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Michigan DUI Laws

Chapter 256 and 257 of Michigan’s statutory code covers laws regarding motor vehicles. Specifically, driving while intoxicated is covered under MCL § 257.625, which covers: operating motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), operating motor vehicle when visibly impaired (OWVI), penalties for causing death or serious impairment of a body function, enhanced sentences, and other related topics.

For driving while intoxicated, it can also cause a license suspension, which is outlined in MCL § 257.319. Under MCL § 257.319, a person’s license can be suspended for a violation of § 625 under certain circumstances. If the person has no prior convictions within 7 years, then their license can be suspended for 90 days for a violation of § 625(3), which is a violation of operating a vehicle when, due to the consumption of a controlled substance or a combination of alcoholic liquor and a controlled substance, the person’s ability to operate the vehicle was visibly impaired. If there is a prior conviction of § 625(3), then the person’s license can be suspended for 180 days. Regardless of the length of the license suspension, a person can be granted a restrictive license during all or a portion of the suspension period.

Driving while intoxicated may also provoke a violation of MCL § 257.626, which covers reckless driving on a public highway, frozen public lake, or a place of parking. MCL §257.626 defines reckless driving as when “a person who operates a vehicle upon a highway or a frozen public lake, stream, or pond or other place open to the general public, including, but not limited to, an area designated for the parking of motor vehicles, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Thus, driving while intoxicated could be considered driving with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

Another DUI related law is MCL §257.303, where a person will be denied an operator’s or chauffeur’s license in Michigan if they violate MCL § 257.625.

Elements of DUI in Michigan

The elements of a DUI offense are that the person is operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. The first element of “operate” requires the prosecution to prove that the accused person had control of the vehicle. Using a car in motion satisfies this element. For cars that are stationary, being in the driver’s seat with keys close at hand so that the person is capable of placing the car in motion also satisfies the “operate” element of a DUI offense.

The second element of a DUI offense is the “vehicle” element, which includes any vehicle on land that is moved by power other than power from a human. The courts have included such vehicles as a mounted bicycle, a tractor, and a riding lawnmower that satisfy the “vehicle” element. The third element of a DUI offense is the “under the influence of an intoxicating liquor” element. Satisfying this element requires that a person consume enough alcohol to impair their operation of a vehicle to a noticeable or perceptible degree. For operating with any presence of a schedule 1 drug or cocaine (OWPD), the state will have to prove possession of that drug.

DUI Arrests in Michigan

Situations where a person can be arrested for a DUI is illustrated in MCL § 257.625(a). There are two main circumstances where a police officer can arrest a person without a warrant. The first such circumstance is at the time of an accident occurred in the state of Michigan. At that time, if a police officer has reasonable cause to believe that a person was the operator of a vehicle involved in the accident and had operated the vehicle in violation of Michigan’s DUI laws (Section 625 or a local ordinance corresponding to Section 625), then the police officer can arrest that person.

The second circumstance for arrest without a warrant is when the person is found in the driver’s seat of a vehicle parked or stopped on a highway or street within the state of Michigan. If any part of the person’s vehicle intrudes into the roadway and the police officer has reasonable cause to believe that the person was operating the vehicle in violation of Michigan’s DUI laws (Section 625 or a local ordinance corresponding to Section 625), then the police officer can arrest that person.


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