Archive for July, 2010

MI DUI Charges – Excessively Intoxicated Driver May Also Be Liable For Second-Degree Murder

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Being arrested for driving while intoxicated is a scary experience for anyone to go through. However, the consequences a DUI suspect faces will greatly increase if they are accused of causing an accident resulting in the personal injury or death of another person. Experienced DUI defense lawyers in Michigan are increasingly facing more serious charges such as second degree murder for drunk driving offenses. Any injury or death related drunk driving offense can result in harsh and life-changing penalties including a significant prison sentence.

A recent example of this is a Kent County case in which a man is being charged with both a DUI, and second-degree murder after causing an accident resulting in the death of a local teacher. In the hours before the November 2009 crash, Leonel Franco-Avina was working the janitorial overnight shift at a local grocery store. Although store employees opening at 7:00 a.m. reported that he did a lousy job cleaning up, he did not smell of alcohol or seem intoxicated. However, when he finally entered his pick-up truck to leave, many witnesses noticed that he exhibited reckless and poor driving, even running over a shrub-decorated island before leaving the parking lot–driving the wrong direction.

Traveling into head-on traffic, it was not long before Franco-Avina struck another vehicle, driven by Aaron Haynes, 30. While Franco-Avina suffered a severe bleeding head injury, Haynes was not as lucky. In the accident, the local school teacher died upon impact after sustaining a ripped aorta and massive trauma, including a broken neck.

When medical practitioners at Spectrum Health performed a blood test on Franco-Avina, his blood alcohol content registered as 0.425 percent, roughly five times the legal limit. As a result, prosecutors cited him with Michigan DUI charges as well as second-degree murder due to his excessive level of intoxication.

In Michigan, a person can be convicted of second-degree murder if it is determined by the jury that they knowingly created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm. Increasingly, this charge is being used in drunk driving cases. Michigan courts have determined that second-degree murder is not a specific intent crime. In essence, this means that a drunk driver can be convicted of murder even if he or she never intended to cause the death.

The penalty for second-degree murder in Michigan is potentially life in prison. Whether the sentence is life or any term of years in prison, the impact of such a conviction will be life-changing. If you or someone that you know is facing serious criminal charges, you should be talking to trustworthy and knowledgeable DUI attorneys in Michigan. By doing so, you will have a team of experienced and effective trial lawyers who know how to defend your rights.

Drunk Driving Charges- Wife of Robert Kennedy Jr. Pleas Guilty to Lesser DUI Charges

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Any experienced DUI defense lawyer in Michigan can tell you: being arrested for driving while intoxicated is not a pleasant experience for anyone to go through, even for celebrities and popular public figures. Conviction of drunk driving charges will restrict a person’s driving privileges, and could potentially subject the suspect to jail time. While many people may argue that famous individuals get off easier in the eyes of the court, their reputations are nonetheless greatly scarred because of the media hype surrounding their arrest–either way, it’s not a situation anyone wants to be in.

Such an example is seen in the May arrest of Robert Kennedy Jr’s wife Mary by local police officers as she drove a short distance from her home. Law enforcement officials took her into custody on DUI charges after Kennedy failed several field sobriety tests and her blood alcohol content registered as a 0.11, well over the legal limit of 0.08.

After accepting a plea bargain offered by the prosecution, Kennedy agreed to a lesser charge of driving while ability impaired, which does not include jail time. However, she is still required to pay a fine, attend a drunk driving program, perform community service, and comply with a 90 day suspension of her license.

Although her sentencing could be considered light, the town justice Kevin Quaranta warned Kennedy that he takes the charges against her very seriously–and she should as well. Although her case has been given an one year discharge, should she fail to comply with the terms of the plea bargain it could be reopened at any time. Had Kennedy be convicted of the original misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge, she would have been sentenced to a $1,000 fine, a mandatory six-month license suspension, and even possibly a year behind bars.

