What Happens When You Get a 2nd DUI in Michigan

If you get a 2nd DUI within seven years of your first, you could face a fine of $1000 and have your license taken away—but there’s a way to get it back.
Written by Matt Nightingale
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
background
If you are convicted of a 2nd Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) charge in the state of
Michigan
, you could face a fine of $1,000 and one year in jail.
Michigan has some of the more lenient DUI laws in the country, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get off scot-free if you’re caught driving under the influence. Quite the opposite — a first DUI offense in Michigan can land you in jail for six months, while a 2nd offense could put you away for a whole year. And that’s not even counting the thousands of dollars in fines you could face.

What is a 2nd offense DUI in Michigan?

In this state, a DUI is known locally as an OWIOperating While Intoxicated—and is governed under
Michigan's DUI laws
. You may be charged with an OWI if: 
  • You are over the age of 21 and you are found operating a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
  • You are under the age of 21 and you are found operating a vehicle with a BAC of .02 or higher.
  • If you are caught operating a vehicle with any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance (such as LSD, Heroin, or Marijuana) and/or cocaine in your system.
An OWI charge can be laid even if you do not exhibit signs of intoxication. However, drivers with a valid medical marijuana card must exhibit signs of intoxication to be charged with a marijuana-related OWI.
An OWI will stay on your
Michigan driving record
permanently, so an OWI conviction coming any time after your first OWI conviction can be counted as your 2nd OWI in Michigan. Drivers can apply to have their first OWI expunged five years after their probation period has ended. The typical probation period following a first OWI conviction lasts about a year.
Expungement is not automatic, and it is not available to drivers with more than one OWI conviction. Expungement removes the OWI conviction from your public record available to employers, schools, and other public entities.
The state of Michigan will continue to hold a non-public record of the conviction, which can be held against you if you are charged with another OWI in the future. 
Key Takeaway Expungement clears your first OWI conviction from your public driving record, but that first OWI conviction can still affect any future OWI conviction.
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What is the punishment for a 2nd DUI in Michigan?

As you might expect, a 2nd OWI conviction receives harsher penalties—some administrative, some criminal. Administrative penalties are punitive measures imposed by the Michigan DMV like fines, fees, or
license suspension
. Criminal penalties include things like jail time and community service.
If you are convicted of a 2nd OWI within seven years of your first OWI offense, your license can be revoked, which means it's taken away permanently. If that is the case, you will need to win a formal
license restoration
case to get your license back, and you must wait one year before you can initiate that process.
The criminal penalties for a 2nd offense are similarly harsh. If your 2nd conviction comes within seven years of a previous conviction you could face:
  • A $200 to $1,000 fine
  • 30 to 90 days of community service
  • 5 days to one year in jail
  • Vehicle forfeiture
  • 30 to 90 days of vehicle immobilization (unless your vehicle has been forfeited)
Immobilization is when a court prevents you from using your vehicle, either by order or with court-approved technology. It’s mandatory for a 2nd OWI offense, but the length of immobilization, as well as the length of your community service, jail sentence, and the size of your fine will depend on the opinion of the judge in your case. 
There is a possibility of having your charges reduced from an OWI to an OWVI (Operating While Visibly Intoxicated) or a UBAC (Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content) charge.
An OWVI conviction carries a 90-day license suspension, but you can apply for a restricted license immediately. A UBAC conviction carries similar penalties to an OWVI conviction but adds a community service component. In cases where a driver is convicted of an OWVI in which a controlled substance was found in their body, their license suspension will be increased to 180 days.
While there is the possibility of having your charges reduced, there is also a chance that you could face even harsher punishment if there are any aggravating factors that the court considers relevant.
Some aggravating factors that can lead to stiffer penalties for a 2nd Michigan OWI include: 
  • If your BAC is .17 or higher
  • If there were passengers under 16 years of age
  • If you are charged with an OWI offense that caused serious bodily injury
  • If you are charged with an OWI offense that caused a death
Key Takeaway A 2nd DUI within seven years of your first conviction can result in total revocation of your driving privileges, on top of fines and potential jail time.

