“I’m responsible and make good choices.” “What are the odds I’ll get pulled over?” “It won’t happen to me.”

That is the mindset many people have regarding drunk- or drugged-driving arrests. In reality, the number of operating while intoxicated (OWI) cases the courts see is staggering. There were nearly 30,000 arrests in Michigan last year for operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor (OUIL), according to the Department of State Police’s recently released 2019 report. And that figure does not include any other type of OWI-related arrest.

What the numbers show

The State Police’s annual report shows 30,626 OWI-related arrests in 2019. These ranged from OUIL or impaired driving, to child endangerment and under-21 zero-tolerance laws. For every 100 miles of road in Michigan, officers arrested 25 people and on suspicion of OWI.

The counties with the highest number of OUIL and operating with the presence of drugs (OWPD) arrests were:

  • Wayne – 4,631
  • Oakland – 4,126
  • Macomb – 2,130
  • Kent – 1,765
  • Genesee – 1,105

Males accounted for about 70 percent of these arrests.

Fighting OWI allegations

Remember, an arrest does not indicate guilt. Of the 30,626 breath or blood tests initiated last year, more than 6,000 came back with a reading of 0.00. Hundreds more registered below 0.08.

In addition, it is not unheard of for drivers to be stopped for chemical tests that register questionable readings. That is why it is often beneficial to push back against allegations of drunk or drugged driving.

A conviction can result in disruptive consequences, including jail time, fines, community service and loss of your license. Drunk driving is a serious issue, no doubt. But exaggerated charges or inappropriate traffic stops that violate basic rights are also troubling. Nobody should be forced to endure a punishment for something they did not actually do.

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