In Michigan, two OWI DUI convictions for alcohol or drugs will require a one year revocation of a person’s driver’s license. However, a restricted driver’s license may be granted to a OWI 2nd offender only if that person participates in an approved sobriety court program. Another perk of going through the sobriety court is that a participant is exempt from any mandatory vehicle immobilization or forfeiture laws and driver’s responsibility fees do not need to be paid until the program is completed.
Acceptance into the sobriety court requires an OWI or DUI conviction either through a plea or after trial. Remember, sobriety court is a post-adjudication program. By pleading guilty you are giving up your right to fight your case in exchange for the ability to keep your license and to get serious substance abuse help.
Sobriety court is an intensive probation program that puts the emphasis on recovery from alcoholism or substance abuse rather than punishment. The program is not by any means easy and there are eligibility requirements that vary with each court that must be met for acceptance into the program in the first place. Typical eligibility requirements include county residency requirements, minimum number of convictions and a criminal history that does not include a conviction of a felony violent crime.
Once in the program, the participant may be subject to frequent alcohol or drug testing, Alcohol Anonymous meetings, counseling, home visits, random searches of their home, and review hearings before the Judge every two weeks. Further, the participant will be responsible for paying all costs associated with the program, which typically exceed $2,000.00 by its completion.
After 45 days in the program, the Court often allows a restricted driver’s license with the installation of an interlock device on the participant’s vehicle. If a participant fails to comply with all the requirements of the sobriety court, the probation can be revoked and the one year license revocation will be reinstated along with probable jail time.
It’s important to understand that not all jurisdictions run a sobriety court. If you happen to get arrested in a jurisdiction that doesn’t have one you will either be stuck with the minimum one year license revocation or you will need an experienced attorney to help convince the Judge to allow you to be sentenced in another jurisdiction that actually has the program.
Sobriety Court can be a win-win situation for everyone involved. A person gets the substance abuse treatment that they truly need and in return they are allowed to keep their driver’s license. If you have been charged with a second OWI in Oakland, Wayne, or Macomb County cities of Royal Oak, Southfield, Warren, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, Rochester Hills, or any of its surrounding communities and are interested in the Sobriety Court program call an attorney at the Law Office of Barton Morris today.
For a comprehensive list of Michigan’s Sobriety Courts click here.
Charlotte Steffen specializes in criminal defense and driver’s license restorations. She has been practicing law for nearly 20 years. Her experience includes thousands of criminal cases, including capital offenses and high profile cases. She began her career at the Legal Aid and Defender Association of Detroit, handling the toughest felonies in Wayne County. She went into private practice in 2002 and has continued helping those who need it most.
Charlotte is an adjunct law professor at the Detroit Mercy Law School in the Criminal Trial Clinic. She supervises student attorneys and lectures on drunk driving and driver’s license issues. She is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan in which she helps train lawyers to become trial lawyers.