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What Is A ‘Super Drunk’ OWI In Michigan?

Drunk driving accidents that are especially severe are commonly caused by individuals whose blood alcohol content (BAC) far exceeds the .08 threshold, and even going as far as double or triple the legal limit. Michigan enacted more severe penalties to tackle this issue in 2010 with the establishment of the “Super Drunk OWI” charge.

Consequences for breaking this law are severe even for first time offenders. Possible repercussions include jail time, increased fines, one-year mandatory alcohol treatment and one-year alcohol ignition interlock requirement in addition to suspension of driving privileges. Under Michigan law, this type of offense is technically known as a OWI High-BAC charge. If you are facing an allegation of being super drunk behind the wheel, then it is essential to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Super Drunk (High-BAC) vs. Regular OWI Charges

Under Michigan’s drunk driving law, a person can be charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) at a BAC of .08 percent. Under the amended statute, any driver with a BAC of .17 or more — twice the legal limit — would be considered “super drunk.”  BAC refers to the amount of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, 210 liters of breath, or 67 milliliters of urine.

Individuals facing super drunk charges are threatened with far stricter punishments than those convicted of regular OWI offenses. For example, a standard OWI charge carries a maximum jail sentence of 93 days, with an increase to 180 days for a super drunk conviction. In addition to the jail sentence, a license suspension and restriction will be placed on the offender; this period is increased from 30 days and 150 days of restricted driving for regular OWI offense to 45 days and 320 days of restricted driving for super drunk offenders.

Other penalties such as fines ranging between $200 and $700 may apply as well as an order to attend alcohol treatment for up to a year. It should also be noted that only individuals with no prior convictions within the last seven years may be charged with super drunk charges. Working with an experienced OWI attorney can help an individual navigate these details to reduce their consequences as much as possible or avoid them altogether.

Consequences Of Conviction for Super Drunk/High-BAC

Those convicted of a super drunk offense face steep penalties and long-term repercussions. For those without any prior OWI convictions in the past seven years, they may still have to serve 45 days without driving privileges and 320 days of restricted driving with the installation of an ignition interlock device. The fines they face could be anywhere from $200 to $700 and jail sentences up to 180 days. Other punishments include 360 hours of community service, depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense, as well as any previous convictions.

Additional Consequences

If you’ve been accused of a super drunk offense, the consequences could be serious. From fines and criminal penalties to the loss of professional licenses like those belonging to doctors, lawyers, and teachers, your future could be drastically affected. Even after your sentence or probation has ended, the criminal record may still cause issues with job hunting or using your driver’s license. To take control of the situation, become informed of all possible outcomes before making any decisions concerning a super drunk charge.

What Is An Ignition Interlock?

Interlock devices are installed discreetly on your dashboard or center console. This device measures the user’s breath sample by analyzing the BAC through a mouthpiece attached to it. If a passing (alcohol-free) sample is not given, the interlock will act as a barrier and prevent the car from starting. Some interlock devices come with a camera that takes pictures of the user blowing into it to prove their identity. In the event that alcohol is detected, the car locks out for a certain amount of time before they can take another test and start again. It’s important to note that most companies don’t place interlocks on motorcycles due to safety reasons.

Legal Defenses To A Super Drunk Case

When facing a super drunk OWI charge, it is essential to have a thorough defense that includes examining the prosecution’s foundational blocks for pursuing charges. A defense attorney must ask important questions to determine if the officer had the legal right to stop and arrest you, if field sobriety tests were properly scored and administered, if breath test devices were working properly, and if there was a valid warrant for a blood draw if your blood was drawn after your arrest. By filing pre-trial motions before the judge and answering these questions, an experienced defender may be able to get your case dismissed or secure a better deal for you.

Work With A Lawyer Who Has Worked These Cases

If you are looking for legal representation, it is important to research a lawyer’s past success in similar cases. An attorney who lacks experience with super drunk OWI charges may be too hasty to recommend pleading guilty, whereas many of our clients have ended up with favorable results after seeking our counsel. We conduct a rigorous review of the circumstances of your arrest for opportunities to fight the charges.

Williams & Associates represents the accused in northern Michigan and statewide. Call our Traverse City law office at 231-735-8575 or contact us online.