Michigan’s 2009 “super drunk” law changed the way that the state’s criminal justice system deals with drinking and driving, making Michigan one of the toughest states in the U.S. The law took effect on Halloween, 2010 and additional a new definition of drunk driving to the books. If you think that you may be charged under the super drunk law, you and your criminal defense lawyer should both know what you may potentially be facing. Here’s a look at the new law and some of its possible effects on criminal defense.
Legal Blood Alcohol Content
In the state of Michigan, it’s a crime to excursion with a blood alcohol content, or BAC, of.08 or higher. If you’re under 21, that number goes down to.02 or greater. Getting pulled over at this level could get you charged with operating while intoxicated, or OWI. Your criminal defense situation gets more difficult under the super drunk law, however. If your BAC is.17 or higher, you can be charged with drunk driving, a much more serious offense with stiffer penalties.
Consequences of Conviction
The two different levels of intoxicated driving also come with different punishments under the super drunk law. A BAC under.17 but over the legal maximum could cost you up to a $500 fine, 93 days in prison, six points on your driver’s license, 360 hours of community service, and/or 180 days of driver’s license suspension. That’s for a first offense.
If you meet the requirements for a drunk driving charge, your criminal defense lawyer could be defending you from a fine of up to $700 and double the jail time, in addition as up to 360 hours of community service and a year without your driver’s license. Being convicted of drunk driving also gains you six points on your license and requires you to complete a mandatory treatment program for alcohol abuse.
You can get your license back after 45 days if you’re willing to use an ignition interlock device that won’t let you start the car unless your BAC low enough. That’ll get you back a limited license that isn’t valid for any car that doesn’t have an interlock device, as long as you’re willing to pay to have the device installed and maintained. If you’re stopped driving a different means, the police with confiscate and destroy your license plates and give you a new permanent plate. This applies already if you’re driving a car you don’t own.
Your criminal defense strategy must be prepared to defend against additional penalties if you’re caught driving while impaired on more than one event or if a harsh accident occurs. Three convictions over the time of your life make your drink driving charges a felony. You’ll also need to prepare a criminal defense case against a felony if you were driving drunk and were in an accident that seriously hurt someone else or caused a death.
Breath Test Penalties
The super drunk law also applies additional penalties for anyone who won’t take a breath test when stopped for uncommon behavior. The first time you refuse, you might go to court for a civil infraction; that method a fine up to $150 after court costs. You can also lose your license for a year. If you refuse to take the test more than once within seven years, you can lose your license for two years.