Articles Posted in Michigan DUI/OUI Laws

For years, a DUI was one of the only convictions you could not expunge in Michigan. Manslaughter, for example, could be expunged, but not DUI. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

Michigan lawmakers agreed. Effective February 19, 2022, the law was changed to allow for expungement of a first offense DUI. The new law covers most garden variety DUI offenses, including operating while visibly impaired, operating while intoxicated, operating with the presence of a controlled substance, operating with a high BAC (“Superdrunk”), and minor with a BAC (“Zero tolerance”). But more serious DUI offenses cannot be expunged even if they were a first offense. This includes operating a commercial vehicle while intoxicated, operating while intoxicated with a child (“Child endangerment”), operating while intoxicated causing serious impairment of a bodily function, and operating while intoxicated causing death.

Only a first DUI conviction can be expunged. Any second- or third- offense convictions cannot be expunged. And you can only ever have one DUI expunged. So, for example, if you were convicted of DUI, got it expunged, and then picked up another DUI, the second DUI (although treated as a “first” offense for other purposes) cannot be expunged.

There was a time when the drunk driving laws in the state of Michigan had a friendly overtone to them but as most things in our state, things are constantly changing. The reality is that Michigan has transitioned from the auto capital of the world to a state that is competing to be the leader in the marijuana industry and with these changing times, forgiveness for drunk driving offenses has taken on an entirely new persona. With tougher laws, we are going to need tougher lawyers. Perhaps nobody in the state of Michigan is tougher on defending drunk driving offenses than Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates.

When asked about these changing times, Grabel stated, “In June of this year, our legislature sent a clear message to their citizens and that message was that drunk driving laws were going to get tougher. There was hope that the laws would revert back to more forgiveness as it was in 2003 but message was shot down.”

The history of Michigan and the state’s views on drunk driving laws has been colorful to say the least. In 2003, legislators approved changing the per se blood alcohol content level for concluding a driver is intoxicated from 0.10 to 0.08. But lawmakers at that time included a 10-year “sunset” on the law. The sunset meant that the law would expire in 2013 but it was that year that the legislature passed an extension of that sunset, making the 0.08 limit good until Oct. 1, 2018 and with it a clear message that drunk driving would in the state of Michigan would receive no forgiveness.

In the state of Michigan, when a minor is caught drinking and driving, the laws evolve into a more severe form of punishment.  In our state, unlike many others, those that decide to drink and drive under the age of 21, can face severe penalties even if they are sober at the time of the event.

Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates is a foremost leader in the field of OUIL litigation in the state of Michigan.  Grabel reflected on a case he handled last year and spoke of how the laws for minors can have major consequences.  Grabel stated, “A client of ours threw a surprise party for his daughter’s high school graduation.  The daughter had two glasses of Champagne at her party, then drove to her house and was stopped for making an illegal turn.  The officer asked her if she had been drinking and nervously she said that she had.  She took a breathalyzer and blew a .022.  While the law in Michigan is clear that one is not legally intoxicated until they reach a .08, for minors the scale is lowered to a .02.  The young girl almost lost her scholarship and her life had been altered.  We proved that the breathalyzer had an issue with its calibration and had the case dismissed, but it is amazing how two glasses of Champagne could have destroyed this young woman’s life.” Continue reading

In Michigan, the drunk driving laws may seem like an insurmountable fight for litigators in the field.  As one famed litigator once said, “Getting an OUIL in the state of Michigan is the equivalent of going to a doctor with stage 4 cancer, there is not much that can be done.”  While this famed litigator and law school professor is entitled to his opinion (and requested anonymity in our research), there are many others in our state that support his comments. Even though accepted by a vast majority in our industry, these comments are not valid. One such attorney who has been at the forefront of drunk driving litigation is Scott Grabel.

Mr. Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and his firm has evolved into a top law firm across the state of Michigan.  One of the ways he has obtained his notoriety is with his knowledge of drunk driving laws and his success in winning and mitigating what seemed like impossible cases.  When asked about this topic, Mr. Grabel stated, “The first thing that people do not realize is that there are only two primary ways to measure one’s blood alcohol content.  The first is the breath test, in which there are often calibration issues.  The second is a blood test.  In this utilization of blood is where we have found the greatest amount of success.” Continue reading

Make no mistake about it, the laws across the United States have become progressively more severe for those that have been charged with drinking and driving.  In the state of Michigan, the need for creative and diligent counsel has become more than a luxury, it has evolved into a necessity.  Depending upon the facts and jurisdiction that the defendant is being charged with, a jail sentence can become a reality for even those convicted on a first offense. One thing people do not realize is that Michigan, unlike many other states, does not allow for a drunk driving conviction to disappear with an expungement. Continue reading

On Friday, January 24, Denver Nuggets’ Ty Lawson was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Denver police said the starting point guard was pulled over after an officer noticed Lawson driving “fast and carelessly.” While the team had no comments regarding the arrest, Lawson did return to the Nuggets on Saturday, and apologized for his actions although what he said to the team has not been publicized.

