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(Muskegon County)

If you or somebody you know is facing a DUI charge (aka operating while intoxicated or OWI) in Muskegon, MI (Muskegon County) here’s some helpful information about what to expect. Also, feel free to call the leading drunk driving (DUI) defense attorneys at Springstead Bartish Borgula & Lynch, PLLC., who regularly defend DUI’s in Muskegon for a free consultation (231) 924-8700 or (616) 458-5500 or contact us online.

Who Is Prosecuting the Case? The County Prosecutors or a City Attorney?

In order to answer this question it is important to understand that there are both state and locals laws, i.e., city or township ordinances, that make it a crime to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or over the legal limit (.08%). Thus, certain drunk driving charges (DUI’s punishable by 93 days or less) can be pursued by either (a) the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office, who prosecutes alleged violations of state law for the State of Michigan, or (b) a city or township’s attorney.

In Muskegon County, local prosecutions are most often brought by the City of Norton Shores and its attorneys, Williams | Hughes Law. Attorney Susan M. Franklin usually represents the City of Norton Shores in court, though she appears to answer to Douglas Hughes, a Partner at William | Hughes Law, who also handles prosecutions by the City of Norton Shores.

Otherwise, most of the drunk driving prosecutions are filed by the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office, discussed further below.

Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office

Muskegon County Prosecutor

D.J. Hilson, Muskegon County Prosecutor

D.J. Hilson is the elected Prosecutor in Muskegon County, a position he first won in 2013 after longtime Muskegon County Prosecutor Tony Tague retired. There are 13 other prosecutors in Muskegon County, who handle a high volume of cases. Prosecutors are generally assigned to a particular Judge’s courtroom or and step in the procedural process, such as handling misdemeanor pretrials. The Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office appears to have firm guidelines for resolving criminal cases, including DUI’s, though exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis with the approval of management.

Muskegon County’s 60th District Court

Muskegon County District Court

Chief Judge, 60th District Court, Maria Ladas-Hoopes

There are four District Court Judges in Muskegon County: Chief Judge Maria Ladas Hoopes, Judge Harold F. Closz, Andrew Wierengo, and newly minted Judge Raymond J. Kostrzewa, who was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to fill the judicial vacancy created after longtime Muskegon County District Court Judge Michael Nolan retired in 2014. The 60th District Court has a very busy docket, so the Judges tend to appreciate brevity and succinctness, though they will give the parties more time when warranted. There is no uniform policy on whether the court will accept a waiver arraignment in a DUI case, so you or your attorney will have to check with that particular Judge’s chambers to see whether they will accept a waiver. Defendants may be excused from attending the pretrial conferences, provided counsel can get ahold of the prosecutor handling the case and indicate to the court whether the defendant accepts or rejects the pretrial offer. The pretrials are held before the Magistrate Judges on the first floor of Muskegon County courthouse. The Magistrate Judges will set a date for either a plea, jury trial or a motion and provide notice that same day. All of the District Court Judges require a substance abuse evaluation (SAE) (preferably, in the court’s view, prepared by Muskegon County’s Probation Department) and Presentence Investigation Report before sentencing a defendant in a DUI case. 

Muskegon County Sobriety Court

Muskegon County 60th District Court, Sobriety Court

Hon. Andrew Wierengo

Muskegon County has a sobriety court for both misdemeanors and felonies. The intensive, court-supervised program lasts 18 months. It is managed by Judge Wierengo along with Judge Closz. In addition to being an affordable substance abuse program, the benefits include limiting jail time, the opportunity to obtain a restricted driver’s license, and head start on getting your driving privileges restored by the State of Michigan.

DUI Attorneys Serving Muskegon, Michigan

The DUI defense attorneys at Springstead Bartish Borgula & Lynch regularly defend DUI’s in Muskegon and try and win your case or get you the best possible result. Call now for a free consultation (231) 924-8700 or (616) 458-5500 or contact us online.

Related Resources:

National College for DUI Defense Attorneys
Criminal Defense Super Lawyers
Michigan Associations OWI Attorneys