Michigan Out of State Drivers – Criminal Defense Lawyers

Out-of-State Drivers Charged with Crimes in Michigan – What You Need to Know

So you were driving through Michigan and got pulled over and charged with a crime. That sucks. As an out-of-state driver, dealing with criminal charges in an unfamiliar place can be really intimidating and confusing. But don’t worry, you’ve got options. In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know as an out-of-state driver charged with a crime in Michigan, from common charges to potential defenses to finding a good criminal defense lawyer.

Common Criminal Charges for Out-of-State Drivers in Michigan

Some of the most common criminal charges out-of-state drivers face in Michigan include:


Getting pulled over for suspected drunk driving is probably the most frequent criminal charge out-of-state drivers deal with in MI. The legal limit here is .08 BAC, and police can charge you with OWI (operating while intoxicated) or OWVI (operating while visibly impaired). Penalties get harsher the higher your BAC and with repeat offenses.

Reckless or Careless Driving

Speeding, swerving, tailgating – cops here don’t mess around with aggressive or dangerous driving. A careless driving citation can lead to fines and points on your license. Reckless driving is a criminal misdemeanor and much more serious.

Drug Possession

Getting caught with illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy etc. means you could be charged with possession. Penalties vary based on the type and amount of drugs. As of 2018, recreational marijuana is legal in MI but still illegal federally.

Assault, Battery, Domestic Violence

Assault, battery, domestic violence – these kinds of violent crimes often spur from bar fights, road rage incidents, or family disputes. They can mean big fines, probation, maybe even jail time.

Traffic Violations

Out-of-state drivers can also get slapped with traffic tickets for things like speeding, illegal passing, failure to stop, seat belt violations, etc. Most are civil infractions but some like excessive speeding may be criminal misdemeanors.

Potential Defenses for Out-of-State Drivers

Fighting criminal charges in an unfamiliar place feels intimidating. But working with an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney, there are often strong defenses we can use to get charges reduced or dismissed, like:

Invalid Traffic Stop

If police didn’t have valid reason (like speeding, swerving, etc) to pull you over in the first place, evidence from the invalid stop may be suppressed. This could get the whole case tossed out.

Illegal Search

Similarly, if cops searched your vehicle without consent or probable cause, that’s an illegal search violating the 4th Amendment. Any evidence found may be inadmissible.

Insufficient Evidence

Prosecutors have the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If their evidence is weak, we can argue for reduced charges or acquittal.

Medical Conditions

For DUI, conditions like diabetes or neurological disorders can cause driver impairment mimicking intoxication. This can show you weren’t criminally impaired.


In assault or domestic violence cases, we may argue you acted in self-defense if you reasonably believed you were in danger. This is a complete defense to violent crimes.The key is knowing your rights and working with an attorney to build the strongest defense to get the best possible outcome. Don’t just plead guilty without exploring your options first.

Finding an Experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer

As an out-of-state driver, your best bet is finding an attorney licensed in Michigan who knows the local courts and laws and has experience successfully defending drivers like you. When researching lawyers, here are some key tips:

  • Check they’re licensed in MI – Make sure they’re able to practice in Michigan courts.
  • Look for 10+ years experience – You want someone well-versed in MI criminal law with a proven trial record. Less experience means less expertise.
  • Read online reviews – Get a feel for their reputation from past clients on GoogleAvvo, etc. But take with a grain of salt.
  • Consult with a few – Talk to a few lawyers before deciding. Most offer free consultations. Get a feel for their experience with your type of case.
  • Ask about fees – Get clear rates and fee structures in writing upfront. Beware super cheap fees which signal inexperience.
  • Trust your gut – Go with the lawyer you feel most confident in and comfortable with. This is your best ally.

Also know that you don’t have to be present at every hearing. Your lawyer can appear on your behalf so you don’t have to return to Michigan endlessly. A local attorney well-versed in MI law is key though.

What Happens Next – Possible Outcomes

If you do get charged with a crime in Michigan, here’s a quick rundown of what to expect in the process:

  • Arrest – If arrested, you’ll be fingerprinted, photographed, and held until seeing a judge or posting bond.
  • Charging decision – Prosecutors review police reports and decide what if any charges to file. Misdemeanors must be charged within 6 months. Felonies within 3 years.
  • Arraignment – You appear in court, hear charges, and enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, no contest). Trial date may be set.
  • Plea bargaining – Your lawyer may negotiate with prosecutors to get charges dropped or reduced in exchange for a guilty plea.
  • Trial – If no plea deal, your case goes to trial where a judge or jury decides your guilt. You could be found guilty, not guilty, or charges could be dropped.
  • Sentencing – If found or plead guilty, the judge issues penalties like fines, probation, restitution, jail time, etc.
  • Appeal – If you lose at trial, you can appeal to a higher court to review errors that violated your rights.

Having an experienced local criminal defense lawyer in your corner fighting for the best possible outcome can make a huge difference in this process. Don’t leave your fate to chance.

Don’t Panic – Take a Deep Breath

Being arrested and facing criminal charges far from home is scary. Your mind probably races with anxiety about what might happen. But don’t panic. Take a deep breath. This isn’t the end of the world.With an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney advising you, many options exist. The charges may be dropped or reduced. You may be able to get probation or alternative sentencing. Don’t lose all hope yet.Focus on finding the best legal representation you can afford ASAP. Interview lawyers. Discuss defense strategy. Start building your case. And know there are people ready to help you through this difficult situation. So don’t panic or do anything rash. Take it step by step. It’s going to be okay. You’ve got this!