Brian Shaw, Nuggets’ coach, said that he left Lawson to deal with his teammates on his own, and that “For me, it’s no different than your own child doing something.”

Lawson was allegedly driving at speeds of 61 mph in a 35 mph zone in Denver when he was pulled over just before 1:30 a.m. on Friday. According to the arresting officer, Lawson’s eyes were bloodshot, his speech slurred, and his breath smelled of alcohol. The officer also said Lawson was stumbling and off-balance. Upon being transported to the Downtown Detention Center, Lawson refused a chemical test.

On Friday morning at approximately 3:30 a.m., a New Jersey man was charged with driving while intoxicated after police found him sitting in his van in the loading dock area of a Target parking lot drunk and with the engine running, according to news reports.

Lt. James Macintosh of the Riverdale police department said that they had received a report of a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot. The van was running, the headlights on, and the music blaring. The driver of the vehicle, 23-year-old Brian Chellis, was sleeping. According to Macintosh, Chellis was wearing an ‘Elf on the Shelf’ costume. After waking Chellis, Macintosh said that he detected a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, and that there was an open can of beer in the vehicle. Chellis was also allegedly confused about where he was.

Police conducted a series of field sobriety tests, then took Chellis to police headquarters to undergo a breath test. He was issued a summons before being picked up by a family member. Chellis had apparently attended a holiday party and consumed a bit too much Christmas cheer. He is facing DWI charges in Riverdale, NJ.

On Friday evening November 14, 26-year-old Jakita Brown was arrested following an accident in Terre Haute in which she rear-ended a pickup truck. According to the Indy Star, three children were riding in Brown’s vehicle when the accident occurred. Police suspected her of driving drunk, and took Brown to the Vigo County Jail.

Brown was driving a 2004 Hyundai SUV when she struck a GMC pickup stopped at a red light, according to preliminary investigations. The force of the impact resulted in the pickup truck being forced onto U.S. 41, however no injuries were reported.

The trooper who arrested Brown noticed signs of intoxication and an odor of alcohol. A breath test also indicated Brown’s BAC to be .248, more than three times the legal limit in Indiana of .08. Brown’s three children who were in the vehicle at the time of the accident include a one-month old, a 5 year old, and a 7 year old. She faces preliminary charges of three counts of neglect of a dependant, three counts of operating while intoxicated-endangerment, operating while intoxicated with a passenger under 18, driving without a valid driver’s license, and other traffic infractions.

Recently, a Lawton man was arrested after being pulled over by police for multiple traffic violations while he was driving a John Deere riding lawn mower. The 36-year-old man was pulling a trailer behind the lawn mower as he drove north on CR 657 near 60th Avenue in Antwerp Township, according to news articles at Fox 17. The incident occurred at approximately 9 p.m.

Police pulled the man over because there were no lights or reflective material on the homemade trailer. The man had attached flashlights to the front of the lawn mower as headlights. Upon pulling the lawn mower over, police suspected the man was intoxicated. He was arrested for drunk driving, his third DUI offense.

While this incident is a bit humorous, it could have ended tragically if someone did not see the mower and trailer and crashed into the back of it. At one point, officers noticed an oncoming car and shined their flashlights on the back of the trailer so the oncoming motorist could see it and avoid a collision.

In the state of Michigan, the criminal penalties for driving under the influence or DUI are serious. However, for many people, losing their privilege to drive creates the biggest hardship. For a second DUI conviction within seven years of the first, your driver’s license will be suspended by the Secretary of State for one year. One year is a very long time to not be able to jump in the car to run an errand, go to a friend’s house, or simply go for a Sunday drive. For many, it is pure torture. Driving is a privilege, not a right.

What could be worse? Your driver’s license could be suspended for two years if your refused to take a chemical test twice within seven years. In this case, you cannot even apply for a restricted license due to personal hardships, such as the fact that you cannot drive to and from work, school, or for other vital reasons. In order to have your license reinstated, you will have to apply for a hearing with the Michigan Driver’s License Appeal Division (DLAD), and this is only after the two-year suspension has come to an end. Even then, reinstatement of your driver’s license is not guaranteed.

Don’t be fooled by the popular myth that no one is able to have their driver’s license restored at a first hearing. It IS possible, but you must have a capable and experienced Michigan driver’s license reinstatement attorney on your side. You can certainly attempt the process on your own, but doing so is foolish. If your first attempt fails, you must wait an entire year before requesting another hearing.

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