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Michigan Criminal Law Blog

Help! My Child Was Arrested for OWI!

Ask any parent and they’ll tell you that as scary as it is for bad things to happen to them, it’s even worse when bad things happens to their children. Most parents would trade their child’s hardship for their own in an instant. This applies to many different scenarios including an arrest. If your child has been arrested for underage drinking and driving, what should you do?

The legal drinking age in Michigan is 21, which means anyone who consumes alcohol before their 21st birthday and operates a vehicle is guilty of two crimes. Despite the legal drinking age, many drunk driving accidents are caused by people under the age of 21. Not only are they inexperienced drivers, they’re also inexperienced drinkers and like many young drinkers, tend to overdo their drinking and make risky decisions.

To curb underage drinking and driving in Michigan, the court system has set strict penalties. The goal is to discourage kids from making poor decisions but it doesn’t always work.

These zero tolerance laws mean that even an underage drinker with a BAC level of .02% can be charged with OWI. If your child has a BAC of .08% or higher (the illegal adult level), he or she can be charged as an adult. And if this isn’t your child’s first offense, you could be looking at felony charges.

Penalties for Underage OWI

Luckily, there is no jail sentence given as long as your child’s BAC is lower than .08%. First time offenders can expect a mandatory order to participate in community service, as well as a hefty fine.

If your child’s level is .08% or higher, they could face up to 93 days in jail, license suspension, and a fine ranging from $100 to $500. Second time offenders are looking at increased community service, higher fines, longer jail sentences, mandatory alcohol treatment program attendance, long-term license suspension, and a fine of up to $1000.

To read more about the charges and penalties your child might face if caught drunk driving in Michigan, check out

The bottom line? If your child is arrested for drunk driving, even if his or her BAC was relatively low, you need to contact an attorney immediately. The same rules apply to children as they do to adults – mistakes made during the arrest can work in your child’s favor, and an experienced attorney can help you identify and prove these mistakes.

As an adult, you have a lot to risk when you’re arrested for OWI. But if you’re like most parents, you’ll agree your child has even more at risk. Making a mistake when you’re 16, 17, or 18 can affect your life for years to come and cost you opportunities you’ll never have again.

The most important thing you can do if your son or daughter is arrested for OWI is to contact an attorney as soon as possible. They’ll offer guidance and support during this difficult time, and ensure your child is treated fairly by the Michigan court system.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with a Michigan OWI attorney, contact Andrew W. Kowalkowski, PLLC at 248.974.9594.

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