Super Drunk Law

Michigan Lawmaker Dead After 2nd DUI Arrest

Michigan state representative John Kivela, 47, was found dead Tuesday, from what authorities say is an apparent suicide. His death comes just a day after his arrest for a 2nd DUI violation.

Kivela is a Democrat from Marquette MI, one of largest cities in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
At this point, the manner is which Kivela died has not been released.

Michigan lawmakers were in shock as word got around the Legislature about Kivela’s death. The Michigan state House was in a somber mood, and many Michigan lawmakers shed tears for their colleague and friend.

“This is probably the toughest day that we’ll experience this term,” said a tearful Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, a Republican from DeWitt, Mich.

“It’s a very sad day,” said Michigan state governor Snyder. “He was a good friend.

The apparent suicide happened just hours after Kivela was released on bond after his arrest for allegedly driving while intoxicated.
“We didn’t see his demons. Everyone is going to kick themselves right now for not trying to get a hold of him this morning and show him that we love him.”

Kivela’s is the third untimely death of Michigan House members in the last year. On June 25, 2016, state Rep. Julie Plawecki, a Democrat from Dearborn Heights, died of an apparent heart attack while hiking with her daughters in Oregon. And Rep. Peter Pettalia, a Republican from Presque Isle, died Sept. 12, 2016, when a truck pulled out in front of his motorcycle.

This was Kivela’s 2nd arrest for drunken driving in less than 2 years. He had acknowledged a drinking problem after the first arrest in 2015 and reported that he was seeking help for the problem.

Kivela was scheduled for an arraignment in court on May 18th. Polices records report that his BAC (blood alcohol level) was over .17 and falling in the classification of Michigan’s Super Drunk Law.

Kivela’s 2015 incident involved the politician speeding at 80mph when stopped by a Sheriff just north of Lansing. Kivela was chargeed at that time under Michigan Super Drunk Law, but after pleading guilty those charges were eventually dropped.

Michigan’s Super Drunk Law Second and Third Offense Penalties

Michigan is one of the toughest states that deal with drunk driving violations, mainly because of the implementation in recent years of what is commonly called the “super drunk law”. The law was implemented in late 2010 and added a new dimension to getting caught with a high BAC. If you have been charged under Michigan’s Super Drunk Law, you and your attorney will soon know the penalties you soon will be faced with. Let’s take a quick look at the law and the possible effects it can have on a criminal defense.

BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)

Michigan’s BAC level for drunk driving is typical of most states. If you have a BAC of .08 or higher you are legally drunk in the state of Michigan. If you are under 21, that level goes down to .02 or higher. Anyone pulled over and blowing a BAC of these numbers is considered OWI – operating while intoxicated. Michigan’s Super Drunk Law puts your case in a more grave definition. Blow a BAC of .17 or higher and you can be charged under Michigan’s Super Drunk Law – a much more serious offense which carries stiffer penalties.

Conviction Consequences of the Super Drunk Law

The varying levels of intoxication come with different punishments under this law. A BAC under .17 but over .10 could cost a minimum of a $500 fine, and up to 93 days in prison. It can also add 6 points to your driving record, and come with up to 360 hours of community service and up to 6 months of driver’s license suspension. And that’s just for the first offense!.

A conviction will typically result in a mandatory treatment program for alcohol abuse as well.

In most case, you will be eligible to get your driver’s license back after 45 days, but only if you are willing to adhere to an ignition interlock device that is installed in your car. This device will not let you drive if it detects a BAC that is in the danger zone. You will need to pay to have the device installed and maintained however. If you are stopped driving a vehicle that is not your own, the authorities can confiscate and destroy your license plates and supply you with temporary plates instead. Yes, this does apply even if you do not own the car you are stopped driving.

Additional Penalties

Your criminal defense attorney should be prepared to defend against additional penalties that you could face if you are caught driving under the influence on multiple occasions or if you are involved in an accident while drunk.
Breathalyzer Refusal Penalties

If you do not agree to take a breathalyzer test on the scene when pulled over, you could face additional penalties as well. The first refusal may result in a civil infraction, which typically is a fine up to $150 after court fees. In addition, you could lose your license for up to a year. Refusing to take a breathalyzer more than once within 7 years could result in losing your license for up to two years.

The best advice is to find an experienced and proven DUI criminal defense attorney that knows the ins and outs of the law so that he/she can help minimize the penalties you face when faced with a drunk driving conviction, and especially a conviction under Michigan’s super drunk law.

DUI Attorney Holland MI

Michigan Super Drunk Law Celebrates 5 Year Anniversary – Are We Any Safer?

superdrunkFive years ago this fall, Michigan passed what is now known as the “Super Drunk Law”, one which imposes harsher than normal penalties for those whose blood alcohol levels reach or exceed .17 percent.

So after 5 years of writing tickets for the worst drunk driving offenders, are we any safer than we were before the law was enacted?

Depends on who you ask, but it is very likely drivers are safer than before the law went into effect 5 years ago.

Alcohol-related crashes have gone down slightly across the state since implementation of the law.

At the same time, the number of all drunken-driving tickets across the state is on a downward trend. This trend could be the result of fewer officers patrolling our roads and highways due to the fact that many communities have been forced cut back due to budget cuts.

Law enforcement will tell you that the super drunk law has definitely been an attributing factor in saving lives on Michigan roadways.  The most tragic (and senseless) accidents that result in death can often be the fault of a driver that is super drunk.

Judges, police and anti-drunken driving crusaders unanimously agree: “super drunk” drivers are deadly.

“They’re the ones that tend to be involved in the tragic crashes,” said Tyler MacEachran, program director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). “Law enforcement, MADD and the people in the judicial system know the high BAC (blood alcohol content) laws work and we want them to continue.”


One law will never stop every tragic accident from happening, but in one case it most certainly has done just that.

Read more about how a Vietnam veteran attributes the Super Drunk Law to saving his life, and most likely, the lives of others.

Criminal Attorney, Kalamazoo, MI

Grand Rapids Griffins Riley Sheahan Charged With Super Drunk DUI

Riley Sheahan

It seems professional athletes tend to have a higher propensity for getting charged with a DUI.  Even Grand Rapids pro athletes are not immune.

Riley Sheahan, the Detroit Red Wings No 1 pick in the 2010 NHL draft was recently arrested for driving with a high enough blood alcohol content to be charged under Michigan’s Super Drunk Law.

Sheahan’s blood-alcohol content at the time of his arrest on October 29th was .17 or higher. He was also charge with providing false information after he was stopped going the wrong way on Ottawa Avenue, near Pearl Street according to Grand Rapids Police Sgt. Allen Noles.

Getting a DUI under Michigan’s Super Drunk Law could result in a jail term up to 180 days if convicted.

Sheahan pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing in Grand Rapids District Court on Nov. 6.

Sheahan, 20, currently plays professional hockey for the Grand Rapids Griffins. 

“We are aware of the incident and have been aware of the incident from the beginning,” said Randy Cleves, the Griffins senior director of public relations. He said internal disciplinary action was taken on Sheahan, but he would not discuss details.

This was not the the first time Sheahan has been involved in an alcohol-related arrest. In 2010 he was arrested and charged with public intoxication and minor alcohol consumption in South Bend, Ind., when he was a freshman at Notre Dame.

Read more about Riley Sheahan’s DUI here >>

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