The example of Mary Kennedy shows how serious the consequences of drunk driving charges can be. Even though she worked out a plea bargain she was pleased with, those who are not as fortunate face stiff punishments that can haunt a person forever. If you have been accused of driving while intoxicated, do not let the charges against you take over your life. Contacting hard-working and aggressive DUI attorneys in Michigan is the first step to ensuring the legal advice and legal representation needed to defend you in court–keeping you on the roads and at home, not behind bars.

Drunk Driving Arrest – Man Gets 24 Years After 9th DUI Conviction Causing Death To Young Girl

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

After being arrested for one DUI, many people are so humiliated by their actions and the consequences that they are careful to either designate a sober driver or abstain from alcohol entirely. However, experienced drunk driving lawyers in Michigan will tell you, that is not always the case. Some individuals continue to get behind the wheel intoxicated, regardless of previous run-ins with law enforcement officials. If caught, these individuals will certainly face tougher penalties for additional infractions. This is particularly true if a repeat drunk driver causes injury or death to another person while operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

In May 2009, Edward Schaefer, 44, was driving his motorcycle while intoxicated when he sped between two stopped cars and blew through an intersection at almost 60 miles per hour. In doing so, he struck Aaron and Melody Osheroff as they crossed the street. Unfortunately, nine year-old Melody died of her injuries the next day while her father Aaron, 41, had one leg amputated and almost lost the other. As a result of his involvement in this deadly accident, Schaefer was arrested by law enforcement officials for a laundry list of offenses including: gross vehicular manslaughter, second-degree murder, and drunk driving causing bodily harm or death, among others.

The deputy public defender tried his best to remind the presiding judge of Schaefer’s good parenting skills, as well as the many volunteer hours he put into his daughters’ school and church. The defense attorney argued that Schaefer maintained his role as a father, as well as a 20 year employee of the family salon business, all while suffering from lifelong depression stemming from a dysfunctional upbringing.

Judge Terrence Boren, however, was less than impressed. Schaefer, who has eight previous drunk driving convictions, was sentenced last week to serve 24 years in prison and pay $1.36 million in restitution for the death of Melody and injuries to her father. Because of his earlier drunk driving convictions, Boren denied the defendant the chance for probation and added an additional year to his sentence. Schaefer will not have the opportunity to apply for parole until the completion of his 24th year in prison, and also will not receive any credit for good behavior while incarcerated.

As seen by the example of Edward Schaefer, the courts do not look favorably on repeat offenders, particularly those who cause bodily injury or death to others. If convicted of such crimes, the consequences will be severe, including the loss of driving privileges, stiff fines, and extensive jail sentences. Whether the drunk driving charges against you are your first or ninth, it is essential to be pro-active by seeking the legal assistance of knowledgeable DUI attorneys in Michigan. Doing so quickly will ensure the best legal advice and legal representation for your case, designed to keep you at home and on the roads, not behind bars.

MI DUI Arrest – Four Wheeler Driver Arrested For DUI Charges in South Haven Township

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Although most people think it is only possible to be arrested for drunk driving while operating a motor vehicle, DUI lawyers in Michigan know otherwise. Anytime a law enforcement official suspects that a driver is intoxicated then that individual is subject to arrest, including motorists operating a boat or all-terrain vehicle. Just like on the highway, it is important for boaters or all-terrain vehicle riders to stop immediately should they see flashing lights behind them. If they try to evade officers, the penalties the person faces will ultimately increase.

Such an example is seen in the recent case of a man who was driving a four-wheeler while intoxicated in South Haven Township. He was arrested after trying to escape police for an extended period of time.

In recent weeks, numerous citizens complained about illegal off-road vehicle activity through South Haven Township subdivision Syndicate Park. Last Friday evening, law enforcement officials noticed a man driving a four-wheel off-road vehicle recklessly through a critical dune area. The out-of-state suspect was not alone however, as officers also noted a small child riding on the man’s back.

