Can I consume alcohol and operate my boat?

In Michigan, a person can be convicted of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) for operating a motorboat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater, with any amount of a controlled in the blood, or while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol to an extent that the person is “substantially deprived of normal control or clarity of mind.” A first-offense BUI is a misdemeanor and carries one or more of the following: up to 45 days of community service, a maximum of 93 days in jail, and fines ranging from $100 to $500. Also, the court can suspend the offender’s privilege to operate a motorboat for one to two years.

What is the Zero Tolerance law for minors?

The legal drinking age in Michigan is 21 and there is a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking and driving. Any person under the legal drinking age of 21 may not operate a motor vehicle in any location open to the general public or accessible to motor vehicles, including highways and parking lots, while under the influence of alcohol. If the minor is found with a blood alcohol content of 0.02% to 0.07%, they will be charged with a first offense OWI under Michigan’s Zero Tolerance law, as outlined in the Michigan Vehicle Code. However, an underage driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more could be charged with a standard OWI, which is a more serious offense which carries increased penalties.

Can I get my OWI conviction expunged from my record?

Unfortunately, Michigan imposes harsh sanctions on OWI offenses and you cannot get your OWI conviction removed from your record. Given what is at stake, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney like me who can advise you of your rights before you make any life-altering decision.

How many points will go on my driving record for an OWI and how long do the points last on my driving record?

An OWI conviction results in 6 points, and an Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) results in four points. In either case, the points will remain on your driving record for two years after the conviction.

What happens if I am convicted of multiple OWIs?

The penalties for a first offense OWI are severe, but the potential punishment only gets more severe the more times you are convicted of OWI. Depending on the circumstances, multiple OWIs may result in suspension or even revocation of your license, increase in fines, potentially a felony conviction, and even a prison sentence. Even after your driver's license is reinstated, you may be required to use an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car before driving. Finally, you may also be required to participate in court-ordered alcohol rehabilitation programs. Because of the severe consequences that can be imposed, it is highly recommended that if you are facing a second or third offense OWI you reach out to me immediately to defend you.

What are the penalties for my first OWI charge?

First offense OWI is almost always a misdemeanor, punishable up to a maximum of 93 days in jail. Barring extreme circumstances, however, you will rarely serve the maximum jail sentence – if you have to serve at all. An experienced attorney like me understands that keeping you out of jail is the number one priority and will fight early and often to make sure your freedom is secured. The misdemeanor charge does carry a fine of up to $500, community service for up to 360 hours, suspension of your driver’s license for 30 days, and then restriction of your license for 150 days, and six points added to your driver’s license. There is a lot of discretion in what the judge ultimately imposes, and I have had success in getting the best possible outcome for his clients on OWI cases.

Can I refuse to take a DataMaster DMT Breath Test?

You technically can refuse to take a breath test, but it is not advised because of Michigan’s stringent Implied Consent laws. If you refuse the DataMaster DMT test at the police station, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for at least one year. The state levies heavy punishment for refusing the DataMaster DMT test because by driving on the roads, you have consented to the test if you are suspected of driving drunk. If you refuse to take the DataMaster DMT test, and incur the one-year license suspension, you will only have 14 days to appeal the suspension.

What are the Standard Field Sobriety Tests Clues?

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): Six clues, three for each eye.

  • Clues:
    • Lack of smooth pursuit
    • Distinct nystagmus and maximum deviation
    • Angle of onset prior to 45 degrees

Walk and Turn (WAT); (8 total clues, 2 in instruction phase, 6 in walking phase).

  • Clues:
    • Instruction phase:
      • Starts to soon
      • Cannot keep balance
    • Walking Phase:
      • Stops while walking
      • Misses heel to toe
      • Steps off the line
      • Uses arms to balance
      • Improper turn
      • Wrong number of steps

One leg stand (OLS);

  • Clues:
    •  Swaying
    • Uses arms to balance
    •  Hopping
    • Puts foot down

What are standardized field sobriety tests?

In addition to administering a PBT, police will ask you to conduct what are known as Standard field Sobriety Tests (SFST), which test your performance in conducting physical tests to measure your level of intoxication. Police rely upon their subjective observations, unlike the PBT, to determine whether there is probable cause to arrest you on suspicion of drunk driving.

The police will utilize several different tests including the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk and turn (WAT), One-leg Stand (OLS), Finger-to-Nose, and the Romberg Balance. All of these tests are based on police observations and meant to determine whether you look and act drunk and give the police reason to arrest you.

I know the common mistakes to look for in the administration of the field tests and will attack them to ensure your rights are adequately preserved.

Can I refuse to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)?

Yes. The benefits of refusing the PBT outweigh the risks of consenting to a PBT. Refusal to take the PBT is a civil infraction and does not result in points or license sanctions (unlike refusing a DataMaster Test).  The civil infraction is punishable only by a fine of one hundred dollars. MCL 257.625a(2)(d).

On the other hand, the results of the PBT test may give the police probable cause to arrest you, and it arms the police with a more objective measure to prove intoxication than the standard field sobriety tests. The police may still find probable cause through their subjective observations of the field sobriety tests, so there is no reason to give them “extra ammunition” by way of the objective PBT. The benefits of denying this piece of evidence outweigh the risks of incurring a civil infraction for refusing to take the PBT.