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Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a gun possession case presenting an issue that frequently arises in many Michigan drug cases, or other possessory offenses. The case required the court to determine if the police officers’ approach of the defendant’s vehicle constituted a seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Finding that the officer’s reason for approaching was not to investigate criminal activity, but to check on the welfare of the defendant, the court rejected the defendants’ motion to suppress.

Generally, police officers need a warrant to conduct a search or seizure. However, over the years, courts have allowed several exceptions to the warrant requirement. Not all encounters between police officers and citizens are searches or seizures. Under federal constitutional law, a seizure occurs when “a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave.”

According to the court’s opinion in this case, police officers received a call reporting someone was passed out behind the wheel at a fast-food drive-thru. Officers responded to the scene and approached the defendant’s vehicle. After a short time, police were able to wake the defendant up. Once the defendant was awake, the officers asked him out of the vehicle to check on his well being because he had fallen asleep behind the wheel.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan gun case involving a police officer’s purported inventory search of the defendant’s vehicle. The case is a good example of what police officers can – and cannot – do during a valid Michigan traffic stop.

According to the court’s opinion, a police officer observed the defendant driving a car with a license plate light that was hanging in front of the license plate. The officer followed the defendant into a parking lot, and the defendant parked in a spot in the far corner of the lot. As the officer approached, the defendant explained that his license was suspended. The defendant provided a Department of Corrections identification card.

Upon the officer’s request, the defendant got out of the vehicle, at which point he was patted down. The officer found a pocket knife, but nothing else. The officer then placed the defendant in the rear of his police car to verify the status of his suspended license. The officer then realized that the defendant had two warrants out for his arrest. The officer repeatedly asked the defendant to consent to a search of the vehicle, and the defendant refused consent each time. The officer then approached the vehicle to speak with the passenger, who also had a suspended license.

In 2018, Michigan voters passed the “Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act,” (the Act) which provided for the legal recreational use of marijuana. The Act, which will go into effect in 2020, allows adults ages 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use, and to grow up to 12 cannabis plants at home. Of course, driving under the influence of marijuana is still considered a crime under the Operating While Under the Influence (OWI) statute.

As people began to use marijuana more freely, lawmakers believe that there will be an increased risk of people getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Indeed, law enforcement agencies nationwide have cited statistics indicating that the legalization of marijuana increases the rate of marijuana DUI accidents. However, these statistics are flawed because marijuana remains in a person’s system for days or weeks after use, and there is no way to say that marijuana intoxication contributed to an accident just because it was found in a driver’s system. Regardless, the legalization of marijuana in Michigan has placed law enforcement on high alert for motorists driving under the influence of marijuana.

Most roadside tests do not test for marijuana, and taking a driver suspected of marijuana intoxication down to the station for a blood test is a lengthy process that implicates the driver’s constitutional rights. Thus, according to a recent article, Michigan police are considering a new way to quickly test for marijuana intoxication. State police have implemented the Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis Pilot Program in five counties. Authorities claim that the oral test can detect the presence of amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates, and THC, the active psychoactive compound in marijuana.

A state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan drug case requiring the court to determine whether the defendant had standing to bring his motion to suppress. The concept of standing refers to a defendant’s legal ability to bring a motion or ask the court for a certain remedy. In a motion to suppress, courts have held that the defendant must have a subjective expectation of privacy in the area that was searched. In addition, the defendant’s expectation of privacy must be an objectively reasonable one.

According to the court’s opinion, police were conducting a drug trafficking investigation. Undercover officers were working with a confidential informant (CI), who introduced the officers to a woman who knew the defendant. Police purchased drugs from the woman several times. She explained that she obtained the drugs from the defendant.

Officers obtained a search warrant for the woman’s motel room, where they found some cocaine as well as her cell phone. The next day, a police officer responded to a text message that was sent by the defendant, pretending to be the woman. Posing as the woman, the officer told the defendant he could come over to her motel room.

In most states, the law that prohibits drunk or drugged driving is referred to as a DUI, or driving under the influence. However, in Michigan, slightly different terminology is used to refer to these charges. In Michigan Vehicle Code section 257.625, lawmakers lay out the different types of Michigan drunk driving offenses.

The first, and most common impaired driving offense, is called operating while intoxicated (OWI). The term OWI is broadly used to describe when a motorist is under the influence of “alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or other intoxicating substance,” or a combination of these substances. To prove an OWI offense, the prosecution must be able to show that the substance, whether it be alcohol or drugs, was actually in the defendant’s system. This requires some type of chemical test. For alcohol OWIs, there must be 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood. This commonly referred to as a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more.

