Michigan cracks down on "super" drunk drivers

In efforts to deter the people of Michigan from drunk driving and to create more serious consequences for it, one city now has two different classifications for drunk drivers. A new Royal Oaks city ordinance imposes heavy fines and increased jail sentences for drunk drivers who have a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.17 or higher. In Michigan, the legal limit is 0.08, so the ordinance targets "super" drunk drivers, or those with BACs of more than twice the legal limit. Almost one in every three drivers in Michigan that were given blood alcohol tests in 2009 was over this super drunk driving threshold. The Royal Oaks city ordinance went into effect on March 29, 2012.

Harsher penalties for super drunk driving

Also called the "High BAC Amendment," the local ordinance carries maximum penalties of 180 days in jail and fines of $200-$700 for super drunk drivers, compared to penalties of only 93 days in jail and fines of $100-$500 for drunk drivers with BACs under 0.17. The ordinance also increases the length of time during which the state can suspend the driver's license of a convicted drunk driver. Drivers convicted of standard drunk driving, or driving with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.17, are subject to a license suspension of up to 30 days and driving restrictions for up to 150 days. Those convicted of super drunk driving, or driving with a BAC of over 0.17, are now subject to a license suspension of up to 45 days and restricted driving for up to 320 days.

Consequences of conviction

In addition to fines, jail time and driving restrictions, a super drunk driving conviction also requires the use of an ignition-interlock device. The device is installed in the driver's vehicle and requires the driver to breathe into the device and have a BAC within the legal limit before the car's ignition will start. The device also stores information for law enforcement, so that if it registers an illegal BAC, the information will be recorded for the police. The driver has to pay for the costs of renting of the device and its maintenance, which totals about $100 a month. These devices will now be required of first-time offenders with super drunk driving convictions.

If you have been charged with drunk driving

The best way to avoid a conviction is to present a good defense to the criminal charges. According to the law, a person who is charged with drunk driving is innocent until proven guilty. It's possible that the arresting officer made a mistake during the stop or arrest.

New super drunk driving laws will have many implications for those charged with drunk driving, especially if their BAC registers above the "super" drunk threshold.

The possible consequences of drunk driving are serious, and if you or someone you know has been charged with drunk driving, contact an experienced Oakland County criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.