Whether you’re a first-time or fifth-time offender, Sam Bernstein, an Ann Arbor DUI attorney at ArborYpsi Law, understands the process and laws pertaining to DUI defense cases.
Generally, it is against the law in Michigan to drive with a blood alcohol content level over 0.08. Additionally, drivers who have a blood alcohol content of 0.17 or higher will face even more extreme consequences. An individual’s blood alcohol content is established by either a breath test or a blood draw; however, under the law, someone is considered intoxicated if the amount is 0.08 or higher. If intoxicated and under the influence, a person’s ability to normally operate a motor vehicle is impaired.Why Do People Get Pulled Over? Our Ann Arbor DWI Lawyer Explains
There are many reasons why people get pulled over for DUI, even if they are not swerving all over the road. Some of the more common reasons include:
- Driving at night without headlights on
- Making wide right turns
- Failing to maintain lanes
- Driving too fast or too slow
- Failing to signal
You may still be arrested at this point. The police will request that you take a breath or blood test under the Implied Consent Law. The Implied Consent Law provides steep penalties for drivers who refuse to take a breath or blood test when requested by the police. The driver who refuses the test faces a year-long license suspension.The police will likely be able to obtain a warrant to draw your blood even if you refuse the requested test. Therefore, refusal of the test at this point will hold few advantages and only consequences. You may ask the police to make a phone call to your attorney. Often, a person who has an unlawful blood alcohol content has been pulled over for a technical driving violation, rather than for actual impaired driving. When this is the case, declining to provide evidence of impairment as outlined above can be helpful to avoid arrest and to allow your attorney to challenge the case in Court.Intoxicated Driving, Legally Speaking
When speaking about whether a person is driving while intoxicated, the legal phrase is to be "under the influence" of alcohol or drugs.
To be intoxicated means a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle in a normal manner is substantially lessened.
The Michigan Jury Instructions provide guidance on what a substantially lessened ability to drive might look like. Jury instructions are guidance on laws read to a jury at trial for them to use in making decisions on guilt or innocence.
To be under the influence, a person does not have to be falling down or hardly able to stand up. On the other hand, the fact that a person drank or used drugs does not mean by itself that a person is under the influence. The test is whether, because of drinking or drugs, the person's mental or physical condition was significantly affected and the person was no longer able to operate the vehicle in a normal manner.
Basically, this is not much guidance at all. The jury instructions tell us that a person under the influence can be falling down drunk but doesn't have to be. And that just taking alcohol or drugs isn't necessarily enough to be under the influence. The instructions tell us the person is "significantly" affected. Thus, you need an experienced and skilled Ann Arbor DUI attorney to provide your best defense option.Michigan DUI Crimes
Michigan has several levels of impairment, so DUI charges are broken down as follows:
- Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI): The term ‘visibly impaired’ means a person drove with less ability than an ordinary careful driver. You do not need to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.08% to be charged with this crime.
- Operating While Intoxicated (OWI): If you have a blood alcohol content level of 0.08% or higher, you will be charged with OWI. If your Blood Alcohol Content is above 0.17 you will be charged with Super Drunk Driving, legally known as a OWI with a High Blood Alcohol Content.
- Operating With Any Presence of Cocaine or a Schedule 1 Drug: A person may not operate a vehicle with any amount of a schedule 1 substance or cocaine in a their system. Whether the person is affected by that drug does not matter.
Penalties for DUI in Michigan are as follows:
- First Offense - Up to 93 days in jail, with fines ranging between $100 to $500, 360 hours of community service, possible ignition interlock device during your probation period, and vehicle immobilization per the court’s discretion.
- Second Offense - Minimum of five days in jail, up to one year or 30 days of community service, mandatory vehicle immobilization, and fines up to $1000.
- Third Offense - Minimum 30 days in jail or one year in prison, fines up to $5,000, minimum 60 days of community service, mandatory vehicle immobilization, and possible ignition interlock during probation.