In some cases, chemical tests are not available, or a motorist’s blood-alcohol content comes back less than .08. In these cases, Michigan lawmakers allow prosecutors to pursue a charge called operating while visibly impaired (OWVI). An OWVI is very similar to an OWI, except that the prosecution need only show that the motorists ability to operate the vehicle was impaired by alcohol or drugs or a combination of both. Thus, there is no need to prove an exact BAC in an OWVI case.

Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Michigan operating while intoxicated (OWI) case involving a defendant’s motion to suppress a statement that he made to a detective following his arrest. Ultimately, the court concluded that admission of the defendant’s statement, even if the statement was illegally taken, was harmless error based on the other evidence presented at trial. As a result, the court dismissed the defendant’s appeal, affirming his convictions and sentence.

According to the court’s opinion, on June 7, 2016, the defendant crashed his pickup truck into a group of cyclists, killing five and seriously injuring four others. After the accident, police noticed that the defendant looked “out of it” and determined that he may have been under the influence. Police officers arrested the defendant, taking him to the hospital where a blood test revealed there was amphetamine, methamphetamine, hydrocodone, and tramadol in his system. Police also spoke to several witnesses who claimed to have seen the defendant’s erratic driving moments before the collision.

The day after the accident, the defendant met with detectives. The detectives read the defendant his Miranda rights, at which point the defendant told the detectives he would like a lawyer. However, another detective then asked the defendant if he knew why he was arrested. Upon hearing that he had killed five people, the defendant stated something along the lines of, “well it has already happened, it can’t be changed, I might as well talk to you.” The defendant then made inculpatory statements, admitting to using drugs earlier on the day of the accident.

Legal Help For DUI Accident You’ve been charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated under Michigan law. You know you need a lawyer. But how do you find a good one, and what questions do you ask that lawyer when you meet for the first time? In this blog post, we cover the basics of finding and interviewing a Michigan DUI lawyer to make sure you give yourself the best chance of mounting the strongest possible defense.

Part One: Finding a DUI Lawyer

It’s not particularly difficult to find a Michigan lawyer who advertises services for clients facing DUI charges. A simple Google search will turn up plenty. To narrow down your search, you might also ask friends whether they can recommend someone. You may also want to consult the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board listings to check the attorney’s disciplinary record, if any, and how any complaints against the attorney were resolved.

Minor charged with DWI OWI in MichiganDUIs in Michigan, as in other states, typically carry heavy consequences: loss of the drunk driver’s license, heavy fines, and even jail time, depending on the severity of the offense and the number of times the driver has faced DUI charges.

For underage drivers, however, the consequences of DUI may go further. Drivers under the age of 21 convicted of driving while intoxicated may face serious penalties that can linger—and subsequent DUI charges in the future may cause even more serious problems. Michigan has a zero-tolerance policy for DUIs for underage drivers. To speak to a professional about your options after receiving a DUI Contact Michigan Defense Law Firm today

What Constitutes a DUI for Underage Drivers?

Finding A DUI attorney Anyone accused of a crime in the United States has the right to an attorney if they face jail time. That includes anyone charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated under Michigan law.

As anyone who has watched a crime-related TV show knows, part of the famous Miranda warnings includes the statement: “if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you,” or something to that effect. If the court determines you are indigent you will have the right to a court appointed attorney.  However, the court will ultimately charge you some fee for use of the attorney. In addition, just because you have the right to a court appointed attorney doesn’t mean that that is the attorney you should trust to defend you against DUI charges (or any other charges, for that matter). In this post, we explain why it’s almost always worth your investment to hire a private attorney rather than to accept the services of a “public defender.”

The Public Defender System in Michigan

Legal Help in clearing the past and moving forwardCriminal convictions often linger on your record for the rest of your life, leaving you stuck with the consequences. Any time an employer performs a background check, your conviction shows up. The conviction can then move you further down on a future employer’s list or even prevent you from getting a job at all. Not only that, some jobs will not hire you with criminal convictions of any type on your record. Luckily, a good expungement attorney can give you options for removing that record from the public eye, which can make it easier for you to seek employment or engage in

What Is Expungement?

Through expungement, you can seal the records related to your criminal charge so that they no longer turn up during a background check. Most commonly, the courts seal juvenile records once the offender turns eighteen. In other cases, however, you can petition the court to expunge your record even if you committed a crime after you turned eighteen. Essentially, an expungement means that the court erases the conviction from your record, freeing you from many of the ongoing consequences associated with that conviction. The conviction will no longer turn up on background checks.

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