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 simply refer to the enhanced charge as "High BAC."

High BAC charges can only be made in a 1st offense case. 

This means that if you have had a prior alcohol-related driving (DUI) conviction within 7 years of the date of the arrest on the new charge, then you cannot be charged with this enhanced offense.

Here are the potential penalties under the law as it is written:
  • 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 will be released from jail and will not know or have been informed of the exact charge to be made against him or her.  In many cases, a person will simply be told that they'll get something in the mail and/or 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 almost never happens.  

However, there are lots of other things to avoid beyond jail, including getting placed on "Probation from Hell" that requires all kinds of counseling, treatment and endless testing.  

Nobody wants to report a High BAC to their employer, or to a professional licensing body, either.

Beyond all the legal penalties that can be imposed, one of the most significant implications of a High BAC charge comes from the breath or blood test result itself. Driving with a bodily alcohol content more than twice the legal limit is always perceived within the court system as especially dangerous. 

Studies have consistently borne out that, as a group, DUI drivers have a statistically higher incidence of drinking problems than the population at large. 

One of our primary jobs, as DUI lawyers, is to successfully refute that assumption, 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.

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

Instead, the proper defense of this charge first requires ensuring that the breath and/or blood test results are accurate and reliable, and, if so, then explaining them in a way that helps, rather than hurts the outcome of the case.  

Whatever the circumstances of your case, if you have been arrested anywhere in Metro-Detroit area for a DUI charge, then you need to hire a qualified DUI lawyer with whom you feel comfortable, and who you can trust to produce the best outcome humanly possible in your case. 

The way to do that is to read around (check out the DUI section of my blog, which is updated with 2 new articles every week) and see how lawyers explain the DUI process and how they explain themselves.  

When you've done enough of that, start checking around.  All of our consultations are done over the phone during regular business hours.




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