Impaired Driving Law

It is a crime for a driver to have a bodily alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater if over age 21 or .02 or greater if under 21. In addition, Michigan has a high-BAC law with enhanced penalties for anyone caught driving with a BAC of .17 or higher. However, drivers can be arrested at any BAC level if they exhibit signs of impairment while operating a motor vehicle.

Drivers with any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance and/or cocaine are subject to the same fines and penalties as drunk drivers, even if they show no signs of impairment. The only exception is an individual who has a valid medical marijuana card and is driving with marijuana in his or her system. Under the law, an officer must show they are impaired due to that marijuana. 


Costs and Consequences of a Drunk Driving Conviction

If BAC is below .17 and this is a first offense:

  • Up to $500 fine
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Up to 180 days license suspension
  • 6 points on a driver's license

If BAC is .17 or higher and this is a first offense:

  • Up to $700 fine
  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Up to one year license suspension
  • 6 points on a driver's license
  • Mandatory completion of an alcohol treatment program
  • Ignition interlock use and compliance after 45 days license suspension is required to receive a restricted driver's license. Convicted drunk drivers have limited driving privileges, are prohibited from operating a vehicle without an approved and properly installed ignition interlock device, and are responsible for all installation and upkeep costs for the device.

Anyone who refuses a breath test the first time is given an automatic one-year driver's license suspension. For a second refusal within seven years, the suspension is two years.

Convicted drunk drivers are subject to a $1,000 penalty for two consecutive years under the Driver Responsibility Act, for a total of $2,000 in additional costs.


Safer Alternatives

Tens of thousands of people are arrested annually in Michigan for alcohol-related driving offenses. To avoid a drunk driving arrest and the costs associated with such an arrest:

  • Designate a sober driver before drinking alcohol
  • Call a friend, cab, ride service, walk, or take the bus
  • Stay overnight