Preparing for Michigan’s Beer & Wine Festival Season: What You Need To Know
With more than 100 Beer, Wine & Food events planned for summer and fall, alongside 120 wineries, nearly 300 breweries and a growing spirits industry, Michigan has marketed itself for having the “perfect pour.” When you add a speeding vehicle, or distracted and impaired drivers, it is also likely to create a serving of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and a DUI causing great bodily injury charges. We know this already though – drinking and driving don’t mix well together as drunk driving remains one of the greatest contributors to fatal and non-fatal traffic accidents in the United States.
Those who choose to drive drunk often have impaired decision-making skills and slower reaction time and are more likely to engage in other unsafe behaviors while behind the wheel. This increases the odds of an accident due to an unsafe driver who may also be speeding, distracted, otherwise unfocused.
Lawmakers, Local and State Police On High Alert
The 2015 Michigan Annual Drunk Driving Audit reported that alcohol and drug related fatal crashes remain a significant traffic safety issue, with approximately 38.7 percent of the total fatal crashes involving the impairments.
With statistics like these, community leaders and lawmakers have been successful in sending across the message of “Do not drink and drive” to Michigan motorists. Local and State police say they are especially on the lookout to catch motorists driving under the influence of alcohol after leaving festival grounds. They also say having strict drunk driving laws that drivers are aware of does help.
Michigan Drunk Driving Laws
The courts, law enforcement, state and local governments, as well as a number of private organizations and agencies, have been working together to reduce and prevent the thousands of injuries and deaths that result from drunk (or impaired) driving in Michigan especially during festival and warmer weather event seasons. Know the law.
Under Michigan law, and according to the Michigan Secretary of State, it is illegal to drive:
- While intoxicated, or impaired, by alcohol, illegal drugs, and some prescribed medications.
- With a bodily alcohol content of 0.08 or more. (This crime is one of the driving while intoxicated offenses.)
- With a bodily alcohol content of 0.17 or more. (This “High BAC” crime is one of the driving while intoxicated offenses.)
- With any amount of cocaine or a Schedule 1 controlled substance in your body. (For more information about Schedule 1 drugs, see section 7212 of the Michigan Public Health Code; MCL 333.7212.)
Additionally, if you are under age 21, it is also against Michigan law to:
- Drive with a bodily alcohol content of 0.02 or more, or with any presence of alcohol in your body except for that consumed at a generally recognized religious ceremony.
- Buy, possess, or consume alcoholic beverages. You may transport alcohol in a vehicle only when accompanied by someone age 21 or older. If you are stopped by the police, with alcohol in your vehicle, and there is no adult with you, you can be charged with a misdemeanor, whether you are on the road or in a parking lot.
Understanding The Consequences of Drunk Driving
Knowing you can cause tragedy to a person and their family, or to yourself, by choosing to drink and drive should be enough to stop you from doing so but if not, a review of the penalties for an alcohol-related driving offense in Michigan may be enough. Some of these charged may include:
- Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) means that because of alcohol or other drugs, your ability to operate a motor vehicle was visibly impaired.
- Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) includes three types of violations:
- Alcohol or drugs in your body substantially affected your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
- A bodily alcohol content (BAC) at or above 0.08. This level can be determined through a chemical test.
- High BAC means the alcohol level in your body was at or above 0.17. This level can be determined through a chemical test.
- Operating With Any Presence of a Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine (OWPD) means having even a small trace of these drugs in your body, even if you do not appear to be intoxicated or impaired.
- Under Age 21 Operating With Any Bodily Alcohol Content (Zero Tolerance) means having a BAC of 0.02 to 0.07, or any presence of alcohol in your body other than alcohol that is consumed at a generally recognized religious ceremony.
If you are responsible for causing death or serious injury to someone while operating while intoxicated or with any presence of drugs, you can face felony charges of:
- Death— Up to 15 years imprisonment, or a fine of $2,500 to $10,000, or both.
- Injury— Up to 5 years imprisonment, or a fine of $1,000 to $5,000, or both.
- Emergency Responder Death— Up to 20 years imprisonment, or a fine of $2,500 to $10,000, or both.
- Driver’s license revocation and denial for a minimum of 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
- License plate confiscation.
- Vehicle immobilization for up to 180 days, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
- Possible vehicle forfeiture.
- 6 points added to the offender’s driving record.
- Driver Responsibility Fee of $1,000.
Make the Decision to Not Drink and Drive
Obviously, if you’re of legal age, there’s nothing at all wrong with going out to the local Beer and Wine Festival. It is, however, important to find ways to take care of yourself and be responsible while drinking. What’s the number one way to protect yourself and others in an effort to drink responsibly? Avoid driving. It’s just that simple. After a couple of drinks, you should always assume you are not equipped to operate any kind of vehicle. Instead, you should know your limits, keep track of how much alcohol you have had, and make sure you take the following steps at the beginning of the night—by the end of the night, they may just save your life.
- Park your car in a location where you will feel comfortable leaving it overnight if you find yourself unable to drive.
- Know your plan for getting home after a wild night and use it. Whether you have a friend, Uber Detroit, or designated driver take you home, it’s important to already have key contact information and a sober commitment to using your plan if you need it.
- As a backup plan, know what your public transportation options are at the location where you will be. A bartender or bouncer may be able to help with this if you find yourself in a difficult situation.
The attorneys and staff at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm care greatly about our clients and members of the communities we serve. We hope you will use festival season to celebrate and enjoy the many Michigan events but we also want you to be safe. If something does happen and you are injured in a drunk driving accident, call us for help. Our drunk driving accident lawyers will be ready to support you in your time of need and healing, and we can help decrease the financial pressures on your family by aggressively pursuing a personal injury claim on your behalf. Call us today to get started with your FREE initial consultation: 1-800-LEE-FREE.