A first offense OWI is taken very seriously in Michigan. As the Department of State explains, even a first conviction can result in a mandatory six month suspension of a driver's license, although you can get a restricted license after 30 days.
With a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .17 or above, the mandatory minimum license suspension for a first offense is one year, with eligibility for a restricted license after a 45-day suspension. Court ordered rehab programs, between five days and a year of jail time, and a $125 license reinstatement fee can also occur after a first OWI and you may have to pay a $1,00 Driver Responsibility Fee for two consecutive years after a conviction.
You need to respond assertively when charged so you can try to avoid these serious consequences, or at least try to lessen the penalties that you face. There are certain steps you can take after a first offense OWI in order to help ensure you get the best outcome possible in a difficult situation.
Steps to Take After a First Offense OWI Arrest
After you have been arrested for operating while under the influence, you should:
- Contact an attorney. You want a legal advocate on your side to advise you during the rest of the process of responding to charges.
- Review the circumstances of your traffic stop and arrest. Were you in violation of any of the traffic laws, like speeding? What reason did the officer give you for pulling you over or for asking you to take field sobriety tests or a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test? If the officer had no justification for pulling you over or for testing you, it is possible the traffic stop was unconstitutional and the evidence could be kept out of court.
- Decide how you wish to plead. Your attorney will help you to make this decision. If you plead guilty, you face penalties and the record of your conviction but you won't have the uncertainty of a trial and you may be able to get the prosecutor to make you a favorable deal.
- Submit appropriate pre-trial motions. You may want to submit a motion to suppress evidence, which would mean prevent the evidence from being used by the prosecutor. You could get evidence suppressed when it was collected unlawfully. There are also other motions you could submit, like a motion to dismiss if there isn't enough evidence to move forward.
- Begin preparing your case. If you plead not guilty, you'll need to be able to present a defense in court. All you have to do in order to get an acquittal is to introduce reasonable doubt about guilt. Your attorney can help you to find expert witnesses.
You will then need to present your evidence in trial, and wait for the outcome of your case. Hopefully, your defense will be strong enough to avoid being found guilty and you can move on with your life.