In Michigan, an ordinary misdemeanor OWI or OWVI charge can cost you your driver’s license, a huge fine and even time in jail. Then there are felony-level OWI charges, which are even more serious. You need to know the line beyond which a misdemeanor charge can turn into a felony.
There are two ways that Michigan law converts a drunk-driving charge to felony level.
State law seeks to punish multiple offenders by making a felony to be convicted of a second OWI within seven years of a first offense or a third offense within any time period. Penalties for a conviction include either one to five years in prison, or 30-365 days in jail followed by probation and community service.
Injury or death
Someone who caused a car accident while driving under the influence and got somebody seriously injured or died is very likely to face felony-level OWI charges. Note that the injury did not have to be life-threatening to lead to a felony OWI charge. A broken bone that temporarily limits the person’s movement could be enough to convince prosecutors to increase the severity of the charge. If the injured person dies, the charge will be a class C felony unless the deceased was an emergency responder, which increases the charge to a class B felony. Either way, you would face years in prison and a felony record.
When facing felony charges, you need every possible resource to ensure fair treatment and work to avoid an unjust outcome. This starts with finding an experienced criminal defense attorney.