Michigan DWI defense lawyers must stay alert to changes made in state drunk driving laws. The recently passed “super drunk” driving measures increased penalties for those who had blood alcohol contents registering far above the legal limit of 0.08. While this change has already increased the number of drunk driving fines in Michigan, legislators have made it clear that they intend on taking their fight against DUI arrests much further.
As a beautiful state that sees many seasonal changes, residents love the opportunity to go boating in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter. However, because so many people statewide take advantage of these fun recreational activities, increased participation creates the opportunity for more drunk driving and drug use. In Muskegon County alone, the many lakes are home to 12,600 registered boaters and their guests. “We’ve had boating accidents in the past that were alcohol-related¼ that resulted in death,” explained Deputy Todd Dunham, who controls the county’s marine and snowmobiling patrols. “Most of your snowmobile accidents that occur are alcohol-related,” he added.
While law enforcement officials in Muskegon were thrilled to escape the 2010 boating season without a single fatal crash, more than a dozen boaters were arrested for drunk boating. The snowmobile season is not nearly as promising—since 2005, over 130 snowmobilers have been killed in Michigan due to alcohol-related accidents.
The increasing number of drunk driving arrests involving boat and snowmobile operators has prompted legislators to take an active stance on the issue. Last year, a fatal drunk boating accident prompted State Representative Matt Lori to craft a series of bills that would level the playing field for drunk driving on all types of vehicles, including boats, snowmobiles, and off-road vehicles.
Although the 2010 bills never made it to a vote, Lori reintroduced a similar bill this year that would change the legal blood-alcohol content for boaters and snowmobilers. Currently, the legal limit for operating a boat in Michigan is 0.10, which is higher than the legal limit for persons operating a car while intoxicated. If the measure passes, it would lower the legal limit for boaters to 0.08, as well as make changes to address repeat offenders and those using drugs while operating a boat or a snowmobile. The law currently provides a ten year time limit to impose a felony drunk driving charge for people who have had two or more previous offenses. However, under the proposed change, if the violation occurs after two or more prior convictions the offender would be charged with a felony, regardless of the number of years that have elapsed since any prior conviction.
While Michigan lawmakers are hopeful that the measures will receive support, it is unlikely that they will be in place in time for the 2011 boating season. should changes be made, it will be much easier for law enforcement officials to target those operating boats or snowmobiles should they suspect one is driving while intoxicated. Because the penalties for drunk driving will be much stricter, it is even more important for arrested persons to contact the best DWI defense lawyer available. Not only will an experienced and skilled Michigan DUI attorney be able to explain the new laws to you, they will provide the legal advice and legal representation needed to defend you. Do not hesitate to contact counsel, as doing so can protect your personal freedoms and liberties from suspension.