Drunk Driving (OWI, DWI, DUI, DUIL, OUI, OUIL, UBAL, UBAC, Per se)
In Michigan, the main drunk driving charge is called OWI, which means, "Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated." It used to be called OUIL, and before that, it was called DUIL. In other states, and here in Michigan, too, the charge is often referred to as DUI or DWI. If you took a breath test, you may also have a ticket or other papers that say "per se" or UBAC, which means "Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content," but it is often referred to as UBAL, because when the charge was first created, it used to be called "Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level." UBAC is now one of the two ways a prosecutor can try to convict you of OWI. These name changes are an indication of what has happened to the drunk driving laws in the State of Michigan. Every few years, the legislature revises the drunk driving laws, trying to take away defenses. A few years ago, they lowered the breath test presumption for drunk driving down to .08 for an OWI conviction, and took away the lower limit for OWVI (Impaired Driving). A few years before that, they made it much more likely that a person with prior drinking and driving convictions will be charged with a felony. In 2007, they made it so being charged with a felony became even more likely. If you have been charged with OWI or any drinking and driving offense, either as a misdemeanor or as a felony, you need the services of an attorney who practices primarily in the areas of drunk driving defense, OWI
, and related topics, so you know you are getting up to date, specialized representation, from an attorney who will dig deep for your defenses and fight hard for your rights. There is still a Constitution!
Super Drunk (OWI with a High BAC)
In 2010, Michigan passed a new law, often called the Super Drunk Law, which increased the penalties for a conviction for drunk driving if the driver had a Bodily Alcohol Content of .17 or above. All of the defenses available for an OWI case are still available in these cases. Since the consequences are more severe, it is even more important to have an experienced drunk driving defense attorney on your side in a Super Drunk case.
Impaired Driving (OWVI, OWAI)
In Michigan, Impaired Driving or "Operating a Vehicle while Visibly Impaired due to the Consumption of Intoxicants" (OWVI) is a "lesser included offense" of drunk driving (OWI). Occasionally, a person may be charged with Impaired Driving from the start. People often assume that a plea to Impaired is the only option for a person charged with drunk driving, if they are even given that option. However, a plea to Impaired should be looked at as a last resort, after all other options have been fully explored. An experienced drunk driving defense lawyer can evaluate your case and determine what your options are. Only after a full analysis by an experienced drunk driving attorney should you even consider a plea to Impaired.
Operating while Intoxicated by a Controlled Substance (OWICS, OWIN, OUID)
Operating while Visibly Impaired by a Controlled Substance (OWVICS or OWVIN)
Operating with the Presence of Drugs (OWPD)
Driving while under the influence of drugs, even prescribed medications, carries the same types of penalties as drunk driving, and Impaired by drugs carries the same types of penalties as Impaired by alcohol. There are some differences, however. Blood or urine tests are used to try to convict you of such an offense. Different issues come up in such cases, and an experienced "OWI" attorney can find errors and inconsistencies in the procedures used to process your arrest, take your sample, and test it. Independent testing of samples is often advisable. It is technically a violation of law to simply operate a vehicle with the presence of certain drugs in your system, but never assume that they can make the charges hold up in court.
Zero Tolerance (Jr. UBAL)
If you are under 21, and you didn't blow high enough to be charged with Impaired or OWI, you will be charged with Zero Tolerance. A conviction for Zero Tolerance is not as bad as OWI or OWVI, but it still affects your driving record, and can count against you in the future. An experienced drunk driving defense attorney should be retained.
If a child under the age of sixteen was in your car when you were stopped for drunk driving, you can be charged with Child Endangerment. A Child Endangerment charge after a previous drinking and driving conviction will be charged as a felony. Retaining a lawyer who focuses on drunk driving cases is essential.
PBT Refusal (Preliminary Breath Test Refusal)
This charge is a Civil Infraction, so it is not as serious as a drunk driving charge, and it refers to the hand-held breath tester the police use on the road. Many people confuse the PBT with the breath test in the police station. In Michigan, you get charged with a violation of the law for not taking the PBT, and you do not get charged with a violation of law for not taking the test on the big machine in the station. Instead, not taking the test in the station leads to an administrative procedure called the Implied Consent Law.
Implied Consent Refusal Suspension Hearings
Driver License Appeal Division (DLAD, also called DAAD)
If you did not take a breath test on the machine in the police station (officially called the BAC Datamaster, not the Breathalyzer) (or at the Sheriff's Department or Michigan State Police post), or if you tried to take one and they say you didn't, you should have a form that says "Request for Hearing" at the bottom. That form is usually attached to the Michigan Temporary Driving Permit. If you did not receive such a form, you should contact a drunk driving defense attorney immediately. You must fill out the Request for Hearing and mail it to the address in Lansing printed on the form within fourteen days of the date of the incident. If you do not, you will lose your driver's license for at least one year. An experienced defense attorney will assist you in properly filling out that form. Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary for an attorney to draft a Request for Hearing from scratch, because the police fail to give the person the form. All four issues on the form should be examined by an attorney, to assist you in contesting the officer's allegation that you refused their test. There are operator refusals, machine refusals, and actual refusals. There are defenses that can be raised against all of them.
Driver's License Restoration Hearings
Driver License Appeal Division (DLAD, also called DAAD)
If you have lost your license for multiple drunk driving convictions, your license is probably "revoked." This is different from being suspended, which is usually just a matter of waiting out the time and then getting your license back. With a revocation, your license is considered terminated. Unless it is a very old revocation, you have to go to the Secretary of State Driver License Appeal Division (DLAD) (also called Driver Assessment and Appeal Division, or DAAD)
to try to get your license back. In almost all cases, you only get one try per year, so you'd better be well prepared for your hearing when you go to DLAD. An attorney who is well experienced in such hearings is crucial to your success. Don't go to DLAD unprepared!
License Restoration Appeals to Circuit Court
In very limited circumstances, a decision of the Driver License Appeal Division concerning an appeal of a revocation can be appealed to the Circuit Court. A first Implied Consent Refusal Suspension (in a seven year period) can be appealed to the Circuit Court on the basis of hardship for a restricted license.
If you are ultimately convicted of a drinking and driving offense, you will be standing in front of a judge for sentencing. This is an area that even some experienced drunk driving defense attorneys overlook, but it is critical to the ultimate result of the prosecution and its effects on you. An attorney who is fully dedicated to serving you will vigorously speak on your behalf at your sentencing, if your case comes to that. Knowing you, is a vital part of knowing how to present you to the judge at sentencing. Your attorney, taking the time to get to know you and your admirable qualities, is part of what makes a sentencing presentation effective. Your attorney, vigorously presenting the information to the judge, then gives you the best chance for a fair and lenient sentence.
Driving while License Suspended (DWLS)
Driving while License Revoked
Violation of Restricted License
If you have lost your license for some reason, and have been pulled over and charged with driving while suspended or revoked
, or for violating the terms of a restricted license, you still should seek the services of a knowledgeable attorney. As with any traffic crime, there are statutory and constitutional issues that need to be examined in these cases. Did the officer have a legal justification to stop you in the first place?
If you have been placed on probation, and now are being accused of violating your probation, you should have an experienced attorney representing you, to try to smooth out the situation, or, if appropriate, to vigorously defend against the allegation.
If you receive a traffic citation, you should have the services of an experienced traffic attorney to help you obtain the best result possible. Keeping points off your driving record is often an attainable goal.
This office handles certain other criminal matters.
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