In December, 2013, Michigan enacted an amendment which gave permanency to a pilot program targeting drinking and driving repeat offenders. The legislation extended the initial term of the pilot program, scheduled to expire in January, 2014, by one year, and creating a permanent program after that date.
Recognizing that the problem of recidivism in drinking and driving offenders is a serious problem in the State of Michigan, the legislation is a nod to the struggles of those with multiple convictions and the resulting inability to operate a motor vehicle due to statutory suspensions or revocations of driving privileges. Loss of driving privileges causes devastating consequences to offenders and their families. The pilot program, created in 2010, attempted to address these consequences by offering a structured program to enable an offender to obtain restricted driving privileges under strictly monitored conditions.
In a 2012 report, commissioned by the Michigan Association of Drug Court Professionals, the implementation and results of the pilot program were examined in detail. Reports are expected in 2013 and 2014 to update the data collected from the 24 operating DWI/Sobriety Courts operating in the State of Michigan. The preliminary findings detailed in the Report are positive, insofar as the authors did not document any instances of new drinking and driving offenses by any of the program participants.
The ability to obtain a restricted license under the legislation requires acceptance in and compliance with all terms and conditions of a participating DWI/Sobriety Court program. The standard program involves several phases of alcohol treatment, and installation of a court-ordered ignition interlock device obtained through an approved vendor. A 45-day mandatory “hard” suspension must be served before a participant is eligible for consideration for restricted driving privileges.
Offenders convicted of a second or subsequent offense are eligible under the statute for participation in a DWI/Sobriety Court program. Program requirements are established by the participating Court. Violation of any program requirements may result in removal from the program, and loss of the restricted driving privileges. Anyone arrested for a second or subsequent offense should contact legal representation and explore the availability of a qualified DWI/Sobriety Court program in the community in order to reap the benefits of this now permanent legislation.
 Michigan DWI/Sobriety Court Ignition Interlock Evaluation, 2012 Report, Christopher A. Kierkus, Ph.D., Brian R. Johnson, Ph.D..