Legal Question in DUI Law in Michigan

I was arrested for driving impaired and upon leaving the jail I was not issued a ticket or court date and didn't have to post any bail. Two months later I received a court date and ticket in the mail. Is there any way that can be used to my advantage?

Asked on 4/21/10, 7:49 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

William Morrison Action Defense Center


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Answered on 4/26/10, 8:47 pm

Daniel Hajji Daniel Hajji & Associates

That's not a good defense to use. It's pretty common nowadays to take this long depending on the circumstances of your case and the particular jurisdiction.

However, you are strongly encouraged to retain an attorney to evaluate your OWI charge. Evaluating your case is essential and should not be overlooked. There are lawyers out there who overlook this step and can cost you in the end. Many attorneys in Michigan claim that a DUI (OWI really in Michigan) ) can't be won, they're wrong!

Pleading you guilty is the single most important mistake attorneys make without properly analyzing the facts, laws and evidence. That goes for any felony, misdemeanor and even OWI charges. For example, the results of a breath test, the car 'stop', the 15-minute observation rule can be challenged through a Motion to Suppress, or evidence of your sobriety, or with cross examination of the police officer or the state’s expert.

Sometimes it can be more costly to plead than to fight. An attorney who just advises you to plead guilty, and who charges a low fee to take care of that is making a mistake; particularly in cases involving a case resulting in serious injury, a profession that has licensure issues or one where your livelihood is at stake.

The Michigan Drunk Driving law is complex, it involves a lot of science, and a general lawyer cannot be everything to everybody. Knowing how to defend a DUI case involves considerable preparation, familiarity with the law, and knowing what motions to make, when and how to go about it using effective legal strategies. Getting a 'good' case evaluatation is smart on your end.

To fully defend a charge of drinking and driving, your lawyer must have a clear understanding of the substantive law and the penalties associated with the different offenses. A working knowledge of all the various sections is imperative to an understanding of what behavior is proscribed, how the statute is interpreted and enforced, and what the impact will be upon conviction. You and your lawyer should be familiar with the ever-changing case law interpreting the drinking and driving laws. We know the Michigan DUI laws inside and out.

The Michigan’s drunk driving law is a multi-paged statute which describes a variety of interrelated crimes and enhanced offenses ranging from 93-day misdemeanors to 20-year felonies. Because of the complexities that have arisen as the statute has evolved, defending drunk driving cases has become increasingly specialized. Choose your lawyer carefully. Sometimes cheap can be expensive.

The 2003 amendments to the statute altered the names of the listed offenses, changing the label of “operating under the influence” (OUIL) to “operating while intoxicated” (OWI). “Operating while impaired” became “operating while visibly impaired” (OWVI). Further, as of September 30, 2003, the bodily alcohol content (BAC) limit was reduced from .10 to .08 percent, following a nationwide trend, and was tied to federal highway funding. Under the current scheme, the BAC standard is scheduled to revert to .10 in Michigan in 2013, pursuant to MCL 257.625(1)(b).

In analyzing a drunk driving case, it is not enough to review just the statute and amendments. Although a reading of the statute is necessary, it is somewhat difficult to understand without a contemporaneous review of the applicable jury instructions and relevant case law. By reviewing the jury instructions and relevant case law, a good defense attorney can better understand the meaning of each element of the offenses and the significance of any fact in identifying a critical issue.

For an OWI charge, the prosecution must establish that (1) you were operating a motor vehicle on a highway, another place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, or a parking area; (2) you did so while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or a combination of these; (3) as a result of the drinking, you were substantially deprived of normal control or clarity of mind; and (4) you were unable to drive normally.

The fourth element was examined at length in People v Walters, 160 Mich App 396, In this case, a police officer saw the defendant drive normally for about 30 feet before backing into a driveway; on leaving his vehicle, defendant appeared intoxicated and admitted to drinking several beers. Finding that evidence marginally sufficient to survive a motion for directed verdict, the appellate court ruled that the amount of driving observed must be sufficient to make a proper determination of whether the defendant could drive normally.

Each individual element has been the focus of judicial interpretation, and a good lawyer should be aware of how the courts define the element in order to apply the substantive law to the facts.

A DUI is not longer a minor offense. It is essential for you to hire the best attorney you can afford so your case is as strong as possible.

Feel Free to contact us at our Farmington Hills Office at 888. 484. 9349.

Attorneys of Michigan, PLLC., Dan Hajji, Managing Attorney Member, 30300 Northwestern Hwy., Farmington Hills, MI 48334. 888.484.9349

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Answered on 4/27/10, 2:49 am

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