When police approached the 39 year-old man, he fled the scene. Eventually an abandoned four-wheeler was discovered behind a local home, and the suspect was spotted running out of the woods toward the ATV. Although he put up a formidable fight, the man was eventually subdued with a Taser and taken into custody where it was discovered that he was intoxicated.

The details of the case, combined with the suspect’s blood alcohol content results were enough for prosecutors to charge him with a laundry list of offenses including: drunk driving in Michigan, child endangerment, resisting arrest and obstructing police, not wearing a helmet, and trespassing.

If the four-wheel off-road vehicle driver is convicted of the crimes he is charged with, his life will change forever. Not only will his driving privileges be seriously limited, but he could lose parental rights (if the child on his back is his) or face jail time as a result. If accused of similar charges, it is essential to pro-actively seek the best legal defense possible. By contacting hard-working DUI attorneys in Michigan, you will not only receive superior legal advice and legal representation, but also the protection of your personal freedoms and liberties.

MI DUI Charges – Michigan Driver Arrested For DWI Blamed His Actions on Labron James

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Being pulled over for drunk driving can cause any motorist to become incredibly flustered and aggravated. In the heat of these powerful emotions, there is no telling what a driver will say to a police officer. Throughout extensive careers as knowledgeable drunk driving lawyers in Michigan, we thought we had heard it all. However, a recent DUI arrest in Flint is certainly “the king” of excuses that you should not use if pulled over for drunk driving.

Millions of people were glued to their televisions last week when basketball star Labron James announced where he would be playing ball next year. His decision upset many sports fans, including a Flint man who hoped that “the king” of basketball would play for the Celtics. The fan was so outraged that he got drunk and drove around with a large sign on his SUV criticizing the athlete: “We are all WITNESS’S to a quitter.”

Unfortunately for the Flint man, it was not his poor spelling that caught the attention of law enforcement officials. According to police reports, his vehicle was drifting over the center line and the shoulder in the early morning hours of July 11th. On his breath test, the man’s blood alcohol content registered as 0.16, double the legal driving limit in Michigan. When law enforcement officials asked him if he was drinking, he admitted that he was- – because Labron James chose to play for another team instead of the Celtics.

Despite the creative excuse used by this Flint sports fan, police nonetheless arrested him on DUI charges in Michigan. If a judge and jury does not buy it either, he could face significant consequences including the loss of driving privileges, fines, and jail time.

Cases such as these highlight the necessity for criminal suspects to watch what they say in the presence of law enforcement officials. In saying too much, it is possible to incriminate yourself and intensify the charges against you greatly. It is important to be polite and cooperative, but also to use your right to have an experienced DUI attorney in Michigan present during questioning. Doing so can ensure that you have the legal advice and legal representation needed to properly defend yourself against life-changing charges, protecting your personal liberties and freedoms.

MI DUI Charges – Acid Reflux Can Cause Breathalyzer Tests To Register False Results

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Anytime a motorist is pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, they will likely be asked to submit to several field sobriety tests, including a breathalyzer which measures the blood alcohol content a person has in their system. In the state of Michigan, if the blood alcohol content registers over 0.08, a motorist is considered to be intoxicated, and will be arrested for driving under the influence. The number registered by the breathalyzer tests is almost always used in court against the driver, as sufficient evidence that the person was drunk.

Ask any experienced drunk driving lawyer in Michigan–there are many factors that can cause the breathalyzer test to register false or inaccurate results. Not only can the breath machines malfunction, but certain medical conditions, such as acid reflux, can cause inaccurate readings.

According to Michigan DUI experts, if a person suffers from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) you could be subject to far more aggravation then poor breath and terrible heartburn. Regurgitation from the reflux can send the contents from one’s stomach to their mouth. Therefore, if a person with acid reflux had one drink, their mouth could literally become contaminated with alcohol. When police test blood alcohol levels, the instrument chamber (meant to measure alcohol coming from the deep lung region) can become contaminated with mouth alcohol registering a much higher result than is actually true. In such a case, an innocent person would be pinned with Michigan DUI charges.

