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Do I Need a Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney for a First-Time OWI?

by | Jan 2, 2023 | Legal Insights

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At Maesen Law, PLC, our Grand Rapids OWI defense attorney knows it is a crime for a driver to have a bodily alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater in the state of Michigan. In addition, Michigan has a high-BAC law with enhanced penalties for anyone caught driving with a BAC of .17 or higher — even when it is their first offense.

When someone is arrested for OWI, they often feel shame or embarrassment, and simply want to do anything they can to make the charges quickly go away. This often results in collaborating directly with the prosecutor’s office to avoid a lengthy court process, instead of consulting with a OWI defense attorney. What they do not understand is agreeing to a “deal” may result in pleading guilty to the charge(s), which begins, or further impacts, their criminal record.

Without guidance from a skilled Michigan OWI defense attorney, first-time offenders will not know whether their case qualifies for a lesser charge, or if their rights were violated during the traffic stop, while submitting to a breathalyzer, or during the arrest and detention process, which could lead to outright dismissal of your case.

Partnering with our Kent County OWI defense attorney, Ryan Maesen, means understanding your complete legal rights, and removing the fear of the unknown, so you can make informed decisions about the direction of your first-time OWI offense.

Contact our skilled Michigan OWI defense attorney today to understand the depth of your charges, and how they are going to impact your current livelihood and your future, so we can get to work on an assertive legal solution.

What are the Penalties for a First-Time OWI Conviction in Michigan?

An average of 30,000 people are arrested on OWI charges in Michigan each year, and most involve a first-time offender.

A first-time OWI conviction in Michigan for having a BAC over .08 is a misdemeanor offense, which leads most people to believe the sooner they can put the arrest behind them, the better off they will be going forward.

Unfortunately, without an experienced Grand Rapids OWI defense attorney by their side, the full consequences of their conviction may not be realized for years to come.

The immediate penalties associated with a first-time Michigan OWI conviction may include:

  • Six points added to your Michigan driver’s license.
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 30 days, and the restriction of your license for 150 days.
  • Community service for up to 360 hours.
  • Fines of up to $500.
  • Probation.
  • Up to 93 days in jail.

If your BAC was .17 or higher during your first OWI arrest, the penalties increase to:

  • Six points added to your Michigan driver’s license.
  • Ignition interlock use, including all installation/upkeep costs for the device, and compliance after 45 days of license suspension is required to receive a restricted driver’s license.
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for up to one year.
  • Mandatory completion of an alcohol treatment program.
  • Community service for up to 360 hours.
  • Fines of up to $700.
  • Probation.
  • Up to 180 days in jail.

Anyone who refuses a breath test the first time is given an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension. For a second refusal within seven years, the suspension is two years. Whether you agreed to a breathalyzer test, or refused it at the scene, you should never face even first-time OWI charges alone. It is important to know your legal rights and options before your first court date, so you can achieve the best outcome for your unique legal circumstances.

Contact our experienced Grand Rapids OWI defense attorney today to learn more.

Long-Term Consequences of a First-Time OWI Conviction in Michigan

Michigan OWI convictions come with multiple personal and professional consequences that are typically only realized once the individual believes their legal challenges are behind them — allowing their conviction to impact their livelihoods all over again.

They include:

  • Higher vehicle insurance rates.
  • Loss of professional licenses.
  • Loss of trust in the community, and irreparable damage to personal relationships.
  • Ineligibility for federal student loans, subsidized housing, or other financial assistance.
  • Denied or revoked scholarship offers.
  • Conviction appearing on all future background checks, which can limit your ability to effectively hold sales, driving, or other positions that require vehicle travel, or volunteer for school-related or extracurricular activities involving your children.
  • Potential to accumulate additional points on your license, which may lead to excessive fees under Michigan’s Driver Responsibility Act.

With the significant short- and long-term penalties that accompany a first-time OWI conviction, the question is not whether you need an attorney, it is whether you can afford not to have one.

Contact our skilled Grand Rapids criminal defense lawyer today to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the best outcome for your case. We are available by phone 24 hours a day by calling 616-821-7691 or allowing us to review your case via email to ensure each aspect is reviewed with the discretion and attention to detail you deserve.

We produce real results for real people just like you who need our help.