What is Sobriety Court in Michigan?

a court room to represent Michigan sobriety court.

Being arrested for a drunk driving charge is stressful and oftentimes scary. It is even more difficult when someone is charged with a second or third drunk driving. In Michigan, the penalties increase for each additional drunk driving offense a person is convicted of. These penalties include not only jail or probation time but can also lead to the loss of your driver’s license.

Two Ways to Approach DUI/OWI

We approach drunk driving cases two ways, the first being from a legal standpoint and the second being mitigation. We first obtain all of the discoverable information and material related to your case. We examine that material carefully and determine if your case can be won either with a motion or at trial (legal standpoint). We examine whether the police made an error, did not follow the rules, or any other legal justification that we could use to win your case. For example, we may find that the stop was bad or that the police did not follow their guidelines when testing you for drugs or alcohol, and your case could be dismissed.

However, in some cases, the factual basis of a conviction for drunk driving is strong. There may not be ably legal standing available to dismiss your case or result in a not guilty verdict at trial. If this is the case, your attorney needs to determine what the best option is, for you specifically, to best mitigate the negative impact of a drunk driving conviction.

A specialty court, like Sobriety Court, may be a good option. If you are facing a second or third offense drunk driving in Kent, Ottawa or Allegan County, you may have the option of seeking treatment in Sobriety Court with those respective counties. Additionally, if you are facing a second or third drunk driving offense in Montcalm, Clinton, or Gratiot county you may be eligible for the Mid-Michigan Regional Sobriety Court. There are many sobriety courts through the state of Michigan that may be an option for you.

What are the eligibility requirements for Sobriety Court?

To be eligible for sobriety court you must be (1) 17 years of age or older, (2) Must enter the program voluntarily and admit to having a substance abuse problem, (3) not suffer from any mental health concerns that would prevent you from successfully completing Sobriety Court, (4) Abide by the Sobriety Court guidelines, (5) Must be convicted for an offense that qualifies for Sobriety Court (such as a second offense DUI), (6) Must be approved to enter through the sobriety court, (7) Must not have pending charges in other counties, (8) Must not have been unsuccessfully discharged from Sobriety Court previously, (9) Must not have a history of probation violations/failure to complete probation, and (10) Must reside in the county the Sobriety Court is offered in. This last requirement, that you must reside in the county the Sobriety Court is offered in can be used to your advantage. For example, if you reside in Montcalm County but were pulled over for a drunk driving and convicted in Kent County, you may not be eligible to join the Kent County Sobriety Court, but you may be eligible to join the Mid-Michigan Regional Sobriety Court in Montcalm County. Your attorney should talk to you about your options.

What are the benefits of Sobriety Court?

The number one benefit to joining a specialty court like Sobriety Court is that individuals who enter the program have a better chance at staying sober long term. There is generally a reduction in jail or prison time if someone is accepted into sobriety court. Additionally, an individual has a better chance of obtaining their driving privileges back faster by joining a sobriety court. You may be able to get a restricted license in 45 days after your plea/conviction if you enter into sobriety court. There are many different benefits to sobriety court and each person may benefit differently from the program.

If you have a current drunk driving or drug case, contact Tanis Schultz today at 616-608-7149 or use our contact form to discuss your options with our experienced Grand Rapids criminal defense attorneys. 

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