High BAC Superdrunk OWI and Child Endangerment on the Rise in Michigan

The number of High BAC Superdrunk OWI and Child Endangerment Cases are on the rise in Michigan. This is due to a variety of factors, including an increase in binge drinking among college educated, divorced or separated males, pandemic isolation and school closures.

One recent study published in Science News[i] suggests that between 2015 and 2019 binge drinking among men 65 and older increased by about 20% from 12.8 percent to 15.7 percent. The study suggests that binge drinking did not increase for older women during the same period. College educated women and separated or divorced men were both also at higher risk of binge drinking. The use of marijuana or tobacco increased risk of binge drinking for both men and woman alike. The study had a sample size of 18.794.

Another study, this one published by Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, supports the proposition that the pandemic has had a great influence on the recently higher prevalence of both Super Drunk Driving and Child Endangerment OWI.

According to the study, all pandemics contribute to many “medical, psychological, and sociological problems” including binge drinking and “related harms” such as drunk driving. The increased drinking is attributable to the multiple displacements caused by pandemics, including high stress, isolation, and economic concerns. Alcohol purchases increased month over month from between 54 percent and 262 percent.

The study was based on 998 responses. A little more than one third of the participants reported engaging in binge drinking or extreme binge drinking. For this study, binge drinking is defined as 4 or 5 drinks in one setting (female/male) and extreme binge drinking is engaging in binge drinking 10 or more times in one month. Add to the mix that school shutdowns have resulted in parents and school age children spending more time together, and the reasons for the trends are obvious.

In Michigan High BAC or Super Drunk Driving is defined as having a bodily alcohol content (BAC) of .17 or above at the time of driving. Child Endangerment occurs when the driver commits an OWI with a child aged 16 or under in the car. Both are considered enhanced first offense drunk driving offenses, meaning fines, costs, driver license sanctions and/or possible incarceration are all increased.

Drunk drivers with a prior offense in the past 7 years will typically be charged with second offense drunk driving even if their BAC is above .17 or if they have children in the car. This is because second offense drunk driving caries with it penalties that are higher than either super drunk driving or child endangerment. The same of course is true of felony drunk driving, which applies when a drunk driver has at least 2 prior OWI convictions any time in his/her life.

It should be noted that to reach a .17 BAC, most drivers will need to consume a minimum of 8 standard drinks in a short period of time. This obviously qualifies as binge drinking.


[i] Wiley. (2021, December 8). Trends in binge drinking among older men and women in the United States. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/12/211208090023.htm

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