OWI Attorneys in Lenawee County, MI
While Lenawee County offers a lot of fun for locals and tourists – such as the picturesque Towers of the Irish Hills near Hayes State Par – nobody is having any fun when they are arrested and charged on suspicion of drunk driving.
As a long-established OWI defense attorneys in Lenawee County, we are committed to fighting for the best possible outcome for our clients. DUI charges in Lenawee County are highly defensible. There is almost always a means to lessen the impact to your life by working with an experienced lawyer.
Possible charges we work to defend against include:
- Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). This is the most common charge, and it encompasses three different offenses: Consuming alcohol and/ or drugs to the point it substantially impairs your ability to safely drive a vehicle; Having a bodily-alcohol concentration (BAC) that meets or exceeds 0.08 (as determined through chemical testing of one’s blood, breath or urine); Having a high BAC that meets or exceeds 0.17 (which is still a misdemeanor, but will involve double penalties compared to a first-time OWI offender with a BAC under 0.17).
- Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI). This involves use of drugs and/ or alcohol to the point one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is visibly impaired.
- Operating With the Presence of Drugs (OWPD). Even the tiniest trace of a Schedule I narcotic (as outlined in MCL 333.7212) or cocaine will carry penalties the same as OWI – even if there is no evidence at all you were actually impaired by these substances. The only way around this is if you have a prescription for the drug. That includes medical marijuana.
- Under Age 21 Operating With Any Bodily Alcohol Content. This is known as Michigan’s Zero Tolerance Law. While adults under 21 won’t be considered impaired so long as they don’t display signs of intoxication and have a BAC under 0.08, those under 21 – for whom it is unlawful to drink or possess alcohol – will face charges for driving with a BAC between 0.02 and 0.07. These penalties are lesser than a typical OWI, but it’s an attempt by the legislature to obtain accountability nonetheless. If a driver under 21 does have a BAC at or above 0.08, they will face the same penalties as any other impaired motorist upon conviction.
According to the Michigan Drunk Driving Audit, Lenawee County tallies about 400 OWI arrests annually.
As far as Lenawee crashes go:
- 9 percent of all injury crashes involved a driver under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs;
- 35 percent of fatal crashes involved an impaired driver (with drugs being the primary culprit);
- 2.5 percent of all property damage crashes involved a drunk driver.
In Adrian, local police reported conducting 81 chemical tests in in a year in suspected drunk driving cases. Of those:
- 59 percent involved a breathalyzer (using the DataMaster DMT), with 83 percent of those measuring a BAC of 0.08 or higher. MCL 257.625a(2)(a) allows law enforcement officers to make an arrest without a warrant based on whole or in part to a chemical breath analysis.
- 33 percent involved a blood test, with 22 percent testing positive for alcohol (the data is silent on whether defendant’s tested positive for drugs);
- 11 percent refused chemical testing, in violation of Michigan’s implied consent law, MCL 257.625c, which carries an automatic one-year license suspension.
Whether you want to negotiate a plea bargain, file motions challenging your DUI charges or take your case to a jury, or dedicated OWI defense attorneys are here to help.
Importance of Reasonable Suspicion and Probable Cause
Unless the suspect has already been in an alleged drunk driving car accident in Lenawee County, authorities must have a reason for stopping a vehicle. This can include a finding of probable cause, or in some cases, a showing of a reasonable suspicion that a driver is engaged in illegal activity such as drunk driving.
When a suspect looks at all the paperwork received at the station, they may likely see that a standard traffic ticket for a moving violation has been placed in their bag of property handed back to them when they are release from the station or from court.
This moving violation is not simply done to add insult to injury. It is often the basis for which the driver was pulled over. A list of all traffic violations can be found in an index published by the Secretary of State. Because many people who are arrested on suspicion of operating while intoxicated (OWI) in Adrian are not from our state, the Secretary of States functions as what most states called the department of motor vehicles (DMV) or some other similar name such as the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) in nearby Ohio.
These moving violations have specific definitions. For example, Section 257.627 (c) states that it is illegal to violate what is known as a basic speed law. While officers and troopers are supposed to be able to estimate a car speed without equipment, they often rely on a LIDAR speed gun. The Michigan State Police regularly purchase their LIDAR units from a company called Laser Technology, Inc. (Laser Tech) as evidenced by their contracts. Two popular devices made by that supplier are the TruSpeed two-piece units and the new all-in-one TruCAM unit. These units can be accurate and are legal to use, but the Michigan Court of Appeals held in 1985 that there must be certain conditions that must be met. The case captioned People v. Ferency, 133 MICH. APP 256 (1984), states that following criteria must be met:
- The officer operating the device has adequate training in its operation.
