Michigan’s Drunk Driving Sobriety Court Law

A defendant charged with OWI, DUI, or a related offense, who has prior OWI convictions, may qualify for Sobriety Court. A defendant’s driver’s license is not revoked if he or she is in Sobriety Court.

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Repeat OWI Offenders Risk Revocation of Their Driver’s License.

The drunken driving laws in Michigan are some of the toughest in the United States. A person who is a repeat drunk driving offender faces a possible lifetime revocation of his/her driving privileges. If a person had one prior OWI within seven years, that person would be eligible for a review of the revocation after one year. Also, depending on the circumstances, a person with two prior convictions within ten years must wait for as long as five years for a review of the revocation. There is no guarantee of success during the review, and a person can only seek review one time per year.

Licensing Issues for Repeat DUI/OWI Offenders

There have been substantial changes in drunk driving laws as they relate to driving privileges and repeat offenders. With the new changes, a qualifying repeat drunk driving offender will be able to obtain restricted driving privileges after a 45-day suspension if they have a breath alcohol ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle AND they have successfully participated in a sobriety court program.

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Restricted License Under Sobriety Court Law

Under the Sobriety Court law, the Secretary of State is required to issue a restricted license to a person whose license was restricted, suspended, revoked, or denied because that person either has (1) two or more prior convictions for OWI or operating while impaired under Michigan law, or (2) one convictions under Michigan law for one of these offenses preceded by one or more convictions for violating a “substantially similar” law from another state. Underage drinking and driving offenses from outside Michigan may also count if they are “substantially similar.” A restricted license will not issue if a person is otherwise ineligible to have a license, except for certain circumstances.

A restricted license under this law allows a person to operate a vehicle while traveling to and from home, workplace, school, and court-ordered treatment or education programs and only if the vehicle as an approved ignition interlock device installed. The restricted license remains in effect until a hearing officer orders an unrestricted license. A person can get an unrestricted license when either the court notifies the Secretary of State of the person’s successful completion of the Sobriety Court program or the completion of minimum license sanction that would be imposed had the Sobriety Court law not applied to the person – whichever is later.

There are penalties if the person fails or is terminated from the Sobriety Court program or, if the interlock device is tampered with or removed, if the person drives an automobile without an interlock device without prior court approval or is charged with a new OWI. The individual will be subjected to the maximum suspension or revocation possible under the statute. If the person fails to pay fines and costs to the court, the restricted license is suspended until the payment of those fees.

Another benefit to an offender is that if a repeat offender is admitted to a Sobriety Court program, their vehicle is exempt from forfeiture and immobilization. The exemption from forfeiture stays in place as long as that person is in good standing or satisfactorily completes the program.

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Experienced Michigan OWI Defense Attorney

The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience representing people charged with drunk driving offenses in courts all over the State of Michigan.  Every attorney on our defense team has vast experience in sobriety court programs and how they work. We also practice regularly in driver’s license issues. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are well respected by judges and members of the legal community. 

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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