When Can an OWI Become a Felony in Michigan?

A DUI/OWI in Michigan is typically a misdemeanor offense, punishable by jail time, fines, driver’s license suspension, and other penalties. However, if you are charged with a third OWI after having been convicted of two prior drunk driving offenses in the past, it is considered a Class E felony.

The following are the penalties for a Class E felony in Michigan:

  • A maximum five-year prison sentence (with a mandatory minimum of 30 days)
  • Fines no more than $5,000 (not including other assessment fees)
  • Up to 180 days of community service
  • Six points on your driver’s license
  • Vehicle forfeiture or immobilization up to three years
  • Driver’s license revocation of up to five years

Additionally, a felony drunk driving conviction will result in the defendant being labeled a “habitual felon drunk driver” for the remainder of their life. You cannot expunge or seal a felony DWI conviction.

Other OWI offenses that are considered felonies include:

  • OWI causing serious injury – If a drunk driving offense involves another person suffering a serious injury, this type of OWI is also a Class E felony. Keep in mind, the injury must be serious in nature (e.g. broken bones, impairment of a body function, paralysis, etc.). A bruise or cut is not a serious injury.
  • OWI causing death – If a drunk driving offense involves another person’s death, this type of OWI is a Class C felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years, a maximum $10,000 fine (not including other assessment fees), vehicle forfeiture, six points added your driver’s license, driver’s license revocation for a minimum one year (unless you have a prior revocation within seven years, then the minimum is five years). However, if the victim was an emergency responder, the offense elevates to a Class B felony, which can lead to a maximum 20-year prison term.

Having a felony offense follow you for the rest of your life can lead to several collateral consequences. Being a felon makes it extremely difficult to get employed, find housing, or take advantage of other opportunities in life. When facing a felony OWI crime in Michigan, it is imperative to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

If you have been charged with a felony OWI in Okemos, contact White Law PLLC today at (517) 316-1195 for a free consultation.