Last updated on April 25, 2023

What is a High BAC for a DUI?

Like in most other states, having a BAC of .08 can be enough grounds to be charged with a DUI/OWI in Michigan. However, Michigan law has a separate offense reserved for those with a BAC of .17 or higher. Compared to a standard DUI/OWI charge which already carries significant penalties upon conviction, the Michigan Super Drunk Law allows for even harsher punishment. If you have been charged with a super drunk driving offense in Michigan, it is crucial to take these charges seriously.

A conviction of super drunk driving can have long-standing consequences on a person’s life. Aside from the possibility of imprisonment, expensive fines, and other legal penalties, a conviction can also affect one’s personal and professional prospects. Hiring an experienced Michigan DUI lawyer can help ensure your case receives the individualized attention it deserves. 

Our team of skilled legal professionals at Michigan Defense Law, led by top-rated Michigan DUI/OWI attorney Paul J. Tafelski, provides quality legal services to Michigan residents charged with super drunk driving offenses. Often the charge is written as “Operating with a High BAC”. This is the official term for what is commonly called Super Drunk.  Our team of experienced legal professionals can help you understand the legal terms and legal process involved in a DUI case.  These include arraignment, bond, pre-trial and sentencing as well as drivers license issues such as whether you can retain your driving privileges before a DUI court date. Contact us today at (248) 451-2200 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.

Top Rated DUI/OWI Attorney Paul J. Tafelski Discusses The Michigan Super Drunk Law

Blood alcohol concentration or BAC is the measurement used by law enforcement agencies to get an idea of the degree of intoxication of a person. When an officer conducts a traffic stop, drivers would be subjected to a breath test to determine their BAC. Drivers in Michigan operate in an implied consent rule.  What this means is that when you accept the privilege of a drivers license you consent that if you are lawfully arrested for an OWI offense you will consent to take the alcohol test chosen by the police.  Failure to do so is called an Implied Consent Violation and can easily result in six points on your drivers license and a one year suspension of the license.  This happens regardless of whether your test results come back over the limit or not.  If you refuse the request for a test after arrest the police will request and usually obtain a search warrant to draw your blood.  If charged with an Implied Consent Violation you are basically facing a second case.  The Implied Consent Violation case will require a timely appeal to be filed within 14 days of your arrest.  Then, you will have an administrative law hearing with a Secretary of State Hearing Officer.  If you lose that hearing, your license is suspended for a year and the only option is a Hardship Appeal to circuit court seeking a restricted license.  Both of these hearings are in a different court and presided over by different Judges than your OWI case will be.  Implied Consent Violations seriously complicate the OWI situation and require immediate attention.   

Operating While Visibly Impaired can technically be charged at any level of BAC.  However, in that case, the police need to be able to prove that the persons ability to drive was impaired by alcohol.  As mentioned, having a BAC of .08 is enough to be charged with a OWI/DUI, even if your ability to drive is not impaired, however, those who are found to have a high BAC in their system during a DUI stop can be subject to the charge of Operating with  a High BAC, also known as Super Drunk.  

The High BAC  enhanced Penalty Law or the Michigan Super Drunk Law came into effect in 2010 to address a call for a specific class of DUI offenders. The law was introduced to impose significantly harsher penalties, about twice as severe as standard DUI charges, on DUI offenders who have a BAC of .17 or higher. 

High BAC DUI charges only apply to persons who have not been charged with a DUI within the past seven years. People who have been previously charged with a DUI in the same time frame, regardless of their BAC, would be charged with a second-offense DUI, or a Felony Operating While Intoxicated if the case is the third offense in their lifetime.  In those instances the Super Drunk law would not apply because the penalties for Second Offense OWI and Felony OWI are worse.   

Given the baseline BAC for a DUI charge of .08, those charged with a DUI under the Super Drunk Law are assumed to have twice the legal limit. Under the Super Drunk Law, the penalties for a high BAC DUI are almost double that of a standard DUI. In Michigan, the maximum penalty for Operating with a High BAC is six months in jail.  In addition, the drivers license is suspended for 45 days and restricted for 10 ½ months with an interlock device in the car.  Drivers convicted of Super Drunk are also required to attend outpatient counseling.  

According to medical professionals, consuming one unit of alcohol can contribute .025 to your BAC thus, those who have a BAC of .17 have at least six to eight units of alcohol in their system at the time of the arrest, depending on the period of time it was consumed. It is also important to keep in mind that alcohol tolerance can vary and a person’s BAC can be affected by some biological and environmental factors.

Understanding the nature of high BAC DUI charges is crucial to know the potential consequences a conviction may have. There can be instances in which a person is under the impression that they are going to be charged with a standard DUI/OWI and even leave the precinct with a ticket informing them as much until they find out that they are being charged with a high BAC DUI. 

Our skilled Michigan High BAC DUI attorneys at Michigan Defense Law have the experience and knowledge necessary to contest the charges levied against you. We have successfully defended the rights of Michigan residents charged with both standard DUI and High BAC DUI. We work diligently to investigate the circumstances of our clients’ cases and to build a strong legal defense strategy to mitigate or dismiss the charges. Schedule a consultation today at (248) 451-2200. 

Michigan High BAC DUI/OWI Penalties

Under the High Alcohol Enhanced Penalty Law, first-time offenders who are charged with a BAC of .17 or higher have a greater chance of getting the maximum penalties for their charges compared to if they had been charged with a standard DUI. Punishment for those convicted with High BAC charges is also twice as harsh as those on standard DUI cases.

