The legal limit blood alcohol limit (BAC) for operating while intoxicated@ (OWI) is .08% and will remain the same. Under Michigan's Super Drunk law, persons with a high BAC of .17% or greater will face harsh penalties:
Super Drunk Driving Penalties Upon Conviction (.17% or greater)
Hard suspension of license for first 45 days (no driving) and restricted with the requirement of ignition interlock for the remaining 320 days. Individuals who violate their restrictions will obtain another license penalty equal to the above; another 45 days hard suspension and another 320 days on ignition interlock.
Fine of not less than $200.00 or more than $700.00
Up to 180 days in Jail
Mandatory 1 year of alcohol/substance abuse rehabilitation
Driver Responsibility Fee: $1,000.00 per year for 2 years
It is not logical that someone who has a BAC of .17% should face penalties to this extent when someone who has a BAC of .16% is prosecuted under a much less strict law. Certainly, the law intends to sort out those with severe drinking problems and punish them accordingly. However, the law cannot accurately conclude that a person who has a BAC of .16% is a lesser risk than the person who has a BAC .17%, and visa versa. You will want to be proactive if you are pulled over and well prepared if you are charged as a super drunk or drunk driving in Michigan.
COOPERATE WITH THE POLICE
If you are ever stopped by the police, you will do yourself a world of good by cooperating. The police will usually place notes in their report regarding your cooperation. Cooperation does not mean volunteering information. Stick to the questions which are asked by the officer and do not make matters worse by arguing or challenging the officer. In addition, we are able to obtain the police video, if available. The video can be used to challenge a police officer’s assertion that someone was not cooperative. The video may also show our client was able to follow complicated instructions which is consistent with sobriety, not intoxication or foolishness. The video may also verify our client’s ability to perform the field sobriety tests.
ASK FOR A SECOND TEST, BLOOD TEST
If you fail to take a breath test or other chemical test, the police may obtain a search warrant for your blood. You should understand that you also face suspension of your license if you refuse the chemical test offered by the police pursuant to Michigan’s Implied Consent Law. In addition, you forfeit your right to obtain a second test of your own choice when you refuse the test which is offered by the police. I would implore anyone who has a very low result (.09% to .12%) or anyway whose tests in the Super Drunk range (.17% to .19%) to request a second test such as a blood test. Your second test may be lower which may justify a lesser charge or no charge if the result is below .08%. A test result which is below .08% may still be charged with Impaired Driving but will be better off than having to defend an OWI. The odds are better for plea bargaining an Impaired Driving down to a non-drinking offense than an OWI.
TALK TO YOUR LAWYER ABOUT POSSIBLE WITNESSES
We hope that our clients can produce witnesses who can testify that our clients were not intoxicated prior to operating a motor vehicle. I have used witnesses with personal knowledge at trial to contest intoxication or to request a reduction in the charges. At our initial consultation, we may ask for our client to provide written statements from persons that were companions of our client on the to the incident. A witness may include friends that were at the bar or party with our client. We are looking for people that can testify that our client was acting sober and coherent. A witness may also include the passenger(s) of our client’s motor vehicle. Again, we are looking for witnesses that can attest to our client’s safe driving.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE COUNSELING
Many of our clients are asked to begin counseling if they have a drinking problem, are charged as a repeat offender or are charged with high BAC Drinking and Driving cases which have come to known as the Super Drunk cases.