OWI Third Offense In Michigan

What Prior Drunk Driving Offenses Are Going to Hurt Me?

Drunk driving offenses in Michigan are extremely serious and not to be taken lightly. It makes perfect sense that the penalties for drunk driving offenses are more severe where there are previous blemishes on one’s record. In Michigan, penalties for third offense drunk driving charges are treated as felonies. A felony is any crime that is punishable by more than a year in jail. So, what prior offenses are counted when it comes to enhancing what would normally be a misdemeanor offense into a felony? The quick answer is all of them. It makes no difference whether one has been charged with OWI (operating while intoxicated), OWVI (operating while visibly impaired/impaired driving), an OUIL or UBAL (back before these two charges were abolished in favor of OWI). Also of some importance is the fact that it makes no difference what combination the convictions come in. An offender could be convicted of three OWVI’s, or, what most would consider to be a “less serious” offense, and the third offense would still get enhanced into a felony. Furthermore, it does not matter how long ago any of these convictions took place. Up until a few years ago, the 10-year decay rule required that all offenses occur within a ten year time frame in order to apply felony enhancement to a drunk driving charge. That is no longer the case. So, for example, an offender could be convicted of a drunk driving offense when he is 21 years old, 31 years old, and receive the last offense when he turns 60; and the third offense would still be enhanced to a felony despite the fact that the other previous charges occurred so many years ago.


Offenders who have two previous drunk driving offenses are going to get jail time. The length of imprisonment depends on who the judge is and the particular facts and circumstances of each particular case. In general, the following penalties will be applied to third offense OWI’s:

• Imprisonment for 1 – 5 years; or

• Probation with jail for 30 days – 1 year (at least 48 hours must be served consecutively);

• Community service for 60 – 180 days;

• Fines of $500 — $5,000;

• Permissive vehicle forfeiture;

• Mandatory vehicle immobilization for 1 – 3 years.

Get a Michigan OWI Attorney

As you can see, if you have been charged with a drunk driving offense—especially if it’s for the third time—it is imperative that you contact an attorney. A third offense drunk driving offense is guaranteed to land an offender in jail. Contact our office today for a free initial consultation at 586-268-2400.