- An offense that Causes Death - Penalties for DUI causing death of a firefighter or police officer can result in 20 years in prison.
- An offense that Causes Serious Injury - Five years in prison, with fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 and mandatory vehicle immobilization.
Since the penalties for DUI offenses in Michigan are severe, it is in your best interest to contact an Ann Arbor DWI lawyer immediately if you are facing these charges.Consequences of a Drunk Driving Conviction in Michigan
If you have been convicted of a drunk driving offense, some immediate serious consequences may occur, including:
- You may be arrested and booked in jail.
- You may be subject to paying expensive fines.
- Your driver’s license may be immediately suspended.
- You may lose your job or have difficulty finding employment.
- You may have to pay more for car insurance.
- Your car might be impounded or immobilized.
- You may have to perform community service.
- You may have to go through substance or alcohol abuse treatment.
- You could be sued if you were under the influence and got into an accident.
- Your immigration status could be affected.
- You could be denied or lose a professional license.
A DUI or other criminal conviction can have long-lasting effects, especially when it comes to gaining employment. A DUI conviction will get recorded on the following records:
- Driver’s License Records - If convicted, the DUI will go on your driving record. Although driver’s license records are not criminal records, they are often requested by employers, especially if the job requires you to operate a vehicle.
- Public Criminal Records - Commonly available through court websites, public criminal records can feature mugshots, charging and booking dates, disposition information, and even additional details about your case.
- Law Enforcement Records - A criminal background check will result in your DUI record appearing in a law enforcement search.
The outcome of your DUI case typically results in one of three options:
- Case Dismissed/Found Not Guilty - If your case is dismissed or you go to trial and are found not guilty, records that show you were arrested will be destroyed.
- Plea Agreement - The case is resolved through a plea negotiation. For example, if you are charged with OWI and plead guilty to OWVI - a lesser charge.
- Found Guilty - If you went through the trial and are found guilty, your conviction will show up on your driver’s license record, public criminal records, and law enforcement records.
Keep in mind that employers can do a criminal background check and see a DUI on your record. This may result in you losing the employment opportunity.
When you are charged with DUI, you have a lot at stake, not only now but in your future. Your driver’s license, criminal record, and your liberty are all on the line. The damages for these charges go far beyond the penalties a judge or jury hands down, which is why you must have an Ann Arbor DUI lawyer handling your defense.What Happens After a Drunk Driving Arrest in Michigan?
A DUI case has several steps, and an Ann Arbor DWI lawyer will work on your behalf to handle all of your court-related matters.
- Arraignment - This is the first step of the process where the court informs you of the formal charges against you, including the maximum punishment you are facing. Bail and bond conditions are determined and you will be required to enter your plea at this time.
- Discovery Phase - An Ann Arbor DWI attorney will obtain all the evidence the prosecution has, including the police reports. We use the discovery materials to determine the best way to challenge your case. This can include body cam footage, police reports, and witness testimony.
- Pre-Trial Conference - The prosecution and your DWI attorney will discuss your case, which is an excellent opportunity for us to discuss a plea bargain if that is the best option for your situation.
- Decision for Resolution - Either a plea bargain or a trial will resolve your case, and Sam Bernstein, an Ann Arbor DUI Lawyer will explain your options to you.
- Pre-Trial Motion Hearings - If appropriate, our team will file a pretrial motion to schedule an evidentiary hearing before your official trial. This allows us to try to suppress the prosecution’s evidence.
- Trial - If the case goes to trial, you can either choose a judge or a jury as the decision-maker. Having a jury trial is preferable.
- Sentencing - Whether you agree to a plea bargain or the jury finds you guilty, sentencing is imposed by the judge and can include jail time, community service, probation, fines, AA meeting attendance and even educational classes.
As an Ann Arbor DUI attorney, we will work with you to help you make a good impression in Court. We can give you recommendations on steps to take before your court case. For example, going to treatment demonstrates to the Court that you are aware of a problem and taking steps to address it. Letters from family and friends can convey positive qualities that set you apart from others.