How much does a 2nd DUI in Michigan cost in the long run?

The impact of license suspension and revocation, large fines, jail time, and the resulting high
car insurance
costs after a second OWI conviction can add up quickly—as much as $30,000, if not more.
Let’s look at the math. 

Fees, penalty assessments, and DUI school

If you are convicted of an OWI you may be required to complete a state-sanctioned Alcohol Highway Safety Program. The cost for this course is approximately $135.
The fine for a 2nd OWI conviction ranges from $200 to $1,000, but you could face additional fines if you cause serious bodily injury ($5,000 maximum) or death ($10,000 maximum), or if there was a passenger under the age of 16 in your vehicle ($5,000 maximum). If your offense included one of each of these, you could end up with a total of $21,000 in fines  
These fines can reach even higher if you have a prior OWI conviction in the past seven years and a BAC of 0.17 or higher.

Alternative transportation

If you lose your license, or if your car is immobilized or forfeited, you may be forced to rely on alternate forms of transportation. If cheap public transportation isn’t available where you live, the cost of services like taxis or Ubers can add up—big time.
Don’t forget that losing reliable transportation could affect your ability to go to work and cost you your job.
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Increased car insurance costs 

Michigan driving records operate on a points system. Driver violation points can have a big effect on your insurance rates. Every driving conviction adds points to your driving record, and the more points you accumulate the higher your insurance premiums will be. 
An OWI is one of the most costly infractions, adding six points to your driver’s license. An OWVI conviction adds four points to your record. This can have a major impact on your cost of vehicle ownership. 
According to Forbes, a DUI conviction increases a driver’s insurance premiums by an average of 74%. With the average annual cost of basic
liability insurance
in Michigan already at $3,093, an OWI conviction could add an extra $2,295 to your annual premium.
If you add up all of the above, it’s easy to see how a 2nd OWI conviction can easily cost you over $23,000—and that’s before you pay your lawyer. It’s hard to estimate how much it would cost to hire a lawyer to help you with your OWI case, but expect it to cost between $1,000 and $25,000.
Add that to your $23,000 in fines and increased insurance premiums and you’re looking at a total bill of between $30,000 to $48,000.

How to avoid jail time for a 2nd DUI in Michigan

Your 2nd OWI conviction can bring harsh penalties, but there are ways to minimize any jail time you may be facing. Here’s what you can do: 
  • Hire a lawyer. To have your jail time reduced, you’ll need the help of a knowledgeable advocate.
  • Plead guilty to an Operating While Visibly Intoxicated charge. An OWVI is a less serious charge that carries a lighter penalty.
In Michigan, community service can be ordered instead of jail time. A good attorney with a firm grasp of Michigan’s legal code can advocate on your behalf effectively and negotiate the best possible result for you. A skilled lawyer can cost you anywhere between $1,000 and $25,000, but you may find it to be money well spent.
You may also be given the option of pleading guilty to a reduced Operating While Visibly Intoxicated charge. An OWVI charge requires less proof for a conviction, but it carries a lighter sentence than an OWI. The penalty for an OWVI conviction includes:
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Fine up to $300
  • 90 to 180-day license suspension
  • 4 driver's license points
  • Potential vehicle immobilization
Drivers convicted of an OWVI do not have their driving privileges taken away, and they can obtain a restricted license immediately with no waiting period.
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FAQs

If you are convicted of a 2nd DUI within seven yaars of a first conviction in Michigan, your license may be revoked indefinitely. If your license is revoked, you will have to win a license reinstatement case to have your driving privileges reinstated. You must wait a minimum of one year before you can initiate the process of reinstatement.
No—in Michigan a 2nd DUI is a misdemeanor. However, your 2nd DUI can be upgraded to a felony if your charge stems from an incident that caused serious bodily harm or death.
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