Contact
How can we help?
(248) 602-2799
Attorney

Oakland County Work Release Not Open to Felony Drunk Drivers

Apr 11th, 2018 OWI Oakland County Work Release Not Open to Felony Drunk Drivers

Because an at-home electronic-monitoring program is not incarceration, the Oakland County Michigan work release program is not open to some felony offenders.  Where mandatory incarceration is concerned, the tether program is a restriction, not a confinement, and is not ‘jail’ as that term is commonly used and understood.

In 2010 the Oakland County Jail adopted a “virtual” work release program which employs a GPS tether that tracks the whereabouts of an individual and allows them to leave their home for certain court-approved reasons, including employment.  These whereabouts are monitored and tracked by the Oakland County Sheriff. The Michigan drunk driving felony statute, found at Michigan Compiled Laws § 257.625 requires that offenders serve a minimum of 30 days in jail.  Specifically, the law indicates:

A person who violates this Michigan’s drunk driving laws three times in their lifetime is guilty of a felony and shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $500.00 or more than $5,000.00 and to either of the following: Imprisonment under the jurisdiction of the department of corrections for not less than 1 year or more than 5 years or probation with imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 30 days or more than 1 year. This term of imprisonment shall not be suspended.

Thus, felony drunk driving has a minimum mandatory 30 day of incarceration.  Michigan’s Court of Appeals has indicated that the Oakland County tether program is a restriction, not a confinement, and is not ‘jail’ as that term is commonly used and understood. Furthermore, Oakland County’s virtual work release that allows for confinement in one’s home or apartment is not and can never be the equivalent of confinement “in jail.” The Court believed this to be true even when the conditions of home confinement require the person confined to go directly to work, to return home immediately from work, and to be at home always unless approval is given by a probation officer.

Additionally, home detention as it exists in Oakland County Michigan does not include the highly structured setting of a prison or jail. For example, while in prison, an offender cannot remain on the phone for extended periods, invite friends for extended visits, order a pizza, watch television during periods of one’s own choosing, or have free access to the refrigerator.

If you are convicted of felony drunk driving, or any other crime requiring a mandatory period of incarceration, then you will not be able to take advantage of Oakland County’s work-release program.

The legal authority for this article includes People v Reynolds, 195 Mich. App 182, 184; 489 NW2d 128 (1992) and People v Smith, 195 Mich. App 147, 152; 489 NW2d 135 (1992). The leading case is People v. Pennebaker, 298 Mich. App. 1, 825 N.W.2d 637,825 N.W.2d 637, 641 (2012), see also, People v. Sherman Not Reported in N.W.2d, 2013 WL 376053, at *2 (Mich. Ct. App. Jan. 31, 2013). A copy of the leading opinion can be found here: No.Work.Release.Drunk.Driving.Felony