Is a DUI a Felony?
Road traffic accidents lead to injury, impairment, and death. Road traffic injuries are a primary cause of death among young people. In the United States, drunk drivers are responsible for the death of 32 people daily and 30% of fatal car crashes. As a result, drunk driving laws have been implemented to protect road users and punish those guilty of DUI charges.
Drunk driving is a severe offense in Michigan. You face potential jail time and a substantial fine if you are convicted of a DUI crime. The severity of the penalty often depends on whether the offense is classified as a misdemeanor DUI or felony offense. A felony DUI conviction attracts harsher punishment than a misdemeanor.
Your first task following an arrest for drunk driving should be to speak with a criminal defense attorney. You may face charges for a felony DUI offense, mainly if your criminal record shows you have previous DUI convictions. Our legal team at Blank Law, PC is available to assist you with fighting DUI charges and other related offenses. We will create an aggressive defense to help you secure the best outcome in your case. Reach out to us to schedule a Michigan criminal defense attorney free consultation today.
Is a DUI a Felony?
Drunk driving is also referred to as “driving under the influence” (DUI) or “driving while intoxicated” (DWI). Both terms cover instances involving alcohol or drug consumption, including drugs prescribed by a doctor. In some cases, they refer to the same offense and can be used interchangeably. However, in some states, they also constitute separate offenses.
In Michigan, criminal prosecutors may charge an offender under one of three DUI crimes:
- Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI)
- Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content/Level (UBAC/UBAL)
- Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)
An OWI charge is the most common of the three. Under Michigan law, it is a crime to operate a vehicle:
● With any amount of a controlled substance in your body
● With a blood alcohol content of at least 0.08% (the legal limit)
● While under the influence of intoxicating liquor
● While under the influence of an intoxicating or controlled substance
A person may face a DUI charge in Michigan even if they were not driving the vehicle. They can be arrested for operating a car while intoxicated, including sitting or sleeping in a stationary vehicle.
An OWVI charge is a lesser offense for offenders who appear to be visibly intoxicated while driving. The basis of being charged with an OWVI offense is that you appeared impaired to an ordinary person. Therefore, you may be charged with an OWVI offense if someone claims that they saw you:
- Driving against traffic
- Failing to stop for stop signs or red lights
- Failing to drive in one lane
- Driving too slow or too fast
- Swerving over the centerline on the highway
You may also be charged with unlawful bodily alcohol content/level if you have a blood alcohol concentration of over 0.08%. Unlike OWI and OWVI offenses determined by observation, UBAC/UBAL is determined by a breathalyzer test.
Suppose a police officer suspects you of driving under the influence. In that case, you could be subjected to field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. Under Michigan’s law, it is implied that every driver with a license consents to be subjected to these tests at any time. So, it would be best if you do not refuse to take the test as it could pose more problems for you.
You will be charged with a misdemeanor offense if you are arrested for driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% in Michigan. However, you would face felony charges if arrested for a third DUI crime. Therefore, a first and second DUI offense are misdemeanors, while the law considers a third DUI a felony offense.
In addition, you may face a DUI felony charge if you caused death or serious bodily injury to another person when driving or operating a vehicle under the influence. Bodily harm in this context does not cover single bruises or cuts, but it includes injuries like a bone fracture and the loss of an organ.
You must obtain legal representation if you have been involved in a traffic accident while operating a vehicle under the influence. Contact a DUI defense lawyer to understand your legal rights and available defenses in a drunk driving case. Our legal team at Blank Law, PC is ready to fight for you to defeat a driving under the influence charge.
What are the Criminal Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Michigan?
Michigan takes driving under the influence cases seriously, and its laws prescribe severe legal consequences for convicted DUI offenders. Generally, driving under the influence offenses are charged as misdemeanors, with subsequent offenses or more severe cases involving death or serious bodily harm being charged as felonies. You could also be convicted of a felony DUI offense if there are prior DUI convictions on your record. A DUI offender can be given a jail sentence, regardless of a felony DUI, misdemeanor conviction, or even a first-time offense.
In Michigan, a first-time offender facing a DUI conviction amounting to an OWI offense is punishable by a maximum of a 93-day jail time, a $500 fine, and additional costs, or community service for up to 45 days. The punishment also includes possible vehicle immobilization and an ignition interlock device. A second DUI amounting to an OWI offense is punishable by a maximum jail time of one year, a $1,000 fine, 90 days of community service, compulsory vehicle immobilization, and possible ignition interlock device during probation.
A first-time OWVI conviction is punishable by a maximum 93-day jail sentence, a $300 fine, 45 days of community service, and possible vehicle immobilization. A second-time offender is punished with a maximum jail time of one year, a $1,000 fine, 90 days of community service, and compulsory vehicle immobilization.
