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DUI Defense Lawyers Weise Law

Serving all of West Michigan including Ottawa, Muskegon, Allegan, Kent, and Van Buren County

Ofrecemos interprete calificado en el sistema judicial, para servir a nuestros clientes.

Our Zeeland, Michigan criminal defense attorneys with over 30 years of combined experience in the criminal justice system are ready to defend you if you have been charged with any of these crimes and others:

A DWI is a charge that can have a life long impact, and the criminal justice system can be intimidating. Accepting your DUI charge will most likely result in steep fines, higher insurance rates, driving classes, and community service. Our highly rated DUI attorneys have handled hundreds of drunk driving cases and will fight your charges and quickly get your back life to normal. A person arrested for drunk driving in Michigan faces jail time, license suspension, vehicle immobilization, driver responsibility fines, and numerous points on their license. Any of these things could jeopardize your future and impact your career.

DUI Defense Information Center - The Ultimate Resource Center for Anyone Charged with a DUI in Michigan

In Michigan, being charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) is a very serious offense. A conviction for either of these charges can leave you facing jail time, community service, vehicle immobilization or forfeiture, and driver’s license suspension. You might also have to pay fines and undergo alcohol treatment. On top of it all, you could ruin your reputation and lose your career.

Although DUI and DWI are common terms that are used throughout the United States, their definitions are so broad that the state of Michigan prefers to use other more specific acronyms when charging someone with impaired driving. Some of the most common driving-related charges are:

  • OWI, which means operating while intoxicated.
  • OUIL, which means operating under the influence of liquor.
  • OWVI, which means operating while visibly impaired.
  • UBAL or UBAC, which means unlawful bodily alcohol level/content.

No matter what charges you’re facing, the legal experts at Weise Law are here to help you understand exactly what you’re up against and what to do next. First, let’s take a look at each of these acronyms so you’ll understand exactly what your charges mean and what will happen if you’re convicted. Then, keep reading for answers to the top questions our clients ask us when they’re searching for DUI information.

What happens if I’ve been charged with a DUI or DWI in Michigan?

If you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWI, it means that you were operating a motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or more. In Michigan, 0.08% is the legal limit. Any BAC above the limit will result in charges. 

However, DUI and DWI are both broad terms that are used throughout the United States. In Michigan, more specific charges are usually used. For example, you’re not likely to be charged with a DUI. Instead, you would probably be charged with an OWI.

Still, DUIs and DWIs do happen. If this is your first time to receive a DUI or DWI charge and you’re found guilty, you face

  • up to 93 days in jail, 
  • fines of $100-$500, 
  • 360 hours (45 days) of community service,  
  • driver’s license suspension of 30 days followed by 150 days of restricted driving privileges,
  • possible vehicle immobilization, and 
  • possible ignition interlock device during probation.

Your second offense could leave you with 

  • five days to one year in jail, 
  • fines of $200-$1,000, 
  • 30-90 days of community service,
  • possible ignition interlock device during probation, and 
  • mandatory vehicle immobilization.  

A third DUI or DWI offense could result in

  • one to five years in prison,
  • 30 days to one year of probation after your time in prison,
  • possible ignition interlock divide during probation,
  • $500-$5,000 in fines,
  • 60-180 days of community service, and
  • mandatory vehicle immobilization.

However, if your BAC was above 0.17%, you face charges and punishments for Super Drunk driving. In Michigan, the punishments are severe for those who drove with a high BAC. Even if this is your first offense, you could face

  • up to 6 months in jail, 
  • driver’s license suspension for up to a year,
  • increased fines, and 
  • more extreme consequences.

If this is your second or third offense, the punishments for a conviction get even more extreme. For example, a third conviction for driving with an extremely high BAC level is a felony offense. Once you’ve been convicted of a felony, you aren’t just facing prison time and community service—you also won’t be able to vote, sit on a jury, or own a firearm for the rest of your life.

