I was charged with a second dui in Michigan, in Ferndale, in Oakland County. The arresting officer cited me for "swerving in my lane" when we first talked. Among other points the lawyers I have consulted have indicated are valid for a defense, they mentioned I should do a "Show Cause" hearing. What exactly are the lawyers recommending I do by requesting this hearing?
5 Answers from Attorneys
It sounds like a hearing to determine if the police had "reasonable suspicion" to pull you over. Swerving within your own lane can be reasonable suspicion according to the Michigan Supreme Court. However, they will have to demonstrate that you were swerving which I imagine the prosecution will try to prove with the police officer's testimony as well as a video so the judge can determine whether or not they had a valid reason to pull you over.
You should hire an attorney to review all the evidence (police video etc.) With an eye on filing a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the potentially "illegal" stop. As a former police officer I can tell you officers often embellish their reason for the stop in their report. In some cases the officer is working a dui detail (federal grant money is given to local police departments) . They are very motivated to make these arrests. That in car video is extremely important and should be preserved immediately before it's recycled. If you need more information contact me on my after hours business line. I am more than happy to assist you.
From your description, it sounds like they are suggesting that you may have a basis for filing a motion to suppress the evidence obtained after the stop on the basis that there was not a valid reason for the stop.
The first step in a drunk driving case is obtaining the evidence and part of that evidence is the in-car video from the arresting officer's patrol car. If the video clearly demonstrates no weaving, it is possible that the Judge would rule that it was an invalid stop. You should, however, note that 1) there is case law stating that weaving within a lane can be a valid basis for a stop 2) the video would have to clearly show no weaving and even then the judge may decide that it isn't definitive. Judge Longo is a fair judge, but you'd need some pretty compelling video to have him suppress the evidence. 3) you can't determine if you have a basis for filing a motion to supress until you see the video. If you haven't seen the video yet, you shouldn't assume you've got a valid defense (at least on that basis).
It appears the the attorneys were referring to an evidentiary hearing to determine if the police had "reasonable suspicion," as Attorney Austin points out. These are not the easiest hearings, and I suggest that you hire an attorney and request the "in car video" from the police department.
If there is a video, then you will be able to verify the remainder of the officer's probable cause (e.g. field sobriety tests). Good luck.
What exactly are the lawyers recommending I do by requesting this hearing?
These lawyers are probably asking you to pay them more money to represent you at a needless hearing. First, request and view the video (about $25). Then, ask them how many of these hearings have benefited their clients. Be aware that the "show cause" hearing asks the judge to rule that the arresting officer was incompetent or a liar.
Since this is your second offense (the judge knows this), you could be looking at serious jail time. I'd guess that you had a fairly high BAL and should be looking at AA or other treatment to make your ride with justice a little easier.
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