Michigan OWI Attorney New Decision in Court of Appeals – Work Release Tether NOT incarceration

By May 29, 2014 November 21st, 2019 blog post

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Michigan OWI Attorney

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. 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.

The Basic Facts of the Case

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 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, as opposed to 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 that the defendant 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.

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

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 can include a host of onerous and time-consuming conditions. Even if a sentencing judge carefully considers the facts and circumstances of the defendant’s life and determines that he or she is capable of being rehabilitated, the judge is powerless to fashion a sentence that helps the defendant maintain employment. For those defendants who are motivated and ready to get help and be rehabilitated, a sentence that causes a loss of employment or loss of custody can be devastating. A rehabilitated defendant is far less likely to re-offend. When a person gets out of jail, and their life is ruined because their employment is lost and they are in financial ruins, it is less likely that he or she will achieve any meaningful measure of rehabilitation.

What can be done to prevent or reduce jail time for alcohol and drug-related driving offenses?

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 can be done to weaken the prosecutor’s case or strengthen the defense, increased the defense lawyer’s bargaining power. If there is a plea bargain for reduced charges, jail many no longer be required. If incarceration is unavoidable, agreements can be reached with the judge or prosecutor to limit the possible length of the sentence.

DUI Defense Attorney – Not Afraid to Win!

To get a strong defense to a felony or misdemeanor DUI, OWI, or drunk or drugged driving charge, call LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation and confidential case evaluation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and an Experienced Defense Lawyer will promptly contact you. When there is no room for errors and false promises, we will not let you down.

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