Michigan Underage Drinking and Driving Offenses, Laws, and Penalties

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MICHIGAN UNDERAGE DRINKING AND DRIVING OFFENSES, LAWS, AND PENALTIES 

MICHIGAN UNDERAGE DRINKING AND DRIVING

There are serious OWI penalties for Underage Drinkers in Michigan. Spring is approaching signifying the end of another school year. Parents of underage drivers would be well advised to caution their children of the serious consequences that can flow from underage drinking and driving.

It is well known by members of the Michigan DUI defense bar that the likelihood of minors being targeted by law enforcement for suspicion of intoxicated or impaired driving increases dramatically as graduation parties proliferate.

Operating while intoxicated (OWI) is a serious offense in Michigan, irrespective of whether the driver is an adult or underage minor.

UNDERAGE DRINKING AND DRIVING LEVELS

The 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days:

  • 33% drank some amount of alcohol

  • 18% binge drank

  • 8% drove after drinking alcohol

  • 20% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol

teen-drinking-stats

MICHIGAN UNDERAGE DRINKING AND DRIVING OFFENSES

If you are the parent of a minor who has been arrested and charged with the following underage drinking and driving or alcohol-related offense, you should seek the counsel of an experienced Michigan OWI/DUI defense attorney who can guide you and your son or daughter through the complexities of the criminal process:

  • OWI – Operating While Intoxicated

  • OWVI – Operating While Visibly Impaired

  • Zero Tolerance – Underage Drinking and Driving

  • MIP – Minor in Possession

First Offense DUI Drunk Driving 
First Offense DUI Drunk Driving
OWVI - Operating While Visibly Impaired 
OWVI – Operating While Visibly Impaired

UNDERAGE DRINKING AND DRIVING LAWS

Under Michigan law, the offense of OWI consists of driving with a bodily alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.

However, if the driver is under the age of 21, the prosecution only needs to show that the minor’s BAC was 0.02 to secure a conviction for “Zero Tolerance” or “Minor BAC” with some limited exceptions.

Underage drinking and driving gives rise to other significant considerations. First, it is important to note that under the enhancement scheme for repeat offenders outlined in MCL 257.625(26) a prior conviction for Zero Tolerance or Minor BAC may be used to enhance an adult OWI to a higher misdemeanor or felony. The Michigan Court of Appeals in People v Bulger, 291 Mich App (2010) made it clear that zero tolerance offenses can be counted as prior convictions for purposes of charge enhancement.

UNDERAGE DRINKING AND DRIVING PENALTIES

ZERO TOLERANCE PENALTIES

The Michigan Zero Tolerance law contemplates a nonjailable misdemeanor for a first-time offender with up to 360 hours of community service and a fine not to exceed $250. For a second Minor BAC conviction the penalties include up to 93 days in jail, 60 days of community service and a $500 fine.

zero tolerance law drunk driving under age OWI DUI 
Zero Tolerarnce Law

CHILD ENDANGERMENT CHARGE WITH VEHICLE PASSENGERS

It is also noteworthy that a first offense underage drinking and driving charge may become a jailable offense if one or more children under the age of 16 years old are in the vehicle. Under those circumstances the underage driver can be charged with child endangerment which, for a first offense is a 93 day misdemeanor, and for a second or subsequent offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

michigan DUI Child Endangerment 
Michigan DUI Child Endangerment

Make no mistake, time is of the essence and the stakes are exceedingly high in any underage drinking and driving case. Consequently, it is critical that you act with haste and engage the services of experienced counsel at the earliest possible stage in the proceeding.

UNDERAGE DRINKING AND DRIVING CHARGES ARE DEFENDABLE! 

Underage Drinking and Driving charges such as Zero Tolerance and Minor BAC cases are exceedingly defendable in Michigan.

To give but one example, the uncertainty calculation associated with the breath testing device used by Michigan law enforcement severely compromises the ability of the prosecution to prove the reliability of a DataMaster test result of .02 or .03.There are many other possible defenses that can also be developed by an experienced Michigan DUI defense attorney.

Underage drinking and driving charges should not be taken lightly. A conviction can have serious short and long-term adverse consequences that can affect a minor’s life well into adulthood.

Every case rises and falls on its particular set of facts. Only a top rated Michigan OWI attorney can help you develop a winning defense strategy. If your underage child has been charged with a drinking and driving offense, it is critical that you immediately seek a consultation with a skilled Michigan DUI attorney who can help you understand what your child is facing and protect his or her rights.

DUI Charge Dismissed