A person convicted of a UBAC/UBAL offense for the first time will be punished with a maximum $500 fine, 45 days of community service, and 93-day jail time. A second offense is punishable by a maximum jail time of one year, a $1,000 fine, and 45 days of community service.
The law considers a third DUI a felony, regardless of if it is an OWI or OWVI offense. In Michigan, a felony conviction for a drunk driving offense is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of five years, a fine of up to $5,000, and probation for up to one year. Other penalties include mandatory vehicle immobilization and community service for 60 to 180 days.
An OWI offense causing the death of another person is also a felony DUI. It attracts 15 years of jail time, a maximum $10,000 fine, and compulsory vehicle immobilization. In addition, an OWI offense that causes serious bodily harm is a felony DUI, punishable by 5 years of jail time, a maximum $5,000 fine, and compulsory vehicle immobilization.
You need to obtain excellent legal counsel whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI offense. The penalties of a DUI crime can affect your life permanently, so you must act promptly by hiring a criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Nicole Blank Becker is a top Michigan defense lawyer with a proven record of excellent legal representation in driving under the influence cases. She is ready to help you ward off a DUI conviction.
What are the Other Consequences of a Michigan Felony DUI Charge?
The punishment for DUI felony charges in Michigan is severe and long-lasting. In addition to a prison sentence and paying a fine, there are other harsh consequences attached to a felony. For example, you lose some of your legal rights once you are convicted of a felony. You cannot vote while you are serving your prison sentence in Michigan. When you are out of prison, you regain your right to vote.
However, you cannot serve as a juror in a lawsuit. You are also prohibited from joining the military, possessing or carrying a firearm, or obtaining a liquor or casino license. You may also lose your job or find it more challenging to find employment because of a felony conviction on your record.
In addition, if you hold a professional license as a teacher, lawyer, or doctor, your license may be revoked, and you would be prevented from practicing your profession. Also, you may be subjected to deportation proceedings if you are an immigrant in the United States.
Will I Lose My Driver’s License if I am Convicted of a DUI Crime in Michigan?
A conviction for a DUI criminal offense will affect your driving privileges. Your driver’s license may be suspended or restricted. Your license could also be revoked as a result. In addition, you may find it difficult to register your vehicle subsequently.
If your license has been revoked, you need to attend a hearing before the Secretary of State before you can enjoy your driving privileges again. Suppose the hearing is successful, and your driving privileges are restored; in that case, there is a high chance that you will be mandated to use an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. Maintaining such a device is expensive, as it attracts monthly fees. Also, the ignition interlock breaks down frequently, thus increasing your expense and probably resulting in additional legal hearings.
On top of all that, a DUI conviction can result in more points being added to the offender’s driving license. The courts may also impose mandatory vehicle immobilization and confiscate the driver’s license plate.
What are the Potential Defenses for a DUI Charge in Michigan?
You should know that you are facing a grave offense if you have been arrested and charged with a DUI criminal offense. Although it seems overwhelming or nearly impossible, DUI cases can be defended. With the help of a competent DUI attorney, you can identify the peculiarities of your drunk driving case and develop the most effective DUI defenses.
One of the most common DUI defenses is inaccurate testing. This defense covers field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. They may be inaccurate if there is a variance in body temperature while testing or if a faulty instrument is used. Your attorney can consult a forensic toxicology expert to determine the tests’ accuracy.
Another common defense is the illegal stop of a vehicle. Law enforcement officers are authorized to stop a vehicle only if they reasonably suspect or know that a traffic law or any other law has been violated. Also, a driver cannot be arrested unless a violation has happened. Your attorney may file a motion to suppress evidence if you were stopped illegally.
Also, if there is no evidence that you were driving the car or in physical control of the vehicle, it could serve as a valid defense in a DUI case. However, proving this defense can be a little tricky. Ensure you speak with your attorney to determine the best defense in your unique case.
Speak With a DUI Lawyer in Michigan: Contact Attorney Nicole Blank Becker Today
DUI cases are more complex than many people think. Navigating the Michigan criminal justice system is tricky and challenging for people who do not understand its workings. The criminal penalties attached to a driving under the influence crime in Michigan are harsh and long-lasting, so you must start working on a solid defense early.
Beating misdemeanor offenses require the aid of a skilled defense attorney, so you should not treat the charges against you with levity. Being charged with a felony DUI can adversely affect your life permanently. Therefore, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible, no matter if it is a first, second, or third offense.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker is ready to work for you to defeat the DUI charges against you or your loved ones. She will investigate and search for evidence of an inappropriate stop, mishandled evidence, and improperly-administered breathalyzers or field sobriety tests. She will help you create an aggressive defense against false or unfair allegations. Call (248) 515-6583 or submit an online form to schedule a free case evaluation with our legal team at Blank Law, PC.