David G. Moore Attorney At Law
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How has the 'super drunk' law affected Kalamazoo County?

Drinking and driving comes with severe penalties, especially if you are considered to be "super drunk." This condition refers to having a blood alcohol content of 0.17 or higher, according to Michigan's laws.

Kalamazoo County leads the way with the most cases in the nation and police claim this drunk driving law is working, but slowly. Michigan's super drunk law went into effect in October 2010. In 2011, there were 211 cases in Kalamazoo County. So far this year there have been 105 individuals charged under this provision.

One recent incident occurred in late July, when a 21-year-old man with a reported blood-alcohol level of 0.30 flipped his car. Just days earlier, a 49-year-old man drove his truck into a lake and his level of intoxication was later measured at 0.17.

Operating while impaired at a blood-alcohol level of 0.17 or above carries penalties beyond those of drunk driving charges based on lower levels of intoxication, including one year of alcohol rehabilitation. According to the super drunk law, when a driver is accused of drinking and driving, the person's driving privileges can be suspended for one year. For the first 45 days, no driving at all is allowed. The driver is allowed to drive for the remainder of the one-year suspension if he or she agrees to having an ignition interlock placed on their vehicle.

An ignition interlock, also called a breath interlock, requires the driver to blow into the device before starting the vehicle. The vehicle will not start if it detects a blood alcohol level of 0.025 or above. The driver must blow into the device again after five to 15 minutes and must repeat the process twice an hour in order to keep the vehicle operational. The vehicle will shut off after a complete stop if a blood alcohol level above 0.025 is monitored at any time while the vehicle is in motion.

Knowing how serious the penalties outlined by the super drunk law are, being suspected of OWI with a high blood-alcohol can have devastating consequences. Since driving becomes restricted upon conviction, it may be impossible to make it to maintain a job. Furthermore, a drunk driving charge may severely limit job opportunities. Seeking out the right help when facing an OWI charge could protect your financial future.

Source: WWMT-TV News, "Looking at 'super-drunk' cases in Kzoo County," July 26, 2012

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