Combating the drunk driving epidemic in this country is an uphill battle. But the Michigan legislature has made some changes in an effort to dissuade people from driving drunk again, particularly for the many people who didn’t learn their lesson the first time around.
On September 24, 2014, the newly amended drunk driving law in Michigan will increase the penalty for repeat offenders who have driven while drunk and caused a fatal accident or whose auto accident inflicted serious bodily harm on another person. The law currently states that a drunk driver who kills someone in a collision can face up to 15 years in prison, as well as a fine between $2,500 and $10,000. This is in addition to any third-party personal injury claims the victim’s family might have. If there are no fatalities but a person is seriously injured, the penalty is up to five years in jail and between $1,000 and $5,000 in fines.
These numbers will increase drastically in September, particularly if the driver has a prior Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) conviction within the past seven years and is well over the legal limit with blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least 0.17. For a fatal accident, the penalty is 20 years imprisonment. Drunk driving accidents resulting in serious injuries could have the driver serving up to 10 years in prison.
The Drunk Driving Reality
The goal, obviously, is to scare people into thinking before they drive while impaired. But even knowing there are potentially severe penalties in their future isn’t enough to stop people from getting behind the wheel after drinking. Even designated drivers, though they’re technically supposed to be sober, are often intoxicated when they drive – so the driver ends up merely being the “least drunk” of the group.
Too often, people drive drunk thinking they are well in control of their judgment, or believe that since they’ve driven in the past while intoxicated nothing can happen to them. Everyone feels infallible – until they’re not. But even people who have been in drunk driving accidents get behind the wheel in an intoxicated state, time and time again. They may have been arrested for drunk driving or caused accidents, but if there were no fatalities or major injuries, they may not be shocked into better behavior.