OWI Attorneys on Mt. Pleasant, MI

It may be just eight square miles, but the suburb of Mt. Pleasant, located in Michigan’s lower peninsula, has one of the higher rates of DUI arrests in the state. Databases of state data show the average officer in Mt. Pleasant makes 5.86 total DUI arrests every year. Compare that to Detroit, where the average per officer is 0.3 DUI arrests annually.

In one recent year, 40 percent of the 170 Mt. Pleasant DUI arrests involved “super drunk” drivers, whose breath-alcohol concentration allegedly met or exceeded 0.17. The standard per se (statutory) BAC limit in Michigan is 0.08, per MCL 257.625.

With just 28 full-time officers, the agency ranks 56th out of 515 throughout the state for high DUI arrest rates.

At Grabel & Associates, our OWI attorneys in Mt. Pleasant are committed to fighting for the rights and best interests of our clients. We recognize that for many, a DUI arrest is their first (and hopefully last) ever run-in with the law. It’s a time of immense anxiety and confusion, and we want to make sure clients understand: DUI arrest does not equal DUI conviction. There are many effective defense strategies we can employ to reduce your chances of conviction and lessen the degree of harsh penalties.

Our defense attorneys are experienced in Michigan DUI law, and are familiar with local procedures and players within the Isabella County Trial Court (76th District Court), which handles misdemeanor cases, and the 21st Circuit Court, which handles felony cases. That kind of knowledge is invaluable when you need a strong legal advocate.

DUI Arrests in Mt. Pleasant

It’s worth pointing out that while the term “DUI” is more commonly known and understood, Michigan legislators do not and have never formally used that phrase in the Michigan Code of Laws. Instead of “driving,” the preferred term is, “operating,” which can have broader implications. That said, our OWI attorneys use the words interchangeably only because more people know and recognize “DUI” than “OWI.”

The Michigan Annual Drunk Driving Audit reports that of nearly 2,900 crashes reported in Isabella County in a single recent year, more than 90 involved alcohol, drugs or both.

Police and sheriff’s deputies make an average of 500 OWI arrests here on a yearly basis, but only about half of those cases end in conviction. Of those that are convicted, the most common offenses were:

  • Operating While Intoxicated. This involves operating a vehicle with a BAC above the per se limit of 0.08 or with any amount of a Schedule I narcotic in the system or while visibly impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Operating with possession of drugs (OWPD).
  • Under 21 with a BAC of 0.02 and over.

These cases are often highly defensible, and first-time offenders in particular may have some leverage when it comes to plea negotiations. Convictions can also be avoided when DUI defense lawyers find evidence of:

  • Improper traffic stop.
  • Inaccuracy in administration of field sobriety tests (Michigan Court of Appeals in 1996 held in People v. Burger that officers conducting field sobriety tests must be properly trained and test properly administered).
  • Inaccuracy of breathalyzer tests.
  • Chain of custody questions with regard to blood tests (mishandling can give rise to doubt of the validity of results).
  • Rising blood-alcohol concentration (defendant’s BAC was below the legal limit when the drive began, but increased between then and the time of the traffic stop and administration of breathalyzer test because of alcohol’s failure to fully absorb until that time).

Under 21 DUI in Mt. Pleasant

Many of those arrested for DUI in Mt. Pleasant and surrounding areas are under 21. It’s not that Central Michigan University or Mid-Michigan Community College have any sort of reputation for being party schools (in fact, they are renowned for their health and hospital centers). Still, the area has its share of youthful indiscretions.

One notable incident occurred not long ago at the start of a recent school year, when the Mount Pleasant Police fielded 600 calls for service during CMU’s Welcome Weekend, and ended up arresting or citing nearly 350 people for offenses that included OWI, open intoxicants and minor in possession of alcohol. Fourteen different agencies assisted with the patrols.

One study published in the Journal of Substance Use analyzed DUI and other alcohol-related arrest data over a six-year period in a mid-sized university in a Midwestern college town. Researchers discovered one-fifth of all alcohol-related arrests in the city were students. Other common traits among arrestees:

  • First year students;
  • Males;
  • Greek pledges;
  • Athletes.

Another study published by Project Know based on data from the Office of Postsecondary Education revealed Michigan ranked No. 10 nationally for the highest rate of alcohol arrests on college campuses (3.44 per 1,000 students). This represented a 14.4 percent increase in just three years.

Drivers under 21 are held to a more stringent standard when it comes to OWI because, as noted by the Michigan Department of Transportation, it’s unlawful for minors to:

  • Drink;
  • Have alcohol in their possession at any time;
  • Possess or transport an unopened container in a motor vehicle (both driver and passenger can be charged for this, even if neither consumed the alcohol; the only exception will be if someone over 21 is in the vehicle);
  • Use a fake ID to obtain alcohol;
  • To allow anyone use of their vehicle after they have been drinking.

Michigan has a Zero Tolerance stance when it comes to underage drinking and driving. The first time someone under 21 is caught driving with a BAC of 0.02 or more, penalties include:

  • 30-day restricted driver’s license;
  • $125 license reinstatement fee;
  • Four points on one’s driving record;
  • $500 Driver Responsibility payment for two years;
  • Additional fines up to $250;
  • Community service.

A second-time offense, and the offender faces up to three months in jail.

The only exception to the Under 21 rule occurs when alcohol is consumed part of a generally recognized religious ceremony.

For those under 21 caught operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, they will face all the penalties as any other defendant convicted of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). Per statute, these include:

  • Fine of up to $500;
  • Maximum 93 days in jail;
  • Maximum 360 hours of community service;
  • Maximum 180 days driver’s license suspension;
  • 6 points on one’s driver’s license;
  • A $1,000 penalty for two consecutive years (so $2,000 total).

A conviction for OWI will also leave a stain on one’s permanent record, potentially affecting housing, employment and educational opportunities.

Our OWI defense lawyers will carefully examine the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the nature of the charges to formulate the best possible defense.

For a free consultation contact us online.