Make no mistake about it, the laws across the United States have become progressively more severe for those that have been charged with drinking and driving. In the state of Michigan, the need for creative and diligent counsel has become more than a luxury, it has evolved into a necessity. Depending upon the facts and jurisdiction that the defendant is being charged with, a jail sentence can become a reality for even those convicted on a first offense. One thing people do not realize is that Michigan, unlike many other states, does not allow for a drunk driving conviction to disappear with an expungement.
On its face, the law in the state of Michigan is very clear. An individual who is 21 years or older is considered legally drunk if the individual’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is found to be 0.08 or higher. The drunk driving laws are referred as OUIL (Operating Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor) and appear to be standardized from other states until one reviews the application of the crime. A foremost leader in the field of drunk driving laws is Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates. When asked about the OUIL laws in the state of Michigan, Grabel spoke passionately when he stated, “It’s hard to believe that our state will not allow for an expungement. That is truly sad because the legislature is sending a message that this mistake is one that will never completely go away. I always found it amazing that more lawyers are not aware of this fact when they tell a client to take a plea deal. Sometimes the facts are against you and sometimes you need to just toughen up and go to trial. Many of those in the field will not take that point of view and their client can pay the price. People do not realize that no blood or breath test is necessary to prove this theory, but what is crucial to the case is that prosecutors have to prove that consumption substantially reduced one’s ability to operate a vehicle and this has to be proven by a reasonable doubt. As litigators we really need to review the evidence as this is not an area that is black and white, but instead it becomes a creative shade of gray.”
Matthew McManus of McManus PLLC in Ann Arbor, Michigan added commentary on this issue. McManus stated, “The variations in our state are truly amazing. There is a difference between an OUIL, an OWVI, a UBAL and an OWI. What we generally find is that many lawyers are not verse in the different concepts that lead to a loss of freedom for their clients. It is not an easy field to excel in but diligence can lead to positive outcomes.”
While a cursory knowledge of the law may provide some level of protection, true application of the charge is the only avenue to success and in the field of drunk driving in Michigan, success is extremely subjective.
William Amadeo is a partner at the law firm of Ann Arbor Legal in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is also an Associate Attorney at Grabel and Associates.