EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS)- Millions of people ring in the new year with friends, family and a few drinks, but some might have one too many and still get behind the wheel of a car.
Police in East Lansing say they arrested four people on New Year’s Eve for doing just that.
A local attorney said there’s many misconceptions about how serious drinking and driving charges can be.
“It is a lifetime conviction.” Mike Nichol’s of Nichols Law Firm said.
A “lifetime conviction” that is what it looks like if you are ever found guilty of being behind the wheel while intoxicated.
“You cannot expunge or set aside or whatever you want to call it, you can’t set it aside. A lot of people have a misunderstanding about that, you think I can just get this off my record in 5 years, like many other seemingly minor crimes, that’s not true.” Mike Nichols, East Lansing attorney and author of The OWI Handbook said.
While many people call drunk driving offenses DUIs, Michigan law enforcement call it OPIs, operating while intoxicated.
“For example if you are a doctor you will have to report, and if it’s an alcohol related conviction, you will have to go through a lot of hoops with the board of medicine when you have to renew your license” Nichols said.
According to Nichols there are many consequences people forget.
First, having an OWI is public record, any employer or future employer can have the ability to see it.
Second, there are restrictions on visas and travel, including the inability to rent a car at some places.
Third, fines ranging from $100 to $5,000, and possible jail time.
In addition if you get three OWIs within your lifetime, it becomes a felony charge.
According to Mike Nichols, if you do find yourself in this kind of legal trouble there’s still hope in court, all are innocent until proven guilty and the breathalyzer is simply evidence, not a guilty conviction.