Michigan is very serious about keeping drunk drivers off the road, and state legislators believe that the penalties for underage drunk driving offenders should be significant.
There is a zero tolerance attitude in this state, meaning that a driver under the age of 21 who registers a blood alcohol content as low as 0.02 percent can be charged with a DUI (also known as OWI).
Feeling the effects
Young people often do not understand the effects of drinking alcohol. Judgment becomes impaired, reaction time slows and vision and concentration changes. Having even one drink can adversely affect one’s ability to drive. Young people may think they can quickly return to normal with exercise, a cold shower or a couple of cups of coffee, but this is not true. Only time will help them to become sober again.
Facing the penalties
For drivers aged 16 to 20, a DUI conviction carries with it a 30-day driver’s license suspension. However, simply possessing or purchasing alcohol can also lead to license suspension plus a fine of $100. A conviction also appears on the driving record as a misdemeanor.
Refusing the breath test
If law enforcement stops a driver on the suspicion of drunk driving, the officer may ask him or her to take a Preliminary Breath Test. If the driver refuses, and he or she is under the age of 21, penalties could include a fine of up to $150 plus court costs and significant community service time. However, the young person will still have to take an evidentiary test because the Implied Consent Law in this state means that driving on any Michigan roadway essentially provides consent to a test to determine whether there is any alcohol in the bloodstream.
Developing a strategy
It is frightening for a young person to face the consequences of a DUI charge, but breath tests are not always accurate and law enforcement officers can make errors. Protecting the rights of an underage driver and ensuring the best possible outcome for his or her case is the goal for the criminal defense attorney.