Any Michigan driver charged with drunk driving – operating while intoxicated (OWI), operating while visibly impaired (OWVI) or any other alcohol/drug related driving offense set forth under MCL 257.625a et seq, faces a wide range of daunting penalties upon conviction.  One of these penalties is DUI Vehicle Immobilization.

Consequently, it is important to keep in mind that for some convictions, the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code in Section 904d (MCL 257.904d) requires the sentencing court to order the DUI vehicle immobilization of the vehicle operated by the defendant at the time of the offense. In those cases, the period of any DUI vehicle immobilization is dependent on the nature of the conviction and whether the defendant has been previously convicted of any MCL 257.625a offenses.

Assuming that DUI vehicle immobilization is either permitted or required, it can be effectuated where the “defendant is the owner, co-owner, lessee, or co-lessee of the vehicle operated during the violation.” See Section 904d(4)(a).

Importantly, DUI vehicle immobilization is permitted even where the defendant has no legal or equitable interest in the vehicle. Under Section 904d(4)(b) DUI vehicle immobilization is permitted in cases where the owner, co-owner, lessee, or co-lessee knowingly allowed the defendant to operate the vehicle while under the influence, or when the defendant’s license had been suspended, revoked or denied. This is true even if the defendant is not ultimately convicted.

In practical terms, this means that if a spouse, for example, has a vehicle titled in her name and she knowingly allows her husband to operate it while he is intoxicated, the court can order the DUI vehicle immobilization of her vehicle. If she were to fail to comply with a DUI vehicle immobilization order, she could be held in contempt of court or face other serious sanctions such as forfeiture of the vehicle.

All vehicle owners should be aware that the Michigan Secretary of State is routinely apprised by the various courts throughout the state when orders of DUI vehicle immobilization are entered. That information is available to any police officer through the LEIN (law enforcement information network).

If a person is stopped and an officer determines that the vehicle is subject to a DUI vehicle immobilization order, the officer must impound the vehicle and promptly notify the court that issued the original order. It is then within the discretion of the court as to how to proceed with respect to the subject vehicle.

In the event the Court imposes a period of incarceration as part of the offending driver’s sentence, all periods of DUI vehicle immobilization commence after the jail or prison sentence has been served.

The following DUI vehicle immobilization parameters apply based upon the driver’s record:

  • if the driver has no prior convictions, no more than 180 days with no minimum;

  • if the driver has one prior conviction within 7 years, no more than 180 days with a 90 day minimum;

  • if the driver has two or more prior convictions, no more than three years with a one year minimum.

Conviction of any of the following offenses qualify for DUI vehicle immobilization:

  • operating while intoxicated;

  • operating while impaired;

  • child endangerment;

  • operating with any amount of a controlled substance;

  • any of the above causing death of or serious injury to another person.

Other violations that can give rise to DUI vehicle immobilization include:

1)  operating without a breath alcohol ignition device (BAIID) where it is required under the terms of a restricted license;

2)  reckless driving causing serious injury or death; and

3)  any violation that occurs while the driver’s license is suspended or revoked/denied.

There are several other important points to keep in mind concerning DUI vehicle immobilization. Significantly, a person whose vehicle is immobilized may sell the vehicle during the immobilization period with some limitations. Also, a driver subject to an immobilization order is prohibited from purchasing or leasing another vehicle until the period of immobilization expires.

If you or someone you know has specific questions about DUI vehicle immobilization in Michigan, contact Duke Law Group today!

Click Here to Contact Edward Earl Duke
DUI Vehicle Immobilization Michigan
Article Name
DUI Vehicle Immobilization Michigan
For some drunk driving convictions, the sentencing court is required to order the immobilization of the vehicle operated by the defendant at the time of the offense.
Duke Law Group