Michigan previously had a two-tiered standard, with .10 BAC or greater considered drunk driving and .08-.09 BAC being impaired driving. Today, .08 blood-alcohol content (BAC) becomes the new drunk driving standard. But drivers should also be aware that drunk driving can also be proven without any showing of a blood-alcohol content by the prosecution demonstrating that your driving has been significantly affected by the consumption of alcohol.
Drunk driving crimes are misdemeanors. Misdemeanors typically have been handled by the authorities as minor infractions. This is no longer true for drunk driving misdemeanors. There are serious consequences for drunk driving convictions and the attorneys at Aleck & Jenkins have been successfully fighting off drunk driving offenses for clients for quite some time.
Remember, the question is no longer whether you are actually drunk. The question is whether you meet the legal definition. If you meet the legal definition of drunk driving, you will be convicted. In today's world, there is a disturbing trend toward being unrealistically harsh. Back when .15 blood-alcohol standard was implemented years ago, it was based on the assumption that at .15 half of the people at that level felt the effects of alcohols. Today, the level that is considered "drunk" is half of that .15. You are now considered legally drunk at .08 and the following penalties apply:
A first-time offender convicted of drunk driving faces:
Up to 93 days in jail
Up to a $500 fine
Up to 360 hours of community service
Up to 6 points on a driver's license
Up to 180 days with a suspended license, with a restricted license possible after 30 days. Convicted drunk drivers will also be subject to a new $1,000 penalty that is included in a recently approved driver responsibility program. The $1,000 penalty will be imposed for two consecutive years. Drivers may still be arrested and charged with impaired driving, however, the law no longer has a blood alcohol content associated with impaired. Those convicted of impaired driving face an additional $500 penalty assessed for two consecutive years.
In addition to the change in the drunk driving standard, the new law also contains a zero tolerance for drivers with certain illegal drugs in their system. These "schedule 1" drugs are those with no medicinal use, such as marijuana, GHB, cocaine and cocaine-derivative drugs. With this change, prosecutors will not have to prove the driver was impaired, just that they were driving with those drugs in their system. The same penalties for drunk driving will apply to those convicted under the zero-tolerance drug provisions.
Other penalties have also been increased. Anyone who refuses a breath test the first time is given a one-year driver's license suspension. The penalty had been a six-month license suspension. For a second refusal in seven years, it is a two-year suspension.
The bottom line is that even first offenders now have a lot to worry about. If you have had previous convictions the penalties get even more severe. License sanctions are no longer handled by a judge but are more automatic and are imposed by the Secretary of States office. Our law firm knows how to maneuver you through all of these legal obstacles and penalties so call Aleck & Jenkins today for defense of your drunk driving case.
*We have appeared in most counties in Lower Michigan and may be able to represent you in other counties not listed above