Washtenaw County's most 'super drunk' drivers were behind the wheel in five crashes in 2010
Photo illustration by MLive Media Group
Five of Washtenaw County’s drunken drivers in 2010 had blood alcohol levels at or approaching levels in which their bodies would experience a feeling similar to surgical anesthesia, according to researchers.
All five of these so-called “super drunks” were behind the wheel when they were involved in crashes, according to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, a statewide group that monitors traffic accidents. Fortunately, none of the Washtenaw County acccidents resulted in serious injuries, MTCF reported.
MTCF reports show that three of the five drivers had a blood alcohol level of .34, one was at .32 and another registered .33.
Researchers at California State University Bakersfield say that when a person’s blood alcohol level reaches .30, the human body is in a stupor and can pass out at any time. At .35, the feeling is similar to surgical anesthesia and a person could stop breathing.
Under a 2010 state law, motorists with a blood alcohol level of .17 or more can be charged as “super drunk.”
According to the MTCF reports, super drunk drivers were involved in 37 crashes in Washtenaw County in 2010, the latest year for which statistics are available.
More recently, a Troy man was arrested March 4 in Ypsilanti after police said he was involved in a hit-and-run car crash. That motorist -- who police said also had a handgun in his car -- had a blood alcohol level between .24 and .26.
Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office
Under Michigan law, a driver may be charged with drunken driving if his or her blood alcohol level is at .08 or above.
According to the state, a driver who is charged with operating under the influence with a blood alcohol level of .17 or higher can face up to 180 days in jail, a $700 fine and 360 hours of community service. In addition, the arrestee’s driver’s license can be suspended for one year with the possibility of driving with an ignition interlock device after 45 days of suspension.
By comparison, operating while intoxicated with a blood alcohol level between .08 and .16 can be punished by a maximum of 93 days in jail, a $500 fine and 360 hours of community service, according to the state. The arrestee’s driver’s license can be suspended for 30 days. Both charges can result in six points being added to the offender’s driving record and a driver’s responsibility fee of $1,000 for two years. In February, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation into law that allowed communities to enforce their own ordinances against “super drunk” drivers without having to charge under the state law. The new law gives local police more flexibility when seeking charges against offenders.
Just how much does a person have to drink to reach a blood alcohol level of .35?
According to the researchers at California State University Bakersfield, a woman weighing 160 pounds — the average weight for women, would have to drink 11 drinks in one hour to register a .35 blood alcohol level. A man weighing the average 195 pounds, again according to the CDC, would have to drink about 15 drinks in an hour to reach that level, a CSUB study states.
Of the 2010 super drunk crashes, the following five crashes involved the drunkest of the drunken drivers:
• The first accident caused by a man with a .34 blood alcohol level occurred in Ypsilanti.
According to the report on MTCF, the accident occurred at 4:10 p.m. March 24, 2010, in the 800 block of Prospect Street.
Photo illustration by MLive Media Group
The head-on collision sent the Ypsilanti man and a 25-year-old Ann Arbor woman in the car to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, where they were treated for injuries, according to the report.
The drunk driver submitted to a breath test at the scene and blew at .341. Ypsilanti police officers arrested him for operating while intoxicated and took him to St. Joe’s as well, where he had an alchol blood test administered.
• A little more than a month later, the second driver with a blood alcohol level of .34 caused an accident.
At 1:40 a.m. April 27, 2010, a 21-year-old Ypsilanti woman was driving south on Palisades Boulevard toward Ellsworth Road, according to the MTFC report. As she neared the exit of the neighborhood, the woman rear-ended a parked red 2001 Ford Explorer that was facing southbound, the report stated.
The woman told Pittsfield Township police a car had pulled in front of her on a side street to the west and she had swerved to miss it, according to the report. The woman stated she overcorrected and struck the Explorer, according to the report.
The woman was cited for operating while intoxicated and was transported to St. Joe’s to be treated for her injuries, which were non-life threatening, according to the report.
• The final accident caused by a driver with a blood alcohol level of .34 took place at 7:05 p.m. on Nov. 27, 2010 in Manchester, according to MTCF.
A 43-year-old man turned his black Dodge Ram right off of East Main Street onto Riverbend Street, going too wide and crossing over the centerline on Riverbend, the report stated. He struck the side of a gray Jeep driven by a 49-year-old Manchester woman that was stopped at the intersection, according to the report.
The man told police he was turning when the woman suddenly turned into his car, according to the report. The woman, who was not intoxicated, said she was stopped on the roadway at a stop sign when the man’s truck hit her, according to the report.
Luckily, there were no injuries involved in this crash. The man was given a breath and field test at the scene of the accident and was cited for operating while intoxicated, the report stated.
• A 44-year-old Ypsilanti man with a blood alcohol level of .33 pulling out of the parking lot of a liquor store caused the fourth accident on the list.
Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to Hewitt Road north of Congress Street for an accident. According to police, the 44-year-old man was driving a green Ford car out of a parking lot and did not yield to a silver 2008 Dodge Avenger that was traveling northbound causing a T-bone accident.
The Target 2 Party Shop is located at the intersection of Congress Street and Hewitt Road and the report indicated the man was leaving that parking lot.
According to the report, the man was taken to St. Joe’s after the accident. While there, he was given a blood test showing his blood alcohol level to be at .33, according to the report.
The 32-year-old Ypsilanti woman driving the Avenger refused ambulance service, according to the report.
• The final crash occurred when a 29-year-old Ypsilanti man with a blood alcohol level of .32 failed to stop for a red light, rear-ending one vehicle and sending one person to the hospital.
The MTCF report states the Ypsilanti man was driving his white 2005 Chrysler Pacifica eastbound on Michigan Avenue when he came to a red light at the intersection with Ellsworth Road. The man failed to stop and struck a black 2000 Ford Ranger from behind, pushing that vehicle into a black 2010 Ford Fusion, according to the report.
The 22-year-old Canton, Ohio man who was driving the Ford Ranger was transported to St. Joe’s with non-life threatening injuries, according to the report. The 27-year-old Ypsilanti man driving the Ford Fusion and the drunk 29-year-old Ypsilanti man refused medical treatment.
The report did not state if the man was cited for operating while intoxicated.