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Cheers to 2024: Start the New Year Right with Prudent Partying Practices

Cheers to 2024: Start the New Year Right with Prudent Partying Practices

The nostalgic carol Auld Lang Syne encourages us all to remember days past, and to fondly toast the memories of our cherished and departed loved ones on New Year’s Eve. Sadly, some of those we’ve lost to the sands of time met their ends due to the careless drinking and driving that often seems to take place on this festive evening. Tragedy unfolds all too often across Michigan’s pleasant peninsulas, either when a driver under the influence leaves the road in a single-car accident, or when a drunk driver takes the lives of others who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We’re disappointed to say this, but it’s probably a false hope that New Year’s Eve will come and go this year without more totally innocent drivers and passengers being injured or killed on Michigan’s highways. For as long as we can remember, the final day of the old year and the start of the new one have each been marred by tragedies caused by irresponsible drivers who celebrate by drinking too much alcohol and getting behind the wheel.

That’s why we once again take the opportunity to remind everyone about the importance of responsible celebration. We’re not suggesting complete abstinence from traditional libations, but we do want to encourage all Michiganders to consider doing their part to help minimize the catastrophes we’ve seen all too often. We like to imagine that we helped save lives by providing Metro Detroiters with 1,000 free vouchers for rides home via Uber last New Year’s Eve, and we hope other organizations will follow our lead this year.


Click Your Seatbelts – We’re Entering the Most Dangerous Week of the Year for Traffic Fatalities

As Bankrate.com notes in a recent report, the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day typically sees the most highway deaths of any period of the year. Which means a time we ought to be merry instead becomes a sad seasonal remembrance of tragedy for many of us. There are two groups of people who are responsible for this depressing situation: intoxicated drivers, and the people who’ve served them too much alcohol. Michigan law targets both groups with significant penalties for their reckless behavior.


Michigan’s “Dram Shop” and “Social Host” Laws Aim to Prevent Over-Serving Customers and Guests

Michigan’s so-called “dram shop” law prohibits businesses that are licensed to sell alcohol from serving minors or continuing to provide alcohol to individuals who have become visibly intoxicated. It also allows the victims of those who are harmed by people under the influence to sue those responsible for over-serving the person who caused their injuries. (If it happens to you or someone you care about, we can certainly help out with that litigation!)

Likewise, the state’s “social host” law specifies that “an owner, tenant, or other person having control over any premises, residence, or other real property shall not do either of the following:

(a) Knowingly allow a minor to consume or possess an alcoholic beverage at a social gathering on or within that premises, residence, or other real property.

(b) Knowingly allow any individual to consume or possess a controlled substance at a social gathering on or within that premises, residence, or other real property.”

But preventing party hosts or those licensed to sell alcohol from illegally dispensing it is only half the battle. There is another, far larger, component to take into consideration — the intoxicated motorists themselves.


Michigan DUI Laws Target Drivers Who’ve Surpassed the Legal Limit

Regardless of who provided the alcohol that resulted in someone getting behind the wheel drunk, the driver clearly bears the most responsibility for their actions. That’s why penalties for driving while under the influence in Michigan are severe. Specifically, the Michigan State Police website spells out what happens to those convicted of DUI:

“If BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is below .17 and this is a first offense:

  • Up to $500 fine
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Up to 180 days license suspension
  • 6 points on a driver’s license

If BAC is .17 or higher and this is a first offense:

  • Up to $700 fine
  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Up to one year license suspension
  • 6 points on a driver’s license
  • Mandatory completion of an alcohol treatment program
  • Ignition interlock use and compliance after 45 days license suspension is required to receive a restricted driver’s license. Convicted drunk drivers have limited driving privileges, are prohibited from operating a vehicle without an approved and properly installed ignition interlock device and are responsible for all installation and upkeep costs for the device.

Anyone who refuses a breath test the first time is given an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension. For a second refusal within seven years, the suspension is two years.Convicted drunk drivers are subject to a $1,000 penalty for two consecutive years under the Driver Responsibility Act, for a total of $2,000 in additional costs.”

As we noted in a recent article quoting Forbes.com, penalties become even more severe for repeat offenders, or those whose actions result in the death of highway workers, emergency responders, law enforcement personnel, or others:

“A second DUI offense will result in up to a year behind bars, fines as high as $1,000, as many as 90 days of court-ordered community service, and vehicle immobilization up to 180 days (or even forfeiture

of the driver’s car). A third DUI offense brings up to five years in jail, fines up to $5,000, up to 180 days of community service, and the driver’s vehicle could be immobilized for up to three years (or he/she could be ordered to forfeit it entirely).”

And if you injure or kill someone while you’re driving under the influence in Michigan, you can be fined from $2,500 up to $10,000, and imprisoned for up to 15 years (20 years if the victim is a police officer, firefighter, or someone who works in emergency response).


Do Your Part to Avoid Becoming Another Sad Statistic

Now that you know what can happen if you drive drunk, don’t start a shiny new year by forever ruining the lives of others – not to mention your own. Drink responsibly, offer rides home (or at the very least a place to sleep it off) to those who have overindulged at holiday get-togethers, and never provide alcohol to those below age 21 under any circumstances. Following these suggestions is a good way to ensure you will never face a Mike Morse Law Firm attorney on the other side of a courtroom where you’ve been accused of injuring or killing an innocent person due to your own negligence.

Finally, if you or someone you care about become one of the unfortunate victims of a drunk driver on New Year’s Eve – or any day of the coming year – we’ll be here to represent you in court and help you receive the compensation you deserve for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced. Call 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) to get us on your side whenever you need us. We’ll do our best to make your new year, and every year to come, as happy as humanly possible.

Cheers to 2024: Start the New Year Right with Prudent Partying Practices

Content checked by Mike Morse, personal injury attorney with Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. Mike Morse is the founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. Since being founded in 1995, Mike Morse Law Firm has grown to 150 employees, served 25,000 clients, and collected more than $1 billion for victims of auto, truck and motorcycle accidents. The main office is in Southfield, MI but you can also find us in Detroit, Sterling Heights and many other locations.