Michigan DUI Information

Safe Time

By: Jamie Wagner – Staff Writer

For any Michigan Tech student the road and highway systems are a big
part of every break, including the semester break coming up. As most of
us prepare for the long automotive trek home for the holiday season, we
are worried about the road conditions being snowy, icy, whiteout or just
plain slow. What may not be common knowledge is that this is the worst
time of year for losing your life on the road because of alcohol. Mothers
Against Drunk Driving cite that in 1999, 1,610 people were killed in
alcohol-related traffic fatalities between Thanksgiving and New Year’s

We have all heard the facts and numbers about drunk driving
statistics, but one fact that can be found with any alcohol statistics is
that every 33 minutes someone is killed in a drunk driving accident.

The percentage of drunk driving fatalities for Michigan, Wisconsin,
and Minnesota are all above the national average of 38.4%. In the latest
year that data is available, 1998, 536 people lost their lives in
Michigan drunk driving accidents. 302 died in Wisconsin, and 280 in
Minnesota. Nationwide, 15,935 people were killed by drunk drivers in
1998. In 1999 this number was slightly down to 15, 736 alcohol-related
motor vehicle deaths.

The Blood Alcohol Content levels for Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota
are all 0.1 BAC. A woman of average health that weighs 140 pounds is
legally intoxicated after three drinks in one hour—though her
impairment begins with the start of her second drink. For an average
healthy man weighing 170 pounds with a full meal in his system, four
drinks in one hour will put him at the legally intoxicated level.

To help prevent and combat drunk driving Congress signed a bill in
October of 2000 to establish a .08 BAC as the national standard for
impaired driving. States have until 2003 to adopt the .08 level and those
that do not will have highway construction funds withheld from them every
year with the penalty increasing each year. The Transportation Equity Act
for the 21st Century also created incentive grants for states enforcing
the .08 BAC standard.

The reason that .08 BAC was chosen is from the results of years of
research and studies. Over 80 percent of drivers involved in fatal
crashes had alcohol levels exceeding .08 BAC.

All states have strict laws for repeat drunk driving offenders
including license and vehicle sanctions, alcohol assessment programs, and
mandatory imprisonment or community service. But two thirds of all drunk
drivers apprehended each year are first time offenders.

The state of Michigan has tough drunk driving laws to protect those
out on the road. These laws have been advertised on radio and TV and in
the news in the past year. These laws apply to those over the legal
drinking age of 21. The first time a person is convicted of driving after
drinking the driver’s license will be suspended for 30 to 90 days and
four points will be added to the driving record. Michigan’s Zero
Tolerance law for underage drunk drivers leaves an underage offender
nearly defenseless in a court of law.

After being stopped for drunk driving several different charges can be
brought against the offender. Operating While Impaired (OWI), means that
because of alcohol or other drugs in the body, the ability to operate a
motor vehicle was visibly impaired. For a first time offender, the
driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days and fines up to $300 can
be imposed, and/or jail time community service, or vehicle
immobilization. For a second offense of OWI, the license is revoked,
license plates confiscated, and possible vehicle forfeit. Jail time and
community service are also possibilities as well as more fines up to

The Operating Under the Influence of Liquor offence means that the
alcohol in your body substantially affected your driving ability so that
you could not operate a motor vehicle safely.

Charges for this are the same as charges for Operating With an
Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content (UBAC), which means at the time you were
driving, your bodily alcohol content was 0.1 or more. First time
offenders lose their license for six months and face 180 days of
immobilization. Jail time and community service and/or $100 to $500 in
fines can be levied. Repeat offenders face more serious jail time,
revocation of their driver’s license, plates and vehicle are almost

If the drunk driving incident causes bodily harm to someone a
five-year felony penalty is applied to the drinker. If someone is killed
in the drunk driving incident a 15-year felony charge for that conviction
is imposed.

When pulled over the police will ask the driver to take some sobriety
tests, and refusing is not an option that should be exercised. A
Preliminary Breathe Test is the roadside test that can be given
immediately and refusal results in a civil infraction and fines up to
$100. Under 21 year old drivers will automatically have two points added
to their records. After arrest the chemical test is given to determine
the BAC, and refusal of this test adds six points to the record, the
destruction of the driver’s license, and suspension of it for six months

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