The Judge Wants Me Monitored For Alcohol Consumption: What Are My Options?
You’re charged with OWI 1st Offense for driving with a blood alcohol level of .12, but unfortunately you were involved in a minor accident. At your Arraignment, the Judge orders that you not possess or consume any alcohol whatsoever but doesn’t simply trust you or put you on “your honor” to comply. Instead, the Judge orders that you begin testing for alcohol use every day while your case is pending.
Facing an OWI charge? Do you have questions about your rights and responsibilities when being tested for alcohol? You want Michigan License Lawyer on your side, specializing in driver’s license reinstatement, OWI charges, and license appeals in Michigan.
Common Questions We Address:
“How am I supposed to test every day?”
“Do I have to leave work at random times to provide breath/urine tests?”
“What happens if I miss a test?”
“How much does testing cost?”
Daniel T. Geherin, who is a board-certified criminal trial attorney; owner of MiLicenseLawyer.com; and author of The Michigan Drunk Driving and Driver’s License Restoration Handbook, is recognized as a criminal and driver’s license reinstatement specialist in Ann Arbor and throughout Southeastern Michigan. Every day, Dan gets calls from clients who want to know more about the drastic testing order they received from a judge.
Testing can come in 5 different forms, ranging from least formal to most:
- Random Testing through a pre-trial services department. With this arrangement, clients typically call in every day and if their number/color pops up, they must go provide a breath or toxicology sample.
- Daily PBT Breath Testing at a local police department. Here, the person shows up a participating police agency and takes a PBT. Most times, these tests are free or of nominal costs.
- SoberLink Remote Testing at home. With this, a client rents/leases/purchases a small portable testing unit that takes a breath sample (and the taker’s picture) and downloads the results. The results are sent or downloaded directly to the court/probation office.
- SCRAM Alcohol Monitors worn on the ankle. These ankle bracelets monitor a person’s skin to make sure no alcohol is being consumed.
- Alcohol Ignition Interlocks (technically known as a “BAIID” for Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device), which are breath alcohol analyzers, with computer logic and an internal memory. It connects with a motor vehicle's ignition and other control systems to monitor the start-up and continued operation of a vehicle.
Increasingly, Judges/Probation agents are requiring some formal monitoring for people charged or convicted of OWI or other criminal charges in which alcohol is involved. The more serious the allegation or blood alcohol level, the more serious/formal the testing protocol will be imposed. For example, for repeat OWI offenses or those with High BAC (“SuperDrunk” allegations), Judges almost always order a SoberLink or BAIID device—even prior to conviction and for months leading up to trial. Often, these monitoring devices are ordered in lieu of a high cash bond or an incentive to be released from jail. It is not uncommon for clients to be on these testing devices for 3-4 months during the pendency of a case.
Costs range from nothing/very little (daily PBT testing at a police agency), to nearly $200/Month (BAIID devices and some SCRAM/SoberLink units). Additionally, clients are expected to pick up the tab—along with ridiculous court fines/fees on top of them.
A failed test—or a missed test—often results in a revocation of bond/probation and often a jail sentence. Judges have very little patience for people missing tests, and even less for people who test positively. Likewise, if a person is being monitored by the Secretary of State, a failed/missed test often results in revocation of driving privileges. Defending these positive tests is very difficult, as Judges/Probation Agents are often cynical and do not believe that false positives can occur. Having an experienced, reputable and aggressive attorney to help fight these violations is often the difference between continued release and long-term incarceration.
If you are facing an OWI or other criminal charges and have questions about alcohol testing options, please feel free to call Southeast Michigan’s driver’s license reinstatement specialist, Dan T. Geherin, and his team 24/7 at (734) 263-2780 or on our website!