Articles Posted in DUI/OWI/DWI

With the holidays approaching, local law enforcement usually steps up DUI enforcement efforts. Unfortunately, many people unwittingly incriminate themselves. Knowing your rights beforehand may not help you avoid a DUI charge, but it can make the prosecution’s case more difficult to prove. As a result, a skilled Ann Arbor DUI lawyer may be able to get your charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.  

Understanding DUI Charges

Many people think that the prosecution’s case is based entirely upon how you performed in the field sobriety tests or the breathalyzer results. While these are key pieces of evidence in their case, they are susceptible to challenge, and they, therefore, need to rely on other evidence as well. For example, the prosecution will also introduce evidence concerning the following:

  • Probable cause. The police need probable cause to pull you over. As a result, the prosecution will need to introduce evidence that demonstrates why you were pulled over in the first place, such as a broken tail light or you were speeding. 
  • The officer’s observations at the time you were stopped. For example, the prosecution may need the officer to testify that they smelled alcohol on your breath, your eyes were watery, or your responses to their questions were rambling and incoherent. 
  • Your own actions and statements. The officer may also testify as to what you said and did at the time you were arrested. 

Ultimately, the prosecution wants their case to represent a complete picture of your guilt. Many people don’t realize that the police are trained to conduct DUI stops in a way that helps the prosecution build their case. An experienced Ann Arbor DUI lawyer can evaluate the case against you and identify potential weaknesses. 

What Happens When You are Charged with Drinking and Driving

Were you charged with a misdemeanor operating while intoxicated? Being charged with an OWI is stressful, and the legal process is confusing. ArborYpsi Law is here to help you. Learn more about the process of working with an Ann Arbor DUI Lawyer. 

 

Below is a general outline of the court process, what to expect, and an explanation of the options.

Ann Arbor DUI Lawyer’s First Step: An Arraignment

An arraignment is the first step in the court process and serves several purposes.

If you are pulled over for a DUI, it’s important to understand that you have rights. You do not need to do whatever the officer asks you to do or answer all of your questions. In our last post, we discussed some of the rights you have – rights that protect you from incriminating yourself. 

Unfortunately, the police are very aggressive when it comes to DUI enforcement, so there probably isn’t much you can do to avoid being changed. The goal is to avoid helping the police build a case against you. If you’ve been charged with DUI, an Ann Arbor DUI lawyer can challenge the prosecution’s case and help you get a fair result. 

Breathalyzer Tests

There are two breathalyzer tests that are typically administered as part of a DUI arrest. The first is a roadside test, or “preliminary breathalyzer test” (PBT). You have the right to refuse this test. If you choose to do so, you face a civil infraction and fine, but there will be no license suspension or points on your license. That said, similar to the field sobriety test, the officer may still arrest you for DUI if they believe they have sufficient basis. 

The holidays are a time of increased DUI enforcement in the Ann Arbor area. While there may not be as many office parties and other holiday events this year, people will still get together in their homes to celebrate. As a result, it’s safe to assume that police will continue to aggressively crack down on drivers they suspect are driving while under the influence. 

Obviously, the best way to avoid a DUI is to not drive if you have been drinking or under the influence of drugs. However, it’s important to understand that you have rights in the event that you do get pulled over. In the event that you are charged with DUI, the best thing you can do is speak with an Ann Arbor DUI lawyer as soon as possible. 

Know Your Rights When You Are Pulled Over

Unless you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint, every DUI begins with a traffic stop. The police can stop you for almost any reason, such as a broken tail light – it doesn’t need to be based on suspicion of DUI. Most people are inclined to cooperate with the officer’s instructions but don’t realize that the police use several tactics from the very outset to help build their case. 

You might think that the amount of underage drinking has dropped due to the pandemic, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. While schools are closed and parties may be less prevalent, alcohol is still being sold, and as a result, underage drinking remains a problem. 

If your child is facing charges related to underage drinking, you should contact an Ann Arbor DUI attorney as soon as possible. They can help you understand your options and fight for your child’s future. 

