If you have been arrested and charged for drunk driving (OWI - DUI), you may already know the severity of the charge. You face loss of your driver's license, career opportunities, educational programs, and likely jail time. A drunk driving arrest is serious, and can affect the rest of your life. When you need skilled drunk driving defense count on West Michigan drunk driving lawyer, Bruce Alan Block, P.L.C.. With over 25 years experience, our Grand Rapids Drunk Driving lawyer offers skilled representation in cases of drunk driving, impaired driving, reckless driving, careless driving, and most traffic infractions.
A typical drunk driving charge can cost upwards of $5,000, 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 taxi or an Uber or Lyft ride. A $20 or even $40 taxi ride is worlds less expensive than a drunk driving charge, which can lead to thousands of dollars in fines, a criminal conviction, the loss of your driver's license and your freedom.
Unfortunately, many people feel they are "ok" to drive even though the law says they are drunk. The legal limit for blood alcohol is .08. This is an arbitrary number the federal government imposed on all 50 states. Arbitrary, because we have represented clients who could drive quite well with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over .08. However, it does not matter how well you can handle your alcohol. If you are over the .08 legal limit - the law presumes you are drunk driving.
If you are charged with drunk driving, driving impaired, or drugged driving, it is worth your time to seek an experienced drunk driving lawyer. Why? Because a skilled lawyer can often lessen the drunk driving offense and reduce the consequences of a drunk driving offense.
The state law enforcement officers and prosecutors are tough on drunk driving cases. Drunk driving offenders are cut very little slack. However, effective legal representation can challenge the drunk driving arrest, the PBT breath test, the BAC test, and a blood test. