It seems that drunk driving is a problem for any place with alcohol and roads, which means most of America. After years of a concerted effort by local, state, and even federal law enforcement agencies, community groups, educational organizations and ad agencies, drunk driving is currently on the decline in Michigan. As a result, drunk driving deaths are also on the decline. However, there is a new epidemic rearing its head on Michigan roads: drugged driving.
As Thanksgiving approaches, now is a good time to remind people of the other festivities happening this week. No, not Black Friday; we're taking about Blackout Wednesday! Many bartenders have started referring to Thanksgiving Eve by this name, though still others prefer Drinksgiving or Black Wednesday. Regardless, what's all this about? According to the Wall Street Journal, the day before Thanksgiving has become the biggest bar night of the year in the United States. In fact, the Chicago Tribune states that it has surpassed New Year's Eve and even St. Patrick's Day as the preeminent drinking holiday in that Midwestern metropolis. It is also a huge night for drunk driving.
According to various local news sources, a majority of drunk driving alcohol tests performed by the Michigan State Police (MSP) between December 15, 2015 and April 23, 2016, were recently discovered to be inaccurate. These findings were reported in the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, and on MLive.com. Of the 2,748 tests administered that measured BAC values above zero, a whopping 2,007 were found to have the wrong results. That's almost 3 out of 4 tests. This inaccuracy was supposedly due to the MSP Forensic Science Division's incorrect calibration model used to measure BAC levels.
Drunk Driving is a serious problem. Michigan judges and law enforcement officials are encouraging drivers not to drink and drive and to use a designated driver this Labor Day weekend through the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign. But due to the recent addiction epidemic that is engulfing communities nation-wide, one Macomb County district judge has also introduced a program designed to help those suffering from addiction.
Obviously, Drunk Driving is dangerous. So is "drugged driving". The Michigan Legislature is expanding police powers on Michigan roadways by giving the Michigan State Police a new tool crack down on drugged driving: a roadside drug test. As reported recently in Michigan Lawyers Weekly, the Michigan State Police are launching a program to administer an oral fluid test for drivers suspected of driving under the influence of illegal drugs. This affects every driver on Michigan roads and can be harmful to one's life and reputation, not to mention costly. If you face consequences of a roadside drug test, it is vital to consult an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney who understands all the issues related to this new law.
Drinking and driving in Michigan has serious consequences. It is not taken lightly by the criminal justice system. Over the years, Michigan has substantially increased the minimum criminal punishments to those found guilty of drinking and driving. But it is not only those that have been caught drunk driving that fall under Michigan's intoxicated driving laws. Those with other illegal, and sometimes legal, drugs in their system can be found guilty under the same laws used to convict offenders guilty of consuming alcohol and driving.
When it comes to drunk driving, hundreds of drivers in Michigan die each year from alcohol-related accidents where one of the drivers had a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of .08+. The consequences to the driver can be severe, including the possibility of 15 years in prison. What many individuals do not realize is that these same consequences arise when a fatal accident occurs as the result of a driver being under the influence of marijuana. A DUI is not just a crime involving drinking and driving.