What’s being called the law of “Super Drunks” went into effect in October of 2010 and has since accounted for thousands of OWI arrests in the metro area. The law was created to deliver particularly harsh penalties to those people who weren’t just over the legal limit, but were dramatically over the limit, making them “super” drunk. [Read more…]
The Free Press this week is working on uncovering just how where you are arrested can affect your sentence in an OWI case. Because judges are allowed a great deal of discretion in misdemeanor cases like those involving drunk driving, what might get you no jail time in Utica could land you over 30 in Warren. [Read more…]
The Farmington Patch this week ran a story on the 47th District Sobriety Court and some of the successes this alternative court has seen. According to the piece, this court and others like it in the region save the local governments money while assisting offenders in recovery, providing a win-win situation. [Read more…]
If some lawmakers get their way, Michigan will become the first state to allow law enforcement to test for drugs when they suspect a driver is under the influence. Similar to breath tests used in suspected DUI cases, these tests would reportedly alert cops to the presence of illegal drugs in a suspect’s body. [Read more…]
The 2007 Drunk Driving Audit, which is an annual report compiled by the Michigan State Police in concert with Michigan Department of State and Michigan Department of Transportation documenting arrest, accident, injury, and fatality information from all Michigan counties, indicates there was a 13% drop in alcohol/drug related fatalities from 2006 to 2007 (440 to 382), which is a 10 year low. There were 49,867 alcohol/drug related driving arrests in 2007 which is 3,500 less than 2006.
Further, 47,267 of the 2007 arrests resulted in convictions of operating while intoxicated (OWI) or impaired driving, which is almost 95%. (see http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,1607,7-123-1586_1710-195921–,00.html ). Only, 776 convictions, less than 2%, were reduced to non-alcohol related offenses, such as Reckless Driving or Disorderly Person. (see page 485 of Audit). The remainder were dismissed or resulted in acquittals.
However, what the Audit fails to indicate clearly is the number of repeat offenders contained within this data. Therefore, despite reduction in arrests, the question arises whether the appropriate sentence has been ordered to help curb these numbers, or even whether there were intervening factors such as less police presence because of cut-backs. As to sentencing, there is a mixed ideology on this very sensitive issue. Is Jail appropriate? Is rehabilitation appropriate? Is a vehicle interlock (breathalyzer) appropriate? [Read more…]
On December 19, 1008, Michigan Enrolled Senate Bill 1134 passed both houses of Michigan’s Legislature, and is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. Known as the “Super Drunk” bill, this legislation amends several sections of Michigan law, and most notably adds a new crime for drivers with a bodily alcohol content (BAC) of .17 or greater. Under this new statutory definition of operating while intoxicated these high BAC drivers are required to have a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) placed on their vehicle. This new law will not take effect until October 31, 2010.
Under the bill high BAC drivers are subjected to other more punitive sanctions. For example, a first offense high BAC drunk driver’s license is suspended for one year. The first 45 days of this year is considered a “hard” suspension, meaning absolutely no driving is allowed. During the remaining 320 days the offender is entitled to restricted driving privileges, but must have an ignition interlock device placed on their car during this period. Fines are increased to $200.00 – $700.00, and potential jail time is increased from up to a possible 93 days to as much as 180 days. The court must also order a mandatory minimum one-year alcohol treatment program. The high BAC sanctions only apply to first offenders – repeat offender sanctions remain unchanged.