In a recent case, the accused drunk driver registered a 0.11-0.12 on the Datamaster. However, the video of the test showed that the officer stepped away from the suspect and left the room. While she was not paying attention, the person in question put his hand to his chest and over his mouth to block the smell and sound of regurgitation. According to rules governing the administering breathalyzer tests, an officer is required to watch the suspect for a complete 15 minute period to ensure that regurgitation does not occur. Fortunately, because the law enforcement official failed to do so, the accused drunk driver was found not guilty.

As seen by the incident described above, there are numerous factors that can cause a breath test to register inaccurate results. Something as simple as acid reflux can produce false data that the prosecution would hold against you in court, possibly convicting an innocent person of drunk driving. If you’ve found yourself in such a situation, it is essential to be pro-active in seeking the best legal defense for your case. By contacting hard-working DUI defense attorneys in Michigan, you will receive superior legal advice and legal representation, designed to protect your driving privileges, wallet, and freedom.

MI State Law – Michigan Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Drugged-Driving Defendants

Monday, July 12th, 2010

OWI defense lawyers in Michigan can commiserate–being pulled over for a traffic stop is a frustrating experience for anyone to go through. However, if the police officer feels that the motorist is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the suspect’s problems will instantly grow much larger. Previously, any indication of alcohol or marijuana in a driver’s system was sufficient evidence of intoxicated driving. However, much has changed in recent years. According to a recent decision made by the Michigan Supreme Court, prosecutors will have to work much harder to convict a motorist with drugged-driving.

In the past, 11-carboxy-THC was considered a schedule one controlled substance, placing it on the same level as heroin. However this byproduct of metabolism induced by marijuana use stays in the body long after the effects of the drug have worn off. As a result, many motorists were charged with drugged-driving offenses, even though they were not impaired at the time of the incident.

Recognizing this problem, the Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the suspected drugged-motorists. The decision to overturn a previous 2006 ruling that classified 11-carboxy-THC as a schedule one controlled substance, means that prosecutors will now have to prove that drivers had the narcotic or its active agent in their system at the exact time of the traffic-related incident.

This change particularly affects the many residents state-wide who are permitted to use marijuana under the 2008 Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. The public voted legislation allows patients suffering from reoccurring or debilitating diseases to consume the drug to ease the side-effects caused by their diseases. Even though these people were permitted by law to use marijuana, they could still be charged with drugged-driving prior to the ruling. After the decision by the Michigan Supreme Court, medical marijuana card-holders will be able to drive and enjoy the rights awarded by the legislation.

As seen by the above ruling handed down by the high court, the law is always changing and being clarified. Those accused of criminal charges can find that navigating through the legal process is complex, and they may have numerous questions regarding options. For those convicted of drugged-driving based on finding the metabolite 11-carboxy-THC it is very important to immediately contact a OWI defense attorney in Michigan for answers. Acting quickly will ensure sound legal advice and legal representation, designed to protect your rights and your freedom.

MI DUI Charges – Testimony in DUI Case Questions Admissibility of Sobriety Tests

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

If an officer believes that a motorist is driving under the influence of alcohol, the driver will undoubtedly see flashing lights behind them. To determine whether the person is intoxicated, the officer will likely administer several sobriety tests, including a breathalyzer exam that measures a person’s blood alcohol content. Should the number register higher than 0.08 (the legal driving limit in Michigan), the motorist is considered legally drunk and almost certainly will be arrested.

The results of sobriety tests, especially blood alcohol content tests, is particularly important to not only the suspected drunk driver, but also the DUI lawyer in Michigan representing them. If the breathalyzer test malfunctions in any way the results will be also affected, ultimately deeming a sober person intoxicated. Because juries put a significant amount of weight on the blood alcohol content results, it would be difficult to prove that the defendant was not intoxicated on arrest.

