“Does my time on tether count towards my jail time on OWI charges?”

A New Decision in the Michigan Court of Appeals finds that Work Release Tether is NOT incarceration, and a defendant does not get credit for time served on OWI charges.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys - Group

“Does Time on Tether Count Towards Jail?”

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion reversing a sentence by an Oakland County Circuit Court judge sentencing a defendant for OWI Third. The court ruled that the minimum sentence for a DUI 3rd offense case is 30 days in jail and that there can be no alternative to a jail sentence. Specifically, the court ruled a defendant cannot serve time on tether for OWI charges. This case is a travesty to many defendants who will legitimately lose their jobs when sentenced to jail. This case is also further proof that the Oakland County Prosecutor does not serve its local community; it serves its political agenda with a total disregard for the rehabilitation of defendants.

NOTE: Under recent amendments to Michigan laws, the 30-ay mandatory minimum for felony OWI is now waivable if the defendant completes a court-approved sobriety program.

The Basic Facts of the Case – Is Tether Incarceration for OWI Charges?

The defendant was stopped by police and determined to have a .13 BAC. She had two children in the car. The charge was a felony because the defendant had two prior alcohol-related driving offenses. The felony drunk driving statute provides for a sentence of 1 to 5 years in prison or, in the alternative, a minimum of 30 consecutive days in jail if given a period of probation. The defendant requested that she be permitted to serve time on a tether instead of jail for felony OWI charges.

The judge at the sentencing carefully considered the defendant’s circumstances, the facts of the case, and the defendant’s compliance with the terms of her bond. The court determined that the appropriate sentence was 18 months probation with 30 days on the Oakland County Sheriff’s work-release program instead of jail time. She stated at sentencing that the Oakland County Sheriff considers the program to be custodial, i.e., incarceration, so it should suffice as jail time.

The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the sentence and ordered the defendant to serve time in the county jail. The court ruled that the defendant cannot be placed on a tether or in work-release until she has served a minimum of 30 days in jail for felony OWI charges.

In reaching this decision regarding tether for OWI charges, the court found that confinement in one’s home or apartment is not the equivalent of confinement “in jail.”

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What does this felony OWI decision mean?

A defendant convicted of felony drunk driving must serve a minimum of 30 days in county jail if placed on probation. If the judge does not order probation, the defendant must serve time in prison. Felony probation can last up to five years and include demanding and time-consuming conditions. Even if a sentencing judge carefully considers the facts and circumstances of the defendant’s life and determines that they can be rehabilitated, the judge is powerless to fashion a sentence that helps the defendant maintain employment. For defendants motivated and ready to get help and be rehabilitated, a sentence that causes a loss of employment or custody can be devastating. A rehabilitated defendant is far less likely to re-offend. A person’s life is more difficult if they are released from jail only to find out they’ve lost their employment. A person facing financial ruin is less likely to be rehabilitated.

A high-powered and dedicated defense attorney can take measures to reduce or eliminate the need for jail time. Plea bargains in drunk driving cases are rare, but they are possible. Tenacious attorneys will do whatever it takes to gain any advantage in the case. Anything that weakens the prosecutor’s case, or strengthens the defense, increases the defense lawyer’s bargaining power. If there is a plea bargain for reduced charges, jail may no longer be required. If incarceration is unavoidable, a savvy defense lawyer can negotiate with the judge or prosecutor to limit the length of a sentence. Tether might not be an option for OWI charges, but other alternatives to incarceration are available.

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DUI Defense Attorney – Not Afraid to Win!

Call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. to get a solid defense for a felony or misdemeanor DUI, OWI, or drunk or drugged driving charge. When there is no room for errors and false promises, we will not let you down. Although tether does not legally constitute “incarceration” for OWI cases, our team can frequently devise a strategy to give a judge an alternative to jail. Call us today for a free consultation.

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
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