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There are two kinds of drunken drivers in Michigan: standard and “super”. Standard includes those with blood alcohol content of 0.08 to 0.16 percent. The super drunk, a new category under state law, are first-time offenders who test at 0.17 or above.

(Related: DUI Second Offense)

The designation warrants just super-high penalties and super-stiff fees. Some defense attorneys predict that fines and other costs could surpass $8,000. Alcohol treatment is mandatory, with possible jail time doubled, and driving forbidden for 45 days.

The penalties include another first for Michigan: a requirement to install an in-car breathalyzer. In order to resume driving after 45 days, first-time super-drunk offenders are obligated to purchase an ignition interlock, which tests a driver’s breath and allows the car to run only in the instance that the driver is sober.

The change is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s effort to increase the severity of drunken driving penalties.

Michigan joined more than 40 states when the Legislature passed the standards with virtually no opposition at the end of 2008.

The technical term is “high blood alcohol content enhanced penalty law.”

“We don’t really like calling it the super drunk law,“ said Anne Readett, spokeswoman for the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.

Critics of the law are questioning its effectiveness.

Advocates believe the measure is positive but not enough — “a disappointing step in the right direction,” said Michigan MADD’s executive director, Homer Smith.

Super Drunk Driving Requires a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.17 or Above

State lawmakers set the blood-alcohol standard for Super Drunk Driving at 0.17 percent, bucking a trend toward tougher 0.15 thresholds preferred by MADD. While at least a dozen states require interlock devices for all convicted drunken drivers.

(Related: Driver Responsibility Fees)

“The Legislature had an opportunity to do something that would significantly deter drunk driving,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, they chose to do less than the optimum.”

Michigan considers 0.08 percent to be legally drunk, and the new law does not affect repeat offenders or those who face a felony for causing death, injury or damage.

Approximately one-third of Michigan drivers whom police suspect of driving drunk test at the enhanced penalty levels. Interlocks have increased in effectiveness and acceptance since 2007, when federal traffic safety officials began a campaign that urged judges to require the devices.

A device costs the driver close to $100 a month to maintain. Other costs to violators are the result of state driver responsibility fees and attorney fees.

First-time offenders who meet the super-drunk standard can expect to pay $8,000 to $10,000.

This is not the time to experiment with self-representation or plead to the charges “just to get it over with.” You need the expertise of a lawyer that specializes in OWI and DUI cases.

At Rudoi Law, we have the OWI (DUI) expertise you need. We understand the criminal system. We know the defense strategies that have won in court. And we understand the judges and prosecutors working in lower Michigan today. We’ll give you the tough defense you deserve, all while demystifying a complex process.

What’s more, we understand the needs of our clients. Battling for your future can be emotionally draining. And for many people, a first offense DUI is the only trouble t they’ve had with the law. That’s one of the reasons why we work so hard. We believe one mistake shouldn’t bar a lifetime of work or cost you your freedom. If You or a loved one is facing drunk driving charges contact Rudoi Law today.


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