most states in the country, Michigan has a 0.08 threshold for unlawful blood
alcohol content (“BAC”) as it relates to adults operating a motor vehicle. However, under legislation introduced in the
Michigan State House of Representatives last week (HB 4420/4421), Michigan
would join Utah as the only other state in the county with a BAC threshold of 0.05.
Due to some high-profile tragic drunk driving accidents lately, this
proposal may be gaining steam with lawmakers.
T. Geherin, owner of the Geherin Law Group PLLC in Ann Arbor, opposes this new
law. Dan has been a criminal justice
attorney for over two decades. He
started his career as a prosecutor in Los Angeles, California. Since 2000, he has been a private defense
attorney, where a large percentage of his caseload has been defending DUI/OWI
allegations all over Southeastern Michigan.
In that time, he has seen many people arrested, charged and convicted
for having a few drinks and being at or slightly above the 0.08 BAC
threshold. These people may have felt
perfectly fine to drive, but learned the hard way that BAC is a tricky subject
and can be misleading and confusing.
no mistake, the choice to drive a motor vehicle after consuming too much
alcohol is a CHOICE, and a foolish/dangerous one at that. However, many people monitor their alcohol
intake and attempt to make careful choices, only to be shocked when they find
themselves over the BAC limit. And,
these same people often show no signs of impairment/intoxication; drive in a
“normal” fashion; and even pass field sobriety tests administered by a police
officer. But, if their BAC is over 0.08,
that have an unlawful blood alcohol level and often feel the brunt of a DUI/OWI
conviction—including jail time, loss of driving privileges, and severe
fines. Lastly, because DUI/OWI is a
motor vehicle offense, a conviction cannot be expunged, meaning they have a
conviction on their record for the rest of their lifetime.
the BAC to such a low level will aggravate this problem, and likely won’t deter
drunk driving at all. Only if the State
goes to a zero tolerance BAC policy
might people abstain entirely or ensure alternative transportation more
regularly. Instead, people will still
attempt to monitor their intake, but might find themselves charged with a crime
after having very little to drink. This
is especially concerning when you consider that BAC does not discriminate for
size, gender or tolerance. So, a larger
man might be (and feel) totally fine after two beers, but could be at or over a
0.05 BAC on the roadway—with no signs or impairment and no poor driving. This seems too low a bar to penalize,
especially when the consequences of a conviction mentioned above (lifetime
record, jail, license sanctions) are so severe to begin with. So, hopefully, the State of Michigan will keep
the BAC at 0.08. This threshold is
consistent with most governmental safety studies showing impairment at or above
a low BAC threshold for minors (zero tolerance) and CDL drivers makes
sense. Having a low BAC for everyone
else casts too wide a net, clogs our criminal justice system, and doesn’t make
sense in light of most governmental safety studies.
a loved one or you has been charged with OWI/DUI, call former prosecutor and
board-certified criminal trial attorney Dan Geherin. He has dedicated his career to helping drinking
drivers with DUI/OWI cases in Ann Arbor, throughout Washtenaw County, and all
over Southeastern Michigan. Visit GLGMichigan.com or call 24/7 (734) 263-2780.