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:
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.