However, it is being argued that the blood-alcohol results from the state crime lab may not be as accurate as claimed. In an ongoing Michigan DUI case, the chief toxicologist provided testimony stating that the lab does not take into account the margin of error possible when calculating blood alcohol content results. Even just the handling and storage of the blood or the tools used to administer the test can affect the results–the number could register higher or lower than actual based on these factors alone. Therefore, failure to take the range of true possible values into account make the results from the crime lab ultimately unreliable.

For years, many courts across the state have upheld the state crime lab results in court. In this particular case however, the defendant’s DUI attorney in Michigan is requesting that the blood alcohol content results be excluded from the trial proceedings, as they do not account for an error rate. “If people are to be convicted of serious crimes,” the suspect’s lawyer concluded, “then let’s convict them with evidence that is known to be scientifically reliable.”

Although a hearing is scheduled for July 16th, the defense remains hopeful that they will be successful in this case and others. An affirmative ruling from the judge could potentially affect other DUI suspects around the state.

As seen by the case described above, not all tests are perfect. This includes breathalyzer tests. Taking the margin of error into account is essential to provide a truthful result. Otherwise, innocent people can be convicted of crimes they did not commit, and suffer all the life-changing consequences accompanying it. To ensure that your reading was fairly calculated, as well as provide for your legal defense, it is essential for suspected drunk drivers to be pro-active and find a DUI lawyer in Michigan for assistance. Acting quickly can ensure that superior legal advice and legal representation is used to defend your driving rights, livelihood, and personal freedom.

DUI Charges – Actor Chris Klein to Rehab After Second Drunk Driving Bust

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

A drunk driving arrest will follow a person around for the rest of their lives. Not only will the suspect’s driving privileges be revoked for up to a year, but the motorist could also face a loss of employment or jail time as a result. While drunk driving lawyers in Michigan believe that each case is unique, some of the most interesting driving while intoxicated cases to follow are those involving celebrities, including actors or musicians. Just because a person is famous does not mean that they are exempt from the complex and difficult legal system. In fact, celebrities in trouble with the law arguably are placed in a worse situation–in addition to the legal consequences from their DUI arrest, the media tends to be particularly harsh for famous repeat offenders.

Last month, “American Pie” actor Chris Klein, 31, was arrested by law enforcement officials on drunk driving charges. Police allegedly witnessed Klein’s black 1999 Chevy Blazer weave across three lanes of traffic, giving them probable cause to pull him over. In approaching the car, officers immediately noted the smell of alcohol and requested that the actor submit to numerous field sobriety tests–police reports show that Klein’s blood alcohol content was three times the legal driving limit.

Law enforcement officials brought Klein down to the county police station, where he was charged with two misdemeanor counts of driving while intoxicated. According to a representative for the actor, Klein is taking the recent DWI arrest very seriously. As this is his second alcohol-related offense, the “American Pie” star voluntarily checked-in to a rehabilitation facility to get control of his drinking.

However, some advocacy groups are less than impressed by Klein’s behavior. When police officers pulled him over, the actor was driving with his pet dog in the car. It is unlikely that Klein will face additional charges because of this, but animal rights organizations have criticized his actions. “By choosing to drive under the influence with his dog in the car, Chris not only put innocent drivers in danger, but also broke a promise to be a protector and guardian to his pet,” explained a spokesperson for the organization In Defense of Animals.

Klein is set to appear in court for arraignment on July 9th. If the court eventually convicts him of drunk driving, it is almost certainly that harsh consequences will follow. As this is Klein’s second offense, a jury or judge may not look favorably on him, ultimately giving him tougher punishments. However, his proactive efforts to enter rehab and seek help for alcohol abuse shows that he understands the severity of the charges against him, and that he is desperately seeking the tools to stay sober and safe. Despite Klein’s commendable actions, he still could be subjected to jail time as a result of his arrest. For the actor, and others accused of drunk driving, it is essential to seek knowledgeable drunk driving attorneys in Michigan for assistance. Acting quickly will use superior legal advice and legal representation to protect your beloved personal freedoms and liberties.

