High BAC Cases
In October of 2010, there was a huge change made to the Michigan’s DUI laws. The change created a new, enhanced OWI offense for anyone whose breath or blood test score (BAC) was .17 or above.
Usually written up as "OWI with BAC or .17 or Greater," and sometimes called "Superdrunk," most people, including my team and I, as Michigan DUI lawyers, simply refer to the enhanced charge as "High BAC."
High BAC charges can only be made in a 1st offense case.
Over the years, and for whatever reason(s), an increasing number of DUI cases, at least here, in the Greater-Detroit area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Livingston, St. Clair and Washtenaw Counties have been charged under the High BAC law.
This means that if you have had a single, prior alcohol-related driving (DUI) conviction within 7 years of the date of the arrest on the new charge, or 2 prior DUI convictions at any time in your life, then you cannot be charged with this enhanced offense.Here are the maximum potential penalties under the law:
Up to 180 days in jail
Fine of $200 but not more than $700
One year license suspension with a restricted license allowed after 45 days
Following the mandatory 45-day license suspension, a person may drive ONLY after a breath alcohol ignition interlock device has been installed on their vehicle.
Up to 360 hours community service
Cost of prosecution
Vehicle immobilization for up to 180 days
6 points on the driving record
Mandatory alcohol treatment program or self-help program for a period of not less than one year.
Sometimes, a person arrested for a DUI (and especially if there was a blood, rather than a breath test) will be released from jail without knowing exactly what charge or charges are going to be made against him or her.
In those situations, the person will simply be told that they'll get something in the mail and/or otherwise hear from the court.
To be clear, even if you left jail with a ticket written for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), you can still be charged with a High BAC offense as long at your breath or blood test result was .17 or higher.
Of course, everyone's biggest fear is going to jail.
The good news is that, in the local courts of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, that can almost always be avoided.
However, there are lots of other things to avoid beyond jail, including getting placed on some kind of "probation from Hell" that requires all kinds of counseling, treatment and endless breath and/or urine testing.
Our first priority, as Michigan DUI lawyers, is to make sure we avoid and/or minimize as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible.
Remember: Success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you.
Of course, there's more to a DUI case than just avoiding penalties, because nobody wants to report any such offense, much less a High BAC charge to their employer, or to a professional licensing body, either.,
Beyond all the potential legal consequences that can be imposed, one of the most significant implications of a High BAC charge is in the name itself. Being convicted of driving with a bodily alcohol content more than twice the legal limit is always perceived by everyone as just "more" dangerous.
Over the years, study after study has proven that, as a group, DUI drivers have a statistically higher incidence of drinking problems than the population at large.
Here's what that means, and why it's important:
Imagine you were instructed to go out and get 1000 people - completely at random - and have them complete an alcohol screening test.
Next, assume you were told to do the same thing all over again, except that for this 2nd group, you had to get people who have either previously had, or who are currently facing a DUI charge.
No matter how many times you were to run this experiment, you would always find a significantly higher incidence of drinking problems among the DUI group over the general population.
In the real world, this is an even bigger concern for anyone facing a High BAC offense. No matter how you cut it, this charge just "looks" worse.
One of our primary jobs, as Michigan DUI lawyers, is to successfully refute these kind of assumptions, but that's complicated further when a person is charged with a High BAC, because they will be seen as being even more at risk to have a troubled relationship to alcohol than someone facing a regular OWI (DUI) offense with a lower BAC result.
It is a losing strategy for a person facing a High BAC charge to simply insist that he or she is not a big drinker, or only had a couple of drinks over a long night out. Here's why:
- A 180 pound male will have to consume about 8 drinks in a 3 hour period to reach a BAC of .18
- A 140 pound female will have to consume about 5 drinks in a 3 hour period to reach a BAC of .17