Misdemeanor or a Felony DUI?

What is a misdemeanor DUI?

In Michigan a misdemeanor is any crime punishable by incarceration of one year or less.  This would include a first offense OWI, which is punishable by up to 93 days, a super drunk offense, which is punishable by up to 180 days, first offense child endangerment and 2nd offense OWI, both of which are punishable by 5 days to one year.  Under 21 BAC is also a misdemeanor.

What is a felony DUI?

In Michigan a felony is any crime punishable by incarceration of more than one year.  This would include any (non-injury/death) felony OWI, meaning three or more OWIs in one’s lifetime, or any OWI involving serious injury or death.

What is reckless driving?

This is also a misdemeanor, and includes any situation where the driver, with or without alcohol in his system, drives with “reckless disregard” for the safety of others.  If a first offense, this crime is punishable by up to 93 days in  jail, and includes a 90 day “hard” suspension of driving privileges.

What about under age DUI?

If you are under 21 you are not allowed to drive with any alcohol in your system.

Issues when DUI involves an accident or worse.

If there has been an accident, then there are many additional complications, starting first with whether or not others were involved, and if so, whether or not there is any injury or death.  If your operation of a motor vehicle, while drunk, causes a serious injury or death, then you will be facing a felony and the very real possibility if not likelihood of a period of years in jail.  If there has been no injury or death then the accident will complicate insurance matters, and make plea negotiations more difficult.  It is also likely that the judge will take this fact into consideration in passing sentence, and this may increase the likelihood of jail time for even a first offense non-super drunk  case.

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Patrick T. Barone

Founding Partner and CEO at Barone Defense Firm
The Founding Partner and CEO of the Barone Defense Firm, Mr. Barone has written two books and 100s of articles on the subject of DUI defense and trial practice. He is an adjunct professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he teaches a cutting-edge class on the practice of DUI defense. He is a highly sought after speaker for bar association meetings and legal education seminars throughout the country. He is also on the Faculty of the National College for DUI Defense. And, because his colleagues consistently give him top reviews, Mr. Barone has an “AV” (highest) rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and since 2009 has been included in the highly selective US News & World Report’s America’s Best Lawyers while The Barone Defense Firm appears in their companion America’s Best Law Firms. He has been rated “Seriously Outstanding” by SuperLawyers, rated “Outstanding/10.0” by AVVO and has recently been appointed to the advisory board for the Michigan edition of Leading Lawyers Magazine.
2 comments… add one
  • Brian Van Eman February 16, 2011, 1:56 am

    I was charged with a felony DUI(3rd-no accidents) on August 13, 2009. I recently completed my probation when I ran across an article regarding drivers license restoration. My license is revoked until 2014 when i am able to appeal to the DLAD. Is there any possible way to be put into a drug court after probation to allow for me to get a restricted license. Is there anything that can be done so I dont have to wait until 2014. Please let me know at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time in this matter.

  • Jaclyn OConnor November 7, 2012, 1:13 am

    I am a college student, and I am now applying to finish my undergraduate degree, and some applications ask ” Have you ever had any criminal offenses other than minor traffic violations?” I answered “No,” because I am not sure if a first offense DUI is a criminal offense. I am not from Michigan so I am not sure, but I would like to know for future reference.
    Thank you.


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