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OWIs: More than just fines and fees

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2024 | Criminal Defense

If a Michigan court convicts a person of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) by either alcohol or a controlled substance, they face severe criminal penalties. On top of a fine and a term of imprisonment, a court may also suspend the person’s driver’s license for a time.

But the total cost of an OWI conviction is more than just court and administrative fines. This blog will list some of the lesser-known fees that convicted drivers will face.

Increased auto insurance rates

An OWI conviction can lead to increased insurance rates, which can impact a driver’s budget. Insurance companies view an OWI as a high-risk behavior, so any driver with a record will have higher premiums. This can be especially nasty for young drivers who have limited finances.

It takes just one OWI in Michigan for a driver’s auto insurance to jump as much as $6,063.

Lost income

Drivers arrested and charged with OWI may miss work to attend their court hearings or serve their sentence. This can devastate households where the convicted driver is the family’s sole breadwinner.

Ignition interlock devices

A court may order a convicted driver to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. The device prevents a vehicle from starting unless it can detect that the driver’s breath alcohol levels are low enough. Although it’s a court-ordered measure, it won’t come free – drivers are expected to find and pay for a device installation, which costs up to $150. Drivers must also pay to rent the device, which can cost up to $90 monthly.

Driver Responsibility Act

State law also requires convicted drivers to pay $2,000 over two years as part of the Driver Responsibility Act. The fee might sound manageable, but when combined with the other financial penalties and restrictions that come with an OWI conviction, it can be oppressive.

In summary, OWIs are very expensive. On top of these many costs, a convicted driver also gets a criminal record and jail time. f you are facing OWI charges, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced legal professional who can help you navigate the court system and protect your rights.

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