Persons convicted of a standard first-offense DUI charge can face the following penalties:

  • Up to 93 days imprisonment
  • Fines of $100 up to $500
  • 45 days of community service
  • Vehicle immobilization as imposed at the judge’s discretion
  • Use of an ignition interlock device during probation
  • 6 points on a driver’s license

In comparison, those convicted of a super drunk DUI can face the following penalties:

  • Up to 180 days imprisonment
  • Up to $700 in fines
  • 45 days of community service
  • 6 points on a driver’s license
  • Possible mandatory completion of an alcohol treatment program
  • License suspension of one year with a hard ban on driving for 45 days
  • Mandatory use of an ignition interlock device; the driver would also pay for upkeep and operational expenses of the device

In addition to the mentioned penalties, a High BAC DUI offender has to enter a restricted license period that lasts for 320 days. This will be imposed aside from probation and an offender can only drive a vehicle with a Breath Alcohol IID and only under the following circumstances:

  • Driving to and from school or work to your place of residence
  • Driving to and from community service and probation
  • Driving while you are working
  • Driving to and from scheduled treatments for a serious medical condition
  • Driving to and from an alcohol rehabilitation or treatment program

With a BAIID, the driver would have to provide a breath sample to start the vehicle. Additional tests would be required while driving and the car would become inoperational once the device detects a BAC higher than the required level. 

These restrictions, along with the criminal punishments involved, can have a significant effect on a person’s life. Consulting an experienced Michigan high BAC DUI attorney can help in building a strong case to reduce the charges or have them dismissed altogether. At Michigan Defense Law, we can help you understand your legal options and aggressively represent your rights in court. Alongside the legal penalties, a conviction of a super drunk or high BAC DUI can bring long-lasting non-legal consequences to a person’s life. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and to discuss the circumstances of your case. Call Michigan Defense Law at (248) 451-2200.

Consequences of a High BAC DUI Conviction

Most legal professionals put an understandable emphasis on the legal consequences of a High BAC conviction. After all, penalties under a super drunk DUI are essentially double that of a standard DUI and are considered especially harsh for a first-offense conviction. However, aside from the legal penalties, drivers who are convicted of a high BAC DUI can also face the following non-legal consequences:

  • Loss of employment: You can lose your job due to a conviction, especially if you are required to operate a vehicle. Employers may view a DUI conviction as a sign of poor judgment and may choose to terminate your employment. You may also have difficulty finding work given the higher BAC count attached to your charges and the enhanced super DUI conviction that can show up in a background check.
  • Higher insurance rates: A DUI conviction can lead to higher insurance rates, as insurance companies view you as a high-risk driver. The increased rates can last for several years, and the cost can add up over time. You may also be denied coverage or lose existing coverage due to the conviction.
  • Social stigma: A conviction can lead to social stigma and embarrassment, especially if the news of the conviction becomes public knowledge. Persons convicted of a high BAC DUI may also be perceived as having substance abuse issues. This can impact your personal relationships and your reputation in your community. 
  • Difficulty finding housing: Landlords may hesitate to rent to someone with a criminal record, including a DUI conviction. This can make it difficult to find suitable housing, especially if you have to disclose your conviction on rental applications.
  • Personal relationships: A DUI conviction can strain personal relationships, especially if family and friends view the conviction as a sign of irresponsible behavior. It can also impact child custody and visitation rights in family court.
  • Possible deportation for non-US citizens: While a single conviction is not always cause enough for deportation in and of itself, having a criminal record can be grounds for dismissal of your application for citizenship and the refusal of visa extension applications. Convictions for OWI are viewed as crimes of moral turpitude for immigration purposes and can affect your ability to renew a visa.  

Working with a skilled attorney can help alleviate not only the legal but also the non-legal consequences of a high BAC DUI conviction. At Michigan Defense Law, our team of experienced Michigan high BAC DUI lawyers can help you understand your rights and build a robust legal defense strategy aimed at reducing or dismissing the charges against you. Contact us today at (248) 451-2200 to learn more about how we can help.

How An Experienced High BAC DUI Attorney Can Help

Qualified attorneys who are well-versed in DUI cases can use a variety of legal defenses to challenge a high BAC DUI charge. At Michigan Defense Law, we closely investigate the relevant evidence and specific circumstances involved to maximize the chances of getting the charges reduced or dismissed. 

A skilled attorney can challenge the validity of the blood alcohol tests conducted. Instruments used in a test should be properly maintained and calibrated to ensure the accuracy of the results. A person’s BAC can increase over time and while a person may test with a BAC of .17 at the police precinct, there is a possibility that their BAC at the time of the stop would have been lower. Law enforcement officers must also follow specific guidelines when taking breath and blood samples to use in BAC tests. Improper adherence to these guidelines may cause the BAC results to be inadmissible as evidence and thus result in the dismissal of the case.

The arresting officers must also have probable cause to arrest and detain you. If the probable cause of the arrest cannot be established, any evidence found and charges filed can be considered invalid due to the illegal nature of the arrest.

Aside from careful investigation of the case, an attorney can also request the presence of industry experts such as medical professionals to act as witnesses for the defense. Most importantly, with a skilled attorney by your side, you will have a legal advocate who can represent your rights and best interests in court. 

Working with an Experienced Michigan High BAC DUI Attorney from Michigan Defense Law

Facing charges for a standard DUI can already be a confusing and stressful experience. Having to face enhanced charges of a DUI under Michigan’s Super Drunk Law can be additionally challenging. You do not have to face these charges alone. 

If you have been charged with a super drunk DUI, it is important to get the help of an experienced Michigan high BAC DUI attorney. A High BAC DUI conviction can have severe consequences on your life, from steep fines and license suspension to jail time and a criminal record. At Michigan Defense Law, our team of skilled DUI attorneys have years of experience in DUI defense and can help you understand your legal options. Our attorneys work diligently in building a strong legal defense that can help in obtaining the best possible outcome for your specific case. We are ready to assist you. Contact us today at (248) 451-2200 to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Posted in: Criminal Defense
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