What You Need to Know About Intoxicated Possession of a Firearm

You can’t do certain things if you are intoxicated, such as driving a car, boat, or any other vehicle. You also may not legally possess a firearm while drunk. A superior defense attorney can help you avoid jail and possibly a conviction.

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Michigan Law Prohibits the Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated

It should be obvious to everyone why the law prohibits possession or use of a firearm while someone is impaired or intoxicated by drugs or alcohol: it is a tragedy waiting to happen. Most people would not even think of going to a gun range for target practice while intoxicated because of the danger of an accident. What may not be evident to people are circumstances when you can unintentionally run afoul of the law.

Many thousands of people go boating or travel into the woodlands each year to hunt deer, ducks, geese, and other animals during hunting season. It is safe to assume that many of these people gather socially with friends or relatives in hunting lodges or cabins and may very well have a few drinks, maybe more than a few drinks. You have committed a crime if you venture out into the woods armed while intoxicated or impaired. In many cases, people may feel fine or just slightly buzzed and not realize their level of intoxication. Intoxication can be by either alcohol or controlled substances, including marijuana. Some hunters may smoke marijuana before heading out to hunt. This may also be a crime if the hunter is impaired by marijuana.

Suppose you are sitting by a fire at night outdoors with some friends (or alone), have drunk too much or smoked too much, and have your trusty shotgun or rifle by your side. In that case, you are committing the crime of “Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated” even though you have no intention of using the gun at that time.

Another scenario that some people unintentionally fall into is when they have a concealed pistol permit, have too much to drink, and are arrested for drunk driving. If they have a pistol in their car that they had forgotten about, they can and probably will be charged with possessing a firearm while intoxicated. In this circumstance, especially without a strong defense, they may lose their concealed pistol license (CPL) very well.

How intoxicated or impaired do I have to be not to be able to possess a firearm?

The law attempts to treat firearms like driving a car or other vehicle. Suppose a police officer, DRN ranger, or Coast Guard member encounters you and believes you are under the influence, and they find out you possess a firearm. In that case, they will ask the same questions they would ask a driver, and they will ask you to submit to a preliminary breath test. Your acceptance of a CPL constitutes implied consent to submit to a PBT to determine your blood alcohol level, just as with a car driver’s license. You also may be asked to do field sobriety tests. If the officer believes it is likely that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will be arrested. The bodily alcohol limit for Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated is the same as driving, meaning that a BAL of .08 or above means you are legally presumed to be intoxicated.

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What are the penalties for possessing a firearm while impaired or intoxicated?

There are several different possible penalties, depending upon the circumstances. They break down as follows:

  • Simple possession of a firearm while intoxicated (blood alcohol level .02-.07), Civil Infraction (not criminal): $100 fine and a 1-year suspension of CPL;
  • Simple possession of a firearm while intoxicated (blood alcohol level of .08-.09), Misdemeanor: 93 days in jail and/or $100 fine and a 3-year suspension of CPL;
  • Simple possession of a firearm while intoxicated (blood alcohol level of .10 or more or under the influence of a controlled substance), Misdemeanor: 93 days in jail and/or $100 fine and revocation of CPL;
  • Discharging a firearm while intoxicated: 93 days in jail and/or $500;
  • Possession of a firearm while intoxicated causing serious impairment of the bodily function of another person: $1,000-$5,000 and/or five (5) years in prison;
  • Possession of a firearm while intoxicated causing death of another person: $2,500-$10,000 and/or 15 years in prison.

What to do if confronted by an officer or ranger if you believe you probably are intoxicated and you possess a firearm

If you possess a firearm and find yourself being questioned by an officer or ranger regarding your level of intoxication, it is important not to volunteer any information more than necessary, such as your license, proof of insurance, and registration. You do not want to make any statements about how much you have had to drink, smoked marijuana, or used other drugs. You should be polite and respectful to the officer or ranger and tell them you are uncomfortable making statements without talking to your lawyer first.

It is essential to know that Michigan’s concealed pistol law requires you to immediately notify any officer you encounter that you are a CPL holder. If you don’t, and a gun is later found on you or in your car, you will lose your CPL. If you are in the woods hunting, most likely, you will only be asked for your identification and hunting license, both of which you must produce on request. You must submit to a preliminary breath test and perhaps a breathalyzer test, urine test, or blood test if the officer or ranger has probable cause to believe you possess a firearm while under the influence.

“What do I do if I’m facing a criminal charge?”

If you have been arrested or ticketed for possessing a firearm while intoxicated, you should immediately contact a well-respected, highly astute criminal defense firm with experience. You should never attempt to resolve such a case on your own. With an exceptional defense attorney handling the matter, you might be able to save your CPL if you have one, and the lawyer can seek a dismissal of the charge or help you avoid jail or prison.

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Top Notch Defense Firm for all Firearms Charges

The dedicated, experienced, and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully represented thousands of clients on felony and misdemeanor charges in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties, and throughout Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. Call us for a free consultation regarding possession of a firearm while intoxicated or any other gun charges, and we will find a way to help you.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

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