Articles Posted in Drunk Driving

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.

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.

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

Drunk Driving Attorneys in Bloomfield Hills - Michigan Defense LawFor many people, their first contact with the criminal justice system happens when they are charged with drunk driving. When someone is stopped for suspicion of drunk driving or DUI, they often become extremely nervous and overly chatty. They may think that they can talk the police officer into letting them go, or that being cooperative and doing all roadside tests will convince the police not to arrest them. Most people simply do not know their rights or know what to do when pulled over by the police on suspicion of drunk driving.

Michigan law takes driving while impaired very seriously. It is against the law for anyone to drive while:

  • Intoxicated, or impaired, by alcohol, controlled substance, or other intoxicating substance.

Do the police in Michigan have to obtain a warrant in order to draw blood from a DUI/OWI suspect? Under Michigan law (MCL 257.625a), a person can be charged with an OWI if that person’s blood, breath, or urine show any sign of alcohol if the person is under the age of 21, and if the blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher for anyone who is 21 and older. Sometimes Michigan police officers administer breathalyzer tests in order to determine a driver’s BAC, but a police officer also may require a driver to submit to a blood test if they prefer. Does a law enforcement officer need to have a warrant in order to force a driver to submit to a blood test?

This is a question that actually went before the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 2016 the Court ruled that warrantless blood draws are unlawful in most suspected drunk driving cases, while a warrantless breath test is lawful.

Understanding Warrantless Blood Draw Laws

No one gets behind the wheel of a car expecting to be charged with drunk driving in Michigan, but even a slight lapse in judgment can lead to serious implications. Depending on your history of prior convictions and whether your conduct caused an accident, you could be facing misdemeanor or felony offenses. In addition to fines and potential jail time, a conviction can lead to a driver’s license suspension, sky-high insurance rates, a permanent criminal record, and other consequences. Knowing that prosecutors are cracking down on drunk driving, it’s important to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist with your case. An overview of Michigan’s laws on driving while drunk or drugged should help you understand how these cases work.

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)

Michigan uses the term “operating” in the context of drunk driving cases, but the charges are similar to DUI. If you’re 21 years or older, you can be arrested for OWI if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent or higher. The penalties are harsh if you’re convicted:

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