Drunk Drug Driving Offenses – OWI Lawyer
Grand Rapids Michigan Drunk Driving Lawyer
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If you have been arrested for driving drunk (OWI), you already know the severity of your circumstances. You face loss of your driver's license, career opportunities, educational programs, and jail time. A drunk driving arrest is serious and your future is at stake. When you need skilled drunk driving defense, count on Bruce Alan Block. With over 20 years experience, our attorney offers skilled representation in serious legal matters such as drunk driving, reckless driving, careless driving, and most traffic infractions.
Are you a parent seeking a lawyer for a son or daughter? We handle these cases with care and understanding; your child has their entire future ahead of them.
Drunk Driving Charges are Harsh.
There is little doubt that drunk driving is a real problem in our society. A typical drunk driving charge can cost upwards of $4,000, not to mention higher car insurance rates and license suspensions. Our sage advice is: if you have been out drinking, have a designated driver, call for a ride, or just take a taxi. A $40 or even $90 taxi ride is a lot cheaper than facing thousands of dollars in fines, a criminal charge, and the loss of your license and possibly your freedom. Most of us do not live in areas where there is adequate bussing or public transportation, and not having a license can lead to many unintended consequences. If you drink — don't drive.
We truly hope that you never need our firm to represent you in a drunk driving case. However, to err is human and unfortunately, many people feel they are "ok" to drive even though they are not. The legal limit is .08. Although we have seen clients who can drive better than average with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .15, it does not matter. If you are over the .08 legal limit — the law considers you to be legally drunk.
There is a Lesser Offense.
If you do drive and are charged with drunk driving or driving while impaired or drugged driving, it is worth your time to seek legal counsel. You may well wonder how legal representation can help? You drove drunk and must "face the music" right? Not exactly. A skilled lawyer can often lessen the charge and consequences of a drunk driving charge.
The prosecution is tough on drunk driving cases; offenders are cut very little slack. However, effective legal representation can challenge the drunk driving arrest, and often the consequences can be reduced. There are lesser offenses, such as Impaired Driving (OWVI), Reckless Driving, and Careless Driving charges that drastically reduce points, cut fines in half, and reduce onerous license sanctions. A lesser charge can also reduce the amount of Michigan's "bad driver tax" (also known as Driver Responsibility Fee).
A drunk driving arrest can be challenged, and our criminal defense attorney knows the details that are important to provide you with thorough representation. We will evaluate such things as:
- Was the traffic stop valid?
- Were the field sobriety tests administered correctly?
- Was the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test properly given?
Enter a NOT GUILTY plea at your first court hearing and contact us for help. Our drunk driving defense lawyer has over 18 years of experience representing clients and challenging drunk driving charges. He has won acquittals at jury trials.
When the prosecution has all the resources of the state and its police officers on its side, count on Attorney Bruce Alan Block to be on your side.
Implied Consent License Suspension.
Michigan, like most states, has passed a law that says that any person who operates a car or motor vehicle is deemed to have already given their "consent" to a breathalyzer test or a blood test. Of course this is fiction, as few, if any, drivers are aware that by getting behind the wheel of a car they gave their "implied consent" to the State to have their breath or blood tested. There are two types of tests that are commonly given to someone who is suspected of driving drunk:
- Preliminary breath test (PBT) which is a portable unit that police officer's carry around in their patrol cars.
- The Datamaster BAC test, which is supposed to be a "calibrated" blood alcohol monitoring machine at the jail.
Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)
The preliminary breath test usually given on scene (PBT) is a portable device that gives a police officer probable cause to arrest you. If you refuse to take the PBT test, it is a civil infraction and about a $100 fine with no license sanctions. This portable device is NOT to be confused with the Datamaster BAC machine which is kept at the local jail or sheriff's office.
The Datamaster BAC Machine.
The Datamaster BAC machine is (supposed to be) a calibrated machine which can accurately test a person's blood alcohol content (BAC). A straw is inserted into the machine, along with a pink piece of paper, and the accused is instructed to blow very hard into the straw for 30 seconds or so. If you refuse to take this test, then you will be ticketed for an "Implied Consent" violation, which means that your driver's license will be suspended for one year and six points added to your master driving history. A second violation earns you a two year mandatory license suspension.
If you refuse to take the Datamaster BAC test or if you do not blow hard enough into the little straw, the machine can determine that you did not give it a sufficient breath sample and give you a "technical refusal" which is treated as though you completely refused to take the BAC test. This is a machine, and it can give inaccurate results. There are also medications that can falsely increase the result printed on a pink form.
