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Michigan activists push for more super drunk convictions

In Michigan and across the country, there is a lot of moral condemnation of drunk driving. When people are convicted of drunk driving, it comes with considerable negative assumptions about the individual and his or her behavior. In reality, some of the people who are convicted of operating while intoxicated may have had just one drink too many. That has not stopped some people from talking about how upset they are that there aren't more drunk driving convictions.

A member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has said that he is "appalled and offended" that there have not been more people in Flint convicted under the state's super drunk law. The two-year-old law increases the penalties for individuals who have a blood alcohol content of 0.17, more than twice the legal limit in Michigan. What has been particularly aggravating for the activist is that many of the people who were originally charged under the super drunk law have pled down to less serious charges.

Though many people may find that alarming, there are reasons why the police and prosecutors might encourage people to plead down. If someone is particularly dangerous or a repeat offender, it is unlikely that a Michigan prosecutor will allow him or her to plead down. If someone has made a simple mistake and poses little risk to the community, a prosecutor may wish to propose a plea bargain.

Determining when to push for a plea bargain as opposed to going to trial can be a difficult decision and can only be made by a suspect. It is important, however, to work closely with an attorney who can help to explain the risks and consequences of such a decision.

Source: The Flint Journal, "Low number of 'super drunk' convictions has victim advocate 'appalled and offended,'" Gary Ridley, July 22, 2012

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