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If you, or somebody you know, is charged with drunk driving (aka DUI or OWI) in Hart, Pentwater, or Silver Lake in Oceana County, MI, here’s is some information about how the case will be handled as well as who will be handling your case. Please feel free to call our DUI attorneys at Springstead Bartish Borgula & Lynch, PLLC for more information at (231) 924-8700 or (616) 458-5500, who are located nearby and experienced in defending DUI’s in Hart, Pentwater, Silver Lake, the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Shelby, and Rothbury.
Oceana County is a rural county with small towns and cities along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. The cities include Hart (the county seat and home of the courthouse and jail), Pentwater, Silver Lake and the popular Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Shelby, and Rothbury. Because Oceana County is a rural county, the Michigan State Police and Oceana County Sheriff’s Department supplement the few small city police departments in Hart, Shelby and Pentwater. In addition, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) patrols the Silver Lake Sand Dunes and is quite active in that park. Like many rural counties and small towns, the police are keenly focused apprehending drunk drivers. (searchable database of drunk driving arrests per county).
If you are arrested for drunk driving, ultimately, you will be taken to the Oceana County Jail in Hart. The Jail is located at: 216 Lincoln St. Hart, MI 49420 (231) 873-2121 The staff at the Jail are nice, professional and accommodating to attorneys. The Jail’s website was not available when this page written.
BOND—According to Michigan law, a person can only be held in jail for 28 days on a misdemeanor arrest and will be automatically released thereafter, unless there is some other reason to detain the person such as a probation/parole violation or bond violation. Bond is set either by the Magistrate, Jo Gowell, or District Court Judge, H. Kevin Drake. It can be posted either at the courthouse or the Jail.
If you are charged with drunk driving (DUI) in Oceana County, you will appear in the 78th District Court in Hart, Michigan, regardless of whether it is a misdemeanor or felony DUI. The Honorable H. Kevin Drake is the District Court Judge, pictured below. Judge Drake is regarded by attorneys who practice before him a as nice, personable Judge who gives both sides equal consideration. He is also a very busy Judge, as he handles the District Court in Newaygo County as well. This means that his courtroom must be run very efficiently for him to be able to handle the caseload of two counties, which it is.
Drunk driving arraignments, pleas and sentencing are handled efficiently as well. Oceana County will some time allow attorneys to waive arraignments. Pretrials are typically scheduled 1-4 weeks after arraignment. At the pretrial you or your attorney will meet with the prosecutor to discuss a resolution, and you may be allowed to plead guilty on the same day as the pretrial, if the Judge is in Oceana County that day (as opposed to Newaygo County). Otherwise, you will have to return for plea and sentencing, which the court typically handles in one court appearance, assuming you have completed your substance abuse evaluation.
If you are charged with felony drunk driving (DUI) in Oceana County and there is enough evidence for your case to go forward to felony court, you will appear in the 27th Circuit Court in Oceana County. Like the District Court discussed above, the Circuit Court Judge cover two counties (Newaygo and Oceana Counties), which comprise the circuit. There is only one Circuit Court judge, the Honorable Robert D. Springstead, who was appointed to the position by Governor Rick Snyder, effective March 1, 2017.
Judge Robert D. Springstead is Gary K. Springstead’s older brother, and previously practiced law with his father, Douglas A. Springstead, his sister, Julie Springstead Waltz, and Gary K. Springstead at Springstead Law Offices.
Because the Hon. Robert D. Springstead and Attorney Gary K. Springstead are brothers and in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety or any conflicts of interest, the Hon. Robert D. Springstead will recuse himself from handling any case in which Springstead Bartish & Borgula Law, P.L.L.C. is representing the accused. It is expected that any cases handled by Springstead Bartish & Borgula Law will be reassigned to one of the other local judges, either District Court Judge H. Kevin Drake or Probate Court Judge Bradley Lambrix. Any such cases will remain in Oceana County and be handled like any other case, except that Judge Springstead will not handle the case
The elected Prosecutor in Oceana County is Joseph J. Bizon (pictured left courtesy of MLive). He has been Prosecutor since being appointed to fill the vacancy by Judge Monton, when long-time Oceana County Prosecutor Terry Shaw retired. The elected Prosecutor handles most of the felony cases himself and delegates the misdemeanors to his newly hired assistant prosecutor, Jeffrey Kabot. The Oceana County Prosecutor’s Office does not have any strict policies it adheres to with respect to plea negotiations, as each case is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Drunk-driving sentencing’s in Oceana County, like many other counties, is handled on a case-by-case basis, though there are some general observations that can be made.
First Offense DUI—A sentence for normal operating while intoxicated (OWI) or operating while visibly impaired (OWVI), where there is no significant criminal history, typically warrants a jail sentence of 1-2 days with credit for the time served immediately following the arrest. This means that in most cases, there is no additional jail time. Fines/costs range from $900-1,500, but the Court will give you a few months to pay that off. The Court usually orders the defendant to follow/complete the recommendations contained in the substance abuse evaluation, as a condition of probation, which is usually non-reporting probation for 6 months. The court reserves to the right to impose any remaining jail time (93 days max. under the law – 1-2 days actually imposed = 91 to 92 days of remaining jail time), if the defendant does not successfully complete probation, i.e., commits a new offense while on probation.
Second Offense DUI—A sentence for a normal operating while intoxicated 2nd offense, without any significant criminal history, usually carries with it a jail sentence of three weekends to 30 days, depending on how recently the previous offense occurred. The Court has, on occasion, been willing to sentence a defendant to an Impact Weekend (an intensive counseling session with input from the victims of drunk driving) in lieu of jail time. Fines and costs rise to roughly $1,500. The Court usually orders the defendant to follow/complete the recommendations contained in the substance abuse evaluation, which are more intensive than a first offense, as a condition of probation, which is usually non-reporting probation for 6 months to one year. Like a first offense, the court reserves to the right to impose any remaining jail time, if the defendant does not successfully complete probation, i.e., commits a new offense.
Third Offense (Felony) DUI—A defendant facing his/her first felony DUI in Oceana County, without any other significant criminal history, can expect a sentence of three to six months in the county jail from either Circuit Court Judge. As with any felony, there will be considerable fines/costs, probation, rehabilitation services, vehicle immobilization, and strict court-supervised monitoring following any incarceration.
Oceana County does not have a sobriety court.
If you or somebody you know, is facing a drunk-driving charge in Oceana County, call the Oceana County DUI defense attorneys at Springstead Bartish Borgula & Lynch, P.L.L.C., located nearby, for a free consultation. Call now (231) 924-8700 or (616) 458-5500.