Nobody ever expects to be arrested for drunk driving, or in Michigan what is charged as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). If you find yourself in that situation, it is important to know what to do.
Steps You Need to Take to Give Yourself the Best Chance of Beating a Drunk Driving Charge in Michigan
Michigan has strict laws on drunk driving’s, making it difficult if you have been charged with OWI. There are several ways to challenge an OWI in Michigan. The most common are:
- Inefficacy of Field Sobriety Tests. If the field sobriety tests do not effectively ascertain if you are impaired, you may be able to challenge the drunk driving charge.
- Lack of probable cause and inadmissible evidence. If the offer did not have probable cause to pull you over – meaning if he did not have any reason to suspect you were driving under the influence or breaking the law (speeding, blowing a stop sign, etc.), the charge may be dismissed. If a stop that resulted in an OWI arrest was not legal, any evidence collected during the investigation is not admissible – this is commonly called the fruit of the poisonous tree. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help to exclude that evidence which could lead to a dismissal of your case.
- Challenging the BAC Results from a Breathalyzer. Breathalyzers are not always accurate and do not always reflect the actual amount of alcohol consumed. In Michigan, there has been much controversy over the “DataMasters” the past two years which have led to some drunk driving cases being overturned. Improper calibration of the equipment or equipment failure can give a false reading. In addition, there are some medical conditions that could also result in a false result.
- Miranda Rights. If you were taken into custody, you must be read your Miranda rights. If the arresting officer fails to inform you of your rights, any evidence collected, any statements made, could be inadmissible in court.
It is possible to beat a drunk driving charge in Michigan. By having the details of your arrest reviewed carefully by an experienced criminal defense attorney, you may be able to identify legal flaws in the case. Keep in mind, no attorney can ever guarantee you results, and if an attorney says your case can “for sure” be beat or guarantees a dismissal –run in the other direction! It is not only unethical to guarantee an outcome in a criminal case, but it is also impossible and it shows that the attorney you are talking to, simply has not tried enough cases in front of a jury to understand the uncertainties involved in criminal cases. However, with that being said, a good criminal defense attorney can increase your chances of dismissal.
There are several defenses that can be asserted if you have been charged with drunk driving, such as:
- You were never in actual physical control of a vehicle. (Such as, you are sitting in the back seat of the car with the car turned off and no keys in the ignition.)
- There was no reasonable suspicion to make the initial traffic stop. (Such as no speeding, no swerving, no traffic violations…)
- The officer that conducted the breath test did not wait the required 15-minute observation period. (When you get pulled over the officer must start a 15 minute timer and wait those 15 minutes before conducting a breath test.)
- The blood test samples were contaminated. (Did they use an alcohol swap before taking your blood? Was the seal intact?)
- The breathalyzer results were incorrect.
- You suffer from a medical condition that causes the breathalyzer to return false high BAC results.
- The arrest was not based on probable cause.
It is extremely important that you understand your rights before you make any decisions on moving forward with your criminal case. A drunk driving charge is a serious offense that can negatively impact your life for years.
At Tanis Schultz, we aggressively represent clients from all walks of life in Michigan drunk driving cases. We take care to explain the process in an understandable and clear fashion so you know what to expect. We have the knowledge, skill, and dedication to take on any case.
Grand Rapids OWI Attorneys
If you have been charged with drunk driving in Michigan, contact our Grand Rapids criminal attorneys today for a free confidential consultation.