If someone has told you that there is no alternative to jail for an Operating While Intoxicated – Second Offense, you need to find new counsel. There is a way to avoid jail, and the law does not require incarceration.
It is Possible to Avoid Jail for Operating While Intoxicated – Second Offense
Judges, prosecutors, and even the vast majority of defense lawyers will tell you that a conviction for OWI or Impaired Driving – 2nd Offense, requires a minimum of 5 days in jail. This claim is not true. The misunderstanding of Michigan law is so pervasive and common that most lawyers believe that jail is mandatory.
Specialized OWI and DUI lawyers with vast experience should know the ins and outs of the drunk driving law in Michigan, MCL 257.625. Under this law, driving under the influence, while intoxicated, or while impaired due to the consumption of alcohol is a crime. A first offense has a maximum possible sentence of 93 days. If the offense occurs within 7 years of a prior alcohol or drug-related driving conviction, thus a second offense, the crime is more serious, and the maximum possible jail sentence is one year. Additionally, the judge is required to do one or both of the following:
- minimum of one 5 days in jail, AND/OR
- 30 to 90 days of community service
How to Avoid Jail for OWI 2nd
Because judges and attorneys almost universally accept that a second offense requires jail time, a sentence with some incarceration is almost always ordered. Given the serious nature of a second or subsequent offense of drunk driving, it makes sense that judges routinely order jail at sentencing. On the other hand, there are alternatives to jail that may be more appropriate and would be in the best interest of the defendant and the community. A defendant’s rehabilitation must be a court’s primary concern because the community is better off in the long term with a defendant who will not re-offend.
Getting a judge to order a sentence that is against their ordinary practice is extremely challenging. Success is even more difficult when a prosecutor or the police push for a harsh sentence. In these situations, an attorney must have the reputation, knowledge, and skill to smooth things over with law enforcement. To persuade the judge to focus on rehabilitation, as opposed to punishment, the attorney must present a credible plan that demonstrates unequivocally that the defendant is getting meaningful help and has a good prognosis for not drinking and driving in the future. If the court accepts the lawyer’s plan as trustworthy and dependable, he or she may agree not to order any incarceration.
Alcoholics Anonymous and Substance Abuse Therapy
Determining what treatment is in the best interest of someone charged with a repeat drunk driving offense is not just complex; it is also really important. A defense lawyer is not qualified to create a treatment plan for a client unless he or she is also a licensed substance abuse therapist. To create a plan that is both trustworthy and dependable, the defendant should submit to a professionally administered substance abuse evaluation. An evaluation is not expensive, and the results can be extremely helpful in court. Additionally, they can be the prescription for a much better, healthier life for the defendant.
Being proactive and entering early treatment can be the key to getting a low bond at an arraignment and instrumental in achieving a sentence without incarceration. In limited circumstances, a prosecutor may be so encouraged with a defendant who is sincerely and aggressively dealing with an alcohol problem, that he or she may even agree to a plea bargain to a lower charge and also agree to a sentence without jail.
Defense Attorneys for OWI, DUI, and Other Alcohol and Drug-Related Driving Offenses
LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is the premier criminal defense law firm in Michigan handling misdemeanor and felony alcohol and drug-related driving offenses. Our attorneys have decades of experience successfully defending clients and achieving extraordinary results. If you want your best hope of avoiding jail and getting your charges reduced, call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will promptly contact you.
Although no lawyer can guarantee no jail or a reduced charge, your best odds are with an attorney who will leave no stone unturned and do whatever is necessary to get you the best possible result.