OWI / Traffic Safety

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)
The Grand Traverse County Prosecutor's Office prosecutes drunk and drugged driving cases that occur within Grand Traverse County. Drugged driving is when a person is operating a vehicle while being "under the influence" of substances which affect that person's ability to safely drive his or her vehicle. Such substances could include medications that are prescribed to that individual as well as drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin. Drugged driving cases are on the rise throughout the country and present a risk that is similar to and sometimes more dangerous than alcohol-impaired driving.

The Prosecutor's Office approaches drunk and drugged driving as both a public safety concern and as a substance abuse problem. Prosecutors in this office have often heard people say that being arrested for drunk driving was one of the best things that has happened to them because this person realized that they had a problem and were afforded access to services to help address that problem.

Public Safety
Drunk and drugged driving also presents a serious public safety concern. In 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. This accounted for 31% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States that year  (US Center for Disease Control citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). 

Statistics for drugged driving are less well-known, though a 2003 study in Maryland of drivers seriously injured in traffic crashes found that more than half of these drivers had drugs other than alcohol in their body. The drug most commonly present was marijuana which was present in 26.9% of these seriously injured drivers.

Victim Advocates
As part of prosecuting drunk and drugged drivers, prosecutors and our victim advocate frequently talk to and meet with victims injured by drunk and drugged drivers to help explain their rights as crime victims, including the right to receive notice of all hearings, the right to consult with the prosecutor regarding all plea bargains, and the right to restitution.