If you are being investigated for driving under the influence of alcohol in Michigan, you can assert your Constitutional rights to protect yourself from a wrongful arrest and conviction. Read on to learn more.
1. The Police Must Have Probable Cause to Charge You with Drunk Driving
A police officer must have a reasonable suspicion based on specific and articulable facts that a person has been, is, or about to be engaged in criminal activity in order to stop and detain him/her for questioning.
In regard to driving under the influence, if a police officer observes that a driver has, is, or about to violate a traffic law, then the officer can pull the person over for further investigation.
During the investigation, the police officer will ask the driver standard questions to determine if he/she is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance while operating a motor vehicle.
If there is evidence that strongly supports that the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then the driver will be arrested and taken to the police station for further investigation (example – blood alcohol content (BAC) chemical analysis). If it is determined that the driver has a BAC above the .08% legal limit (probable cause), then the driver will be formally charged with drunk driving. However, even if the BAC is under the .08% legal limit, the police can still charge you with driving under the influence based on the evidence collected during and after the initial stop.
Note, as a driver, you have the right to challenge whether or not the police officer had an articulable reasonable suspicion to stop and investigate you for driving drunk. If you in fact did not violate any traffic law or otherwise drive in an erratic or suspicious manner, then the charge(s) asserted against you will have to be dismissed due to your constitutional rights of illegal search and seizure being violated.
Even if a motorist is intoxicated while driving, a DUI case against him could be dismissed if the officer did not have reasonable suspicion for the initial stop.
2. You Can Refuse to Take Field Sobriety Tests or the Preliminary Breath Test
You can also refuse to take any field sobriety tests in addition to the preliminary breath test. Field sobriety tests are conducted by police officers to gather evidence to determine whether or not you are intoxicated. If you fail certain portions of the tests, the police officer will request that you take a preliminary breath test.
You have the right to refuse to take or answer the police officer’s questions. You must however present your driver’s license and vehicle registration information upon request.
Your refusal to take the field sobriety and preliminary breath tests may be used against you during plea bargaining and at trial. However, it does not mean you are guilty of drunk driving.
Nevertheless, certain automatic driving restrictions may be imposed for your refusal. Contact me for more information regarding your refusal to take field sobriety tests or preliminary breath test and how to challenge any driver’s license restrictions that may be imposed.
3. You Can Refuse to Take Chemical Tests at the Police Station
In addition to refusing to take field sobriety tests and the preliminary breath test, you can also refuse to take any chemical tests at the police station. The evidence of your refusal may be presented against you if later charged for drunk driving in court.
However, there are certain driver’s license restrictions that may apply for your refusal to take the chemical test. In deciding whether or not to refuse the chemical test, you will need to immediately decide what is more important to you – loss of your license or a possible drunk driving conviction. But, the police officer can still seek to obtain a warrant to extract a blood sample from you to support the arrest and a subsequent conviction.
4. You Have a Right to Legal Representation
You have the right to legal representation if charged with drunk driving. Depending on your financial circumstances, you can request to be appointed a public defender or you can obtain a private practice drunk driving attorney in Ann Arbor.
I recommend you obtain legal counsel and guidance regarding the charge(s) asserted against you. You do not have to and should not go through the legal system alone. Further, you need to obtain the best defense possible to help preserve your constitutional rights and keep you out of jail. If you cannot afford private attorney fees, consider borrowing the money from family and friends to get the best representation possible.
If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Washtenaw County, contact me for a case consultation. I defend Ann Arbor residents charged with drunk driving. Call 734-274-6567 or email me to schedule an appointment.