But, all of these listed consequences only apply if you’re convicted and sentenced. That’s why you need an experienced DUI attorney who has handled tons of cases just like yours. With help from an attorney, you have a professional doing his or her best to make sure you don’t receive the severest consequences for your DUI charges.  

What is the difference between a DUI and DWI?

A DUI means driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. A DWI means driving while intoxicated or impaired. They’re pretty much the same thing and, as far as Michigan law is concerned, it’s not likely that you’ll be charged with either a DUI or a DWI. Instead, you’ll probably be charged with an OWI.

What happens if I’ve been charged with an OWI?

The Michigan counterpart to a DUI is an OWI, which stands for operating while intoxicated. Anyone who drives a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol limit of 0.08% or higher can receive an OWI. While DUIs are specifically for people driving automobiles, OWIs can be given to any intoxicated person operating a car, truck, boat, motorcycle—anything that you can think of that has an engine.

You can also be charged with OWI even if you haven’t had a drop to drink. This is because it has been proven that drugs like Ambien and Xanax greatly reduce your ability to focus while you drive.  

If this is your first time to receive an OWI charge and you’re found guilty, you face

  • up to 93 days in jail, 
  • fines of $100-$500, 
  • 360 hours (45 days) of community service, 
  • driver’s license suspension of 30 days followed by 150 days of restricted driving privileges, 
  • possible vehicle immobilization, and 
  • possible ignition interlock device during probation.

Your second OWI offense could leave you with 

  • five days to one year in jail, 
  • fines of $200-$1,000, 
  • 30-90 days of community service,
  • possible ignition interlock device during probation, and 
  • mandatory vehicle immobilization.  

A third OWI offense could result in

  • one to five years in prison,
  • 30 days to one year of probation after your time in prison,
  • possible ignition interlock divide during probation,
  • $500-$5,000 in fines,
  • 60-180 days of community service, and
  • mandatory vehicle immobilization.

What if your OWI caused serious injury or death?

If your OWI caused serious injury or death to another person, that will alter your consequences. An individual who cause serious injury while OWI can expect:

  • five years in prison, 
  • fines of $1,000-$5,000, and
  • mandatory vehicle immobilization.

If someone died because you were OWI, you can expect:

  • 15 years in prison, 
  • fines of $2,500-$10,000, and
  • mandatory vehicle immobilization.

You can expect 20 years in prison if the person who died was a firefighter or police officer.

What if your BAC was above 0.17%?

However, if your BAC was above 0.17%, you face charges and punishments for Super Drunk driving. In Michigan, the punishments are severe for those who drove with a high BAC. Even if this is your first offense, you could face

  • up to 6 months in jail, 
  • driver’s license suspension for up to a year,
  • increased fines, and 
  • more extreme consequences.

If this is your second or third offense, the punishments for a conviction get even more extreme. For example, a third conviction for driving with an extremely high BAC level is a felony offense. Once you’ve been convicted of a felony, you aren’t just facing prison time and community service—you also won’t be able to vote, sit on a jury, or own a firearm for the rest of your life.

But, all of these listed consequences only apply if you’re convicted and sentenced. With an experienced OWI attorney on your side, you’ll have a professional who knows just what to say and do to help you receive a lighter punishment. Because your sentencing is completely at the judge’s discretion, wouldn’t you rather have help from someone who has experience negotiating? 

What happens if I’ve been charged with an OUIL? 

While other charges like OWI are ambiguous enough to be about driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, an OUIL is really specific. OUIL stands for operating under the influence of liquor. Because of its specificity, OUIL isn’t quite as popular as some of the other DUI-related charges.

However, if this is your first time to receive an OUIL charge and you’re found guilty, you face up to 

  • 93 days in jail, 
  • fines up to $300, 
  • 360 hours (45 days) of community service, and 
  • possible vehicle immobilization.

