Know the Law – Drunk Driving Laws

DUI Breathalyzer

The holiday season is here, which means holiday celebrations where alcohol will likely be served. If you consume even just a few alcoholic beverages, the best decision is not to drive yourself home. Instead, have a friend or colleague take you home or call a taxi service.

In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. If you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI), the first two offenses are considered misdemeanors, which will get you probation and rather strict monitoring by the court but little jail time unless you violate the terms of your probation.

However, a third drunk-driving offense is a different story. A third DUI is considered a felony. This means you will serve a minimum of one year in jail and will have your license suspended for five years.

Also, Michigan now has a “super drunk driving” law. This law imposes stiffer penalties if you’re caught driving with a blood-alcohol level of .17 percent or higher, no matter whether it’s a first or second offense. These harsher penalties include:

Up to 180 days in jail (rather than 93 days)
A fine of $200-$700 (rather than $100 – $500)
A one-year license suspension (rather than six months)
Extra hours of community service
From start to finish, a DUI conviction will ultimately cost you more than $10,000. This price tag includes court-imposed fines and fees, counseling programs, required drug/alcohol testing during probation, and the ignition interlock device that must be installed on your vehicle to drive once your driving privileges are restored.

In addition, if you are convicted of drunk driving, your auto insurance rates will certainly skyrocket.

What if you injure someone while drinking and driving? Then you have a committed a five-year felony. In addition to jail time, the fine for this offense ranges from $1,000-$5,000. Other penalties include vehicle forfeiture and mandatory vehicle immobilization.

If you kill a person while drinking and driving, it is a more serious felony. The penalty is a maximum of 15 years in jail, a $2,500-$10,000 fine, as well as vehicle forfeiture and mandatory vehicle immobilization.

Civil liability is also possible in cases of drunk driving causing death or injury. Michigan courts have upheld restitution to the victim and/or the victim’s family in both situations.

 

http://fox17online.com/2016/12/06/know-the-law-drunk-driving-laws/

 

Chemical Test Refusal – What’s Next?

What is a Chemical Test?

If you are arrested for a DUI/OWI, Michigan law requires you to take a blood, breath, or urine test. 

Michigan’s “implied consent” law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence, then you consent to taking this chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content).  The test must be taken as soon as possible from the time when you were last driving. The officer gets to choose which test you take, but the law gives a special exemption for diabetics, hemophiliacs, or people taking anticoagulants – they don’t have to take the blood test.

Additionally, Michigan law states that you consent to taking a preliminary breath test, even if you have not been arrested. This works like a field sobriety test. The officer will use the results to establish probable cause that you were driving under the influence. You could refuse to take this test, but you would have to pay a fine.

You can read about the preliminary breath test and Michigan’s implied consent law in the Michigan Compiled Laws 625(a) and 625(c).

In Michigan, are police required to measure your BAC?

Michigan law doesn’t require the police to measure your BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) within any specific amount of time of after you have been pulled over while driving. But, to prove an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) based on a BAC of 0.08% or more, the prosecutor must show your BAC was over the legal limit (0.08%) at the time you were driving. Depending on the circumstances, the prosecution might have more difficulty proving its case when there’s a long delay between when you were driving and when police measured your BAC.

What if I refuse?

1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense
Refusal to take test 1 year license suspension 2 year license suspension 5 year license suspension

In Michigan, it doesn’t benefit you to refuse the chemical test. If you do, your license will automatically be suspended by the Secretary of State (SOS) for 1 year (for 1st offense). At the time of refusal, you will get a written notice from the police officer that gives you 14 days to request an appeal hearing with the SOS to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license.

The appeal hearing will cover only the following issues:

(a) Whether the peace officer had reasonable grounds to believe that the person had committed a crime described in section 625c(1).

(b) Whether the person was placed under arrest for a crime described in section 625c(1).

(c) If the person refused to submit to the test upon the request of the officer, whether the refusal was reasonable.

(d) Whether the person was advised of the rights under section 625a(6).

*The penalties for refusing to submit to a chemical test are found in the Michigan Compiled Laws 257.625(f).

If you’re denied the appeal of your license suspension by the SOS, the next step is to appeal for a hardship or restricted driver’s license through the Circuit Court.

 

Get Help With Your DUI/OWI

If you have been arrested on a DUI charge in Oakland County, please reach out to us for help. Unlike other traffic related charges, which might be worth fighting without a lawyer, conviction for a DUI/OWI has serious consequences, especially if the incident involved injury to people or property, or if it’s your second or subsequent DUI. To avoid or reduce the consequences, your best bet is to find an attorney who is knowledgeable about Michigan’s laws and about how the system works in your District’s court.

