DUI Attorneys in Calhoun County, MI
The Calhoun County, Michigan area is home to many residents and the site of various tourist attractions, but it also the location of many DUI arrests each year. Have you been arrested for an OWI? Hire our experienced attorneys now.
As we can see from the Michigan Annual Drunk Driving Audit, there were nearly 400 people injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes during a recent reporting period. Included in this figure is nine fatalities involving drivers suspected of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated on alcohol and/or drugs. These cases are handled within the 10th District Court.
The penalties for a first offense OWI are as follows:
- A fine of no less than $100 and no more than $500;
- Maximum 93 days in county jail;
- Maximum 360 community service hours;
- Suspension of driver’s license for 30 days, followed by 150 days of restriction;
- Possible vehicle immobilization;
- Possible ignition interlock;
- Six points on your driving record;
- Driver Responsibility Fee of $1,000 for two straight years.
However, there are various factors can increase the minimum and maximum penalties – primarily when someone else was injured or killed as result of a drunk driving crash or when a defendant was driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.17 grams of ethanol per hundred milliliters of blood. Ethanol is the type of alcohol people drink, and a case with a range this high is considered a “super” drunk driving case or “High BAC” case under a 2010 law that was passed as part of a local and national effort to further crack down on drunk drivers and especially repeat offenders. A person whose blood-alcohol concentration is at 0.17 or higher may seem like a rare occurrence, but statistic show approximately one-third of suspected drunk drivers in Michigan fall into this category.
Penalties for these “super drunk” drivers include fines could reach $8,000, mandatory alcohol treatment, doubled jail time and mandatory license suspension for 45 days. Once a defendant gets his or her driving privileges back, an ignition interlock device will likely be required – something nobody wants. It’s not only an inconvenience, but also very costly and in some situations, rather embarrassing.
Felony DUI Charges in Calhoun County Michigan
We should note that while the term “DUI” is frequently used and most commonly understood, the technical term preferred by the Michigan legislature per MCL 257.625 is “OWI,” which stands for, “operating while intoxicated.”
If defendant is convicted of an operating while intoxicated charge, and during the pendency of that alleged drunk driving, a person was killed, the offense can be charged as a felony. The maximum penalty for a felony drunk driving conviction involving a death is 15 years in prison and fine of between $2,500 and $10,000. If a defendant had a BAC of higher than 0.17 at the time of an alleged OWI involving a fatality, the maximum penalty increases to 20 years.
One mistake some defendants in these cases make is to hire and attorney that has experience in handling homicide cases, yet who lacks experience defending DUI cases. At the heart of the case is the OWI charge. If your attorney can help you beat the OWI charge, then you are not going to be guilty of the OWI enhancements either.
The defense should be built around fighting the OWI charge in most cases, because that is the conduct that is really at issue. If a person is involved in a traffic crash that did not involve drunk driving or reckless driving, defendant may be liable for a civil motor vehicle infraction, but not a felony DUI charge.
One of the most common tools use by police and prosecutors in making an OWI case involves the use of the so-called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). These tests were chosen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and approved in the MCL. The following are the only approved tests under the law in Michigan, and the code requires the officers to substantially comply with NHTSA instructions and testing protocols:
- The Walk and Turn Test (WAT)
- The One-Legged Stand (OLS)
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
The One-Legged Stand
The One-Legged Stand is a test of a suspected drunk driver’s ability to stand on one foot and count. The counting is not actually scored a as clue, because the officer is supposed to time out 30 second on his or her watch, but the suspect doesn’t know that. The officer is supposed to tell the suspect to raise one foot when instructed to do, it could be either foot, six inches off the ground, keeping the foot parallel to the ground and count aloud in a manner such as one-one thousand, two-one thousand until they are instructed to stop. They are told to keep their hands at their side during the entire test. What they are not told is that if they start too soon, like when the officer says raise one foot, but has not said begin, this can be scored as a clue of intoxication.
As if this was not ridiculous enough, it could be freezing in the middle of the night in February and the suspect is not given a chance to put on a jacket. The suspect may not be able to do this while sober, especially if the suspect is overweight. Too often, these factors aren’t taken into consideration. The officer is supposed to ask if the OWI suspect has any medical conditions, but if the suspect says yes, officers are supposed to say they will take that into consideration and then still administer the test normally. This may be okay for NHTSA, but it certainly something an experienced DUI attorney can demonstrate to a judge or jury during trial to call into question the validity of the test results.
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