Archive for the ‘For Your Information’ Category

Guest DUI Blog – What to Do if a Cop Pulls You Over for DUI

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

You’re pulled over on the side of a road, with your engine turned off. The reflection of bright lights from the police car behind you irritates your eyes. The police officer on duty stands outside of both vehicles, and checks over the information listed on your license and registration. He begins asking you how many drinks you’ve had that night. Are you required to answer?

  • You have the right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment makes it completely legal for you to refrain from responding to the police officer’s inquiries. Your refusal to answer his questions cannot be held against you in a court of law, but if you choose to answer, then a prosecuting attorney can use the officer’s testimony against you. Testimonies based on slurring or stumbling perceived by a police officer can be subjective and manipulated, so it’s best to exercise your right to plead the Fifth.
  • Stay inside your car unless the officer asks you to get out. Jumping out of your vehicle when a cop pulls you over can send out the wrong message. The police officer might mistakenly think that you are armed and might feel threatened. Whatever wrongdoing he suspects of you will only increase if you are not careful, so just sit still and try not to offend anybody.
  • Do not consent to performing field sobriety tests if you feel uncomfortable. Field sobriety tests include having a driver suspected of being intoxicated walk a straight line, balance on one foot, touch his finger to his nose, etc. These tests check for signs of poor coordination before official chemical testing for blood-alcohol level. You are not required to take these sobriety tests if you feel they may be manipulated and used to incriminate you later. You may safely remain silent and refuse.
  • Make an informed decision either to take or to refuse chemical testing. Every state has Implied Consent laws which rule that any licensed driver who chooses to operate a vehicle has automatically agreed to chemical testing requested by a member of law enforcement. Chemical testing includes breath, blood or urine tests. In most states, refusing chemical testing will automatically give prosecutors grounds to revoke your license. Sometimes the consequences are more severe. To find out whether it is better in your state to refuse or to submit to chemical testing, contact a local DUI lawyer.

Sometimes a police officer will arrest you on suspicion of a DUI even if you refuse chemical testing. Whatever the case is, consulting a DUI lawyer who has your best interest in mind will ensure that your rights are defended properly. Many citizens convicted with a DUI do not realize that there are many legal rulings designed to protect them. A DUI lawyer has experience using these protections to defend you. He or she can determine whether the test leading to your arrest was properly administered and whether the machine used to convict you was properly calibrated. With legal assistance you have the potential to save your time, money and reputation.

About the Author: Christopher McCann is an Orange County DUI lawyer and criminal defense lawyer. McCann is a practicing lawyer at the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann and generally writes on topics related to criminal defense and DUIs. McCann was voted as a “Rising Star Attorney” in 2010 by Southern California SuperLawyers Magazine.

Michigan DUI Lawyer – Michigan State Police Drunk Driving Crackdown

Monday, September 19th, 2011

The Michigan State Police recently completed a drunk driving crackdown in Michigan. During such crackdowns, there are more state troopers searching for signs that someone is driving while drunk. Michigan drivers are not subject to sobriety checkpoints, which are legal in other states. However, efforts to crack down on Michigan drunk drivers usually result in hundreds of extra drunk driving arrests.

Though many people typically call drunk driving offenses “DUIs,” the actual names of drunk driving crimes in Michigan include Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) and Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI). Regardless of the name of the crime, a person convicted under Michigan drunk driving laws can expect to face any or all of the following: payment of multiple fines and fees, loss of a driver’s license, jail or prison time, community service, installation of an ignition interlock devise, and random urine tests.

One frequently charged Michigan crime is called Operating with the Presence of Drugs (OWPD). This is where someone uses drugs like Marijuana, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Meth, or Heroin and operates a vehicle on a public road in Michigan. Depending on the drug, officers may be able to arrest the driver if there is even the smallest amount of the drug in the body, even if the driving was not impaired by the drug. Prior drunk driving crackdowns in Michigan have led to numerous arrests for OWPD.

If you have been arrested for a drunk driving crime in Michigan, now is the time to contact a very good drunk driving lawyer. Your lawyer can review your case to determine if the police violated any of your constitutional rights during the drunk driving arrest. Law enforcement is required to follow a strict set of procedures when deciding whether you were intoxicated or impaired while operating a vehicle, and if those procedures were not followed, a top flight Drunk Driving Attorney may be able to use this fact to your advantage.

Our attorneys strive to offer clients the best possible defense. However, as you might expect, our advice is always that people who have consumed alcohol or any substance which impairs their ability to drive should never get behind the wheel.

