Michigan DUI Laws & Penalties

Michigan utilizes harsh penalties to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Even first-time offenders can face serious legal ramifications, including jail time and hefty fines. In Michigan, it is illegal to drive if you are impaired by alcohol. Police officers can arrest drivers on charges of Operating While Intoxicated.

The legal BAC (blood alcohol content) limit for adult drivers in Michigan is 0.08%. Drivers who choose to drive drunk with a BAC of 0.17% or higher are committing a “High BAC” crime. High BAC DUIs come with increased penalties, even for first time offenders. DUI arrests are generally made using evidence from a chemical test (breathalyzer). Breathalyzer tests require a driver to blow into a device which calculates his or her BAC level. Drivers who fail a chemical test (BAC above 0.08%) must surrender their licenses to the police officer. They will be issued a paper permit for use until the criminal case has gone through court. Michigan courts decide the verdict of drunk driving cases within 77 days after an arrest is made.

Michigan First Offense DUI

Michigan drivers arrested for drunk driving face immediate license confiscation from the arresting police officer. First offense DUIs require a six (6) month license suspension. Some drivers convicted of their first DUI may be eligible to receive a restricted license after serving the first 30 days of their suspensions. The severity of the arrest may lead to increased punishments, including longer license suspension and even vehicle immobilization to prevent the driver from getting behind the wheel.
  • Jail time: First-time DUI offenders may face up to 93 days in prison.
  • Fines: Drunk driving fines for a first offense range from $100 to $500, plus $1,000 Driver Responsibility Fee.
  • BAC test refusal: Michigan operates under “implied consent,” meaning a driver consented to taking a breathalyzer test when he or she accepted the responsibility of a driver’s license. Law enforcement may require a driver to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). Any driver who refuses the PBT is charged with a civil infraction and must pay up to $150 in fines, plus court costs. Refusing a breathalyzer test will also result in the driver’s license being suspended for one year.
  • DUI Class Requirement: The court may order a driver convicted of a first offense DUI to enroll in, and complete, a substance abuse class.
  • Community Service: In addition to, or in place of, jail time, the judge may order a first-time DUI offender to complete up to 360 hours of community service.
  • Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Requirement: A breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) is a breathalyzer that is installed into a car’s ignition which prevents the motor from starting without the driver first passing a breathalyzer test. Michigan DUI laws do not require BAIID installation for first offense DUIs.

Michigan High BAC DUI

Under Michigan DUI laws, drivers arrested with a BAC of 0.17% or higher are considered increased risks to themselves and those around them. To combat drunk driving at increased BAC levels, drivers with this elevated BAC will be charged with a “High BAC DUI.” High BAC DUIs carry harsher penalties than a normal DUI, even for a first offense.

The driver’s license is suspended for one (1) year following a High BAC DUI, though the driver may be eligible for a restricted license after serving the first 45 days of his or her suspension. This restricted license will require the driver to install and maintain a breath alcohol ignition interlock device. If the driver fails to properly use the BAIID, his or her vehicle is immobilized by confiscation of metal license plates.

  • Jail time: High BAC DUI offenders face up to 180 days in jail.
  • Fines: Fines for a High BAC DUI are between $200 and $700. The driver is also required to pay a $1,000 Driver Responsibility Fee.
  • BAC test refusal: Refusal to submit to a BAC test with a high BAC results in a one-year suspension of the driver’s license.
  • DUI Class Requirement: Mandatory participation and completion of a rehabilitation class will be order for drivers with a High BAC DUI.
  • Community Service: The court may require up to 360 hours of community service for a High BAC DUI conviction.
  • Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Requirement: Drivers convicted of a High BAC DUI must install and maintain a breath alcohol ignition interlock device on their vehicle and any vehicle they intend to operate. Any driver who does not properly maintain the BAIID will face immobilization of his or her vehicle.

Michigan Second Offense DUI

A driver arrested for a second DUI in Michigan within seven (7) years of a previous drunk driving charge constitutes a Repeat Offender. Michigan drunk driving laws for repeat offenders require the driver to give up his or her driving privileges. Drivers with a second offense DUI arrest have their licenses revoked for a minimum of one (1) year and will be denied reinstatement for the duration of that year. The driver’s car is immobilized for 90 to 180 days, with metal license plates confiscated by the state. The driver may be required to forfeit the car.

