High BAC (Super-Drunk) Cases in Metro-Detroit

Back in October of 2010, there was a change made to the State’s DUI Laws by creating a new, enhanced DUI Offense for anyone whose Breath or Blood test score (BAC) was .17 or above. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this "High BAC,"or "Super-Drunk" Charge, let’s be clear about one thing - this is a charge to be avoided at all costs. As a Detroit DUI defense attorney, my job is to find a way out of this nightmare, if at all possible:

  1. “High BAC” Charges can only be made in a 1st Offense Case. If a person has had a prior DUI Conviction within 7 years of the date of the Arrest on the new charge, then they CANNOT be charged with this enhanced Offense.

  2. Even if a person has no prior DUI Convictions within 7 years from the date of the Arrest on the current charge, and even if their BAC was .17 or above, it is more likely than not that the WILL NOT be charged with the enhanced Offense.

“Why is that” you ask?

The answer is simple: Money.

High BAC cases are Misdemeanors that can most often only be charged under State Law, and, as a result, the Fines assessed in such cases go right to the State, rather than to the City (or Township or Village) where the case arises. Local Jurisdictions are scrambling to enact their own "OWI Enhanced" Ordinances. Until that's done, most such cases can only be charged under State Law, making this change in the Law a serious threat to the revenue stream of municipalities that make a lot of money from Drunk Driving cases.

In fact, some have called the whole DUI process a “cash cow.” There is much truth to that, and for my purposes as a Michigan DUI defense lawyer, if that sacred cow is threatened by High BAC charges to the point that the High BAC charge is ignored in favor of the less serious, regular old OWI Charge, that’s fine with me - and for anyone facing a DUI, as well.

A few years ago, someone in Lansing got the idea to make it a more serious DUI Crime for anyone whose BAC was above a certain number (the debate actually involved various numbers, from .15 to .20), with enhanced penalties. Because no one in politics wants to appear “soft” on Drunk Driving, support for any measure that appears to “crack down” on it is pretty much a given. Still, before rushing this Law through, no one thought to stop and ask the Cities and Townships and Villages of this State what they thought about it.

If that had been done, then this Law may not have been passed. As we noted above, the only thing this Law does for local Municipalities is cost them money.

Sensing the inevitable, more and more local governments are taking the necessary steps to pass their own "High BAC" or "Enhanced OWI" Ordinances, but it's not as easy as just writing a Law. If that was the case, every city and township would already have enacted one. We'll leave the minutia of that out of this discussion, and simply point out that manyt municipalities do not have their own High BAC Law...


Without its own Ordinance, a High BAC case cannot be handled by the municipal Prosecutor, and must instead be handled by the County’s Prosecuting Attorney, who represents the State. As a result, all Fines imposed in a High BAC case get paid over to the State. The Michigan State Police website sets out the major details of this Law. Some of the most relevant are summarized below, with the enhanced penalties of the High BAC Law that differ from a garden-variety DUI being highlighted in bold:
  • Up to 180 days in jail (increased from 93 days)

  • Fine of $200 but not more than $700 (increased from $100 but not more than$500)

  • One year license suspension with restrictions permitted after 45 days (increased from six-month license suspension with restrictions permitted after 30 days.

  • Up to 360 hours community service (same)

  • Cost of prosecution (same)

  • Immobilization not exceeding 180 days allowed (same)

  • 6 points on the driving record (same)

  • Mandatory alcohol treatment program or self-help program for a period of not less than one year.

  • Following a mandatory 45-day license suspension, a person may drive after a breath alcohol ignition interlock device has been installed on their vehicle.

Perhaps the worst part about getting a 1st Offense DUI with a BAC of .17 or above is that a person may not know, as they get out of Jail the next morning, if they have, or will be charged with the enhanced Offense. Thus, a ticket written of “Operating While Intoxicated” can still result in a High BAC charge being made thereafter. Whatever the circumstances, a person arrested in Detroit for a DUI charge needs to make sure they search around for a qualified DUI lawyer with whom they feel comfortable, and who they can trust to produce the best outcome humanly and legally possible. As I noted at the outset of this section, a High BAC charge is one to be avoided at all costs. If you hire me as your Detroit DUI attorney, I will leave no stone unturned in my attempt to find a way out of it.

Contact Us (586) 465-1980
Contact Us (586) 465-1980