When Charged with Drunk Driving in Michigan, There is No Defense, Right? Wrong

As highly regarded Michigan DUI defense attorneys, we know that many individuals who are charged with driving under the influence (or OWI, Operating While Intoxicated, the legal term in Michigan) believe there is no defense to the charge. Unfortunately, many people simply plead guilty without considering there may be options. This is why it is so important that even for a first DUI, you consult with an experienced defense lawyer right away. 

There are actually many defenses that may be effective in fighting charges of driving under the influence of alcohol. A skilled attorney will thoroughly review your case to help determine whether the charge could be challenged. A few examples of some of the common defenses used in a DUI case include:

  • Inaccurate PBT (Preliminary Breath Tests)
  • Inadmissible Datamaster Breath Test Results
  • Invalid Arrest Due to Inadequate Investigation Procedures
  • Invalid Stops

These are just a few defenses which may be effective in fighting your DUI charges.

A police officer must have a valid reason or justification for stopping someone who is driving. Unfortunately, many police officers use weak or unjustified excuses for pulling someone over, such as a loud stereo or exhaust. A police officer may decide that because you swerved just a bit within your own lane (which we all do on occasion), you should be pulled over. Once pulled over, even if the stop is invalid, the police officer will check for signs that you may have been drinking, such as glassy eyes, an odor of alcohol, slurred speech, etc. If it can be proven that the police did not have “reasonable suspicion” to stop you, the charges may be dismissed.

Field sobriety tests are highly criticized, particularly in the state of Michigan where many police officers are not strained in these tests. The standardized field sobriety tests set forth by the NHTSA include the one leg stand, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and the walk-and-turn. Ultimately, it is up to the officer to determine whether an individual passed or failed the test, which is often used to decide whether an arrest should be made. Many officers rush through these exercises and approach them in an unorganized fashion, which decides the driver’s fate in mere minutes. A capable Michigan DUI defense lawyer will carefully analyze whether the officer properly administered these tests, and whether there were outside factors that could attribute to the motorist’s ability (or inability) to perform them such as a disability, the fact that he or she was taking medication for an illness, and other factors. Truthfully, it is difficult for the most sober person to perform these tests.

Preliminary breath tests can be highly inaccurate as well, and motorists are not required to submit to the PBT, or roadside breath test. In fact, you should politely refuse this test, although you will be required to take the Datamaster breath test at the police station.

Ultimately, anyone who is charged with driving under the influence in Michigan should fight the charges, not only to avoid possible jail time, fines, and driver’s license suspension, but to avoid having a criminal record which could impact future employment and other areas of your life. If you have been arrested for DUI, contact a seasoned defense attorney immediately.

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