Underage Drinking and Driving Charges In Michigan

What can underage drivers be charged with in the state of MI if they are caught drinking and driving?

As is the case with many states, there is a zero tolerance policy when it comes to underage drivers and bodily alcohol content. What does “zero tolerance” mean exactly? Zero tolerance means that if a minor registers a level of .02-.07 BAC while operating a motor vehicle in MI, they may receive a Minor BAC charge.

This is not a formal DUI charge, but rather a noted form of drunk driving that goes on minors’ records until they turn 21. Once they turn 21, then this charge cannot be used to demonstrate, for
instance, that a person is a repeat DUI offender. However, if a minor registers over .07 BAC while driving in Michigan, then there is a high likelihood that that person will be charged with adult OWI, which carries with it significantly heavier penalties, and can serve as evidence of a repeat OWI offender.

In terms of defense, fortunately, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor. The barrier to proof is notable; a prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a minor was operating a vehicle
while under the influence of alcohol. This is the highest possible burden of proof for such cases, as these charges can result in the deprivation of liberties. An experienced attorney can use this high
evidentiary standard to the benefit of a person charged with a minor BAC.

If the event of an arrest, you’ll need to seek out a specialist in bail bonds.

The difference between a UBAC/UBAL charge, and an OWI charge

What’s the difference between a UBAC/UBAL charge, and an OWI charge – or is there no significant difference?

Michigan Vehicle Code section 257.625 specifies penalties for operating a vehicle “while under the influence of intoxicating or alcoholic liquor or a controlled substance, or a combination of intoxicating or alcoholic liquor and a controlled substance, or while visibly impaired, or with bodily alcohol content.” However, if one is not a lawyer, it can be difficult to figure out if all those criteria carry similar penalties, or if one is graver than the other.

The basic answer is that a UBAC/UBAL charge, and an OWI charge are simply two different ways that the prosecutor can convict you of driving while under the influence. Technically, an OWI is defined as when the consumption of an alcoholic beverage may affect one’s ability to drive. UBAC/UBAL, is defined as when a person operates a vehicle, and had .08 BAC or higher, regardless of whether it appears to have lead to unsafe or reckless driving behavior.

Proof of the interchangeability of the two charges is that the penalties for both are identical. However, it is important to note that the nature of the two charges are different enough from one another that distinct defenses can be mounted to combat them. For instance, a UBAC/UBAL charge presumes that a .08 blood alcohol level indicates intoxication; however, there are various other elements to the equation (e.g., a person’s unique internal body chemistry, medications) that can affect this figure. So, a defense attorney can look for evidence that a .08 BAC may be the mark of intoxication for some people, but not for a particular client. This type of defense would be less well-suited for an OWI charge.

Please click the links for more information on combating Michigan UBAC/UBAL and Michigan OWI charges.

Fixing Michigan’s Infrastructure

An editorial in the Lansing State Journal argued today that Michigan’s infrastructure is on the verge of becoming dangerously badly-maintained.

Aside from dramatic and deadly failures such as bridge collapses, roads in bad condition can take an extra toll on individuals and businesses in car maintenance fees, causing increases in costs to their customers as well.

The editorial supports a proposal by the state government significantly increasing infrastructure investment by a $10 per month increase in car registration fees. While this is an unwelcome burden on Michigan drivers, it will eventually pay off in improved driving conditions, which is a good thing for everyone.

If you live in the state and need representation by a Michigan DUI lawyer, give us a call!

Smart Phone Apps that Warn Drivers of DUI Checkpoints

Google and Apple are under increasing scrutiny after RIM, maker of blackberry devices, removed applications from its devices that could be used to warn drivers about DUI checkpoints. That was back in March.

Now Google and Apple, who together manage mobile application “stores” for 85% of the mobile app market, face similar pressure.

The argument will probably turn on whether popular applications like Trapster are determined to facilitate illegal activity or if they are legitimate social networking applications that also aggregate information already broadcast by law enforcement.

I can’t help but notice that this is a discussion about whether drunk drivers should be able to research DUI checkpoints on their phone or tablet while they are driving. Seems we might have the solution right there.

Detroit Reacts to Latest Census Numbers

The latest census numbers are in for Detroit and they’re not good–but the response is. The mayor of Detroit Dave Bing has pledged to fight the numbers. The census reported that Detroit’s population had shrunk 25%, down to 713,777. But Detroit suffered from similar low numbers in 2000, prompted the city to challenge the count and 50,000 more residents were added. Bing foresees similar results in 2010. He claims censuses do a poor job of accounting for citizens in urban locations such as Detroit. At stake in the census count is the amount of funds Detroit is slated to receive from the government, at a tune of $10,000 per person.

But the fact of the matter is that Detroit’s population is down and the great city is taking steps to buck the trend. To combat this Bing has started the “Detroit Works Project.” The goal of the project is to reshape the city by removing blighted homes and attract more residents into recovering neighborhoods.

