No More Plea Bargains For Drunk Drivers in Oakland County Michigan

by baronedefensefirm on April 3, 2009

For reasons that have not yet been discovered, the Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney’s office has decided to offer no reductions on even first offense drunk driving cases.  Prior to this change it had been common if not altogether expected that nearly every first offense drunk driving, also called operating while intoxicated (OWI) would be reduced to the “less serious” operating while visibly impaired (OWVI).

While the real value of such a reduction is open to debate, there are three differences between the charges, the most significant of which is that with the OWVI the license is restricted for 90 days rather than suspended for 30 followed by a 150 days of restricted driving.

The following chart explains all of the differences in detail:

OWI Penalties Flow Chart

OWI Penalties Flow Chart

It seems likely that this policy will result in more drunk driving trials in Oakland County as there is now very little reason and no incentive not to go to trial.  In fact, in response to this “policy”, many Oakland County criminal defense lawyers have vowed to take all drunk driving cases to trial.  If this holds true, and number of cases set for trial increases dramatically, it is likely the prosecutor will change this police again, and begin allowing the reduction. Otherwise, the court’s resources, and those of the prosecuting attorney’s office and the various police departments, will all be severally in strained trying to keep up with the current case load. This may well result in fewer new drunk driving arrests, ultimately making the streets less safe.

Other than wanting to appear tough on drunk driving, there appears to be no legitimate public interest served by not allowing a reduction on a first offense from intoxicated driving to impaired driving.


This post was written by...

– who has written 204 posts on Michigan Drunk Driving Lawyers.

Patrick T. Barone is the author on two books on DUI defense including the well respected two volume treatise Defending Drinking Drivers (James Publishing), and The DUI Book – A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding DUI Litigation in America. He is also the author of a monthly DUI defense column for the Criminal Defense Newsletter, published by Michigan’s State Appellate Defender’s Office. Mr. Barone is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he teaches Drunk Driving Law and Practice. He is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorney’s of Michigan’s Trial Lawyer’s College where he provides trial skills training to Michigan’s criminal defense practitioners. Mr. Barone lectures nationally on various DUI defense topics, and he has appeared in newspapers, on television and on radio as a drunk driving defense expert. Mr. Barone has been certified as an instructor and practitioner of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and has also attended a 24-hour certification course at National Patent Analytical Corporation (the manufacturer of the DataMaster) and has thereby been deemed competent by the manufacturer to operate, perform essential diagnostic verifications and calibration checks on the DataMaster. Mr. Barone is a Sustaining Member of College for DUI Defense. Mr. Barone is the principal and founding member of The Barone Defense Firm, whose practice is limited exclusively to defending drinking drivers. The Firm is headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan.

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