Legal Toolkit Michigan DUI, Traffic

What to Know About DUI, Traffic

What to Know About “Drunk” and “Drugged” Driving

If you or a loved one have been arrested or accused of a crime, it is imperative that you contact an experience criminal defense attorney immediately.  This holds true even in the context of Drunk Driving.  An experienced lawyer will be able to walk you through the process and inform you of any defenses that are available.  Also, many municipalities only preserve key evidence, such as police in-car video, for as little as thirty (30) days.  And in many circumstances, Secretary of State action and appeal is required within fourteen (14) days of one’s arrest.

The State of Michigan has three general tiers to drinking and driving.  The first, and most serious, is Operating a Motor Vehicle with a High Blood Alcohol Content.(0.17 BAC and above)  The second, and most common charge is Operating While Intoxicated, (the old DUI).  And, the third is Operating While Visibly Impaired, which carries the lowest penalty.  There are also separate charges possible if you are Under 21 Years of Age, and are operating a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content over a 0.02, Operating a Motor Vehicle While Impaired and have a Child Under 16 in the vehicle, or are operating a commercial motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content over 0.04.

The State of Michigan also has criminalized Operating a Vehicle While Impaired by the use of a Controlled Substance.  In some instances, if an illegal, (or legal substance) is found in your blood, you may be charged with a crime.  Michigan has a zero tolerance provision in the law, which simply means if you have a controlled substance in your system, and do not have the proper prescription, you are automatically presumed guilty of the offense.  However, in many cases, an individual may have a proper prescription, or Medical Marijuana Card, and in those instances the Prosecution must prove some kind of visible impairment.

If you are convicted of any of the above charges, the Michigan Secretary of State will take action against your driver’s license, and require you to pay for two (2) years a “driver responsibility fee” of either $500 or $1,000 a year.  As for possible penalties from the Court, each Court is different, and the range of sentences are too numerous to mention.  But, probation, alcohol/drug testing, substance abuse counseling, vehicle immobilization / forfeiture, and even jail time are all possible depending on one’s prior criminal record, and which Judge is presiding over the matter.

An experienced defense attorney recognizes the stress and anxiety associated with being charged with a crime. In the end, in many circumstances, even a “drunk driving” case can be won by the right attorney.  Every case is different, as is every Judge, and only the right attorney will be able to properly inform you of the proper course of action, and the likely outcome of your case.


The general term “traffic offense” can include anything from Driving While License Suspended, to a speeding ticket.  It is highly advisable that one not simply admit responsibility and pay the ticket, or appear in court unrepresented for a misdemeanor traffic offense.

In the context of the criminal traffic driving offense, generally, Driving While License Suspended, there are serious ramifications to not having an attorney represent you in the matter.  First, the charge is criminal, and some Judge’s place people in jail when they enter a guilty plea.  Second, the Michigan Secretary of State will assess a $500.00 Driver Responsibility Fee for two years, and most likely, will take action against your driving privileges.  Third, in many cases, an experienced attorney will be able to reach an agreement lessening the charges, saving you well over $1,000 in fines, costs and Driver Responsibility Fees.

Also, for simple “speeding tickets” and other “civil” infractions, a seasoned attorney may be able to keep the points associated with the ticket off of your record, and you won’t need to take time off from work to go to the court date.