To help with this Bank of America officials have pledged to donate 10 refurbished vacant homes for police officers who move to the city, while also demolishing 100 abandoned homes. Times are difficult in Detroit and it will take a lot of work to get the city back on track. But as long as people, businesses and government continue to work together things will get better.

And speaking of getting better, remember that if you need help with a Michigan OWI don’t hestitate to contact Joseph Awad at (877) 692-7463.

The ATPA’s List of Most Stolen Vehicles in Michigan

The Automobile Theft Prevention Authority, or the ATPA, is a association that assesses and analyzes car theft in order to prevent it. They establish plans for financial support to combat car thefts and grants for theft prevention teams. By their own accounts they’ve helped significantly reduce vehicle theft in Michigan. The Michigan chapter also compiles a list of Michigan’s most stolen vehicles. Here are the top three from 2010.

2000 Dodge truck
1998 Dodge truck
1999 Dodge truck

See the pattern? And car thieves’ favorite colors are black, white and blue. Knowing whether or not you’re at risk can help you prevent potential theft of property. You can view the entire list here and find out more interesting facts, like what day of the week thieves prefer to steal their cars.

And whenever you venture out on the road, we advise drivers never to drive impaired but if you should need an expert Michigan OWI attorney, call immediately.

Bullet-proof Glass at Detroit Police Substations

The Detroit Police have made little or no effort to protect police substations in the City of Detroit.

In almost every precinct, there is no bullet-proof separating the public from the police. These stations are open practically every hour of the day and night without any real regard for security, but for the police that work at these facilities.

It is purely good fortune that the gunmen‘s aim was off; he grazed the heads of two police officers with his shot and connected with the bullet-proof vest of another officer. If it were not for these fortunate coincidences, this story could have been more tragic that it already is. The Police Department in Detroit needs to do away with the notion that bullet-proof glass creates a barrier between the public and law enforcement and, instead, make safety is foremost concern. No one can account for the mental health or motive of every person that walks in to a police station and there is no need to try. Put up the bullet proof glass and provide yourselves and the public the assurance that those facilities that provide the services they are intended to provide. If you are in need of legal advice regarding the use or possession of concealed weapons or pistol licensure, contact Attorney Joseph Awad at legalwins.com for a free consultation.

Troy, Michigan Passes Restrictions on Distracted Drivers

If you’re driving in Troy, Michigan, then you better pay attention. The city recently passed one of the most stringent distracted driving ordinances in the nation. Text messaging and talking on cell phones while driving is illegal, but that’s old news – the new law aims to curb any activity that may take a driver’s attention from the road.
Now, a Troy driver can catch a ticket for drinking coffee, coddling pets, smoking, or tending to children in the back seat. We have serious questions as to the enforceability of a law like this, not to mention whether denying coffee to drivers may not ultimately prove worse for public safety than letting them nurse those mugs, but for the time being, it’s a good idea to avoid engaging in any activities that may catch the bright eyes of Troy police. For more on this Michigan distracted driving law, check out our blog.

Annual Study Names Most Dangerous Cities in the US

On Sunday Nov. 21st, CQ Press released their latest annual study of crime in major U.S. cities. According to the study, in 2009 St. Louis was the most dangerous city in the United States, with a crime rate almost five times the national average – over 2,000 crimes per 100,000 residents.

The most dangerous cities also include last year’s #1 Camden, NJ, as well as Oakland, California. Michigan has the dubious distinction of having two cities in the top 5 – Flint and Detroit, which gives Michigan DUI lawyers enough to do.

The study uses official FBI statistics, although the bureau doesn’t endorse the use of its data in such studies and distances itself from any efforts to construct city rankings based on these statistics.


Everyone arrested for a Michigan DUI fears going to jail for drunk driving. Although jail can never be ruled out, it isn’t usually imposed on a first offense, barring some notable
exceptions. The concern of jail time is more relevant on a second or subsequent DUI offense and can vary in length depending on the city of the arrest, the court, as well as the preferences of the assigned judge. In instances where jail becomes a reality, an attorney and/or defendant should always request “work release” from the judge. Work release, generally speaking, allows a person sentenced to jail to be released for work and to return to the jail after working. Documentation of employment is necessary for work release to be granted. The program lightens the burden of overcrowded jails and also allows people the ability to keep their jobs even as they pay their debt to society.

Overcrowding is a very real concern of local jails. Recently, the Oakland County Jail is rumored to have initiated a “Virtual Work Release” program. The jail has considered fitting all work-release inmates with an “alcohol tether” and releasing inmates back into society. The need to return to the jail is eliminated by the alcohol tether’s ability to detect any alcohol consumption as well as the ability to track the whereabouts of its user. “Virtual work release,” when it becomes more widely available, will only be given to newly sentenced defendants and cannot be given at all to a person who is not granted work release to begin with. However, when jail is inevitable, the best way to serve a sentence without losing your job should be a top priority. For more information on your Michigan DUI case and the best strategy to avoid jail, contact Michigan drunk driving Attorney Joseph Awad for a free and confidential evaluation of your DUI/OWI case.