OWI Attorneys in Dearborn Heights, MI
If you’re caught driving drunk in Dearborn Heights, you will likely be arrested by one of the Dearborn Heights Police Department’s 50+ sworn officers on road patrol. From there, your case will likely be handled by the 20th District Court.
As the best Dearborn Heights DUI attorneys, Grabel & Associates is ready to help you vigorously fight these charges. In Michigan, the offense of OWI – operating while intoxicated – is a serious criminal offense, which can carry either misdemeanor or felony penalties, depending on:
- The number of prior convictions (a third OWI in Michigan is a felony);
- Whether the incident involved a crash that resulted in serious bodily injury or death.
You may also face enhanced penalties under Michigan’s “super drunk” law if your blood-alcohol concentration meets or exceeds 0.17, or if you had a child under 18 in the vehicle.
While most OWI cases are misdemeanors, both these and felony charges will impact not just your criminal record, but your freedom, your financial stability, your insurance premiums, your driving privileges and your reputation.
Here’s the good news: OWI cases are rarely hopeless.
Your Dearborn Heights OWI Arrest
Dearborn Heights, in Wayne County, makes several hundred OWI arrests annually. However, not every arrest results in a conviction, and the burden of proof to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is on prosecutors. Our job is to poke enough holes in their evidence to cast doubt.
According to the Michigan Drunk Driving Audit, about 250 of those involved officers seeking some type of chemical testing. Of those tests offers sought:
- 160 breathalyzer tests. Results showed almost half had a high BAC of 0.17 or above, qualifying them for “super drunk” penalties, which include mandatory alcohol treatment, possible double jail time, fines of up to $8,000 and mandatory license revocation for 45 days followed by restrictions with ignition interlock devices.
- 50 blood tests. Interestingly, of those, 60 percent returned a BAC of 0.00. It’s not clear whether any of those cases involved the presence of intoxicating drugs. It should be noted that if any of these blood draws were involuntary (i.e., conducted without consent of defendant), officers would likely have needed to first obtain a warrant, per the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Missouri v. McNeely.
- 40 people refused any chemical testing, in violation of Michigan’s implied consent law, MCL 257.625c, which results in an automatic, one-year driver’s license suspension. Motorists with hemophilia, diabetes or some other condition requiring an anticoagulant at the direction of a physician is exempt from this provision as it relates to blood testing. A total of 668 implied consent suspension warnings were issued to Wayne County residents in a single recent year.
In total throughout Wayne County, law enforcement agencies made 4,210 OWI arrests in a single year. That includes related offenses, such as violation of the state’s Zero Tolerance law that prohibits minors from driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.02 or higher, child endangerment by having a minor in the car while operating impaired and causing serious injury/ death in a drunk driving accident.
Following a Dearborn Heights OWI arrest, most defendants will find themselves facing misdemeanor charges in the 20th District Court. Unfortunately, OWI isn’t an offense for which you can simply pay a fine without a court hearing (nor would you want to, given the severity of potential penalties).
Instead, you will have the opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. It’s strongly advised you plead not guilty at this phase, because a guilty plea will strip you of the right to a trial or the opportunity to negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors.
At arraignment, you will be informed of the charges against you and possible penalties. You have the right to an attorney in this phase. Following a not guilty plea, a pre-trial date will be set. There will be a discovery phase (where both sides share information) during which pre-trial negotiations may occur between your defense attorney and prosecutor. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the case goes to trial.
Penalties for Drunk Driving in Michigan
If you are convicted of OWI with a BAC less than 0.17 and it’s your first offense, your penalties include a maximum of:
- $500 fine;
- 93 days in jail;
- 360 hours of community service;
- 180 days of license suspension;
- 6 points on your driver’s license.
If your BAC is 0.17 or higher and it’s your first offense, maximum penalties include:
- $700 fine;
- 180 days in jail;
- 360 hours of community service;
- One year license suspension (minimum 45 days);
- 6 points on your driver’s license;
- Mandatory alcohol treatment program completion;
- Ignition interlock use and compliance after 45 days to receive a restricted license.
In both cases, those convicted will additionally be required to pay a $1,000 penalty for two years under the state’s Driver Responsibility Act.
Beat a DUI in Dearborn Heights, MI
Although many Michigan drunk driving defendants assume the evidence against them is simply too strong to overcome, they are often surprised to learn they are wrong.
As our OWI defense attorneys can explain, there are many potential avenues we will explore in examining the weaknesses of the prosecution’s case against you. Some of those may include:
- Chemical tests, such as breathalyzer results from the Datamaster DMT or blood sample results, are prone to errors. Medical conditions can render erroneously high blood-alcohol or breath-alcohol readings.
- Police officers have been known to botch roadside investigations with poorly executed field sobriety tests or a lack of reasonable suspicion to initiate the stop in the first place. Field sobriety tests, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, must be carefully conducted according to the standards set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Many of these tests are highly subjective. Still, slight deviations may not be enough to suppress the evidence, but there needs to be substantial compliance for the test to be admissible.
- Inconsistencies, inaccuracies or bias in the officer’s investigation, usually exposed with police body camera footage or dash came video, that undermine the officer’s testimony.
If you are arrested for OWI in Dearborn Heights, do not delay in contacting an experienced criminal defense lawyer to maximize your opportunity for a favorable outcome.
For a free consultation contact us online.