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DUI laws: how a few miles may make a difference

Just a few miles may make a difference on whether you are sent to jail or on probation for a first-time drunk driving offense.

A recent drunk-driving case in West Bloomfield demonstrated the discretion that District court judges have in sentencing offenders. Defendant, and former NBA star, Jalen Rose was arrested in West Bloomfield for drunk driving. The district court judge sentenced him to 20 days in jail.

Just a few miles away in Pontiac, Michigan state statistics show Rose's chance of being sentenced to jail in a Pontiac court is almost 0.

For misdemeanors, including first-offense drunk driving there are no guidelines. This means judges have the discretion to sentence offenders as they choose within the statute. For example, an offender who's blood alcohol content was double that of another offender could possibly receive a lesser sentence. Unlike felony cases, offenders are not categorized or scored a guideline range based on their culpability, impact on the victim, or previous character.

Additionally, states like Alaska, Tennessee and Georgia require mandatory jail time for first time drunk driving offenders. While California, Connecticut and Indiana don't require jail for first time offenders. And in Wisconsin, first-offense drunk driving isn't even a crime. It's a civil infraction that results in a ticket, with no potential for any jail time.

While Michigan law allows a first-offense drunk driver to be sentenced to up to 93 days in jail, District court judges have discretion. So, depending on which city you are in, minor in possession consequences can range from jail time to community service. Similarly, other misdemeanors have statutory limits but judges are free to punish offenders within those limits. Therefore, consequences for offenses including retail fraud, assault and battery, assault and battery, larceny, destruction of property, minor in possession of alcohol and other state misdemeanor offenses may depend on where events occur.

Whether you were arrested in West Bloomfield, Pontiac, or miles away in Detroit, your sentence for the same offense may be different. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights and freedom.

1 Comment

The latitude given to judges and the difference in penalty from state to state is great, but I did not know it was that great. (There must have been a lot of research put into this post.) It is best to get an experienced attorney, apparently like the author of this blog. Great job.

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