Regardless of whether you are driving or not, it is illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in Michigan. The State has a very tough Michigan OWI law for drivers under the age of 21 who have the presence of any alcohol in their system at the time of their arrest, not just a BAC of .08% or higher. This very tough law is known as “Zero Tolerance”.

Under the Zero Tolerance law, a driver under the age of 21 who has a BAC of between .02% and .08% is subject to a Michigan OWI arrest. While it is true that these underage drivers may not be as “drunk” as adult drivers with BAC's over .08%, this is still very much a full-blown Michigan OWI. If you have been charged with a Michigan Zero Tolerance OWI, or if your child has been charged, you need to take this matter very seriously.

A Michigan OWI Zero Tolerance conviction does have some differences from an adult Michigan OWI. Most notably, a first offense Michigan OWI Zero Tolerance charge carries no potential jail sentence. However, the judge can still sentence the defendant to up to 360 hours of community service. That's 45 full workdays! Additionally, fines and costs to the court can run into the thousands of dollars. The judge can also order the Michigan OWI Zero Tolerance defendant to participate in a lengthy and expensive substance abuse treatment program. If a minor has been charged with a second offense Michigan OWI Zero Tolerance he can be ordered to serve 93 days in jail, and can also be ordered to perform 60 full days of community service.

It is the lasting effect of a Michigan OWI Zero Tolerance conviction that is perhaps most concerning. A minor who is found guilty of a Zero Tolerance charge has a Michigan OWI on their permanent record. This becomes critically important if there is a new criminal charge many years later. For instance, an individual who is convicted at age 19 with a .03% Michigan OWI Zero Tolerance charge would be subject to a Michigan OWI second offense if they were arrested at age 25. If an individual then goes on to get another OWI at age 30, he will be charged with Michigan Felony OWI. The fact that the very first arrest, with a minimal BAC of .03% at age 19, will still be counted against the defendant when being charged with a felony

Some under 21 drivers may be arrested with a BAC of over .08%. In those cases the individual, even though he is a minor, will likely be charged with the standard Michigan OWI. Like any over 21 driver, the minor would be subjected to all the punishments and costs associated with a Michigan OWI. This can include up to 93 days of incarceration. Additionally, there can be thousands of dollars of fines, driver's license revocation, community service, and substance abuse treatment.

If you have been charged with a Michigan OWI Zero Tolerance you need to take the allegation seriously. Attorney Richard I. Lippitt has the experience and knowledge that is required to confront your case. Mr. Lippitt employs a vast network of scientific and blood experts who can potentially challenge your Michigan OWI Zero Tolerance arrest. Additionally, Mr. Lippitt possesses the legal scholarship necessary to develop potential constitutional challenges of your Michigan OWI Zero Tolerance arrest.

Michigan OWI defense attorney Richard I. Lippitt is highly skilled and experienced in investigating and challenging the facts and circumstances of Michigan OWI arrests. Mr. Lippitt appears in Michigan courts over 350 times each year in defense of Michigan OWIs.

Attorney Richard I. Lippitt stands ready to provide you with a free, no-obligation meeting regarding your case. Please call (248) 921-7164 or request a Free Case Evaluation via the form on this page.