Your second OUIL offense could leave you with 

  • up to one year in jail, 
  • fines of $200-$1,000, 
  • 30-90 days of community service, and
  • mandatory vehicle immobilization.  

A third OUIL offense could result in

  • one to five years in prison,
  • 30 days to one year of probation after your time in prison,
  • $500-$5,000 in fines,
  • 60-180 days of community service, and
  • mandatory vehicle immobilization.

What happens if I’ve been charged with an OWVI?

If you’ve been charged with an OWVI, the officer who pulled you over decided you were dangerous behind the wheel. An OWVI, which stands for operating while visibly impaired, is a common charge. This is because the officer doesn’t have to prove you’re illegally intoxicated. 

In fact, he or she can completely skip the blood, alcohol, or urine testing and move straight to this charge. With an OWVI, all that matters is that the officer that pulled you over believed you were unsafe to operate the vehicle. That seems unfair, right?

Well, the state of Michigan tends to think so, too. That’s why so many people who are charged with an OWVI hire a lawyer to argue that the charges are unfair or unfounded. Although many people who work with experienced OWVI attorneys have their charges reduced or dropped, there are some cases where the charges stick.

If this is your first time to receive an OWVI charge and you’re found guilty, you face 

  • up to 93 days in jail, 
  • fines up to $300, 
  • 360 hours (45 days) of community service, and 
  • possible vehicle immobilization.

Your second OWVI offense could leave you with 

  • up to one year in jail, 
  • fines of $200-$1,000, 
  • 30-90 days of community service, and
  • mandatory vehicle immobilization.  

A third OWVI offense could result in

  • one to five years in prison,
  • 30 days to one year of probation after your time in prison,
  • $500-$5,000 in fines,
  • 60-180 days of community service, and
  • mandatory vehicle immobilization.

What happens if I’ve been charged with a UBAC/UBAL?

UBAC stands for unlawful bodily alcohol content. UBAL stands for unlawful bodily alcohol level. These are both specific versions of OWI. Much like an OUIL (operating under influence of liquor), a UBAC or UBAL are specific alcohol-related charges. 

This means these charges would only be valid if you were, in fact, intoxicated above the legal level of 0.08%. If you had only consumed a small quantity of alcohol or if you had not consumed any alcohol at all, these charges would be easy to argue and challenge. 

However, if your charges were valid and you were found guilty, as a first-time offender, you would face

  • up to 93 days in jail, 
  • 360 hours (45 days) of community service, and
  • fines up to $500.

Your second UBAC or UBAL offense could leave you with 

  • up to one year in jail, 
  • 360 hours (45 days) of community service, and 
  • fines of up to $1,000.  

What happens if I’m found guilty or plead guilty to my DUI?

Whether you’re found guilty by a judge or jury or whether you plead guilty, your next step will be sentencing. But, before the judge can know what sentence you should receive, there are some factors he or she considers.

  1. Are you a first-time, second-time, or third-time offender? If you’ve been found guilty or plead guilty to a similar DUI charge in the past seven years, you’re a second-time offender. If you’ve already been through this process twice before, you’re a third-time offender.
  2. How did your interview go? After your conviction, you’ll have an interview with someone from the probation branch of the court. They’ll ask you about your past employment, criminal background, education history, family background, and anything else that might be pertinent. 
  3. How did your written exam go? After your interview, you’ll take a written exam which helps the court determine whether you’re susceptible to drug or alcohol addiction. If it turns out that you are prone to addiction, the exam will also help determine whether a substance abuse program would be helpful.

After that, the judge takes all of the information into account and pronounces your sentence. 

Because of all the different steps, interviews, and tests after your guilty verdict; it’s incredibly helpful to have an experienced lawyer who can prepare you for what is about to happen. Talking with your lawyer will help calm your nerves, and it will help you organize your thoughts. This can make all the difference in how you express yourself in your interview, on your test, and to the judge who ultimately decides which punishments you should face.

What if I refused the blood, breath, or urine test after my arrest?

