FAQs

DUI/ Drunk Driving

Can I refuse to submit to the roadside preliminary breath test (PBT)?

Yes. In the State of Michigan, if you have been stopped by a law enforcement officer for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you may refuse the roadside preliminary breath test (PBT); however, be advised that doing so as a commercial driver carries stiffer penalties.

If you refuse to take the PBT, you will be charged with a civil infraction and fined up to $150 plus court costs. Refusing to take the PBT does not result in any points on your driver’s license; however, a person under age 21 who refuses to take the PBT will receive two points on their driver record.

If you are arrested, even if you take the PBT, you are still required to take the evidentiary chemical test (blood, breath, or urine test) at the police station.  Generally, if you suspect that you may be over the legal limit, decline to take the PBT.

 

If I get pulled over and asked to participate in the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, do I have to?

No.  Your participation in any field sobriety tests requested by the Officer is optional, and if you believe you may have difficulty, you should decline.

How much is too much to drink?

While it varies significantly per the individual, 2 to 3 drinks per hour (for the first hour only) is about the limit.  However, caution, if the consumption of alcohol adversely affects one’s operation of a vehicle, it is illegal.

What is the Michigan Implied Consent Law?

If you are arrested (under Section 625) for drunk driving, you will be required to take a chemical test to determine your bodily alcohol content (BAC). Under Michigan's Implied Consent Law, all drivers are considered to have given their implied consent to this test, if properly arrested and read the chemical test rights. 

If you refuse to take the BAC test, six points will be added to your driver record and your license will be suspended for one year. Please be aware that suspension of a license is highly likely for any refusal to submit to the test.  Importantly, you have 14 days within which to request a hearing.

This is a separate administrative consequence from any subsequent convictions resulting from the traffic stop. If you are arrested a second time within seven (7) years and again unreasonably refuse the test, six points will be added to your driver record and your license will be suspended for two (2) years. If you refuse to take the test under the Implied Consent Law or if the test shows your BAC is 0.08 or more, the officer will destroy your driver's license, and you will be issued paper permit (called a 625g permit), which allows you to drive until your case is resolved in court. There are no hardship appeals for a restricted license the second time one has an implied consent violation.

How long will a OWI conviction stay on my record?

All alcohol and drugged driving offenses are classified as traffic offenses and are non-expungable.  Consequently, any OWI conviction will remain on your criminal record indefinitely.  However, the points fall off in two (2) years.  

Can an OWI conviction be expunged from my record?

No. In the State of Michigan, the statute governing expungement specifically precludes any traffic related offenses, including drunk driving.

What are the penalties for a drunk driving conviction in Michigan?

The penalties for a drunk driving conviction in the State of Michigan are severe.  Depending on the type of offense and the circumstances of the case, you may be facing any or all of the following: jail time, mandatory loss of driving privileges, large fines, community service, vehicle immobilization or forfeiture, and/or sobriety court.

Do I need a lawyer for an OWI/DUI offense?

If you’re facing a DUI or OWI charge, the likelihood of a better outcome is increased when you have legal representation. An attorney will review all evidence against you, and will look for errors in facts and/or law enforcement procedure, testing, and other parts of your case that will make it possible to defend you aggressively by putting the State’s case at risk.

Because drunk driving in the State of Michigan is punishable by jail time, it is unlikely that a judge will allow you to represent yourself in any pending OWI case.

 

What is the Legal Limit in Michigan?

The legal limit of blood alcohol content in Michigan is up to .08 BAC.  If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .17 or higher, it may result in the charge of High BAC, which has more severe penalties.  See OWI Penalty Chart.

 

These are status offenses, which means that if there is a legal stop or contact, the State doesn’t have to prove that the alcohol effected your ability to operate a vehicle.  

 

How is it against the law if alcohol affects my driving?

If the authorities can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that by consuming alcohol (or drugs) that your ability to operate the vehicle is substantially and materially effected to the point where you cannot operate the same as a normal person…they can gain a conviction to Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).  

 

The lesser-included offense of Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) occurs when the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your ability to operate the vehicle is lessened to the point of not operating the same as an ordinary, careful driver…and someone looking at them could tell that they had been drinking.