If you live in a college town or know a wide variety of people, it may feel like “everyone” gets caught drunk driving eventually. In that climate, a conviction for Operating While Intoxicated may not seem like a serious issue. However, there are several drunk driving consequences that you may not have considered that can significantly interfere with your day-to-day life.
1. Michigan Drunk Driving Laws Get More Serious Over Time
In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08%, (called Operating While Intoxicated or OWI) or to operate a vehicle while you are visibly impaired (OWVI). If you are a minor, under age 21, even trace amounts of alcohol in your system can result in misdemeanor OWI charges. This is similar to many states’ Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws.
The first time you receive an OWI conviction, you could face up to 93 days in jail and between $100 and $500 in fines (plus court costs). Once that first OWI is on your criminal record, however, those drunk driving consequences increase. A second OWI brings with it a minimum of 5 days in jail, and a sentence of up to 1 year. Fines also increase to $200 to $1,000.
A third or subsequent offense turns a misdemeanor into a felony. An OWI 3rd conviction comes with at least 30 days in jail, or up to 5 years in state prison. Fines increase again, ranging from $500 to $5,000.
2. Drunk Driving Consequences Could Cost You Your License
Many people don’t realize that OWI charges bring with them automatic drivers license consequences. The first time you are convicted of drunk driving, your license will be suspended for 180 days or more (depending on your BAC). For a second or subsequent conviction, that suspension increases to at least a year. Even if you avoid an OWI conviction, refusing a Breathalyzer test during a traffic stop can also result in an automatic one-year license suspension.
If your license is suspended, you will have to pay additional fees to the Secretary of State, complete a substance use evaluation, and attend a license restoration hearing. That means you will pay hundreds of dollars, or more, to restore your driving privileges.
3. Multiple OWIs Could Cause You to Lose Your Vehicle
If you share a vehicle with a spouse or family members, your OWI could seriously interfere with their lives as well. A second or subsequent OWI comes with mandatory vehicle immobilization. That means your car will not be able to be driven – by you, or anyone else – for one to three years after the date of your conviction. If the car you were driving belongs to someone else, that person may have to petition the court to have the immobilization removed so they can take the car back.
4. Drunk Driving Comes With Points That Could Push Insurance Costs Higher
Even once you are able to reinstate your drivers license, you could pay more in insurance premiums. That’s because an OWI conviction puts 6 points on your license. If you incur 12 points within 2 years, your license can be suspended again. However, in the meantime, those points will likely cause your mandatory auto insurance policy to cost far more than it otherwise would.
5. A Drunk Driving Conviction Could Keep You Out of Canada
Canada treats drunk driving even more seriously. Even a single OWI on your record could make it much more difficult for Michigan residents to drive to Windsor for a show or a weekend at the casino. Misdemeanor and felony DUIs and their equivalents may cause you to be “criminally inadmissible” to Canada. If your job or a vacation takes you across the border, you could find yourself turned away by Canadian immigration officers until you complete a lengthy criminal rehabilitation process.
A drunk driving conviction should never be treated as “no big deal” or an inevitable right of passage. The drunk driving consequences that come with an OWI conviction will affect your life, and your family. If you are facing drunk driving charges, contact an experienced drunk driving defense attorney who can evaluate your case and explain the consequences of a conviction.
The Cronin Law Firm has experienced attorneys to aid with whatever legal issue you’re facing. If you have been charged with operating while intoxicated yourself, contact The Cronin Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.