MI DUI Charges – Allegan County City Mayor Arrested for Michigan DWI Charges

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Seeing flashing police car lights behind you while driving is an aggravating experience for anyone to go through. However, the motorist’s problem will greatly increase should the law enforcement official have reason to suspect that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Knowledgeable drunk driving lawyers in Michigan can testify that an accusation of drunk driving is a big deal. If convicted of these charges, it can result in the loss of driving privileges, as well as jail time. For public officials however, there can be other punishments as well, such as the loss of employment and a tarnished reputation.

Last week, police officers arrested the mayor of Plainwell in Allegan County, Richard Brooks, 58, on Michigan DUI charges. According to MLive.com, the long-time city official was pulled over after a law enforcement official witnessed him back into a rock in front of a local saloon. When trooper Chris Hayword questioned Brooks, it was apparent that he was “under the influence” and showed signs of intoxication. Although the officer did not mention what the mayor’s blood alcohol content registered as, Hayword believed he had sufficient evidence that warranted arrest.

Police brought Brooks to the Allegan County Jail where he was pinned with Michigan OWI charges, a misdemeanor. In regard to this case, the Plainwell mayor is scheduled to appear in an Allegan County District Court this week for arraignment.

Although it is not sure what the ruling will be, if convicted of drunk driving charges Brooks could face several serious punishments that could prove life-changing. Not only would the mayor be prohibited from driving for up to a year, but he could also be ordered to spend time in jail. As a public figure, time behind bars would prevent Brooks from serving the city as mayor–as a result, he could lose his job as well. Because the consequences of DUI charges in Michigan are so severe, it is essential to be proactive in securing help for your case. Contacting experienced and aggressive drunk driving attorneys in Michigan immediately. Doing so can ensure superior legal advice and legal representation, designed to keep you at home and at work, not in jail.

When a motorist sees flashing police car lights behind them while driving it can be the start of an aggravating experience for anyone. However, if the law enforcement official suspects that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs the motorist’s problems will greatly increase. Knowledgeable drunk driving lawyers in Michigan can testify that an accusation of drunk driving is a big deal. If convicted of these charges, it can result in the loss of driving privileges, fines and possibly even jail time. For public officials, however, there can be other punishments as well including the loss of employment and a tarnished reputation.

Last week, police officers arrested the mayor of Plainwell in Allegan County on Michigan DUI charges. According to MLive.com, Richard Brooks, 58, was pulled over after a law enforcement official witnessed him back into a rock in front of a local saloon. When trooper Chris Hayword questioned the long-time city official, it was apparent that he was “under the influence” and showed signs of intoxication. Although the officer did not mention what the mayor’s blood alcohol content was, Hayword believed he had sufficient evidence to warrant an arrest.

Police brought Brooks to the Allegan County Jail where he charged with Michigan OWI, a misdemeanor. The Plainwell mayor is scheduled to appear for arraignment in the Allegan County District Court some time this week.

Although it is unclear what the ultimate outcome will be, if convicted of drunk driving charges Brooks would face several serious punishments that could prove life-changing. Not only would the mayor be prohibited from driving for up to a year, but he could also be ordered to spend time in jail. As a public figure, time behind bars would prevent Brooks from serving the city as mayor–as a result, he could lose his job as well. Because the consequences of DUI charges in Michigan are so severe, it is essential to be pro-active in securing help for your case. Contact experienced and aggressive drunk driving attorneys in Michigan immediately. Doing so can ensure superior legal advice and legal representation, designed to keep you at home and at work, not in jail.