Thursday, October 28, 2010

Michigan's new 'Super-Drunk' Law goes into Effect on Sunday

Lansing State Journal
Those who drink excessively and get behind the wheel may be in a sobering reality beginning Sunday.

New laws go into effect that double the jail sentences and license suspensions for first-time offenders who are convicted of having higher blood-alcohol levels while driving and expand the use of substance abuse treatment programs.

State officials say the “super-drunk” legislation is designed to target those first-time offenders who apparently have a serious drinking problem.

“When you get super-drunk, it becomes exceptionally dangerous,” said state Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, a sponsor of the legislation.

The new law essentially creates a new class of blood-alcohol content of 0.17 percent or higher for more serious first-time offenders; that’s slightly more than twice the minimum of 0.08 percent now required for a drunken-driving conviction.

Those convicted of the higher blood-alcohol level will get an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension -- twice the current penalty -- and would face 180 days in jail, which is roughly twice the current maximum.

They also face bigger fines and mandatory treatment for substance abuse.

Judge Harvey Hoffman of District 56A Court in Charlotte said substance abuse treatment Michigan for serious first-time offenders is critical to reducing the alcohol dependence and further offenses. Substance abuse treatment now is used more commonly for repeat offenders.

“The average person, if they a blow a 0.20, and you’re up and functioning enough to operate a motor vehicle, it shows you have an elevated tolerance to alcohol,” said Hoffman, who has dealt with drunken drivers for 14 years as a judge. “That’s pretty good proof you are dealing with someone who has a significant alcohol problem.”

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