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Michigan Criminal Law Blog

Super Drunk Drivers in Michigan and Ignition Interlock Device

In 2010, the Michigan legislature passed the “Super Drunk Driving Law.”  The law essentially amended the previous Michigan drunk driving laws to increase penalties for drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17 or greater.  Under the law, a first-time offender will face up to six months in jail, a fine of $200-700 dollars, and up to 360 hours of community service.  In addition, anyone convicted under the Super Drunk Driving Law will be required to attend one year of substance abuse treatment.  The changes do not impact second or third time offenders, as the penalties will be the same regardless of whether their BAC reaches the .17 threshold.

Perhaps the most severe element of the Super Drunk Driver Law is its impact on the offender’s driving privileges. A convicted offender will undergo a minimum of one year of sanctions.  For the first 45 days, the offenders driving privileges will be revoked completely.  Following the 45 days and for the remainder of the year, the offender will have a restricted driver’s license and an “ignition interlock device” must be installed on any vehicle driven by the offender.  The ignition interlock device is typically installed in the dashboard of the vehicle and works similar to a Breathalyzer in that you have to breathe into the device so it can measure your BAC.  If the driver’s breath alcohol content is .025 or greater (down from .4 prior to the new law), the device will prevent the vehicle from starting.

The cost of the installation of the device is approximately $100-200 dollars, and a monthly operating fee of $70 to $100 on top of that will be assessed to the driver.   A certificate of the installation of the device on the driver’s vehicle must be provided to the Secretary of State in order for the offender to receive his/her restricted license following the first 45 days.  During the restricted license period, if the interlock device determines the drivers BAC of .025 or higher, the Secretary of State will be automatically notified and impose an additional 45 days of a suspended license (followed by the balance of the year on a restricted license).  The one year alcohol treatment/support group penalty need not be completed before the offender can begin driving again.

If you have been charged with a Michigan “Super Drunk” OWI, contact Attorney Andrew Kowalkowski today for a consultation  248-974-9594.

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