Michigan Police Step Up Enforcement, Impared & Drunk Driving Arrests for Fourth of July

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Ask anyone that lives in Michigan, and they will tell you that the summer months are the best. Traditionally filled with boating, barbecues, family, and friends, summertime brings everyone outside and on the roads. However, frequent celebrations and an increased number of people driving has prompted law enforcement officials to step up patrols. DWI defense lawyers statewide warn motorists: as the Fourth of July approaches, more police will be on the look out for impaired and drunk drivers.

Police departments from 35 counties across the state have begun stepping up enforcement in preparation of the summer holiday, increasing patrols from July 1st to July 10th. Certainly, this is nothing new. Law enforcement officials nationwide keep an extra eye out for intoxicated motorists, particularly around celebratory holidays. This year, however, police will not only focus on drunk driving arrests, but also at keeping motorists impaired by drugs off the road as well. “While the focus of this effort is drivers under the influence of alcohol, officers will be arresting any impaired driver and removing not only drunk drivers from the roadway, but also those under the influence of drugs,” explained Michael Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.

When one looks at the statistics, it’s not surprising that state police officers would also be keeping watch for drugged driving as well. While drunk driving arrests and accidents in Michigan have decreased, there has been a significant rise in drugged driving arrests. From 2009 to 2010 alone, the number of drug-involved arrests and crashes has increased by 29 percent!

No matter what, it is always the best idea to designate a sober driver after consuming any type of intoxicating substance. Not only can someone get seriously injured, but the penalties for drunk driving in Michigan are severe and life-changing. If arrested for driving while intoxicated, it is in your best interest to immediately contact an experienced DWI defense lawyer for assistance. Doing so as soon as possible will ensure the best legal advice and legal representation for your case, protecting your personal liberties and freedoms from being taken away.

DWI Defense Lawyers – Michigan Judge Deems Blood Tests from State Police Lab Unreliable

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

One does not need to be an experienced DWI defense lawyer to know that being arrested for drunk driving is not only serious, but a process. If a law enforcement official suspects that a motorist is operating a vehicle while intoxicated, they will perform numerous tests to see if they are correct. Besides basic, field sobriety tests, police and prosecutors use the results of blood tests to charge defendants with drunk driving–if their blood alcohol content registers above 0.08 percent, they were driving while intoxicated.

The results of blood tests are very powerful in drunk driving cases–not only can it convince a jury of a defendant’s guilt, it can also convince them of a defendant’s innocence. Because of the significant role that blood test results play in drunk driving arrests and legal cases, it is essential that the data are absolutely correct, and carries an error of margin. Without it, a crime lab implies that their results are absolute and the true result–essentially that if tested 100 times, the results would always be the same.

This reasoning prompted District Court Judge Peter Wadel to toss out blood evidence against a Michigan resident who was charged with drunk driving. Jeffrey Jabrocki was arrested for driving under the influence, and underwent two blood tests by police. One registered that Jabrocki had a blood alcohol content of 0.29, while the other said that his BAC was 0.30. Even though both are significantly higher than the legal limit of 0.08, because there was no stated margin of error, Judge Wadel concluded that there was too much “uncertainty in measurement” to be reliable scientific data. “Without an error rate, the lab leaves an inference that the test result is an absolute or true result,” Judge Wadel wrote. “This uncertainty needs to be accounted for.” Because of Judge Wadel’s ruling, prosecutors can still charge Jabrocki with drunk driving, but will not be able to use the blood test results as evidence.

As experienced DWI defense lawyers in Michigan, the law firm of Kronzek & Cronkright applauds the judge’s decision to question the reliability of crime lab testing, particularly in drunk driving cases. Being convicted of driving while intoxicated can change a person’s life forever, resulting in enormous fines, time behind bars, and a permanent stain on one’s reputation. If the legal system is going to charge drunk drivers with permanent consequences, it is important to at least do so with reliable scientific evidence. Without it, true justice cannot be served for anyone.

DWI Defense Lawyers – Michigan Lawmakers Look to Equal Drunk Driving Penalties for Boats, Snowmobiles

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Michigan DWI defense lawyers must stay alert to changes made in state drunk driving laws. The recently passed “super drunk” driving measures increased penalties for those who had blood alcohol contents registering far above the legal limit of 0.08. While this change has already increased the number of drunk driving fines in Michigan, legislators have made it clear that they intend on taking their fight against DUI arrests much further.

