drivers, which means that any detectable amount of alcohol in the bloodstream could result in legal consequences for individuals who are not of legal drinking age. It is already illegal for these young people to consume alcohol, even when not driving, thus this strict BAC limit.

It’s important to understand that an impaired driving conviction, regardless of which per se limit was allegedly broken by a defendant, is a serious situation that should be avoided whenever possible. Seeking legal guidance can help those who have been accused of impaired driving to mount a strong defense to the charges they’re facing.