Our Firm has represented clients on Drunk Driving and Operating with the Presence of a Controlled Substance (OWPCS) matters for over forty years. Michigan’s Drunk Driving and OWPCS laws are continually changing as lawmakers attempt to create tougher consequences. Not only are the legal punishments (mandatory jail time on certain offenses, thousands of dollars in fines, mandatory loss of driving privileges, etc.) for Drunk Driving and OWPCS becoming harsher under Michigan law, but a conviction can also severely impact a person’s employment, immigration status, ability to travel internationally, auto insurance, parental rights and various other collateral consequences. These severe consequences make it crucial that a person charged with any Drunk Driving or OWPCS offense consults with an attorney who is experienced and specializes in this increasingly focused area of criminal defense. Our firm specializes in Drunk Driving and OWPCS defense. We strive to stay on the cutting edge of defending Michigan’s ever changing drunk driving laws so that our client’s have the confidence that they are receiving the best possible representation.
Some examples of issues involved in Drunk Driving and OWPCS cases that are often unknown to persons charged and overlooked by attorneys who do not specialize in this area of law include:
- Immigration Consequences – Certain Drunk Driving convictions may affect a non-citizen and their ability to lawfully remain in the United States;
- Inability to Travel Internationally – Certain foreign countries, including Canada, do not allow foreign travelers to enter their country if the traveler has a Drunk Driving conviction on their record, even a misdemeanor First Offense;
- Drunk Driving and OWPCS Convictions Are Permanent – While various other criminal convictions may eventually come off your criminal record, a conviction for Drunk Driving or OWPCS cannot be expunged (removed) from your criminal record;
- Police Car In-Dash Video Recordings – The arresting agency may have a recording of the investigation and arrest that could provide invaluable information in defending your case. The prosecutor is not required to obtain this record and turn it over to the defense. These materials are frequently only obtained by attorneys that are experienced in Drunk Driving defense and know the proper channels required to obtain these materials;
- Health Conditions and Medications – Certain health conditions or medications can affect the reliability of the prosecution’s evidence creating a strong defense in your case;
- Scientific Evidence is Not Flawless – You need an attorney who is aware of the potential flaws present in the scientific evidence used by the State. These sometimes simple flaws often go un-noticed and can only be identified and raised by an attorney who specializes in Drunk Driving and OWPCS defense;
- Surprisingly Minimal Threshold in OWPCS cases – Current Michigan law finds a person in violation of OWPCS if the driver has “any amount” of a schedule 1 controlled substance (this includes marijuana) in his or her body. Small amounts of these controlled substances can stay in one’s body for several days and leaves that person susceptible to a OWPCS charge even though they may no longer be impaired by the use of the drug;
- The Medical Marijuana Act Is No Excuse Under OWPCS – Michigan’s legalization of marijuana for medical purposes has not legalized a patients operation of vehicles with “any amount” of marijuana in his or her body. Therefore, a legal user of marijuana can be charged with OWPCS even if he or she legally used the marijuana several days before they operated the vehicle;
- Drunk Boating – The law regarding Drunk Boating has a few different thresholds and potential issues from automobile cases. However, a conviction for Drunken Boating carries most all of the harsh consequences as a conviction for Drunken Driving of an automobile. A person can even be charged with drunken boating in a non-motorized vessel such as a canoe or kayak.
One example of Michigan law’s increasingly harsh treatment of Drunk Driving is the recent amendment MCL 257.629(9), commonly referred to as the “Super Drunk Driver” offense effective October 31, 2010. Under this amendment, an OWI first offender with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17 or greater faces a 180-day misdemeanor as opposed to a 93-day misdemeanor faced if the BAC is below a .17. The fines and cost for a “super drunk driver” are increased, as are the driver’s license sanctions. A “super drunk driver” receives a one-year license suspension, with restrictions available after 45 days. The “super drunk driver” is also required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle at their own expense. This device will not allow the driver to operate the vehicle if they have been drinking alcohol.