It's Saturday night in Hockeytown and you're feeling victorious as you drive back from "The Joe." Your beloved 11-time Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings just won a fierce battle against the Chicago Blackhawks. You've had a few beers. Well, more than a few. In fact, you may have lost count. You start to drift out of your lane and overcorrect, almost hitting the car next to you.
Suddenly, you see flashing lights behind you. A Detroit police officer approaches your car, and asks for license and registration. She asks you a few more questions and notices you have red, watery eyes and your speech is slurred. "Sir, have you been drinking?" she asks. You don't want to lie. "Two beers," you respond. She then asks you to take a series of field sobriety tests (FSTs). Eventually, you blow into a handheld device known as a preliminary alcohol test (PBT).
The officer believes you are intoxicated, places you under arrest, and takes you to the Central District police station for booking and your choice of a blood, breath, or urine test. You choose a breath test and blow into the Datamaster Intox DMT. Results aren't looking good. She takes you to the Wayne County Jail for the evening. Next stop, arraignment in the 36th District Court.
Michigan has several separate charges for drivers who are impaired by drugs or alcohol. Here's a list.
Keep in mind, you will face felony charges if you do any of the following:
What if I refuse a chemical test?
You have that option, but there's a penalty. If you refuse to take the PBT, you may be charged with a civil infraction, which carries a fine up to $150 plus court costs. If you are under 21 and refuse the PBT, 2 points are added to your driving record. Michigan also has an implied consent law. If you're arrested and refuse to take the chemical test, your license will be automatically suspended for one year and six points will be added to your driving record.
In most situations, you'll spend the night in jail and be released the next day with a promise to appear for arraignment. If you are charged with a felony you'll appear in court and have to post bail. The judge might impose additional conditions such as alcohol testing. At arraignment, you can plead guilty, not guilty, no contest or stand mute on the charges. You can hire a lawyer, represent yourself, or ask for a public defender.
Preliminary Hearing (Felony only)
Within 14 days of arraignment, you will have a preliminary or probable cause hearing. This isn't the trial. It's a hearing to show there's probable cause to believe you committed a felony. The prosecutor will call witnesses to testify under oath. Your attorney can cross-examine them, also.
Pre-trials are where the plea negotiations take place in both felony and misdemeanor cases. In a misdemeanor, it'll happen after the arraignment. For a felony, the pre-trial is held after the preliminary hearing, usually within two weeks, and is the first hearing in the Circuit Court, where your felony case will remain.
You've rejected the plea offer and want to go to trial. The state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are tried for a felony, you have the right to a jury trial where 12 randomly selected members of the community decide your guilt or innocence. In a misdemeanor trial, it'll be a seven-member jury panel.
If the jury finds you guilty, the judge will impose a sentence in your case ranging from a small fine, to probation, to alcohol/drug counseling, and in the most serious cases, an active prison sentence.
Driver's License Suspension: The Administrative Hearing
Drunk driving arrests actually require two hearings: criminal and administrative. Nobody likes dealing with Michigan Secretary of State, but if you are arrested for drunk driving, it's inevitable. Here is what can happen:
OWI/OWPD: 180-day suspension. After the first 30 days of the suspension you can apply for a restricted license.
OWVI: Driver's license restrictions for 90 days. It will be 180 days if impaired by a controlled substance.
Chemical Test Refusal: If you refused a chemical test you have 14 days to challenge the refusal. If you fail to win your challenge, or fail to request a hearing within the 14-day time frame, your driver's license will be suspended for 1 year.
Your license can be revoked if you commit multiple drunk driving offenses within ten years, or injure, or kill someone.
Ignition Interlock Device
If you've been convicted of any of the following crimes, you'll have to install a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device [BAIID] on any vehicle you own or intend to drive.
Remember, it's best to never drink or use drugs and drive. Select a designated driver ahead of time, who will stay sober. You can also ask someone else to give you a ride, call a taxi, or use public transportation. That way you can avoid having to deal with a DUI in Detroit, or anywhere else.
Contact a qualified attorney.