David Glen Johnson appeared Wednesday for a preliminary examination in Van Buren County. He's due back in court Dec. 27.
The 32-year-old is charged with second-degree murder and operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death.
The Nov. 13 crash 50 miles southwest of Grand Rapids resulted in the deaths of 24-year-old Brittney King of Bangor and 2-year-old Kandice Berryhill and 4-year-old Cassadi Berryhill, both of South Haven.
WWMT-TV reports a pathologist testified that King had heroin and pain medication in her system. MLive.com reports defense lawyer Darrell Fahey noted "intervening issues" such as those drugs.
The children also weren't riding in child safety seats.