Annually, there are over 1,200 drinking and driving arrests in Canton, Northville and Plymouth alone. The 35th District Court in Plymouth offers a Sobriety Court program for individuals convicted of one ore more drinking and driving offenses.

Sobriety Court at the 35th District Court

The program works like probation but it involves intensive supervision by the Sobriety Court Probation Officer, Jim Hand, and the Sobriety Court Judge, Michael Gerou. People enter the program voluntarily but they cannot leave the program voluntarily.

The benefit to someone entering the Sobriety Court program is that they avoid jail, are put on track to reinstate their drivers license, and they get intense treatment for alcohol abuse that has been proven to reduce the changes of recidivism.

Sobriety Court Eligibility

To be eligible to enter the program, your conviction must be for drinking alcohol and driving. Common offenses would include the High BAC offense also known as Super Drunk, Operating While Intoxicated, or Operating While Visibly Impaired. Driving on drug offenses like operating while under the influence of a controlled substance or driving with the presence of a controlled substance are excluded from the program. The person entering the program cannot have been convicted of any violent offenses.

Many sobriety courts throughout the state require that you live within the court’s jurisdiction. This is not the case for the 35th District Court’s Sobriety Court program. There is no requirement that you live within the jurisdiction; however, most people in the program do not have a valid driver license, at least not for the first 45 days or more, so complying with all of the requirements and living a great distance away can be very difficult.

The 35th District Court Sobriety Court does require that a person surrender their medical marijuana card.

35th District Court Sobriety Program

The Sobriety Court program is broken down into four parts called paths. As you complete the paths, move forward, and satisfy requirements your obligations decrease.

Path One: Nine-week minimum to complete

  • Meet with the Probation Officer weekly
  • Attend Sobriety Court Review Hearings monthly
  • Attend substance abuse counseling
  • Submit to random drug and alcohol testing
  • Attend 12 step meetings and obtain a sponsor

Path Two: Nine-week minimum to complete

  • Meet with Probation Officer twice a month
  • Attend Sobriety Court Review Hearings monthly
  • Attend substance abuse counseling
  • Submit to random drug and alcohol testing
  • Attend 12 step meetings and contact sponsor at least one time per week
  • Complete a minimum of 40 hours community service

Path Three: Nine-week minimum to complete

  • Meet with Probation Officer monthly
  • Attend Sobriety Court Review Hearings bi-monthly
  • Attend substance abuse counseling
  • Submit to random drug and alcohol testing
  • Attend 12 step meetings and contact sponsor at least one time per week
  • Complete a minimum of 40 hours community service

Path Four:

  • Meet with Probation Officer monthly
  • Attend substance abuse counseling
  • Submit to random drug and alcohol testing
  • Attend 12 step meetings and contact sponsor at least one time per week
  • Complete any remaining hours of community service

Penalties for Violating Sobriety Court Probation

Second offense drunk driving usually results in at least 5 days in jail. As mentioned above, one of the major benefits of the Sobriety Court program is that you avoid any up front jail time.

As Sobriety Court Judge Gerou likes to say, “you hold the keys to the jail.” Meaning, if you violate the terms of Sobriety Court you send your self to jail. A first violation will usually result in 3 days of jail time, a second violation will result in 6 to 9 days, and a third violation will usually result in 60-90 days jail time and removal from the program. These numbers are not written in stone and can vary based on the violation.

Sobriety Court Drivers License

A conviction for a second drinking and driving offense within seven years of a first offense conviction results in the loss of your driver’s license for at least a year. Three drinking and driving convictions within ten years results in the loss of your drivers license for at least five years.

Absent sobriety court, a person can petition for driver’s license reinstatement through the Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division after their period of revocation has run. The process for regaining driving privileges is time consuming and can be difficult. Most people will take longer than the minimum 1-year and 5-year revocation period because petitioners are required to prove a minimum of twelve months sobriety and can be denied if that period of sobriety was while on probation. In actuality, it can take someone 2-3 years on the short end and 6 years on the long end before they are eligible and likely to obtain restricted driving privileges through the Driver Assessment and Appeal Division. For these reasons, the sobriety court is must more appealing way to regain driving privileges.

Sobriety Court License Requirements

A Sobriety Court license can be issued as soon as 45 days of the conviction being entered and participation in the Sobriety Court.

The applicant must be in complete compliance with testing and treatment.

Path one must be completed

Fines and costs paid in full

A Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) must be installed on the vehicle

About the Author

Aaron J. Boria is a criminal defense attorney that also focuses in drunk driving defense. Attorney Boria is located in Plymouth about a mile from the courthouse. Attorney Boria has won multiple jury trials at the 35th District Court including drunk driving. Attorney Boria has also countless dismissals, and reductions including felony matters to misdemeanors. Unlike most criminal attorneys, Boria takes on a limited number of cases every month to make sure that his client’s receive the attention they need to get the best result possible.