0.17 BAC as Separate Crime Gets Initial OK

At its April 2, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave initial approval to a change in its traffic ordinance to adopt a provision of the Michigan Vehicle Code that establishes driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.17 as a separate offense from operating under the influence.

The Michigan legislature had previously changed the MVC, which Ann Arbor has adopted, to include the separate charge for the very high BAC of 0.17. However, the legislature did not at that time change the Home Rule Cities Act to allow cities to impose the greater penalty of 180 days in jail and/or $700 fine that comes with the BAC 0.17 charge. But in February 2012, the legislature made the change to the Home Rule Cities Act that allows for that penalty. Ann Arbor is making the change to its local ordinance in order to be able to charge drivers with the 0.17 offense.

Records from January 2010 through February 2012 provided to The Chronicle by CLEMIS (Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information System) show three instances of 0.17 offenses – which could not be charged as a separate offense. The CLEMIS records for the same time period also show three reports for the moderately higher BAC level of .08, which could already be charged separately from operating under the influence. [.jpg of bar graph of OWI offenses]

Ordinance changes must receive an initial approval by the Ann Arbor city council, followed by a public hearing and a second and final approval at a subsequent meeting.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]