person drinking while driving

How Does Michigan Punish Underage OWI Charges?

Michigan uses many of the same terms as other states regarding driving offenses, though there is one unique term for drunk driving in addition to terms like DUI: OWI for operating while intoxicated or OWVI for operating while visibly impaired, comparable to New York’s DWAI or driving while ability impaired. If a child in your family has been charged with an OWI, keep reading to learn more about drunk driving charges in Michigan. Don’t delay in contacting a Marquette DUI lawyer right away, and we will do everything we can for your family.

First and Subsequent Underage OWI Offenses in Michigan

In Michigan, the underage BAC limit is 0.02%, brought into effect by MCL 257.625. The legislation intends to make sure consequences are looming for any amount of alcohol in a minor’s system, hence the low threshold. As a result of MCL 257.625, it is a misdemeanor for a minor to drive with a BAC between 0.02% and 0.08%. There is, however, an exception for those who consume alcohol during the process of a legitimate religious ceremony.

Offenses are punished as follows, with increasing severity if the minor repeats the same conduct:

  • For the first offense: up to 360 hours of community service, up to $250 in fines, and four points to their driver’s license for the first offense
  • For subsequent offenses: up to 93 days in jail, up to 60 days of community service, up to $500 in fines, two years of probation, four points to their driver’s license, and either license suspension for 90 days or license revocation for the second offense

Michigan has passed the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, permitting 17 to 21-year-olds to avoid a criminal record, but as Michigan is a zero-tolerance state, this does not apply to traffic offenses. That said, offenders under 17 are charged as juveniles. Given the increased consequences for repeat offenders, however, it is important to challenge even a first-offense OWI that has no possibility of jail time.

How Might an OWI Affect My Life Long Term?

Everyone charged with OWI may face long-lasting consequences, but young people may find it affecting their lives for even longer. College admissions officers can become hesitant upon seeing an OWI, and even after admission, a student might have a more difficult time accessing scholarships, financial aid, and student housing. Their ability to use the library or participate in athletics may also be limited.

Their job opportunities beyond college may also be affected. They might not be considered for civil service work, work requiring security clearance, or the military.

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