Sobriety Court

Many of the District Courts in Oakland County have a sobriety court.  Sobriety court is a program originally created by former Novi Judge Brian Mackenzie to address recidivism of repeat alcohol offenders.  It consists of intensive probation conditions, including daily alcohol testing and AA, coupled with weekly appearances at the court and monthly group meetings with the Judge.  Prior to being accepted into sobriety court, the defendant must sign a contract agreeing to set sanctions for failing to comply with their sobriety court conditions.  

There are numerous benefits to sobriety court participants.  The first is that jail time is generally avoided.  The second is that the participant becomes eligible for a special restricted driver license after 45 days of being in the program.  This is a game-changer for anybody facing a second offense drunk driving license revocation.  

The most important benefit of sobriety court is that it helps people with their alcohol addictions and changes their lives for the better.  We have witnessed firsthand many of our clients completely change their lives after participating in sobriety court.  But the caveat to requesting sobriety court is that the defendant must actually want to do it because if they are just doing it to get a driver license, the amount of conditions and expectations the court puts on them during the program spells disaster for anybody not taking it seriously.  Courts such as the 51st District Court in Waterford, the 52-3 District Court in Rochester, and the 52-1 District Court in Novi all have well defined and successful sobriety courts.

Drunk Driving Probation Overview

The various district courts of Oakland County generally will impose a probationary sentence regardless of any jail time given.  The most common sentence for a first time OWI offender is a year of probation.  During this probationary period, the court will generally order different conditions, including no leaving Michigan, taking random alcohol tests, counseling, AA, and special programs.  Community service is also highly likely to be a part of any sentence.

For second offense operating while intoxicated sentences, most Oakland County courts will order 18 months to two years of probation and many times the defendant receives a short jail sentence. Inpatient rehab and intensive outpatient counseling is also something that can be expected. 

Probation in Oakland County is very difficult compared to other counties in Michigan.  Many times, an Oakland County probationary sentence on a first offense drunk driving will eclipse what a Genessee County defendant would receive in a felony case.  Because of this, understanding the probationary conditions and how to successfully complete them is paramount to not spending the end of your sentence in the Oakland County jail.

Jail Time

The biggest fear of any person going through a drunk driving case in Oakland County is the possibility of jail time.  Some of the tougher district courts, such as the 48th District Court and 52-3 District Court carry possible jail time on first offense cases.  Some judges, such as 48th District Court Judge Kim Small order jail in nearly all drunk driving cases.  Because of this, people call our office every day petrified about what may happen to them.  

The Oakland County Jail located in Pontiac off of Telegraph Road in the Oakland County complex, is where people serve jail time for all misdemeanor drinking and driving cases in Oakland County.  The jail itself is broken down into different sections, including maximum security, the pods, receiving, and the east annex.  Most drinking and driving jail sentences are served either in the pods or in the east annex.  The pods consist of  multitude of jail cells which are kept open all day and the inmates are free to mingle around the giant room where the cells are located.  As to the east annex, this used to be the work release facility and consists of a number of large rooms with bunk bed cots.

Unlike what our perception of jail is in the movies, the parts of the Oakland County jail where drunk driving jail sentences are served is generally safe as most of the people are there because of the tough drunk driving judges of Oakland County.  During one's visit to the Oakland County Jail, their family can put money on their commissary account to purchase toiletries and more edible food.  Additionally, inmates are allowed to make calls and visits can be set up.

In the event that somebody receives a drunk driving sentence of 90 or more days, they can become a trustee, which offers additional benefits of extra days off and the privilege of living in the trustee dorm.  As to good time, the Oakland County credits extra days off for good behavior.