DUIs in Michigan come with driver’s license consequences. We can help reduce those consequences through plea negotiations. For example, if you are charged with OWI High BAC, we may able to work on a plea bargain so that you can avoid the license sanctions from the more serious charge.Related Alcohol Crimes Our Ann Arbor DUI Attorney Can Help You With
Drunk driving in Michigan has several forms of arrest that bring different penalties. No matter your charge, our DUI lawyers are here to help.Driver’s License Suspension
All DUI related crimes come with driver's license consequences. For example, the standard charge of OWI comes with a 30 day license suspension followed by restrictions.Drugged Driving in Michigan
It is illegal to operate a vehicle with any amount of cocaine or a Schedule 1 substance in your system, it is illegal. Also, you may not operate a vehicle if you are under the influence of any controlled substance, which can include sedatives, amphetamines or painkillers.Underage Drinking
It is illegal for anyone to consume or possess any amount of alcohol in the state of Michigan if they are under the age of 21. If you are caught drinking underage if can lead to: a $100 fine, enrollment in a substance abuse program, drug testing, and/or community service. If you have a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.02 or above you can be charged with Minor in Possession. If you consumed alcohol at a religious ceremony this can be used in your defense.Top Questions Answered by Our Ann Arbor DUI Attorney Will I Receive Drug or Alcohol Testing When I First Go to Court?
It is common for people charged with a DUI to receive some form of drug or alcohol testing when they first go to court. Although everyone is presumed innocent, there is a court rule that allows the judge to impose requirements called bond conditions. Those bond conditions can include testing for drugs or alcohol.
Each court is different. Some courts will require a person to submit to an alcohol test every single day prior to resolution of the case. Other courts may require a person to submit to one test, called a baseline test. Passing the test with a negative result may end all further testing requirements. If the test reveals drugs or alcohol the person may be required to undergo further testing.Will I Still Be Able to Drive?
While the case is pending you are still able to drive with a full license. What likely happened, is the police officer confiscated your license, destroyed the license, and then provided you with a paper license. That paper license gives you the ability to continue driving. A DUI conviction may result in additional license sanctions.
However, it is important to note that a refusal of a breath or blood test (chemical test) can result in an implied consent suspension. You have 14 days from the day of refusal to request an implied consent hearing from the Michigan Secretary of State. The officer will have provided you with paperwork that you can fill out to request the hearing. Or you can hire an attorney to request the hearing for you. Either way, it is important to take immediate action when there has been an implied consent refusal. Failure to schedule the hearing will result in an automatic one-year license suspension, which can only be undone with a hardship appeal in circuit court.Can an Ann Arbor DUI Lawyer Prevent Me From Going to Jail?
The majority of judges do not put someone in jail for a first-offense OWI without compelling circumstances. However, there are judges who sentence people to jail for first-offense OWIs – it just depends on who the judge is. Also, a bond condition violation or a probation violation could result in a person being sentenced to jail. And of course, all OWIs as with any misdemeanor could be punishable by jail time.
Your main concern with a first-offense OWI is generally not jail time. More immediate concerns are how a conviction will effect employment, driver’s license, or professional license such as for health care.Is My Life Over?
Our DUI attorneys get asked this very serious question on quite a few calls. No, your life is not over. An OWI charge is a common situation, from the person who had made a mistake and had one too many beers at the bar to the serious alcoholic. Anyone could receive an OWI charge, regardless of socioeconomic class or race. Although dealing with OWI charge is certainly not fun and can be stressful, we will get you through the experience in one piece.Work With an Experienced Ann Arbor DUI Attorney
If you are facing DUI charges, you do not have to deal with them on your own. A DUI conviction stays on your permanent criminal record and can hinder your chances of future employment. Contact Sam Bernstein, an Ann Arbor DWI lawyer at ArborYpsi Law and schedule a free consultation today.