Articles Posted in Field Sobriety Tests

In the state of Michigan, we have one of the most unique versions of drunk driving laws in that the statutes come in a variety of flavors that often lead lawyers confused in their hopes of making a plea bargain for their clients. We learn that their lack of knowledge can lead not only to embarrassment among their peers but to severe consequences for their clients. While the topic is not one that is easily digestible, we have to understand that a less tolerant view of the issue is forthcoming and while this analysis may not be ripe for discussion, the seasoned criminal defense lawyer should tell their clientele what is coming down the road because without this knowledge there may not be light at the end of this legislative tunnel.

Since 2013 there has been a push by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to lower the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) required for legal intoxication from 0.08% to 0.05%. This made national news on May 13 of that year when USA Today Journalist Bart Jansen published a piece on the issue. Since then, it was almost an afterthought until May of last year when the state of Utah passed a bill lowering the BAC to 0.05%. While many feel that this may not affect the state of Michigan, all one has to do is listen to Judge Cedric Simpson or Justice Nick Holowka explain to people the danger of the current law and the push to actually make the law more treacherous for those that do not follow the rules. While the two justices listed above go out of their way to educate people, a change in the law could be a change in circumstances that all may not be aware of. Lawyers need to stay one step ahead of the legislation to truly advocate for their clients.

Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates is a renowned leader in criminal defense in the state of Michigan. When asked about the change of the law, Grabel stated, “Many do not realize the change this will create. This also has the potential to lower Michigan’s Super Drunk laws significantly. While there is no precedent for ex post facto laws, there is a danger of what is to come for those that drink and drive. The best advice that we can give is simply not to drive while intoxicated but should that occur, our firm has a 6-step plan which has been helpful in protecting clients with the understanding it is truly a joint effort between the attorney and the client. We can lead the client to protection but the client needs to also have accountability.”

In Michigan, the drunk driving laws may seem like an insurmountable fight for litigators in the field.  As one famed litigator once said, “Getting an OUIL in the state of Michigan is the equivalent of going to a doctor with stage 4 cancer, there is not much that can be done.”  While this famed litigator and law school professor is entitled to his opinion (and requested anonymity in our research), there are many others in our state that support his comments. Even though accepted by a vast majority in our industry, these comments are not valid. One such attorney who has been at the forefront of drunk driving litigation is Scott Grabel.

Mr. Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates and his firm has evolved into a top law firm across the state of Michigan.  One of the ways he has obtained his notoriety is with his knowledge of drunk driving laws and his success in winning and mitigating what seemed like impossible cases.  When asked about this topic, Mr. Grabel stated, “The first thing that people do not realize is that there are only two primary ways to measure one’s blood alcohol content.  The first is the breath test, in which there are often calibration issues.  The second is a blood test.  In this utilization of blood is where we have found the greatest amount of success.” Continue reading

In 2000, then 18-year-old Dawn Vrentas of Seattle was arrested for the first time for DUI.  Vrentas later spent time in prison after two of her friends lost their lives in an accident in which Vrentas was intoxicated.  On Tuesday April 29, Vrentas, who is now in her early 30’s, pleaded guilty to a third DUI in connection with an incident that occurred in 2013.  A third DUI offense is a felony; Vrentas is scheduled to be sentenced on May 16, according to a news report at

Because Vrentas pleaded guilty to driving under the influence, prosecutors agreed to recommend 22 months in prison, the low end of the sentencing guidelines in Washington.  She was charged with her third DUI (a felony) in July of 2013 when she was pulled over in the area of Northgate on I-5 for speeding.  Vrentas was required to participate in alcohol monitoring 24/7.

In Washington, a third DUI within a 7 year time frame will lead to serious penalties, which include a minimum of 90 days in jail, fines of up to $5,000, probation, license revocation, and four months on EHM, or electronic home monitoring.  However, a third DUI offense outside of the 7 year window may result in the same severe penalties.  Continue reading

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