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Should You Plead Guilty to an OWI Charge in Michigan?

Should You Plead Guilty to an OWI Charge in Michigan.jpeg

No! There is a common misconception amongst the public that individuals charged with drunk driving must plead guilty. If you have been charged with drinking and driving in Washtenaw County, Michigan, it is in your best interest to contact a drunk driving attorney for legal advice. Read on to learn more about the benefits of NOT pleading guilty to a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Michigan.

Assert Viable Defenses

An Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti attorney can assert the following defenses on your behalf in order to have the drunk driving charge(s) asserted against you reduced or dismissed:

1. Challenge the Initial Traffic Stop

Challenging the initial traffic stop is a common defense asserted by DUI defense attorneys. If the arresting officer lacked the required level of reasonable suspicion to stop you for drunk driving, then any evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop will be ruled inadmissible in court and the charge will be dismissed.

2. Challenge the Field Sobriety Tests

If you pass the field sobriety tests (meaning there is no evidence to indicate intoxication), and the police officer arrests you, your attorney can challenge the unlawful arrest.

3. Challenge Blood Alcohol Test or Breathalyzer Test

If the blood alcohol chemical test is administered incorrectly, your defense attorney can challenge the results in order to have the have the results ruled admissible. Consequently, the prosecutor will have a more difficult time obtaining a conviction at trial.

4. Challenge the Testimonial Evidence of the Arresting Officer

Most drunk driving cases center around the testimony of the arresting officer. Your attorney will cross-examine the arresting officer in order to challenge the accuracy of his or her observations during the initial traffic stop, in addition to the administration of your field sobriety test.

5. Negotiate a Plea Deal

If you want to avoid the risk of receiving a guilty verdict at trial, then you may want to consider a plea deal if there is a vast amount of evidence asserted against you. Accepting a plea deal can help you avoid serving unwanted jail time or having a conviction for a more serious charge.

Serious Consequences to Pleading Guilty

Serious consequences will arise if you plead guilty to drunk driving in Washtenaw County:

1. Criminal Conviction

A first time operating while intoxicated (OWI) offender can expect to spend up to 93 days in jail, pay anywhere between $100-$500 in court fines, and have his or her driver's license suspended for 30 days, followed by additional license restrictions spanning a period of 60 days. The consequences are even more serious for High BAC (Super Drunk) and felony DUI convictions.

2. Driver's Improvement Fees

You will also incur civil administrative penalties and fines with Michigan's Secretary of State Driver Traffic Safety Division (TSD).

3. Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device

If you incur a High BAC (Super Drunk) or multiple OWI convictions, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device into your vehicle at your own expense.

4. No Criminal Record Expungement

Under Michigan State law, drunk driving convictions are lifetime and CANNOT be expunged:

A person shall not apply to have set aside, and a judge shall not set aside, a conviction for a felony for which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment or an attempt to commit a felony for which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment, a conviction for a violation or attempted violation of section 145c, 145d, 520c, 520d, or 520g of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.145c, 750.145d, 750.520c, 750.520d, and 750.520g, or a conviction for a traffic offense. See MCL 780.621.

Contact Washtenaw County drunk driving attorney Stacey Washington for a case evaluation if you have been charged with a DUI.

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