Attorney Shaun R. Marks: Prior Convictions Can Lead to Harsher Drunk Driving Penalties
“Penalties increase substantially after the first drunk driving offense,” says Marks. “While a first offense for an ordinary OWI carries a maximum sentence of 93 days in jail, the maximum for a second offense is one year and a third offense can bring a felony charge with up to five years imprisonment.”
That is what a Ypsilanti man is facing after police say his car entered an oncoming lane and nearly struck a police vehicle. The 38-year-old man is being charged with a felony for his third offense of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
According to a police report, an officer was driving along Michigan Avenue when an oncoming vehicle drifted into his lane. The officer had to brake in order to avoid a collision. The police report claimed that the driver then continued traveling into the oncoming lane, and the officer turned around to pursue the vehicle and pull the driver over. According to the police report, the man stated that his erratic driving was due to a flat tire and admitted to having drunk a shot of vodka. He was arrested after performing unsatisfactorily in a roadside sobriety test. Police claim that after the driver was taken to the Saline Police Department, he submitted to a chemical test, which indicated a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.27 and 0.26.
In Michigan, drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or above can be charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and drivers with a BAC of 0.17 and above are subject to enhanced penalties, even if they do not have a prior conviction.
“A third OWI offense is a very serious charge,” indicates Marks, who is not involved in the Ypsilanti case. “A felony charge means that the defendant faces a longer sentence if convicted, and a felony conviction creates a significant barrier to future employment. Anyone facing a drunk driving charge needs to speak with a qualified attorney, especially if there is a prior conviction involved.”