Everything in moderation

By:  Lori T. Williams, Esq., Owner/Managing Attorney of Your Legal Resource

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, a lot of holiday cheer is shared.  While that’s a good thing, we’ve all seen someone who celebrated a little too much during the holidays.  The consequences of drinking and driving can be devastating. According to the Center for Disease Control, excessive drinking, including binge drinking, accounts for 79,000 deaths per year in the United States.   Click here, to read about binge drinking risks and how to avoid them.  Click here for additional statistics about alcohol impaired driving from the CDC, and from MADD.

Criminal Defense Attorney, Timothy Flynn, points out the legal ramifications associated with alcohol related driving offenses.  “For most people, getting charged with a drunk driving or other alcohol-related driving offenses is one of the lowest points in their life.  Their driver’s license is affected; fines, costs, and attorney fees, can be very expensive, and no one wants to have a criminal record.”  The drunk driving laws in the State of Michigan have significantly changed over the past few years.  What was formerly known as “operating while intoxicated” or, OWI, has been replaced with the High BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) Offenses, also referred to by some as the “Super Drunk” law, enacted on 10/31/2010.

Persons caught operating a motor vehicle after binge-drinking, or with a high tolerance for alcohol, will face stiffer penalties now.  If a driver’s blood alcohol (BAC) is measured at more than .17 grams per 100 milliliters, (more than double the legal limit) then the new enhanced penalties will apply,” says Flynn.  “Those penalties include a one-year license suspension for first-time “super drunks”; an increase in the potential maximum jail sentence from 93-days to 180-days; higher fines; and mandatory use of an “ignition interlock” device.  The new law also features the longest alcohol rehabilitation treatment requirement on the books; one-year.

Flynn notes how the process occurs:

1.  Once a conviction under this new law is abstracted to the Secretary of State, the driver’s license will be suspended for one-year.

2.  After a 45-day “hard suspension” where all driving privileges are suspended, a person can apply for restricted driving privileges for the balance of the year provided, however, that an ” ignition interlock” device has been installed in the vehicle.  Under the old law, the hard suspension was only for 30-days and there was no interlock requirement. (Click here to read about the interlock device law, from the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office).

3.  Installing an interlock device will cost about $50 and up to $100 per month to maintain.

4.  There are new penalties created under the Super Drunk law relative to operating an “interlocked” vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content of more than .025.  If a driver’s probation is violated in this fashion, the Secretary of State will double the driver’s license restriction by imposing a new 365-day suspension from the date of violation.

Click here for additional information about Michigan’s substance abuse driving laws.

Flynn notes that “the heightened penalties and closed loop-holes of our contemporary drunk driving laws have changed people’s conduct.  Some people have taken to using friends as designated drivers or hiring designated driver services, while others have purchased their own preliminary breath test devices in an effort to determine whether they are “over the limit”.”  Flynn cautions those who use their own breath test devices.  “Depending on the manufacturer, make, and model, these devices may not be accurate and could provide a driver with a false sense of security.”

If you need legal advice or representation in Michigan for a criminal matter, drunk driving charge, license restoration, or any area of law, contact us.  At Your Legal Resource, we work with affordable specialists in all areas of law, and would be happy to schedule a free consultation with you to determine which attorney on our team is the best fit for your situation.

Lori T. Williams

Lori T. Williams is an attorney based in Birmingham, MI, licensed in 1989.  As owner of a legal referral business called Your Legal Resource, PLLC, Lori personally assists individuals and small businesses in need of legal advice or representation in Metro Detroit by connecting them with the right legal specialist to meet their needs.