 

 

Court: Weak taillight enough to stop drunken driver

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Michigan appeals court has affirmed the drunken-driving conviction of a man who was stopped near Grand Rapids solely because one taillight was weaker than the other.

The case against Trevor Vanderhart was a misdemeanor, but it has gone through three courts so far. The appeals court decision this week produced 18 pages of analysis by three judges.

A police officer in East Grand Rapids said he stopped Vanderhart in 2014, based on a weak taillight. Tests revealed a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit.

Vanderhart argued that the evidence should be thrown out because a dim taillight is not a reason to stop a car. But appeals Judge Brock Swartzle says the light created a dangerous condition that was enough to justify the stop under Michigan law.

http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/04/13/taillight-drunken-driver-stop/100416290/

Associated Press – April 13, 2017

Located in Birmingham, Michigan The Law Offices of Derrick E. George, P.C. offers dependable law services to get the best possible outcome for your case. The Law Offices of Derrick E. George, P.C. will help with cases involving a comprehensive array of legal matters and offers experience amassed from years of legal experience and numerous cases. For help in legal matters of Criminal defense, Family Law, or Business Law call attorney Derrick George today. Localities served – Ann Arbor – Auburn Hills – Berkley – Beverly Hills – Birmingham – Bloomfield Hills – Bloomfield Township – Brighton – Canton – Clarkston – Clinton Township – Commerce Township – Davisburg – Dearborn Heights – Farmington – Farmington Hills – Fenton – Ferndale – Franklin – Green Oak Township – Grosse Pointe – Grosse Pointe Farms – Grosse Pointe Shores – Grosse Pointe Woods – Hamburg – Hartland – Highland – Howell – Keego Harbor – Lake Angelus – Livonia – Lyon Township – Milford – New Hudson – Northville – Novi – Orchard Lake – Pinkney – Pleasant Ridge – Plymouth – Rochester – Rochester Hills – Roseville – Royal Oak – Shelby Township – South Lyon – St. Claire Shores – Sterling Heights – Troy – Utica – Walled Lake – Waterford – West Bloomfield – White Lake – Whitmore Lake – Wixom – Wolverine Lake.

Lawmakers pass toughest DUI limit in U.S. at 0.05%…

Salt Lake City — Utah could soon have the strictest DUI threshold in the nation after state lawmakers on Wednesday night voted to lower the limit for a driver’s blood-alcohol content to 0.05 percent, down from 0.08 percent.

The measure heads to Utah’s governor, who has said he supports the legislation.

If Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signs the bill, it would take effect Dec. 30, 2018 — an unusual effective date for Utah laws that would ensure the harsher standard is in place before alcohol-laden celebrations on New Year’s Eve.

Supporters of the legislation said it would save lives by keeping people off the road if they’ve been drinking. A mix of lawmakers, including Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans, opposed the measure. Some cited concerns that it could hurt tourism as the heavily Mormon state grapples with its reputation as an unfriendly place for drinkers.

The proposal would mean that a 150-pound man could get a DUI after two beers, while a 120-pound woman could get one after a single drink, according to the American Beverage Institute, a restaurant trade group that opposes the bill. A number of factors, including how much food is in someone’s stomach, could impact how much a drink will raise someone’s blood-alcohol content.

American Beverage Institute Managing Director Sarah Longwell said in a statement Wednesday night that the proposal will do little to make roads safer because more than 77 percent of alcohol-related traffic deaths in Utah come from drivers with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 and above. “Utah legislators missed an opportunity today to target the hard-core drunk drivers who cause the vast majority of drunk driving fatalities and instead decided to criminalize perfectly responsible behavior,” Longwell said.

Lawmakers in Washington are considering lowering the limit for blood-alcohol content this year, while a similar proposal recently died in Hawaii’s Legislature.

Across the country, the blood-alcohol content limit for most drivers is 0.08, but limits vary among states for commercial drivers or drivers who have had a past DUI conviction.

Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, who sponsored Utah’s measure, said it’s important because a person starts to become impaired with the first drink. He notes a number of foreign countries have blood-alcohol content thresholds at 0.05. or lower.

At a blood-alcohol content of 0.05 percent, a driver may have trouble steering and have a harder time coordinating, tracking moving objects and responding to emergencies, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For several years, the National Transportation Safety Board has encouraged states to drop their blood-alcohol content levels to 0.05 or even lower, though local officials have not adopted the standards, in part because of pressure from the hospitality industry.

The tougher stance on DUIs comes as Utah legislators passed changes Wednesday easing other liquor laws that deal with the preparation of alcoholic drinks in restaurants. That measure, waiting for approval from the governor, would let diners see their drinks being poured or mixed if restaurants set up child-free buffer zones around bars.