You were pulled over and, when the officer asked to test you, you declined. Maybe you thought not taking the tests would mean there wasn’t any incriminating evidence against you. Or, maybe you just panicked.

Either way, it’s likely that your refusal to take a blood, breath, or urine test resulted in having your driver’s license suspended. Right now, you need to find an experienced lawyer who can help provide legal guidance and representation during the administrative and criminal phases of your case.

You have 14 days to challenge your refusal or else your license will be suspended for a year. If you’re charged with a second refusal within seven years, your license will be suspended for two years. 

In Michigan, there are only four reasons to challenge a DUI refusal. If one of the following closely describes your situation, your attorney will be able to file a challenge for you: 

  • Whether the police officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the person had committed a crime described in section 625c(1).
  • Whether the person was placed under arrest for a crime described in section 625c(1).
  • If the person refused to submit to the test upon the request of the officer, whether the refusal was reasonable.
  • Whether the person was advised of the rights under section 625a(6).

Although it might seem like something you could figure out for yourself, you have to have an attorney file your challenge for you. When you and your counsel meet, the two of you will discuss the four conditions to challenge your refusal and decide if any of them describe your situation. Then, your attorney will proceed on your behalf.

Can you pass a background check with a DUI?

This is a really tough question because it all depends on what the person who runs the background check is looking for. First of all, if you have never been convicted of a DUI, then nothing DUI-related is officially on your record. So, if you were charged with a DUI and it didn’t result in a conviction (and that’s the only brush with the law you’ve ever had), your background should be as clean as a whistle.

However, if you have been convicted of a DUI, this will show up as a misdemeanor when someone checks your criminal background. Or, if the circumstances around your charges were extreme—maybe this wasn’t your first offense, someone was accidentally killed, your blood alcohol level was over double the legal limit, or a combination of the three—your background check might show that you have been convicted of a felony.

If you’re in a situation where you’re filling out paperwork and you have to check a box to answer whether you have ever been convicted of a crime, you need to check the “Yes” box. Hopefully, whoever is running the background check on you will let you explain what happened, but that’s not guaranteed. Still, it’s best (especially if you’re applying for a job) for you to have an honest explanation for your potential employer about why your criminal background isn’t clean.

Keep in mind, when whoever runs a background check on you, he or she will receive results that indicate whether you have a criminal background. That report will come back and tell the person that you have a misdemeanor (or felony). That’s it. It won’t say that it was a DUI from back when you turned 21 or that you were taking Ambien and didn’t know that would impair your driving abilities. Whoever ran that report doesn’t have any idea why this misdemeanor or felony is showing up on your record, so do your best to honestly explain what happened.

How can a DUI lawyer help me?

Whether you’re facing your first, second, or third offense; you need help from a capable and aggressive Michigan DUI defense attorney. Right now, you’re facing serious charges with scary consequences. You need an expert who knows everything about DUI charges and the mistakes that can be made in the process of an arrest.

Just because you’ve been charged with a DUI doesn’t automatically make you guilty. Some mistakes could have been made to result in your charges. First of all, police officers can make mistakes. They’re human just like everybody else. Second, the officer who pulled you over has to have had a good reason to do so. We will aggressively challenge and question the officer’s reason for pulling you over in the first place. Finally, the equipment could fail. When not calibrated correctly, the equipment used in blood, breath, and urine testing can result in false positives. 

At Weise Law, we have a proven record of getting results for our clients charged with a DUI. From knowing just what details to look for in the police officer’s report to fully understanding every word of the Michigan laws about drunk or impaired driving, we’re ready to help you get through this difficult time. To find out how we can help you, give us a call at (616) 205-9435 or click here to contact us.

We can defend you in all types of criminal charges including felony, misdemeanor, and juvenile cases throughout West Michigan.

Our Criminal Defense Team has Over 30 Years Combined Experience in the Criminal Justice System. We are available 24/7 by phone. Call us if you need immediate help.