As a beautiful state that sees many seasonal changes, residents love the opportunity to go boating in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter. However, because so many people statewide take advantage of these fun recreational activities, increased participation creates the opportunity for more drunk driving and drug use. In Muskegon County alone, the many lakes are home to 12,600 registered boaters and their guests. “We’ve had boating accidents in the past that were alcohol-related¼ that resulted in death,” explained Deputy Todd Dunham, who controls the county’s marine and snowmobiling patrols. “Most of your snowmobile accidents that occur are alcohol-related,” he added.

While law enforcement officials in Muskegon were thrilled to escape the 2010 boating season without a single fatal crash, more than a dozen boaters were arrested for drunk boating. The snowmobile season is not nearly as promising—since 2005, over 130 snowmobilers have been killed in Michigan due to alcohol-related accidents.

The increasing number of drunk driving arrests involving boat and snowmobile operators has prompted legislators to take an active stance on the issue. Last year, a fatal drunk boating accident prompted State Representative Matt Lori to craft a series of bills that would level the playing field for drunk driving on all types of vehicles, including boats, snowmobiles, and off-road vehicles.

Although the 2010 bills never made it to a vote, Lori reintroduced a similar bill this year that would change the legal blood-alcohol content for boaters and snowmobilers. Currently, the legal limit for operating a boat in Michigan is 0.10, which is higher than the legal limit for persons operating a car while intoxicated. If the measure passes, it would lower the legal limit for boaters to 0.08, as well as make changes to address repeat offenders and those using drugs while operating a boat or a snowmobile. The law currently provides a ten year time limit to impose a felony drunk driving charge for people who have had two or more previous offenses. However, under the proposed change, if the violation occurs after two or more prior convictions the offender would be charged with a felony, regardless of the number of years that have elapsed since any prior conviction.

While Michigan lawmakers are hopeful that the measures will receive support, it is unlikely that they will be in place in time for the 2011 boating season. should changes be made, it will be much easier for law enforcement officials to target those operating boats or snowmobiles should they suspect one is driving while intoxicated. Because the penalties for drunk driving will be much stricter, it is even more important for arrested persons to contact the best DWI defense lawyer available. Not only will an experienced and skilled Michigan DUI attorney be able to explain the new laws to you, they will provide the legal advice and legal representation needed to defend you. Do not hesitate to contact counsel, as doing so can protect your personal freedoms and liberties from suspension.

DUI Charges – Scope of DUI Law Tested After Two Men are Arrested for Riding a Mule and a Horse While Drunk

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Efforts to increase prosecution of drunk drivers has led to some incredible actions by lawmakers, prosecutors and police.  A recent example of this—one that has been getting the attention of every DWI defense lawyer—is the arrest of two men who in the state of Texas on DUI.

When law enforcement officials stopped the two men, one was riding a horse and the other was riding a mule. Upon questioning, the man on the mule apparently admitted to drinking vodka prior to riding the animal.  Nonetheless, both of the men and their animals were seized by the police and the men were charged with drunk driving offenses.  The officers on the scene interpreted the statutory definition of a vehicle to include the horse and mule, and therefore used that reasoning in arresting the two men. However, the charges were eventually dismissed because the court established that mules and horses are not within the statutory definition of a motor vehicle.

In Michigan, the question of what is a motor vehicle has been dealt with extensively in the legal system by both top DWI defense lawyers and prosecutors alike. Michigan drunk driving charges are frequently brought for people driving cars, motorcycles, boats, and off-road recreational vehicles such as quads and snowmobiles. As seen by the example above, however, it is clear that prosecutors are trying to charge people with drunk driving crimes, even when not driving a motorized vehicle.

Michigan lawmakers have also demonstrated a willingness to expand drunk driving laws in ways that are illogical. For example, a Michigan driver arrested but not yet convicted of OWI charges will have their license confiscated.  But, it is against the US Constitution to punish people who have not yet been convicted of crimes. As an experienced Michigan DUI attorney, it seems illegal to take away the driver’s license and then immediately supply the driver with a new license which has all of the same rights and privileges as the one that was just taken away (but does not have a photograph).

Another example of the expansive way in which Michigan legislators have treated drunk driving law is the question of what constitutes “operating.” Michigan law criminalizes operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.  However, many people in Michigan have been prosecuted for “sleeping it off” in their car when they chose not to drive drunk and were exercising good judgment. Several individuals have also been prosecuted in Michigan for driving on their own property when that property is open to the public, even if the driver never enters the roadway. Arrests on this basis would cite the part of Michigan drunk driving law which prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs on “a highway open to the public or generally accessible to motor vehicles.”

While Michigan prosecutors may not be so quick to file a case where the driver is riding a horse or a mule, there are plenty of  bizarre circumstances under which police and prosecutors are willing to bring charges.  Anyone charged with a drunk driving offense in Michigan should retain an experienced DWI defense attorney to assist him or her with an aggressive defense of their case.

