Michigan OWI/DUI Laws and Penalties

An explanation of Michigan’s intoxicated driving laws and conviction penalties.

In Michigan, operating while intoxicated (OWI) (some people also use the term "DUI") is defined as operating a vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater
  • with any amount of a controlled substance in the body
  • while under the influence of any intoxicating liquor, or
  • while under the influence of any controlled substance or intoxicating substance.

Michigan also has a less serious offense called "operating while visibly impaired" (OWVI). Basically, a driver can be convicted of an OWVI if there are visible indications of impairment. Being "under the influence," on the other hand, means the person is materially impaired.

Michigan OWI Penalties

When sentencing an OWI offender, the judge will typically consider the circumstances of the case as well as the number of prior convictions the motorist has that occurred within the last seven years. However, the judge must stay within the following statutory parameters.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense


Up to 93 days jail (with a BAC of .17% or more, 180-day maximum)

Up to 1 year

1 to 5 years (30 days to 1 year if community service ordered. However, sentence cannot be suspended unless offender agrees to participate in a specialty "high risk" court program).


$100 to $500 (with a BAC of .17% or more, $200 to $700)

$200 to $1,000

$500 to $5,000

Community Service

Up to 360 hours

30 to 90 days

60 to 180 days

OWVI penalties. The jail time and fines outlined above apply to OWI convictions, but an OWVI conviction carries almost identical penalties. The only difference is a maximum $300 fine for a first-offense OWVI.

Forfeiture and immobilization. In all OWI and OWVI cases, the judge is permitted to immobilize or seize the driver's vehicle. These consequences are optional for a first offense. But for a second or subsequent offense, immobilization or forfeiture is required. If the judge doesn't order forfeiture, the driver faces immobilization of:

  • up to 180 days for a first offense
  • 90 to 180 days for a second offense, and
  • one to three years for a third offense.

Passengers under the age of 16. If the driver was transporting a passenger under 16 years of age, enhanced penalties apply. For a first offense, the convicted will pay a fine of $200 to $1,000. The judge will also order either five days to one year in jail or 30 to 90 days of community service. On a second or subsequent offense, there's a $500 to $5,000 fine and either one to five years in jail or probation (probation must include five days to one year in jail and 30 to 90 days of community service).

License-Related Consequences

OWI suspensions. A first OWI typically results in a 180-day license suspension. However, a first offense involving a BAC of .17% or more carries a one-year suspension. The driver is permitted to obtain a restricted license after 30 days (45 days for a BAC of .17% or greater; 90 days if passenger under 16 years old was in the vehicle) which limits when and where the person can drive and requires the use of an ignition interlock device (IID).

OWVI suspensions. A first-offense DVI conviction will result in a 90-day suspension (180 days if drugs were involved) but the court can immediately issue a restricted license.

Second and subsequent offenses. On a second or subsequent OWI or OWVI conviction, the driver can expect a longer revocation period and a longer period of time before becoming eligible for a restricted license.

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