OWI Attorneys in Kent County, MI
Long-time OWI defense lawyers in Kent County, Grabel & Associates helps defendants often facing one of the worst times in their lives. We understand it’s not just an embarrassing inconvenience. These charges have the potential to threaten your job security, your financial stability and your personal and professional relationships. We take these matters very seriously, and have extensive experience in successfully fighting the worst of these consequences.
The Michigan Annual Drunk Driving Audit reports there were more than 2,100 OWI convictions in the county in just a single year. Arrest does not equal conviction, and you do have legal options.
If are arrested for OWI anywhere within Kent County, know that you have a knowledgeable DUI lawyers willing to defend your rights and best interests.
How Do They Prove OWI?
OWI is codified in MCL 257.625, and it refers to the action of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol and/ or drugs. The per se limit of alcohol is 0.08 grams or more per 100 milliliters of blood, 210 liters of breath or 67 milliliters of urine. Breathalyzer and blood tests are the most common means of gathering this information.
There are some cases wherein a bodily alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than 0.08 can still result in charges. Those situations include:
- Zero Tolerance Underage. This offense applies only to those who are under the age of 21, and thus too young to consume alcohol under state law. In these cases, underage drivers can be charged with OWI if their blood-alcohol concentration is deemed to be anywhere from 0.02 to 0.07.
- Commercial Driver DUI. Commercial drivers are subject to enhanced restrictions for BAC. Specifically, commercial drivers can be placed immediately out of service for consuming alcohol four hours prior to driving a commercial vehicle, for consuming alcohol while operating a commercial vehicle or refusing to take a preliminary breathalyzer test. They are also, as noted by the Michigan Secretary of State, subject to a per se BAC limit of 0.04 (half the legal limit for other adult drivers).
- Operating While Visibly Impaired. This is also known as OWVI. Prosecutors need only prove one’s ability to safely drive a motor vehicle was impaired – regardless of what one’s actual BAC was. Convictions in these cases are often based on evidence like field sobriety test results, common traffic violations and officer observations.
- Operating With the Presence of Drugs. If investigators find any amount of a Schedule I substance in your system, you can be charged with OWPD. This is true regardless of whether there is evidence you were actually impaired by this substance.
It should be noted that while the term “DUI” is more common recognized when it comes to drunk driving offenses (which is why we sometimes use it interchangeably here), the term used by the Michigan legislature and within state courts is “OWI.”
Part of what our best OWI defense lawyers can help with is identifying challenges not just to the chemical testing, but also to the reasonable suspicion/ probable cause basis upon which the officer first initiated the stop, as well as any shaky circumstantial evidence used against you. Your defense attorney does not need to prove that you are totally innocent. Rather, the goal is to cast reasonable doubt regarding key elements of the prosecutor’s allegations.
Field Sobriety Tests
In addition to challenging chemical tests, we will also scrutinize the results of field sobriety tests. Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are designated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and are designed as psychosocial or divided attention tasks that require the individual to concentrate on both physical and mental elements at the same time.
Michigan Public Act 262, which went into effect in 2016, witnesses testifying to the results of SFST must be qualified by knowledge, skill, education, training or experience. The act does not preclude the use of non-standardized tests, but those tests must comply with Michigan Rules of Evidence.
Despite the court’s heavy reliance on field sobriety tests, they have only a combined 80 percent accuracy. That’s a huge margin of error, and our defense lawyers will carefully look at whether there are deficiencies in:
- The type of test;
- The way it was administered;
- The training of the person administering the test.
Misdemeanor OWI cases – and even preliminary matters within felony OWI cases in Kent County – will be handled in one of six District Courts – 59th District in Walker, 59th District in Grandville, 61st District, 62-A District Court in Wyoming, 62-B District Court in Kentwood and the 63rd District Court.
Some of these district courts in Kent specifically offer the option of Sobriety Court. For example, in the 61st District Sobriety Court offers an opportunity for reduction of an anticipated incarceration sentence with the successful completion of the program. That does not mean one should enter a plea deal with this possibility lightly. Sobriety Court supervision is multi-faceted and intensive.
Inclusion in the program is not voluntary once you are convicted of OWI and following a review of your substance abuse history, criminal record and driving record.
Based on those findings, the court will require some combination of the following:
- Preliminary breath testing and drug testing;
- Individual and group counseling;
- Regular attendance at 12-step meetings/ other recovery groups;
- Screened for inclusion in education, job training, family counseling, etc.;
- Work crew;
- Community service;
- License suspension (via the Secretary of State).
The entire process of supervision could span the course of 2.5 years, broken down in various phases based on your progress. Failure to attend regular court hearings, group counseling sessions, community service will result in some type of sanction, which could include pushing you back to a previous phase of the program, which could drag the process on even longer. If the court decides to terminate your involvement in the program, you’ll probably be sentenced to additional jail time.
This program has been known to help people who have serious dependencies on drugs or alcohol, but we have seen cases wherein participants were pushed into this intensive program even though it was not necessary. That’s why our OWI defense lawyers work so hard at the outset of the case, doing our best wherever possible to help our clients avoid conviction, or at least obtain a reduction in charges.
For a free consultation contact us online.