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What Not to do If You're Facing OWI Charges in Michigan

Glass of liquor with car keys next to a judge gavel.

Michigan's OWI laws are strict, with penalties that can have lasting effects on your personal and professional life. Whether it's your first encounter with the law or you have previous OWI charges, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. The key to effectively dealing with an OWI charge begins with knowledge. That includes knowledge of your rights, the legal process, and the potential consequences of your actions.

What are the consequences of OWI charges in Michigan?

Michigan law defines the legal limit for drivers as a BAC of 0.08% or higher. For commercial drivers, the limit is lower, at 0.04%, and for drivers under the age of 21, any BAC above 0.00% can lead to an OWI charge.

The penalties for an OWI conviction in Michigan vary based on your BAC level, prior convictions, and whether the incident resulted in injury or death. General consequences can include:

  • First offense: Penalties for a first-time OWI offense can include fines ranging from $100 to $700, up to 180 days in jail, community service, mandatory participation in an alcohol treatment program, and license sanctions for up to a year.
  • Second offense: A second OWI offense within seven years counts as a misdemeanor. This may result in higher fines, longer jail time (up to 1 year), license revocation, and vehicle immobilization.
  • Third and subsequent offenses: These are classified as felonies, with even more severe penalties. That includes longer jail or prison sentences, larger fines, and the possibility of vehicle forfeiture.

Actions to avoid if you're facing OWI charges

If you're fighting OWI charges in Michigan, the choices you make immediately after an arrest can affect the outcome of your case. Be aware of the common pitfalls that could potentially worsen your situation. Here's what not to do:

Speak to the police

If you're stopped and suspected of drunk driving, you may feel compelled to talk your way out of an arrest or OWI charge. However, what you say to police can be misconstrued as admitting guilt. It's best to remain silent and let an attorney speak on your behalf.

Refuse a chemical breath or blood test without understanding the consequences

Refusing a chemical test in Michigan due to implied consent laws can result in immediate one-year license suspension and other penalties, regardless of whether you were drinking. Penalties may increase with a second refusal within seven years of the first.

Talk about your case on social media

Anything you post on social media could be used against you in your case. Discussing your charges online can compromise your defense. Maintain privacy about your case details. The safest approach is to discuss your case only with your lawyer.

Assume you have to plead guilty

Pleading guilty without exploring all your options can result in unnecessary consequences. Even if the evidence isn't in your favor, there might be defenses available that could reduce the charge or even lead to a dismissal.

Miss court dates

Failing to appear in court can result in a warrant for your arrest and complicate your legal situation. Keep track of all court dates and ensure you attend every one. If you can't make it for a legitimate reason, inform your attorney immediately to seek a postponement.

Go through it alone

The legal system can be complex and intimidating. Trying to handle an OWI charge on your own can lead to missed opportunities for defense and negotiation. Hire a skilled Michigan OWI attorney at Manley & Manley. We understand Michigan's laws and will fight for the best possible outcome in your case. If you're facing OWI charges in Flint or anywhere else in Genesee County, contact us online to find out how we can help you.

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