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July 22, 2015

MSC rules that convictions for both OWI and OWI causing injury, arising out of same incident, violates double jeopardy

In People v. Miller, No. 149502, the Michigan Supreme Court held that conviction and punishment of both operating while intoxicated (“OWI”) and operating while intoxicated causing serious impairment of another person’s body function (“OWI-injury”) arising from the same incident violates the constitutional protection of double jeopardy. Except where explicitly authorized by statute, double jeopardy protects defendants against successive prosecutions for the same offense and against the imposition of multiple punishments for the same offense.
The defendant was convicted with OWI, MCL 257.625(1), and OWI-injury, MCL 257.625(5), for an accident that resulted when the defendant grabbed the steering wheel of the automobile that his girlfriend was operating. The defendant appealed. The Court of Appeals concluded that the Legislature did not express a clear intent with regard to multiple punishments arising under MCL 257.625(1) and (5). Accordingly, it affirmed the OWI-injury conviction, but vacated the OWI conviction because it violated defendant’s constitutional protection against double jeopardy.
The Michigan Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals judgment vacating defendant’s OWI conviction, on different grounds, and remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing. The Michigan Supreme Court held, under MCL 257.625, that the Legislature clearly did not intend to allow conviction and punishment for multiple offenses arising from the same incident except where explicitly authorized by the statute. That Court held that MCL 257.625(1) and (5) do not specifically authorize multiple punishments reasoning that other sections in 257.625 specifically authorize multiple punishments while MCL 257.625(1) and (5) do not expressly provide such a provision. Thus, the Legislature clearly did not intend for multiple punishments arising under MCL 257.625(1) and (5).

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