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Substance Abuse and Driving

Substance Abuse and Driving

by Van Den Heuvel Law Office

The use of illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol is a severe problem throughout the country. Unfortunately, Michigan is no exception. Impaired driving puts your life at risk and the lives of others at risk as well. Sadly, each year thousands of innocent victims lose their lives or become permanently disabled because of impaired drivers. Michigan is tough on drivers who participate in this type of driving. 

Michigan’s Law Address Intoxicated and Impaired Driving

Deaths and debilitating injuries from intoxicated and impaired driving don’t just happen in other states. Hundreds of people are impacted right here in Michigan every year. Local courts, law enforcement agencies, state and local governments, and many different private entities are all working together to help prevent these needless accidents. 

Michigan law makes it illegal to drive:

  • If you are impaired by alcohol, controlled substances, or any intoxicating substances
  • If you have a bodily alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more and if you have a BAC of 0.17 or higher, the penalties are even more severe
  • While possessing any amount of cocaine or a Schedule 1 controlled substance in your body (Michigan Public Health Code; MCL 333.7212)

For drivers under age 21, it’s also illegal to:

  • Drive with a BAC of 0.02 or higher, or with any alcohol in your body with the exception of alcohol consumed at a generally recognized religious ceremony
  • Buy, possess, or consume alcoholic beverages—to transport alcohol in a vehicle, you must be accompanied by an individual age 21 or older; if you aren’t, you can be charged with a misdemeanor no matter if you were driving at the time or not

Avoid drinking and driving at all costs, as well as riding with impaired or intoxicated drivers. Make arrangements for a designated driver whenever possible, use public transportation, rideshares, and offer those who feel they must drive a place to sleep and sober up.

What is a Preliminary Breath Test?

Suppose a law enforcement officer stops you and suspects you could be intoxicated or impaired behind the wheel. In that case, they might request that you submit to a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) to determine if you are indeed intoxicated. You can refuse to submit to the PBT, but you will face civil charges with a fine of up to $150 and court costs. In addition, someone less than 21 years of age who won’t take the PBT will have 2 points added to their driving record. Keep in mind that whether you agree to a PBT or not, you are still required to take the evidentiary test mandated by the implied consent law.

Implied Consent in Michigan

If an officer arrests you for impaired or intoxicated driving, the law requires you to take a chemical test to determine your BAC and/or the presence of drugs in your system. Under Michigan’s Implied Consent Law, all drivers automatically give their consent to this test when they get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

Suppose you refuse to submit to this test. In that case, you will face consequences that are separate from any that arise from a traffic stop conviction. You do, however, have the right to request an administrative hearing about your alleged refusal. During this hearing, the officer who stopped you must prove specific points before any statutory consequences apply. If you don’t request a hearing, or if the officer proves their case at the hearing, you will face the following ramifications:

  • You will have six points added to your driving record
  • Your driver’s license will be suspended for one year if it is the first time you refused to take the test 
  • Your driver’s license will be suspended for two years if you refused to take the test one or more times during the prior seven years
  • If you refuse to take the test (or if the test reveals that your BAC is 0.08 or higher), the officer will destroy your driver license and will issue a paper permit to you, which is valid until your case is resolved in court

Are You Facing Impaired Driving Charges? We Can Help!

At the Van Den Heuvel Law Office, we have extensive experience representing many different types of clients against their impaired driving and other related charges. Whether your BAC was found to be higher than the legal limit in Michigan, you refused to submit to a chemical test, or are under 21 and had alcohol in your car, our team of skilled attorneys is here to help. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn more about how we can help you achieve the best outcome in your charges. 

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