- The laser device must be verified in the same manner at the beginning and end of the shift to ensure that it is in proper working condition, and the device must be serviced by the manufacturer or other professional as recommended.
- The officer using the laser device must be able to testify that a down-the-road speed reading was obtained at a distance that was within the operational range of the device.
- The target vehicle must be properly identified.
- The laser device must be in proper working condition at the time the speed measurement reading is obtained. Additionally, across-the-road laser devices must be properly positioned and aligned.
While it may seem simple, many officers do not know how to properly position and align the device. For example, the officer or trooper is supposed to align the vertical and horizontal crosshairs of the targeting reticle separately by firing it a target of known distance such as a stop sign or tree. They often don’t do this and when cross-examined, have no idea how to do this.
This is very relevant in Lenawee County drunk driving arrests, because if your attorney files a motion to suppress based on an illegal stop and can show the officer did not properly use the LIDAR gun, that may be the basis for invalidating the stop. If there was no probable cause to stop the vehicle, then everything that followed the unlawful search and seizure may be inadmissible as it is a potential violation of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This is not to say it will work in every case as the facts are never the same and every situation is difficult, buy defendants should discuss this issue during their free consultation with an experienced Adrian DUI defense attorney.
Some officers are not trained on the equipment they used in effectuating a traffic stop and your attorney can request a listing of all training as part of standard discovery. Many attorneys do not take advantage of this discovery process and you want don’t want that to happen in your case, so you want to make sure your attorney has a track record of challenging the basis for what the prosecutor claims is a valid traffic stop.
While on the issue of radar, there have been cases all over the country where the officer is not actively monitoring the cars as they travel which is required by law. Some radar devices are mounted on the exterior of the vehicle to avoid any risk of cancer for the gun’s radiation, and they have an alarm to notify an officer when a car is exceeding the set speed limit. Some officers were even taking a nap and would be awoken by the alarm and pull over the first car they see. This is not to say most police officers are doing this. In fact, most officers are honest and hardworking – but you don’t want to be a victim of this old trick.
DUI Arrests at Adrian College
College students at any of the three higher education (Adrian College, Siena Heights University and Jackson College) providers in Lewanee County may find themselves vulnerable to OWI arrest, particularly when local police catch wind of events, gatherings, games and parties on or near campus.
Parents of Adrian College students arrested for drunk driving and other alcohol offenses need to consult immediately with an experienced lawyer. Although some parents think they may be “teaching a lesson” by having their young adult child deal with matters on their own, the reality is an OWI conviction can have a long-term impact that could affect a student’s scholarship and federal aid funding, housing and employment. We would never advise an of-age adult to represent themselves in a Michigan OWI arrest, and find college students are especially ill-equipped.
The Under-21 Zero Tolerance statute is the most commonly-charged alcohol offense when it comes to college students. It involves those under 21 who have a BAC between 0.02 and 0.07. First-time offenders include penalties of:
- A fine of $250;
- 15 hours of community service.
Other alcohol-related criminal we often see Michigan college students facing include:
- Selling or furnishing alcohol consumption to a minor, in violation of MCL 436.1701. This carries a penalty of 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. As the Michigan Liquor Control Commission warns, if the minor dies due to alcohol consumption (i.e., alcohol poisoning, drowning, fall or traffic accident), the person who supplied that alcohol will face a felony charge of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. This doesn’t just apply to bars and liquor stores. It can be charged by college students who host parties, older siblings, friends, etc.
- Minor in possession of alcohol. Per MCL 436.1703, a minor shall not purchase, consume or possess alcohol or have any bodily alcohol content. A violation of this provision is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 93 days in jail and a $100 fine, plus the possibility of mandated substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation.
- Fraudulent identification to buy alcohol. This also a misdemeanor offense, per MCL 436.1703, which carries a maximum penalty of 93 days jail time and a fine of $100.
If a minor consumes alcohol and voluntarily presents himself/ herself to a health facility center for treatment or observation will not be charged with the offense of possessing/ consuming alcohol.
This and many other intricacies of procedures in Lenawee County OWI cases have been learned by years of effectively defending drunk driving cases. Make sure your attorney has considerable experience and training.
For a free consultation contact us online.