When someone refuses to take the Datamaster test or does not blow hard enough into the plastic tube, the police usually seek a search warrant to draw your blood. The results are shipped off to the state police laboratory for analysis. Two vials of blood are taken, one for the police to analyze and the other for the person to have tested by an independent laboratory if they so choose.
A hemophiliac or a diabetic is not covered by the Implied Consent law. Some over the counter drugs can throw off the Datamaster results, sometimes the machine simply fails to provide accurate results. You should be aware that you have the right to demand that your blood be taken and preserved for an independent test despite the fact that you were given a Datamaster test.
What to do if you are Given an Implied Consent Citation.
You should be aware that if you are ticketed for an Implied Consent refusal, unless you request a hearing from the Secretary of State's Office within 14 days of the refusal, your driver's license is automatically suspended, without a hearing. You cannot drive for a year and six points are added to your license. The officer who gave you the test is required to give you a Notice of Implied Consent Refusal Form, which contains a information on how to request for an administrative law judge hearing by mail. A hearing date is set within 60 days, and you and the officer must appear and present live testimony. These hearings are very difficult to win, but not impossible. We have successfully won implied consent cases. At a minimum, you should send out the request and then seek legal advice. You can decide to cancel the hearing later.
Drug or Drugged Driving (OWID)
Driving under the influence of illegal drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, etcetera, have the exact same penalties as drunk driving. Unlike drunk driving, there is no minimum or legal limit. The standard test is a urine test. Like an alcohol test, by driving you are deemed to have given permission for a test of your breath, urine, or blood (a/k/a 'implied consent'). If you refuse this test, the police officer can seek a search warrant and obtain it against your permission (and the Secretary of State will try to suspend your license for a year and add 6 points).
If you have illegal drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, LSD, or marijuana (active THC) in your system you can be arrested and charged with 'driving under the influence of drugs' (OWID) which has the exact same penalties as drunk driving (OWI) including license suspension, 6 points on your license, a criminal record, the $2,000 "bad driver" tax, etcetera.
Driving and Medical Marijuana.
Visit our THC Medical Marijuana – Impaired Driving page for information on driving with medical marihuana in your body.
Super Drunk Driving.
In October of 2010, the Michigan Legislature doubled the penalties for drunk drivers with a high blood alcohol content (BAC). Commonly known as the 'Super Drunk" law, this is not a separate offense than drunk driving, but rather doubles many of the penalties if you have a high blood alcohol content. The current drunk driving BAC level is .08. The Super Drunk driving law considers those whose blood alcohol content over .17 to be SUPER DRUNKS.
Despite hopeful attempts by many local prosecutors, this is not a distinct crime. You can be convicted of standard drunk driving or Super Drunk. The penalties for a first time offender with a .17 or more are doubled. As you can see from the chart below, you can be subject to up to six months in jail, double the fine, and a one year driver's license suspension.
OWI and Super Drunk Driving at a Glance
Super Drunk driving remains a misdemeanor offense which can also include work crew, community service, and six points on your license. Interestingly, you can only be charged with driving with a high BAC as a first offender; meaning this new drunk driving charge can only be used against first offenders who do not have priors.
BAC FACTS: Of 36,000 breathalyzer tests done by police in the year 2007, 31,600 were over .10. There is no published data as to how many of these tests had a BAC of .17 or higher.
Don't drive drunk. But if you make a mistake and are charged with drunk driving, you should consult with a lawyer before going to court. Often the penalty can be lessened or the charge reduced.
Attorney Bruce Alan Block is a Grand Rapids, Michigan criminal defense lawyer who has successfully handled Super drunk driving, drunk driving, drugged driving, impaired driving, driving while impaired, driving while visibly impaired, and more. He also helps those whose license has been suspended to reinstate their driver's license. Put his years of experience to work for you.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
1155 East Paris Ave SE, Suite 300 Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Phone: (616) 676-8770
Serving Clients throughout Western Michigan, in Grand Rapids, Ada, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Cascade, Wyoming, Byron Center, Wyoming, Caledonia, Cascade, Rockford, Holland, Grand Haven, Grandville, Kent, Barry, Ottawa, Muskegon and Ionia County. We represent college students from Calvin College, Aquinas, Grand Valley State University, Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids Community College, Michigan State University, and Western Michigan University.