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Michigan’s drunk driving laws and safe driving tips

December 3, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

What you need to know during National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month

With all of the parties and celebrations, drunk and drugged driving is especially prevalent during the holidays. But no one wants to have a tragedy over the holiday season.

For this reason, December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. This is a time to raise awareness about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Here’s the proclamation from President Obama.

Also this month, more Michigan state highway patrol and local police will be joining together this holiday to remove drunk and drugged drivers from the roads.

Here are some basic safety tips to follow over the holidays:

  • Designate a sober driver before your parties start, or reserve a cab.
  • Do not serve those under the age of 21 alcohol.
  • Plan safe parties, including providing non-alcoholic drink options to guests, lots of water and food.
  • Do not serve alcohol during the last hour of your gathering.

Michigan drunk driving laws

Under Michigan law, it is illegal to drive:

  • While intoxicated, or impaired, by alcohol, illegal drugs, and some prescribed medications.
  • With a bodily alcohol content of 0.08 or more. (This crime is one of the driving while intoxicated offenses.)
  • With a bodily alcohol content of 0.17 or more. (This “High BAC” crime is one of the driving while intoxicated offenses.)
  • With any amount of cocaine or a Schedule 1 controlled substance in your body. (For more information about Schedule 1 drugs, see section 7212 of the Michigan Public Health Code; MCL 333.7212.)

Additionally, if you are under age 21, it is also against the law to:

  • Drive with a bodily alcohol content of 0.02 or more, or with any presence of alcohol in your body except for that consumed at a generally recognized religious ceremony.
  • Buy, possess or consume alcoholic beverages. You may transport alcohol in a vehicle only when accompanied by someone age 21 or older. If you are stopped by the police, with alcohol in your vehicle, and there is no adult with you, you can be charged with a misdemeanor, whether you are on the road or in a parking lot.

Penalties for Michigan drunk driving and drugged driving

If you do choose to drive drunk or on drugs, here are the penalties in Michigan, according to Michigan.gov:

  • Courts to decide drunk driving and drugged driving cases within 77 days after the arrest.
  • A mandatory 6-month driver license suspension, even for a first conviction. The driver may be eligible for a restricted license after serving 30 days of the suspension.
  • A mandatory 1-year driver license suspension for a first conviction of “drunker driving,” meaning operating with a BAC of .17 or higher. This “high BAC” crime is one of the operating while intoxicated offenses. A high BAC driver may be eligible for a restricted license after serving 45 days of the license suspension, but only if an ignition interlock device is installed on any vehicle the offender owns or intends to operate.
  • Court to order participation in, and successful completion of, one or more rehabilitation programs, including alcohol treatment or a self-help program, or another program the court decides is appropriate. The court must order this rehabilitation if the defendant has one or more prior convictions, or is convicted of High BAC.
  • Five days to one year of consecutive jail time, or 30 to 90 days of community service, or both for a second conviction of drunk or drugged driving.
  • Harsher license sanctions of revocation and denial for persons with multiple convictions for drunk or drugged driving.
  • A reinstatement fee of $125 if your driver’s license was suspended, revoked or restricted.
  • A Driver Responsibility Fee of $1,000 for 2 consecutive years for a driving while intoxicated conviction, including a High BAC conviction.
  • A Driver Responsibility Fee of $500 for 2 consecutive years for convictions for driving while impaired, with any presence of a Schedule 1 drug or cocaine, or child endangerment.

In addition, the laws make the following drunk and drugged driving offenses felonies:

  • A third conviction in the driver’s lifetime.
  • A conviction for drunk or drugged driving that causes death.
  • A conviction for drunk or drugged driving that causes serious injury to another person

For further details on punishments for each type of law violation, visit the Michigan Substance Abuse and Driving page on michigan.gov.

Please, drive safe this month and all year round.

Related information:

Strengthening Michigan DUI laws could reduce car accident deaths

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