  • Jail time: Drivers arrested for a second DUI must serve a minimum of five (5) days in jail, with the possibility to serve up to one (1) year.
  • Fines: In addition to a $1,000 Driver Responsibility Fee, second-time DUI offenders must pay fines between $200 and $1,000.
  • BAC test refusal: Refusing a chemical test for a second time results in license suspension for two (2) years.
  • DUI Class Requirement: It is mandatory for second-time drunk drivers to enroll in alcohol treatment or self-help programs. These programs may be offered by the state or approved by the court.
  • Community Service: Second offense DUIs in Michigan require 30 to 90 days of community service, in addition to the minimum jail sentence of five (5) days.
  • Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Requirement: Drivers with a second DUI arrest are required to install and maintain a BAIID in their vehicles and any they intend to operate.

Michigan Third DUI Offense & More

Third offense DUIs in Michigan are considered felonies. A felony charge greatly increases the punishments a driver receives. In addition to a driver’s license revocation for a minimum of one (1) year, a third-time DUI offender cannot reinstate his or her license in that time. Drivers with three or more DUI arrests in their lifetime must forfeit their vehicle or accept vehicle immobilization. It is illegal for drivers with third offense DUIs to purchase or register a new vehicle.

  • Jail time: The judge will determine sentence length with a minimum of one (1) year up to five (5) years, or a minimum of 30 days and up to one (1) year with a probation period afterward.
  • Fines: Third-time DUI arrests result in fines between $500 and $5,000, depending on the severity of the arrest. Drivers are also required to pay the $1,000 Driver Responsibility Fee.
  • BAC test refusal: If a driver refuses to take a chemical breathalyzer test more than once in a seven (7) year period, his or her license is suspended for two (2) years.
  • DUI Class Requirement: Third-time drunk drivers in Michigan are required to enroll and successfully complete a substance abuse program that is approved by the court.
  • Community Service: Drivers arrested for their third or subsequent DUI must complete 60 to 80 days of community service, as appointed by a judge.
  • Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Requirement: Repeat drunk drivers must install and maintain a BAIID into any vehicles they intend to operate and must continue to use the device until authorized by the office of the Michigan Secretary of State that they may have the device removed.

Michigan CDL Drivers Drunk Driving Laws

At 0.04%, the legal BAC limit for commercial drivers in Michigan is half that of the regular 0.08% limit for other adult motorists. Large commercial vehicles hold a much higher risk of causing injuries or death in the event of an accident. Any CDL (commercial driver’s license) holder will be immediately placed out-of-service for 24 hours if he or she refuses to take a breathalyzer test, consumed alcohol within four hours of operating a commercial motor vehicle, or if he or she was found to be actively drinking while operating the vehicle.

If a commercial driver undergoes the breathalyzer test and is found to be in violation of the 0.04% legal BAC limit, he or she will face a commercial DUI. Commercial drivers facing a first offense CDL DUI in Michigan will have their commercial license suspended for one (1) year. If they were transporting hazardous materials at the time of their arrest, first-time CDL drunk drivers will lose their CDL for three (3) years. After the first offense, a Michigan CDL driver will have his or her CDL revoked for a minimum of ten years for second, third, or subsequent offenses.

Michigan Underage DUI

Michigan participates in a “Zero Tolerance” law for underage drinking. The legal drinking age is 21 years old, and Michigan drivers under that age found to be driving with a BAC of 0.02% or more face a Zero Tolerance DUI. First offense underage drunk drivers face fines up to $250 and a Driver Responsibility Fee of $500. The driver may be required to serve up to 360 hours of community service in addition to the fines and his or her license will be restricted for 30 days.
An underage driver who chooses to drive drunk in Michigan for a second time faces increased penalties. The fines for a second offense underage DUI are up to $500, with the $500 Driver Responsibility Fee. A judge may also require up to 60 days of community service and up to 93 days in jail. The second-time underage DUI offender’s license will be suspended for 90 days.
Michigan DUI laws allow court judges to impose heavy penalties on dangerous drivers. Even first-time offenders with abnormally high BAC levels can serve jail time and extended license suspension periods. The drunk driving laws in Michigan include a breath alcohol ignition interlock device program and court-approved substance abuse rehabilitation programs to prevent drunk drivers from becoming repeat offenders.