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  • Writer's pictureMark Caldwell

Michigan Sobriety Court: Everything You Need to Know

Updated: Apr 4

Getting a drunk driving charge can be stressful, especially if it's a second or third offense. The penalties in Michigan increase for each drunk driving citation, including jail time, probation, and losing your license. If you receive a second drunk driving citation within seven years or three or more over your lifetime, you are likely eligible for Sobriety Court. Attending Sobriety Court can help you restore your driver’s license faster and address the underlying problem of alcohol or substance abuse. Learn all about Michigan Sobriety Court, the pros and cons, who is eligible, and what it costs.


Highlights: 

  • Michigan Sobriety Court can help you restore your driver’s license faster.

  • It can help you address the underlying problem of alcohol or substance abuse.

  • If you’ve received two drunk driving citations in seven years or three or more in your lifetime, you’re usually eligible for Sobriety Court.

  • Sobriety Court is typically one to two years long, depending on the court.

  • You’ll need some flexibility from your employer to adhere to alcohol tests and biweekly meetings with a judge.


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Components of Michigan Sobriety Court

What is Michigan Sobriety Court?

Michigan Sobriety Court is a one- to two-year voluntary program with phases that help reduce repeat OWI and DUI offenders and enhance public safety. The multi-faceted program incorporates court, community resources, and an interdisciplinary team to help citizens develop and maintain a substance-free lifestyle. Sobriety Court in Michigan generally has four phases and includes personalized treatment, counseling, intense supervision, random drug and alcohol testing, community service, and frequent talks with a judge.




Michigan Sobriety Court Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility for Sobriety Court in Michigan varies by district and program. But in general, you are eligible for Michigan Sobriety Court if you: 


  • Received two drunk driving citations within seven years or three or more in a lifetime

  • Enter the program voluntarily with the intent to finish it

  • Agree to abide by the Sobriety Court guidelines

  • Have not been discharged from a previous Sobriety Court


Most Michigan Sobriety Courts are easy to get into, but some have more requirements. For instance, in Kent County, you must complete a pre-sentence investigation report to prove that you’re high-risk and high needs.


To determine if you’re eligible for Sobriety Court in your district or county or to discuss the next steps, contact Mark Caldwell, an experienced DUI lawyer in Grand Rapids. I’ll explain what to expect and how I can support your case.

Pros and Cons of Sobriety Court

There are many advantages to attending and completing Sobriety Court. Here are the main pros and cons:

Pros

  • Possibility of serving no or little jail time

  • Getting your driver’s license back sooner, as early as 45 days on a restricted license

  • Maintaining sobriety to avoid subsequent drunk driving convictions

  • Helping you overcome substance abuse problems

  • Enhancing public safety

Cons 

  • Requires a significant time commitment 

  • Requires an employer who is willing to work with you to attend drug and alcohol screenings and biweekly meetings with Sobriety Court

  • Not a great fit for those who do not intend to get sober.

Driver’s License Restoration After Sobriety Court

Sobriety Court significantly impacts how quickly you can get your driver’s license restored, oftentimes after just 45 days. Most Michigan Sobriety Courts require a 45-day suspension before you can get your license back. Once you get your license back, it’s usually a restricted license with an ignition interlock, also known as a blow-and-go restriction. You’ll need to blow into a breathalyzer device to start your car. Blow-and-go devices range from $150 to $200 to rent per month.


If you don’t attend Sobriety Court, you may have to wait years or indefinitely to restore your driver’s license.


Michigan District Court Sobriety Court (Misdemeanors) 

If you attend a misdemeanor Sobriety Court, you can apply to get your full license back one year after your conviction date. But the Michigan Secretary of State requires a year of unsupervised sobriety (which begins after you complete Sobriety Court). Some exceptions are made if you're behaving well in Sobriety Court. Some courts will let you out early so you can begin your year of unsupervised sobriety. If you want to apply to get your license back, I can help represent you in your hearing with the Michigan Secretary of State.


Michigan Circuit Court Sobriety Court (Felonies)

If you attend a Circuit Court Sobriety Court for a felony, you won’t be eligible to get your license back until five years after the date of conviction. Once eligible, I can help represent you at your hearing with the Secretary of State. 


Many Sobriety Courts offer a program if you have a felony conviction to reduce it to a misdemeanor if you complete all requirements. This program is usually only available for those with three drunk driving citations, but not more. 


Michigan Sobriety Court Requirements and Program Phases

Michigan Sobriety Courts often require random drug and alcohol testing up to three times a week and meeting with a judge two to four times a month. Most Sobriety Courts consist of four phases over one to two years, which include assessment, treatment, individual and group counseling, 12-step meetings, home visits, and life and work skill courses. Each phase builds on the next, helping individuals reach and maintain a sober lifestyle. 


if you violate the guidelines of the Sobriety Court, there can be serious consequences, including jail time. 


How Much Does Sobriety Court Cost?

Sobriety Court typically costs $2,000 or more, depending on the program, and includes individual and group counseling sessions, hearings with a judge, and periodic drug and alcohol testing.


A view of the front of the 61st District Court, located in the Kent County Courthouse

List of Sobriety Courts in West Michigan

Most districts and counties in Grand Rapids and West Michigan offer Sobriety Courts, but not all. Here’s a list of the Sobriety Courts in the Greater Grand Rapids area, their websites (when available), locations and the jail requirements of each. Many Sobriety Courts don't require jail time, although some do. 

Sobriety Court Location

Jail Time

Allegan County District Court 113 Chestnut St, Allegan, MI 49010

No jail required

Allegan Circuit Court 113 Chestnut St, Allegan, MI 49010

No jail required, but 30 days of community service is required

Kent County Circuit Court 180 Ottawa Avenue NW, Grand Rapids MI, 49503

Some judges require 30 days or more of jail, while others do not

Kent County 63rd District Court 1950 East Beltline NE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49525

15 days of jail to get into Sobriety Court for misdemeanors

Kent County Veteran’s Court 836 Fuller Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI, 49503


61st District Court - City of Grand Rapids 180 Ottawa NW, Grand Rapids, MI, 49503

May require jail time

Kentwood 62B District Court 4740 Walma SE., Kentwood, MI, 49512

May require jail time

Montcalm District Court 617 N. State St., Stanton, MI, 48888

Requires around 10 to 15 days in jail. 

Newaygo County 1092 Newell St., White Cloud, MI, 49349

No Sobriety Court offered, would need a transfer to a different court

Ottawa County 58th District Court. Washington Ave #100, Grand Haven, MI, 49417

No jail required

Ottawa County Circuit Court Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI, 49417

Some judges require 30 days, some judges require no jail

Walker and Grandville 59th District Court 3161 Wilson Ave. SW, Grandville, MI, 49418

No Sobriety Court offered, would need a transfer to a different court


 

Overall Recommendation and Next Steps

I recommend Sobriety Court to everyone who is eligible, as long as you are a willing participant who is committed to finishing the program. Michigan Sobriety Court is a highly effective program that can help restore your driver’s license sooner, reduce repeat citations, and stay sober long-term. By restoring your license sooner and getting sober, you can keep your job and maintain other important aspects of your life. 


If you have a drunk driving citation, contact Mark Caldwell at  616-915-6576, mark@markmcaldwell.com, or fill out this contact form. I’m a highly experienced DUI attorney in Grand Rapids who can help you restore your license and represent you.

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