Michigan Laws & Penalties For Drunk Driving in 2023: How Much Alcohol Can You Drink and Drive?

Drink and drive laws in Michigan

In Michigan, it is illegal for drivers over 21 to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.08% (80 ml of alcohol per 100 ml of blood) and 0.02% (20 ml of alcohol per 100 ml of blood) for those under 21.

However, if a motorist shows signs of intoxication while operating a motor vehicle, they may be detained regardless of their BAC level.

Generally, one or two standard alcoholic drinks will cause you to reach or exceed the 0.08% BAC legal limit. This sum is only an approximate estimate because a person’s BAC level varies depending on gender, weight, and other factors.

This article aims to educate readers regarding drunk driving laws in Michigan. This page does not endorse or promote driving while intoxicated in any state or region.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is also referred to as operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) in Michigan. This action pertains to driving or operating a motor vehicle while impaired by a substance and is illegal in Michigan.

According to records, Michigan had 1,084 fatal car accidents in 2020. 28% of these deadly crashes involved alcohol-impaired drivers whose BAC levels were over 0.08%, while 19% involved drivers were over 0.15%.

The state of Michigan keeps track of drunk driving cases annually per county. They also enforce DUI laws to prevent intoxicated driving. It is essential to check your blood alcohol level before driving.

Be sure your blood alcohol level is within Michigan’s legal limit by using an alcohol breathalyzer. You can call a cab, use Uber, or a designated driver service as an alternative to driving.

To keep up with DUI driving laws and regulations, visit Michigan’s State of Police official website.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Michigan

If you were observed operating a vehicle in Michigan with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or above, you would be charged with drunk driving.

The government put the BAC restrictions in place to decrease the number of accidents involving impaired drivers.

Although the state establishes a 0.08% legal BAC level, it’s crucial to acknowledge that every person reacts differently to alcohol. Some people may lose consciousness after consuming a few bottles.

Your BAC can be affected by several things, such as the following:

  • gender
  • weight
  • usage of pharmaceutical drugs
  • stress levels
  • alcohol consumption level

You can determine how much alcohol you can drink before driving with a BAC chart and BAC calculator. These techniques might not suit everyone because everyone’s response to alcohol varies.

The use of a certified alcohol breathalyzer is the most accurate method to calculate your BAC.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Michigan

The blood alcohol content and other factors impact the degree of impairment. When a person’s BAC is between 0.010% and 0.029%, they generally appear normal. Yet, as BAC levels increase, signs of alcohol-related impairment become more noticeable.

Each state has its own set of DUI legislation. Administrative and judicial repercussions for driving under the influence are possible. Get your blood alcohol level analyzed before you drive to avoid penalties.

An outline of Michigan’s DUI or OWI penalties is provided below.

First Offense

A first-time impaired driving offender may face the penalties listed below.

  • Fines: Up to $500
  • Jail Time: Maximum of 93 days imprisonment
  • Community Service: Up to 360 days of community work
  • License Suspension: 180 days

Second Offense

A second-time drunk driving offense within seven years may result in the following punishment:

  • Fines: $200 to $1,000
  • Jail Time: Up to one year of imprisonment; or
  • Community Service: 30 to 60 days of community work or both
  • License Suspension: The offender will have their license revoked. A new license may or may not be awarded for one to five years, depending on the nature of the violation.

Third and Subsequent Offense

A third or subsequent impaired driving offense within ten years may lead to the following sanctions:

  • Fines: $500 to $5,000
  • Jail Time: One to five years in prison or a combination of probation, a 30- to a one-year stint in county jail, and 60- to 180-days’ worth of community work.
  • License Suspension: The offender’s license will be revoked. Depending on the extent of the offense, a new license may or may not be granted for one to five years.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Michigan?

Many factors contribute to how alcohol affects individuals. One factor that affects a person’s blood alcohol level is gender. Studies show that the BACs of men and women differ.

Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) is present at significantly higher levels in men than women. Because of these enzymes, men’s metabolic rates for alcohol are quick. Males, therefore, absorb alcohol more quickly than females.

The information below may be helpful if you’re unaware of how much alcohol you can legally consume before driving in Michigan.

Although the information below is supported by studies, it might not fit everyone because everyone’s body responds to alcohol differently.

How Many Bottles of Beers Can You Drink and Drive in Michigan?

Drink beer and drive in Michigan

According to BAC charts, a person with a lighter physique can have a higher BAC.

For instance, after consuming a 12-ounce (350 ml) beer, a man weighing 72 kg (160 lbs) may have a blood alcohol content of 0.02%.

On the other hand, a woman of the same size who consumes the same amount of beer could have a BAC of 0.03%.

Drink no more than one to two bottles of beer to maintain a BAC below Michigan’s legal limit.

How Many Glasses of Wine Can You Consume and Drive in Michigan?

A conventional wine glass (5 oz/142 ml) holds up to 12% alcohol by volume.

Typically, consuming two glasses of wine can make a person reach the allowable BAC level in Michigan.

How Much Whiskey or Vodka Can You Drink and Drive in Michigan?

Distilled spirits like vodka or whiskey have 40% alcohol by volume in each shot.

If you cannot avoid driving, one to two shots of whiskey or vodka will suffice to maintain your blood alcohol level below Michigan’s legal limit.

Sticking to DUI Laws in Michigan

There are many misconceptions about alcohol and how it affects driving safety. Every driver must be aware of the risks associated with DUI and take all reasonable measures to avoid it.

It is not recommended to drive impaired. You lose all control over a vehicle and yourself as soon as alcohol enters your bloodstream.

Even if you’ve had a small amount of alcohol, you shouldn’t be complacent that your BAC levels and driving abilities are safe. If you’re impaired, you should consider using alternate transportation rather than driving.

If you intend to drive after drinking, ensure your BAC level is within the legal limit. You can correctly determine your blood alcohol concentration level using a reliable alcohol breathalyzer.

Check Michigan’s official website frequently to stay informed on the state’s DUI regulations.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.