There are several myths regarding drinking and driving in Michigan. Read on to learn the facts about such myths.
1. Under Legal Limit - No DUI
Most people believe that if their blood alcohol content level is under the legal limit, then they will not be arrested and charged for operating while intoxicated (OWI) or operating while visibly impaired (OWVI) in Washtenaw County, Michigan. A driver can be arrested and convicted of an OWI or OWVI after consuming any amount of alcohol, or controlled substance. An OWI charge can be based upon the visible impairment of the driver - not just the quantity of alcohol or controlled substance consumed.
2. You Have to Plead Guilty to a DUI
You should never enter a plea of guilty to any drunk driving charge without first consulting with an experienced, DUI defense attorney. A skilled, DUI attorney can often negotiate the offense to a lesser charge. An attorney will review the evidence and advise you on whether or not to accept a deal. For instance, accepting a plea bargain can be a good option for you if it allows you to avoid the risk of obtaining a guilty verdict at trial. Of course, an experienced, DUI defense attorney will also review your case to determine whether you have a strong chance of obtaining a dismissal or not guilty verdict.
3. Coffee, Water, & Food Can Sober Up a Driver
The only way a person can become sober is with time. Alcohol can only be eliminated as fast as the liver processes it. There are no scientific studies that prove that coffee, water, or the consumption of food will sober up a driver.
4. You Have to Take the Field Sobriety & Preliminary Breath Tests
No, you do not have to take either test. Under Michigan State law, you have the right to refuse to take a preliminary breath and/or chemical test if you are being investigated for driving under the influence of alcohol. If you refuse to take a preliminary breath test, you will receive a civil infraction with a $150.00 fine. If you refuse to take a chemical test (such as breath, urine, or blood), your driver's license will be automatically suspended for one year unless you can show good cause for the refusal.
Upon refusal of the chemical test, your driver's license will be confiscated and you will be issued a temporary permit until your criminal case is resolved. You can request for a Right of Refusal hearing from the Secretary of State to challenge the implied consent suspension. You have fourteen days from the time of your arrest to request a hearing. If you fail to make a request, your driver's license will be suspended for one year and six points will be added to your driving record. You will lose your driver's license for two years if you previously refused to take a test within the past seven years.
5. The Police Cannot Arrest You if You Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety or Preliminary Breath Test
Under the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, a police officer is not allowed to search or seize your person (arrest you) without first establishing probable cause. Probable cause can be established by the officer obtaining evidence that you are about to commit a crime, in the process of committing a crime, or have committed a crime. Police officers generally establish probable cause to arrest a person during a drunk driving traffic stop if such person fails the field sobriety test, or preliminary breath test.
Even if you refuse to take the field sobriety or preliminary breath test, an officer can still take you into custody if there are other visible signs that reasonably demonstrate you have been driving while impaired by or under the influence of alcohol.
6. You Can Have Your Drunk Driving Conviction Expunged
Under Michigan State law, drunk driving convictions ARE NOT eligible for expungement at any time. Michigan drunk driving convictions remain on your record for the rest of your life. Therefore, it is important to hire an experienced, drunk driving attorney to represent you when facing a DUI charge in Ypsilanti or Washtenaw County. There are many personal and legal consequences that will result from a drunk driving conviction.
If you have been arrested for an OWI in the Ann Arbor area, contact Ann Arbor criminal defense attorney Stacey Washington to help you navigate through this difficult situation in your life.