MI DUI Charges – Police Arrest Michigan Woman on ‘Super Drunk’ Charges in Auto-Bike Accident

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

One does not have to be a Michigan DUI attorney to know that being caught driving under the influence of alcohol is a very big deal. Not only can one lose their driving privileges if convicted, jail time and large fines are also common. In recent months, Michigan lawmakers have enacted even stricter penalties for drunk drivers with high blood alcohol contents (BAC). Known as the “Super Drunk” law, this law applies to those who are caught driving in Michigan with a blood alcohol content of .17 or higher. Considered excessively intoxicated, such an individual will be subjected to longer and tougher sentences, larger fines and longer suspension of driving privileges.

Even though this law went into effect in November of 2010, residents across  Michigan  are already being arrested on Michigan Super Drunk charges. Such an example is 37-year-old Michigan woman who was driving in Swan Lake Township, when she smashed into something. Not sure what she had hit, the motorist continued driving toward her destination. Once at her family member’s home, the driver learned that a man had been hit while riding his bicycle on the same road which she was previously traveling on. Immediately, the 37-year-old called 9-1-1, and turned herself into police.

Law enforcement officials arrived at the house and performed several field sobriety tests on the woman, including a chemical breath test, sometimes called a DataMaster or Breathalyzer test. When her blood alcohol content registered to .206, police officers instantly suspected that she had struck the bicyclist while driving drunk and then left the scene of the accident.

While this case is currently pending a toxicology report from the Michigan State Police Crime Lab, the motorist will likely face “Super Drunk” charges, as her blood alcohol content exceeded .17. If convicted, the driver will face doubled jail time and have a suspended license for at least 45 days. Additionally, the violator will be required to pay stiff fines, participate in alcohol treatments and even install a breath testing interlock system into her vehicle – all of which will amount to many thousands of dollars.

Because the new legislation imposes significantly harsher punishments for drunk driving, DUI, OWI and OUID, it is important that those accused of violating the “Super Drunk” law immediately seek legal assistance. Contacting knowledgeable and skilled DWI defense lawyers that are well-versed in the new legislation can help you navigate the complex legal process, as well as provide superior legal advice and legal representation for your case. Do not let a drunk driving arrest in Michigan change your life forever – contact experienced drunk driving lawyers today. Drunk driving cases can sometimes be beat.

Drunk Driving Statistics – Federal Report on DUI Statistics Highlights Impaired Driving in US

Friday, December 10th, 2010

As a Michigan DUI attorney, clients accused of drunk driving charges are represented on a daily basis. Each of these defendants face great consequences if convicted, including excessive fines and possible incarceration. Even though these cases are commonly seen in DUI law firms, a recently published article USA Today presented drunk driving statistics that would alarm even the best DUI lawyer. Within the past year, one in eight drivers aged 16 and older operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, while over four percent of Americans drove while under the influence of illegal drugs.

Using DUI statistics presented by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, the report estimate that DUI statistics for 2006-2009 fell to 13.2%, when compared with 2002-2005. Additionally, the number of Americans who operated a vehicle while under the influence of  illegal drugs also fell, from 4.8% to 4.3%.

Although we can certainly applaud the fact that more motorists are driving sober, the numbers behind these percentages are still alarmingly high. The National Survey on Drug Use in health estimated that 30.6 million people drove drunk in the United States within the last year. The federal report also presented alarming information about drugged driving, stating that approximately 10.1 million Americans operated a car while under the influence of illegal drugs in 2010.

While arrest and conviction statistics were not presented in the report, one does not need to be a top DUI lawyer to know that driving drunk or while on illicit drugs can carry significant consequences. In addition high fines and a suspension of your driving privileges, a convicted drunk driver may also face time behind bars as well. If charged with a drunk driving in Michigan, it is important to contact a skilled and knowledgeable DWI defense lawyer for assistance. As navigating the legal process can be difficult and complex, DUI defense lawyers can provide the legal advice and representation needed to make sure that the charges against you do not change your life forever.

MI Drunk Driving – Michigan Drunk Driving Laws Clarified in DUI Case

Friday, December 10th, 2010

It is difficult to turn on the television or surf the web without seeing drunk driving cases from around the country highlighted in the news. Although drunk driving laws by state tend to vary, these crimes are largely referred to as DUI, an acronym standing for “driving under the influence.”

