The 2019 Michigan Driver’s Manual declares, “Driving is a privilege, and not a right.” This premise underpins Michigan’s driving under the influence laws.
Drivers in Michigan who use alcohol or drugs before driving a vehicle may be charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI) or operating while visibly impaired (OWVI). A driver is considered intoxicated when they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater.
A first time conviction for OWI carries serious penalties, including up to:
- 360 hours of community service;
- $500 fine;
- Six points on driver’s license;
- Suspended license for 180 days; and
- 93 days in jail.
Good people can make bad decisions. Unfortunately, getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink can have lasting consequences. If you need help with an OWI or OWVI charge, call Michigan Defense Law as soon as possible. A bad decision does not have to define your future.
High BAC Offenses
High BAC convictions, where an individual was operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.17 or higher, are addressed under Michigan’s Super Drunk Law. Offenders are subject to penalties including:
- Up to 180 days incarceration;
- $200 to $700 in fines;
- Up to 360 hours of community service;
- Suspended license for one year;
- Six points on driver’s license;
- Ignition interlock device on a vehicle; and
- Mandatory alcohol treatment program.
The penalties for offenders who are convicted of a second Super Drunk offense within seven years of their first conviction include:
- Five days to one year incarceration;
- $200 to $1000 in fines;
- Revocation of driver’s license;
- Confiscation of license plates;
- Possible forfeiture of vehicles; and
- Six points on driver’s license.
Michigan’s Super Drunk Law imposes a required one-year alcohol treatment program, as well as license sanctions. Once an offender is convicted, their driving privileges will be suspended for one year. However, after the first 45 days, the offender may be allowed restricted driving if a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) is installed in their vehicle.
Driving With Restrictions
A restricted license authorizes very limited driving privileges. These restrictions are the same for every offender. The Department of the Secretary of State regulates restricted licenses, and makes no exceptions regarding where a driver is allowed to go. Motorists must carry documented proof of their destination, and the hours they are required to be that location.
With an occupational license, motorists are allowed to drive to and from:
- Their residence;
- Their work location;
- In the course of work responsibilities;
- An alcohol or drug education or treatment program;
- Court-ordered probation department;
- Court-ordered community service program;
- Educational institution where they are enrolled as a student; and
- Place of regularly occurring medical treatment for a serious condition for the person or a member of the person’s household or immediate family.
Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device
A Super Drunk conviction means an expensive and embarrassing interlock device may be installed in the offender’s vehicle for 320 days. A BAIID is a breath alcohol analyzer that functions like a computer with memory. The driver is required to blow into the device prior to starting their vehicle. If a BAC of 0.025 or higher is detected, the device will prevent the vehicle from starting.
The offender is responsible for the monthly cost of the BAIID, in addition to installation fees and cost of removal. The Secretary of State provides a list of approved BAIID installers.
As of June 6, 2016, the BAIID must also include a camera to record an image of the driver. The device will also ask for random, or “rolling,” retests while the person is driving.
The vehicle must be taken to a service center immediately if the BAIID:
- Records three start-up failures within a monitoring period;
- One rolling test failure is recorded; or
- The equipment detects tampering.
Failure to have service done will result in the BAIID going into lock-down mode.
Some users have reported BAIID problems due to issues with the unit’s battery, or problems caused by weather conditions and condensation. Although these may not be the fault of the user, they are still recorded as violations. Additionally, consumption of certain foods, especially products with yeast, can trigger a false positive on startup. Anyone with a BAIID should obtain an independent alcohol test immediately if they suspect a violation has been reported in error.
Additional Penalties for Repeat Offenders
If an individual is arrested as a repeat offender under the Super Drunk Law, law enforcement will confiscate and destroy the metal license plates of the vehicle they were driving, and special temporary paper license plates will be issued. These temporary plates allow the vehicle to be driven, but replacement metal plates will not be issued until the individual’s case has been adjudicated by the court.
There are Defenses Against a Super Drunk Charge
At Michigan Defense Law, we know that every case is unique, and we believe every client deserves the best possible representation. While a Super Drunk charge is very serious, there are effective defenses that may be applicable, depending on the facts of the case.
Some Super Drunk defenses may include:
- No reasonable suspicion by law enforcement and therefore no legal reason to conduct a stop;
- Improperly performed sobriety tests;
- Inaccurate blood/breath test equipment or instruments;
- No evidence the defendant was operating the vehicle; and/or
- Suppression of incriminating statements.
Get the Help You Need—Call Us Today
If you have been charged under Michigan’s Super Drunk Law, there is a lot at stake, including jail time, fines, license suspension or revocation, and a permanent criminal record. Or if you need help you minimize or avoid problems with ignition interlock devices due to a DUI charge, speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your best defense can be made only if you take immediate action. Have a lawyer review your case and explain your options.
The legal team at Michigan Defense Law is committed to getting the best possible outcomes for every case. Read the testimonials of our past clients, and contact Michigan Defense Law today at (248) 451-2200 or online to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to help you.