Michigan Drunk Driving Attorneys - Defending against Michigan OWI & DUI charges!
Michigan Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys
Have you been charged with a drunk driving crime? Were you arrested on suspicion of OUI in Lansing, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, or any where else in Michigan? Then you need a highly-skilled and experienced drunk driving attorney. At Kronzek & Cronkright, PLLC, our team of attorneys has over 80 combined years practicing drunk driving defense.
Like most people, you probably call drunk driving offenses DUIs (Driving Under the Influence). In Michigan, DUI is not the name for drunk driving. These offenses used to be called OUI (Operating Under the Influence) but are now simply called OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) and OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired). There are also the related crimes of OWPD (Operating With the Presence of Drugs), Open Intoxicants, Under 21 Drinking and Driving, and Child Endangerment.
The drunk driving arrest process
In Michigan, a drunk driving case starts with the operation of a vehicle on a highway or other place open to the public or generally accessible to motor vehicles in Michigan. “Operating” is defined as driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle. Thus not only is the obvious driving down the road scenario included in the definition of operating, but sitting in a vehicle with the keys in the ignition could be included, as well. And, until the vehicle comes to rest in a safe location, the operating of the vehicle continues.
Then, a police officer must see you operate the vehicle in a manner that gives the officer probable cause to believe you are in violation of the law. This could be an incomplete stop, swerving in your lane, an inconsistent speed, or more. The police officer can then legally pull you over on the side of the road. Most times, the officer will ask if you have been drinking if he or she smells the odor of alcohol, and you are within your rights to politely tell the officer you do not wish to answer questions without an attorney present.
The officer may wish to perform a field sobriety test on you. A field sobriety test is where the officer will ask you to perform physical tasks (a gaze test, touching your finger to your nose, standing on one foot, walking heel-to-heel, etc.) or mental tasks (counting backwards without stopping, speaking the alphabet, etc.). However, you are not required to complete any of these field sobriety tests. In fact, field sobriety tests are often used to obtain evidence that can lead to a conviction. Therefore, you should politely tell the officer you will not be conducting any field sobriety tests without an attorney present.
The officer will also likely ask you to take a PBT, or preliminary breath test. In a preliminary breath test, you blow into a portable machine that reads your blood alcohol content (BAC). You may refuse to take a preliminary breath test, which is most often to your advantage if you may be above the legal limit of .08. If you refuse a PBT, you will be charged with a civil infraction, not a crime (similar to getting a speeding ticket), and you will be fined about $200.
If the police officer determines, after speaking with you, observing you, administering any field sobriety tests, and giving you a preliminary breath test, that there is probable cause to believe that you are driving while intoxicated or impaired, the officer will arrest you. You will go to the police station with the officer, and a tow truck or sober driver will come get your car.
If the police officer tries to question you about whether you were driving drunk, politely remind the officer that you do not wish to speak about the case without an attorney present and that you wish to remain silent. Once you get to the police station, other police officers may attempt to question you about the case. Tell them, also, that you do not wish to speak about the case without an attorney present.
At the police station, you will be advised of your so-called Chemical Test Rights (also known as your Implied Consent Rights) and asked to take either a breath test on the official DataMaster machine or a blood test. The officer has the right to decide which test he or she wants you to take. Unlike the preliminary breath tests (discussed above), the results from the DataMaster test are admissible in court. However, because even the DataMaster machine can give incorrect BAC readings, you do have a right to request a blood test, but only after you have taken the requested DataMaster breath test at the jail or police station. Blood tests are the most accurate when it comes to testing blood alcohol content.
At all times at the police station, be polite, but make sure you assert your rights. Remember, they are in the process of building their case against you, and you do not want to help them do that. If you are given a phone call at the police station, either call an attorney or call your family and tell them to call an attorney. Our attorneys are available all day and night for emergency calls from police stations: (866) 766-5245. If you are able to speak to an attorney at the police station, you should tell the lawyer that a police officer is nearby, and ask the attorney to only ask you questions you can answer with a yes or no.
Once you are released from the police station, you will then soon have an arraignment. After your arraignment, the criminal case against you continues. We recommend having an drunk driving attorney by your side even before your arraignment. The attorney can help you decide how to plea and can make sure justice is being served.
For more information on your rights and responsibilities in a Michigan drunk driving case, read our pages on Things to know if you are pulled over for drunk driving and If you are facing drunk driving charges.
Penalties for drunk driving
If you are convicted of drunk driving in Michigan, your sentence depends on which drunk driving charge you are convicted of, the circumstances surrounding the offense, and your prior driving and criminal record, if any. For specific information, read our pages on OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) and OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired). There are also the related crimes of OWPD (Operating With the Presence of Drugs), Open Intoxicants, Under 21 Drinking and Driving, and Child Endangerment.
Our approach to drunk driving defense
Michigan police, prosecutors, and judges take drunk driving crimes very seriously. The reason for that is that they want Michigan’s roadways to be safe for everyone who travels on them. It is a known fact that alcohol affect’s a driver’s motor skills, ability to concentrate, and common sense. Several hundred people die in Michigan each year in alcohol-related crashes. However, we take the defense of our drunk driving clients just as seriously as the prosecutors take the prosecution of our clients. We believe in the following:
Technical defenses are important. There are many technical requirements for a valid investigation of a drunk driving charge. The Michigan Legislature continually tries to enact tougher laws regarding drunk driving. Therefore, it is necessary for a skilled lawyer to look carefully at each technical aspect of the case in order to make sure that the police follow the law and required procedures.
Gathering all available information is vital. It is amazing how much information can be obtained by an industrious and tenacious attorney who is willing to give your case the attention it deserves. Until every aspect of your case is carefully reviewed, it is not possible to accurately determine how strong your defenses are. Many attorneys simply rely on a police report from a biased police officer to assess the case. You will not know what a skilled trial lawyer can do for you unless you have one working for you.
A team approach is important for a successful defense. Many times, important aspects of the defense hinge on facts that can only come from you. Open communication between you and your lawyer is necessary. Also, it is helpful to have a team of lawyers assessing your case. At Kronzek & Cronkright, every criminal case is reviewed and monitored by no less than two attorneys.
Expert witnesses may be available to help you win your case. There are a number of reasons why you may want to employ scientific experts to testify on your behalf. Kronzek & Cronkright maintains working relationships with qualified experts who can testify to the important aspects of your case, such as the validity of the sobriety test, interaction of various substances with alcohol in the blood stream, technical shortfalls with the DataMaster breath test, and more. We will carefully analyze the need to use experts in your case.
If you have been charged with a Michigan drunk driving crime, you need the aggressive team of defense attorneys at Kronzek & Cronkright, PLLC. We have been practicing drunk driving defense for over 80 combined years, and we know what it takes to get your charges dismissed. We will work extremely hard on your case to get you the best result possible. We have earned a reputation in Michigan as being tough defenders of our clients. We fight to win! Contact us about your legal matter today! Call us at (866) 766-5245.
The law firm of Kronzek & Cronkright practices drunk driving defense throughout the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. They will represent clients from all over the state including townships and cities around Lansing, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Mount Pleasant, Bay City, Saginaw, Traverse City, Ludington, Allegan, Hillsdale, Lapeer, Port Huron, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Farmington Hills, Flint, Livonia, Warren, Bay City and Dearborn. If you are in need of a criminal defense attorney, call us today at 1-866-7NoJail, or e-mail us!