Michigan State Representative Bob Genteski was charged with drunk driving in early 2012 after being stopped by a Michigan State University police officer. Rep. Genteski cooperated when the police officer asked him to do a field sobriety test, which typically consists of a physical challenge meant to determine whether or not an individual is sober. But when the officer asked Rep. Genteski to take a breathalyzer test, which measures a person's blood alcohol content, Genteski refused to do so, telling the officer that he believed he passed the initial sobriety test. The policeman then arrested him, and prosecutors later decided to charge him with driving vehicle while intoxicated and refusal to take the initial breath test at the scene. He was released from police custody a few hours after his blood was tested.
Legal consequences of drunk driving
Drunk driving is taken very seriously by the law and a conviction comes with a set of serious consequences. If a person is convicted, the most common types of punishment he or she will be sentenced to by the court include jail time, money fines, requirements that the offender complete a drunk driving or alcoholism course, probation and restrictions on the offender's driver's license.
In Rep. Genteski's case, the drunk driving incident resulted in two different types of charges being filed by the State. In Michigan, the act of driving while intoxicated is a criminal misdemeanor, and a person convicted of a DWI can be sentenced to 93 days in jail, 360 hours of community service and a $500 fine. The act of refusing a breathalyzer test is a civil infraction that is entirely separate from the drunk driving charge.
Enhanced sentencing and the importance of a strong defense
Some states have laws which enhance sentences under certain circumstances, like if the driver refuses a chemical blood alcohol test, in the way that Rep. Genteski did, or if a child is in the car during the drunk driving incident. There are also some creative ways that states try to prevent people from repeating their drunk driving offenses. For example, requiring use of the ignition-interlock device, which tests the driver's blood alcohol level before allowing the car's ignition to turn on, is becoming more popular across the country and in Michigan.
Because so many serious consequences are at stake, it's a good idea for anyone facing a drunk driving charge to seek the help of an attorney. Contact an experienced traffic offense attorney in Oakland County if you have been charged with a DWI.