"Points of Interest"

The New DWI: Michigan's Super Drunk Driving Law

Did You Know?


Under the current law there are two kinds of drunk drivers: those operating while intoxicated (OWI) and those operating while visibly impaired (OWVI).  One can be charged with an OWI where his body alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the threshold limit of .08.  However, where there is a threshold with OWI's, no such threshold exists for an OWVI, meaning that it is possible to be charged with an OWVI even in instances where a driver's BAC was but a slender fraction over zero.

While the OWI and OWVI give law enforcement a good deal of fleixility in charging a driver who has a relatively low BAC it has not given law enforcement any new tools to deal with those driver's who far exceed the OWI threshold of .08.   Under the new Michigan law that took effect October 31, 2010 the traditional OWI and OWVI will be retained while a new "Super Drunk" classification will be added, outlining greater penalties in those cases where a driver has a BAC of .17, more than twice the threshold for an OWI.

Enhanced Penalties

While the punishments for OWI and OWVI remain unchanged the "Super Drunk" law enhances these penalties once the threshold of .17 is reached.  These enhancements include:

A maximun of
180 days in jail, up from 93 as imposed under an OWI

A fine of between $200 and $700, up from $100 to $500 under an OWI 

Participation in an alcohol treatment program for at least one year, which is the same requirement as a repeat offender under the OWI law

License suspension of one year, with a hard suspension of at least 45 days followed by a restricted license, if the situation warrants; under the OWI statute the suspension is 180 days, with the final 150 eligible for restriction:

  
Breath Interlock Device 

Aside from the monitary punishments, licensing sanctions and increased jail time, the biggest change under the new law is the requirement that anybody granted a restricted license under the new law must, at their own expense, install and maintain an Interlock device on their vehicle and cannot operate any other vehicle.