Michigan Drivers facing a Drunk Driving charge may face even stiffer penalties than ever, depending on the results of the alcohol breath test taken after their arrest. Under the new law, dubbed the "High-BAC Law," which takes effect on October 31, 2010, Michigan would join 45 other states in enacting what is also know as a "Super Drunk" Driving law. Under the new statute, drivers charged with OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) who have a BAC (Bodily Alcohol Content) of .17 or higher, face higher penalties than they otherwise would if their BAC is below .17 Currently, any Michigan driver with a BAC of .08 is presumed to be Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
The major impact of this new Legislation can be examined in this Michigan New Ignition Interlock Law. from the Michigan Secretary of State's web site.
Amongst the most significant changes made to Michigan's existing Drunk Driving Laws, the new law provides the following for First Offense Drunk Driving:
1. An increase in the maximum jail term from 93 days to 180 days
2. A mandatory 1 year suspension of the Driver's License; after 45 days, a Restricted License may be issued if the Driver installs an Ignition Interlock Device in their car. This breath-testing device prevents the car from starting if the Driver has a BAC of .25 or higher. The device likewise requires periodic tests while the vehicle is being driven.
3. A maximum fine of up to $700, as opposed to a maximum of $500 in a regular OWI.
4. Mandatory enrollment in and completion of an Alcohol Treatment Program or attendance at a Self-Help (AA or 12-step type) Program for at least one year
Driver's with prior DUI's face even stiffer penalties.
For all of the ink being spilled about what the effect of the new law will actually be, it remains to be seen how things play out. For example, in most First-Offense Drunk Driving (OWI) Cases, the driver is usually able to have his or her attorney negotiate a Plea Bargain which reduces the final charge to Impaired Driving (OWVI). These drivers, if allowed to plead to the reduced charge, would avoid the penalties associated with the new law.