Being arrested for OWI can be frightening. You may be worried about how a drunk driving conviction will affect your life. You may already understand that having a criminal record can haunt you for the rest of your life. If you were subject to a DUI arrest in Michigan, you should discuss your situation with an experienced Michigan DUI lawyer. A DUI conviction can have many collateral consequences that can haunt you for the rest of your life. At Michigan Defense Law, we may be able to represent you and we can certainly answer your questions and help you explore all the avenues possible to protect your rights and your freedom.
Most police officers know that they need a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing to pull over a driver. They may not admit that they pulled you over without a reason. Accordingly, it is critical to have a seasoned attorney look into the circumstances of the initial stop, as well as the events leading up to the DUI arrest. As soon as you are pulled over, and an officer comes up to the car window, he is making observations that could be grounds to arrest you. Once he suspects you have been drinking every interaction is about gathering evidence so that he has probable cause to arrest you. Most interactions with police are recorded either by their in-car video system or a body camera. These videotapes usually preserve the evidence that either creates the defense or causes an accused drunk driver to seek a plea bargain. Obtaining the videotapes early, and before they may be mistakenly erased, is important to a valid defense.
Under the Fourth Amendment, a police officer must have probable cause to arrest you. Generally, he does not need to have a warrant, but he will look for evidence of probable cause so that he can make a warrantless arrest. You may be asked to take a battery of field sobriety tests. These tests usually involve stating part of the alphabet, balancing on one leg, doing a walk and turn test and finally being asked to do a preliminary breath test or PBT just to “make sure you are ok to drive”.
Field sobriety tests are not necessarily reliable, and there are ways to challenge their validity and whether they were properly administered. We will need to look at whether the administration of the tests was appropriate and reliable. In some cases, for instance, a person’s medical condition may affect their ability to pass the test, and this calls into question whether the stop was valid. The portable breath test unit reads a person’s breath alcohol levels. The legal limit is .08%. If you are over the limit, you will almost always be arrested even if you passed all the prior tests. That’s why it is almost always wise to refuse the preliminary breath test on the side of the road and take the zero-point civil infraction instead. In situations where you otherwise perform well or don’t take field sobriety tests you create a better potential argument to challenge whether the officer had probable cause to arrest you.
Following your lawful arrest, the police officer has the choice of whether to give you the Datamaster breath test at the station or request a blood draw. This test is the official test that will be used against you in court. The PBT is not admissible in trial except in certain circumstances and is generally only used as a piece of evidence to determine probable cause to arrest. As part of your defense, we can look closely at whether the results from this breath or blood test may be challenged. There are administrative rules that must be complied with for the tests to be deemed reliable and therefore admissible. We check the process and make sure the equipment was properly calibrated and tested during our investigation of your case.
Generally, chemical testing needs to occur within a specific time frame, and machines or lab equipment must be appropriately calibrated and maintained to yield a reliable result. In a blood test, your blood would be measured by using a chromatograph. The procedure would involve your blood being drawn and then mixed with chemicals, such that blood and alcohol separate, so that the degree of alcohol in a particular body can be determined.
When evidence is not obtained with due regard for procedural and constitutional requirements, it can be challenged. We may be able to bring a motion to suppress evidence obtained after an illegal stop, which was based on an unreasonable search and seizure. Even if we cannot get evidence from an illegal stop suppressed, we may be able to get evidence from an unlawful arrest suppressed. Like other crimes, a DUI needs to be established beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a tough standard if the prosecution has problems with any of their evidence.
A prosecutor may be more amenable to a favorable plea deal if we can get evidence obtained after an unconstitutional arrest suppressed. Even if it is not possible to suppress the evidence, and we need to take it to trial, when a jury decides that it cannot trust the results of a chemical test obtained after an arrest, it may acquit due to a reasonable doubt. Overall, our discovery process and investigation into your case will provide you with peace of mind that all reasonable steps to defend you and obtain the best result possible have been taken.
Many people fail to consider the long-term collateral effects of having a DUI on their criminal records. A drunk driving conviction in Michigan can result in imprisonment and strict probation.
A DUI conviction also cannot be expunged or set aside even after completing probation.
Because a DUI is technically under the motor vehicle code and not the criminal code, a judge cannot prevent the Secretary of the State from suspending or adding points to a person’s driver’s license after a drunk driving conviction. DUI charges are also not eligible for deferral programs, youth offender programs, or stay-out-of-trouble programs.
These are all just collateral effects that most people fail to consider after being arrested for drunk driving. Even for first-time offenders, these consequences can have lasting effects on a person’s record and they will have to answer the for the rest of their lives.
Speaking to an experienced DUI attorney is very important if you are arrested for a DUI charge. A skilled lawyer may be able to help you explore all the possible options to protect your rights and your freedom. At Michigan Defense Law, attorney Paul J. Tafelski and his team of experienced DUI lawyers have years of experience working with clients who are facing DUI charges.
If you face a DUI arrest in Michigan, it is imperative to retain a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer. At Michigan Defense Law, our seasoned attorneys will strive to find the strategy likeliest to yield a favorable result for our clients. Michigan Defense Law represents people in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb, and Washtenaw Counties. Contact us at (248) 451-2200 or use our online form.