Second-Offense Operating While Intoxicated

A drinking and driving offense that occurs within seven years of a prior drinking and driving conviction will be charged as an OWI-second offense, which comes with harsher penalties than a first-time OWI.

The type of charge the second time around doesn’t matter – whether it is operating while intoxicated, operating while visibly impaired, or operating with the presence of a controlled substance. These three charges result in the same sanctions as a second-offense charge.

What is the Penalty for OWI-Second Offense?

A second-offense OWI conviction comes with a mandatory minimum five days in jail. There are some judges who will impose more jail time than the minimum. There are also some judges who will skirt the law and not impose the 5 days, though there’s not many. The maximum punishment for a conviction is up to 1 year in jail.

Contrast This with First and Third Offense OWIs

Contrast this with your first-offense OWI charge. A first-offense comes with no mandatory minimum jail time and a maximum of 93 days in jail. Most judges will not impose jail time on your run-of-the-mill first-offense OWI. However, there are some strict judges out there who believe in jail time for a first-offense.

A third-offense at any point in time will be charged as a felony. This is known as a third-offense OWI, even if the charge is more than the person’s third charge. A felony OWI comes with a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail or 1 year in prison.

What Happens to Your Driver’s License With a Second-Offense OWI

A drinking and driving conviction that occurs within seven years of a prior drinking and driving conviction will result in the revocation of your driver’s license. The revocation is for a minimum of one year.

After one year you may apply to get a restricted license but getting your license back on your first attempt is far from guaranteed. You can only apply for the driver’s license once each year.

An OWI conviction that comes outside of the seven year time frame would not result in a license revocation, even if the OWI is still charged as a second offense. Note that for criminal charge purposes the seven year time frame is measured from conviction to next violation, whereas for the driver’s license the seven years is measured from first conviction to second conviction.

Sobriety Court

Sobriety Court may be an option for those facing license revocation on a second-offense OWI. Sobriety Court is intensive probation where a person has frequent contact with the judge, heightened alcohol testing requirements, and increased probation supervision.

Going through sobriety court is a way to hold on to your driver’s license. The sobriety court laws enables a person to bypass the 1 year driver’s license revocation.

Sobriety Court Is Not For Everyone

I really encourage clients to think hard about sobriety court before agreeing to the program. The reality is the increased supervision means it is much more likely that a participant will do more jail time at some point than if they did not attend sobriety court.

Attendance at sobriety court is not forced on you by the judge. It is your decision and in many courts you must consider the judge that you are a suitable candidate for the court. Having said that, we have seen many success stories with sobriety court in terms of people maintaining sobriety and holding onto their license.

Contact Us

Call Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or e-mail at

Sam Bernstein is an OWI Attorney in Ann Arbor.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 2750 Carpenter Rd #2, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Read More

  • Steps in an OWI Case
  • OWI Driver’s License Penalties
  • What To Do After an OWI Arrest
  • What To Do When Pulled Over For OWI

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Call 734-883-9584 to speak with a drinking and driving attorney

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