Michigan Supreme Court Hears Argument in OWI Case Involving Sentencing Enhancement Based on Presence of Children in the Car

April 29, 2016
by The Law Office of Steven L. Schwartz

Beer's Dew

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Michigan heard a case that arose after the defendant was convicted of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) and child endangerment charges and sentenced to what he claimed was an unfair sentence. The case was prosecuted by the Ionia County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

The Facts of the Case

To summarize the relevant facts of the case, the defendant was found by an off-duty officer behind the wheel of a car that was parked outside a video rental store. The officer noticed the man because he was drinking an open beer. In the back seat were two young girls, ages nine and six.

The man was arrested for Operating While Intoxicated, and he was transported to have his blood-alcohol content tested. The test came back positive for alcohol and marijuana. The driver’s blood-alcohol content was .14, well over the legal limit. The man was convicted after pleading guilty and then was sentenced to 24 months’ incarceration as a result. The man’s sentence took into account that there were children who were put in danger as a result of the man’s conduct.

The Driver Appeals His Sentence

The man did not contest his guilt, but he did argue that the sentence was not proper because the prosecution impermissibly sought a higher sentence based on the fact that the children were in danger. The man claimed that there was no evidence presented that showed the children were in danger, nor that the car was ever driven with them in it. The prosecution argued that the mere fact that they were present in the car while the man was drinking a beer and legally intoxicated was enough to enhance the sentence.

The intermediate appellate court found in favor of the defense, and then the prosecution appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. Argument was heard a few weeks ago, and a result is expected soon.

As often happens in cases with shorter sentences, the man has already served most of his sentence and is currently out on parole. The issue presented in the appeal is not as important for the man himself, but for those who may face similar charges in the future.

Have You Been Arrested for OWI in Michigan?

If you have recently been arrested for driving while under the influence in Michigan, you should immediately seek the counsel of a dedicated DUI defense attorney. With an attorney’s assistance, you will be able to fight the case against you in hopes of convincing a judge or jury that you are not guilty of the charged crimes. In the event that you are found guilty, a skilled Michigan criminal defense attorney can help you create as strong an argument as possible for a fair sentence so that you can move on with your life as soon as possible. To speak with an attorney about your case, call (248) 930-5019.

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