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Michigan imposes serious penalties on individuals convicted of drugged driving offenses. You may face lengthy imprisonment, heavy fines and suspension of your driving privileges. The stringent laws of Michigan allow arresting officers to obtain a warrant for drug testing if you are suspected of operating under the influence of drugs (OUID) and refuse to submit to an immediate roadside test.

Springstead Bartish Borgula & Lynch Law, PLLC is dedicated exclusively to criminal defense. With our 40 years of combined experience, our drunk driving defense attorneys in Muskegon know how to successfully defend clients facing OUID charges.


Michigan’s drugged driving per se laws mean even trace elements of a Schedule I drug or cocaine in a person’s system while driving can result in an OUID charge — also referred to as operating while under the influence of drugs (OWID). This charge may be in addition to separate potential arrests for possession, sale, trafficking or other drug-related offenses. Violation of Michigan’s zero tolerance statutes can result in serious penalties, including the following for a first-time conviction:

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Between $100 and $500 in fines and driver responsibility fees of up to $1,000
  • Driver’s license suspension for 30 days and restriction for 150 days
  • Vehicle immobilization
  • Installation of ignition interlock device
  • Up to 360 hours of community service


Driving In the Era of Legalized Marijuana (Cannabis)

As of November 2018, the recreational use of marijuana, or cannabis, is legal in Michigan. However, if you drive while under the influence of marijuana, you can be charged with operating while impaired due to marijuana, similar to how you can be charged with operating while intoxicated due to alcohol.

Because marijuana influence cannot be measured with a preliminary breath test or chemical test, law enforcement has established a system to determine if someone under the influence of marijuana, is impaired due to marijuana.

To arrest someone for driving under marijuana influence, law enforcement must determine that the person is under influence of marijuana, and that the person is impaired due to marijuana.

An arresting officer must first establish that someone is under the influence of marijuana, using these factors:

  • Red eyes
  • Odor
  • Body/eyelid tremors
  • Disoriented
  • Debris in mouth
  • Impaired perception of time/distance
  • Increased appetite
  • Relaxed inhibitions
  • Possible paranoia

Once the officer has established that someone is under the influence, the officer will summon a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). This is an officer who has been trained to recognize signs of impairment due to drugs. The DRE will use the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) program to establish impairment, and ask the subject to perform the following tests:

  • Walk and turn
  • One leg stand
  • Pupil size
  • Eye exam
  • Romberg test – whether someone falls over with their arms out in front of them and eyes closed
  • Alphabet test
  • Finger to nose test

Importantly, just because someone is operating a vehicle while under the influence does not mean that they are “impaired.” The officer must establish that someone is impaired, and not just high, and will look to the totality of the clues to determine impairment. To arrest someone for operating under the influence, the person must show multiple clues of influence and impairment.

Once the person has been arrested, the officer will procure a warrant to seize that person’s blood, so that it may be tested for the amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC,” in that person’s blood. If someone has less than 1 ng of THC in their system, the blood test will not register the result.

Michigan has not yet established a reliable method of roadside saliva testing, which would show the level of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC,” in someone’s saliva. Several states have established an amount of THC in someone’s saliva that would allow that person to be charged with operating under the influence. For example:

  • Colorado – reasonable inference if over 5 ng
  • Montana – 5 ng
  • Washington – 5 ng
  • Ohio – 2 ng
  • Nevada – 2 ng
  • Pennsylvania – 2 ng
  • Canada – 2-5 ng (three different offenses)

If you use marijuana and drive, it is important to be aware of how you can potentially be charged with operating under the influence. If you or someone you know is charged with operating under the influence of marijuana, call now for a free consultation.


OWID accidents involving serious injuries are often prosecuted as felonies. Injuring another person in such a situation can result in up to five years of imprisonment. If you are convicted of an OWID accident that causes fatal injuries, you can receive up to 15 years’ imprisonment. If a first responder died in the accident, you can be sentenced to up to 20 years if convicted for drugged driving. Our award winning attorneys are skilled at challenging prosecution evidence — such as accident reports, field sobriety tests, video tapes and saliva and blood drug analysis methods.


Learn more about drugged driving charges in Michigan from our knowledgeable DUI defense lawyers

To learn more about drugged driving offenses in Michigan, call Springstead Bartish Borgula & Lynch, PLLC’s Grand Rapids office at 616-458-5500 or our Fremont office at 616-458-5500 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.

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