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People v. Edwards, Lying to Police Officers in OWI Cases

Although unpublished, this case is important because it discusses the crime of lying to a police officer in the context of drunk driving investigations. In the case, the Defendant was charged with lying to a police officer despite the officer not telling him he was under investigation for drunk driving. The entire case of People v. Edwards can be read here.

What Happened in the Case

At a jury trial, Defendant Edwards was convicted of operating while intoxicated-third offense (felony DWI), driving on a suspended license, and lying to a police officer during an investigation (MCL 750.479c(2)). He appealed these convictions to the Court of Appeals.

On Appeal, the Court affirmed the convictions for the felony DUI and driving while license suspended. However, the Court vacated the conviction for lying to a police officer. This last charge is where our interest in the case lies.

A police officer pulled Edwards over for speeding. This was in Port Huron. The officer asked Edwards how much he had to drink after the officer believed Edwards had red eyes and smelled of intoxicants (alcohol shouldn’t have a smell, so police say intoxicants instead). The officer asked Edwards to perform field sobriety tests, which the officer testified Edwards failed. Edwards was then arrested for drunk driving. At the station, Edwards blew a .111.

Also, a gas station employee claimed Edwards hit his car earlier. Video showed the accident. At issue for this case, there was testimony that Edwards shouted that he had not driven his car but that someone named Wallace was driving it.

On Appeal

Edwards’s argument on appeal was that is not guilty of lying to a police officer because he was not informed that the officer was conducting a criminal investigation.

What is Lying to a Police Officer?

The crime of lying to a police officer is outlined in MCL 750.479c(1)(b). A person who is informed by a peace officer that he or she is conducting a criminal investigation shall not do any of the following…including – shall not knowingly and willfully make any statement to a peace officer that the person knows is false and misleading regarding a material fact in a criminal investigation.

The Court focused on the part of the law where a person is informed they are under criminal investigation.

The Prosecution’s argument was that Edwards knew he was under investigation. This is not enough, the Court of Appeals said. The officer, while not being forced to use any magic words, must inform the person of the specific crime being investigation. It is insufficient that a person is aware they are under investigation.

In this case, there was no evidence at trial that Edwards was ever told he was under investigation for driving under the influence.

The Court’s Decision

The Court found there was insufficient evidence to find Edwards guilty of lying to a police officer. The officer never informed him that he was under investigation for the crime of operating while intoxicated.

Contact ArborYpsi Law

Call Sam Bernstein at (734) 883-9584 or e-mail at bernstein@arborypsilaw.com.

Sam Bernstein is a DUI Lawyer in Ann Arbor, MI.

Read More

This case can be captioned as People v. Edwards, No. 337354. It’s an unpublished decision.

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