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What are the underage OWI laws in Michigan?

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2022 | OWI

As a general rule, Michigan uses similar OWI laws as those you’ll find in other states. For example, it is commonly said that the legal limit is a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%. When a police officer pulls someone over and gives them a breath test or a blood test, this is what they’re looking for.

But it’s important to note that the laws for underage OWIs are a bit different. These are easier to get and both parents and teenage drivers need to understand why.

No tolerance laws

The reason that the line is different is because Michigan uses no tolerance laws. These laws state that any amount of alcohol is too much to legally operate a vehicle for someone who is under 21 years old. This is done on account of the fact that they should not have been drinking at all at that age. Since the very act of drinking was illegal itself, it is also easier to be charged with impaired driving.

However, the law also states that “any amount of alcohol” actually means a reading of 0.02%. That is thought to be enough to confirm that the driver does have alcohol in their system, even though it’s not enough for them to break the legal limit for adult drivers.

The problem that this can create is that young people can be charged with an OWI when they don’t even seem intoxicated or impaired at all. Someone could get to such a low blood alcohol concentration after only consuming part of a drink – something that could happen accidentally or unintentionally if the drink is spiked. But if the police perform a breath test after a traffic stop, they may still determine that that person should be arrested on drunk driving charges.

What options do you have?

If this has happened to you or if you are the parent of a young person who has been arrested, you may be worried about their future. Make sure you know about all the legal options you have to protect that future.