Drinking at Home or Alone

Because public gatherings are limited, many underage people choose to drink at home or in smaller groups. While large parties tend to focus on law enforcement’s efforts to stop underage drinking, you should be aware that police are always concerned about underage drinking. A routine traffic stop or responding to a complaint can quickly result in a criminal charge. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Michigan saw a steep drop in the number of DUI cases when citizens were ordered to stay home and bars were closed. However, we expect arrests to increase as bars and restaurants reopen and people resume their daily lives. Given the length of time we were under quarantine, however, it’s highly likely that the total number of DUI arrests will be significantly less than in years prior. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still be arrested for DUI. If you find yourself facing charges, you should discuss your case with an Ann Arbor DUI attorney as soon as possible. 

DUI Charges are Often Unexpected

For those of us who have lost income due to the pandemic, going out to a bar or restaurant may not be in the budget right now. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying some drinks with friends or family while at home, you could be stopped and arrested for DUI on your way home or to go somewhere else. As in every other state, you can be charged with DUI in Michigan if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. Depending on your weight and several other factors, this could be far fewer drinks than you realize, perhaps as few as two drinks. You should also be aware that, under Michigan law, you can be charged with DUI even without a breathalyzer if the officer believes that you were driving while visibly intoxicated. 

Wisconsin is the only state in the country that treats a first-offense drunk driving as a civil infraction. Every other state treats a first-offense drunk driving as a misdemeanor, meaning a criminal offense not civil. Wisconsin has some of the nation’s highest levels of drinking and driving.

Two lawmakers in Wisconsin are trying to change this. These are State Rep Jim Ott and State Senator Alberta Darling, whose goal is to bring harsher OWI laws to Wisconsin.

What Would Change For Wisconsin Laws?

In one proposal, Wisconsin’s first-offense OWI would become a misdemeanor, punishable by 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. At the discretion of a judge, the misdemeanor could be reduced to a civil infraction if the person does not receive another OWI conviction within five years.

Hope Marie Campbell, a South Carolina woman, was charged with a felony Driving Under the Influence (DUI) resulting in death earlier this summer. She later beat the case on a showing that she did not actually drive the car. Warren Faucett died three days after Campbell’s vehicle rear ended him while he was on his motorcycle. Faucett’s brother spoke to Campbell in the Greenville County jail the day she was charged. He stated no sentence would be enough to replace his lost loved one.

After Campbell was charged, investigators reached a conclusion that although her Honda Odyssey was involved in the crash, Campbell was not the one at the wheel. Since then Campbell’s felony DUI charge has been dropped. She has now been charged with accessory to a felony. According to her attorney, Randy Chambers, Campbell has consistently maintained her innocence. She has claimed from the beginning that she was not driving at the time of the accident.

What Lead to the Incorrect Charge?

Since Campbell owned the Honda Odyssey a traffic ticket was issued under her name. In addition, there was a warrant granted after Faucett’s death that stated it believed Campbell was drinking and driving or using drugs and driving the night of the incident.

When police pull over someone for a DUI, they will ask the driver to take a test for alcohol. What happens if the police find the driver passed out?

In Mitchell v. Wisconsin, The Supreme Court ruled that police generally do not need a warrant for a blood draw on an unconscious DUI suspect. This is because situations with unconscious DUI suspects generally require increased responsibilities for police and prevent them from immediately getting warrants. There may some exceptions to this rule, however, such as where the situation does not prevent police from getting a warrant immediately.

What Happened in the Case

Mitchell was arrested for operating while intoxicated. A preliminary breath test (PBT) revealed a blood alcohol content of .24. While en route to the police station to take a more accurate breath test, he passed out, making it impossible to perform the breath test. Police brought him directly the hospital for a blood test. A police officer read Mitchell his implied consent rights.

In Boston, Massachusetts, Mothers Against Drunk Driving is pushing for legislation that requires first time Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenders to drive with an interlock device system. An interlock device requires drivers to blow into a breathalyzer in order for the automobile to start. If the interlock system detects alcohol in the driver’s system the vehicle will not start.

The Mothers Against Drunk Driving group believes this particular law will reduce the casualties of drunk driving. Mary Kate DePamphilis, a program director for MADD, claims other states have seen a 50% decrease in drunk driving related casualties since implementing an interlock device law. The state of Massachusetts, which does not have interlock legislation in place for first time offenders, saw 120 drunk driving casualties in 2017 and 148 drunk driving casualties in 2016.

Interlock devices have reduced drunk driving fatalities by seven percent in participating states. Currently 32 states require an interlock system to be installed if an individual’s BAC is .08 or higher.

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