Drunk Driving/OWI

Drunk Driving/OWI

If you or someone you know has been arrested for drunk driving, likely the experience is frightening, and a person in such a situation usually has more questions than answers.  An arrest for drunk driving can have immediate consequences for your driver’s license, and significant long-term effects on many different areas of your life.  Michigan law makes it illegal to drive an automobile with a “blood alcohol content” (or “BAC”) higher than .08.  For a person under 21, Michigan has a “zero tolerance” law.  This means that if you are 21 and are arrested with a BAC of anything more than ZERO, you are committing a crime.  

Probable Cause

Before a person is arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, however, the authorities must have “probable cause” to test that person’s BAC.  They do this by a breath test, or in certain circumstances, by a blood test.  In every situation where a person is charged with a crime, that person is presumed innocent until they are proven guilty.  Additionally, every person whose feet touch American soil has the right to remain silent, and is protected under U.S. law from illegal searches or seizures.  In other words, the government has to have a very good reason for detaining or searching your body or your automobile, and it can never force you to speak in the midst of an arrest or possible criminal charges.  

A police officer must have a good reason for pulling you over or for attempting to check your breath or blood for alcohol or anything else.  The law calls this “Probable Cause.”   This means that, although a police officer does not need to have “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” that you have been driving drunk before he or she searches you or stops you, the police officer must have objective reasons for believing that a criminal offense occurred.

Speeding, swerving in and out of marked lanes, speeding up and then quickly slowing down; any of these actions may give the police Probable Cause to stop you.  There is a big difference between a justified stop, however, and justification for checking breath or blood for alcohol.  An experienced attorney will be able to assure that your rights have been protected in these circumstances, and the earlier the attorney is involved in the case, the more that attorney can protect you.

Lessons from the Past

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.

Woodrow Wilson

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