However, Michigan drunk driving laws are phrased a little differently. Generally, offenders arrested for driving while intoxicated are charged with one of four crimes:

  1. Operating Under the Influence of Liquor (OUIL)
  2. Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI)
  3. Operating Under the Influence of Drugs (OUID)
  4. Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)

Of these three charges, the most common is Operating While Intoxicated.

Unless you are an experienced DWI defense lawyer, it is likely that the terminology used in these laws are confusing to you. For instance, what does it mean to “operate” a vehicle? Certainly, under Michigan DUI law, driving down the road is considered “operating” a vehicle. But, what about if the keys are in the ignition, but the intoxicated person is not driving the car? Or what if the motorist already drove the vehicle, but was caught only after stopped? With all these “what if” questions, no wonder accused drunk drivers in Michigan are confused.

Although the puzzle is far from complete, a recent ruling from the Michigan Court of Appeals has provided some clarification.

In this drunk driving case, the Defendant was driving on a slippery freeway and lost control of his truck, striking the guardrail on both sides of the road before coming to a complete stop in the middle of the freeway. At the time of the accident, the motorist’s blood alcohol content was 0.12, which is over the legal limit in Michigan. (o.o8%) After collision, the Defendant was unable to move his truck, but he did turn off the headlights and turned on the hazard lights. However, it was not long before an oncoming vehicle came on the wreck too quickly and had to swerve to avoid hitting the truck. In the process, the oncoming car struck and killed a motorist who was stopped at the scene to offer assistance.

The truck driver was charged with a drunk driving crime, but argued in court that the charge was misplaced as his truck was stopped and he was not “operating” a vehicle under the dictionary definition of “operating.” However, the Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed with the Defendant, ruling that a motorist is considered “operating” a vehicle until the car is in a position that will not cause risk to others. Because the Defendant drove drunk and left his truck in the middle of the freeway in the dark, the truck posed a safety risk to others on the road, and therefore he was “operating” the vehicle at the time of the motorist’s death.

The above case highlights the vast grey area that exists within drunk driving laws. Even though drunk driving laws vary by state, one thing is consistent: conviction of drunk driving charges will change a defendant’s life forever. Besides excessive fines, it is possible that an offender could go to jail or prison, depending on the severity of the charge. Because the consequences for drinking and driving are so severe, it is essential to find the best DUI lawyer available to assist you. In addition to providing detailed explanation of drunk driving laws, a Michigan DUI attorney can provide the legal advice and legal representation needed to preserve your reputation and freedom.

MI State Law – To Curb Drugged Driving, Michigan May Enact Roadside Testing

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Seeing flashing patrol lights behind you while driving is an unpleasant experience for any motorist to go through. If the law enforcement officials at the scene believe the driver is under the influence of alcohol, various sobriety tests will be administered to either confirm or disprove police suspicions. While any experienced DUI lawyers in Michigan can attest that this is fairly routine, it is increasingly more difficult to determine if a driver is intoxicated by other substances, such as illicit drugs.

Drugged driving is also illegal and grounds for arrest, but it is difficult for prosecutors to pin such charges on a person, as drug tests are not performed at the scene of a traffic stop. Generally, a person suspected of driving under the influence of drugs is taken into custody and required to undergo hospital-administered blood tests to find the results.

Noticing this problem, Michigan legislators are actively working to expedite the process. Last Wednesday, a bill was introduced that would authorize law enforcement officials to give suspected drugged drivers a roadside saliva test, much like breath tests administered for alcohol. If approved, Michigan police would be given a test kit that can detect up to six types of illicit drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Currently, this same test kit is used by police to test parolees but is not approved for use by traffic cops. Supporters of the proposal believe that implementing the change would make the procedures less time consuming and costly, as search warrants and hospital blood tests slow the process considerably. Although Michigan would be the first state to enact such a measure, similar efforts have already been implemented in other countries, helping to nab drugged drivers abroad.

However, several people remain skeptical of the legislation and its effects. Many question the equipment itself, and whether it would actually help public safety or result in more traffic stops for less legitimate reasons. For example, roadside drug testing could allow police to arbitrarily apply the law, particularly against the several drivers on the road who are lawfully using doctor-prescribed medications.

As this recently introduced legislation could result in major changes affecting Michigan motorists, it is important for all citizens to closely watch its development. This is particularly true for those who are lawfully using doctor-prescribed medications, as a drugged driving arrest is no laughing matter. Not only could one lose their driving privileges, but it is also possible to face high fines and lengthy jail sentences as well. To protect yourself, it is essential to contact hard-working and knowledgeable Michigan DUI attorneys for assistance. Doing so quickly will provide the legal advice and legal representation needed to defend your rights, keeping you on the roads and out of police custody.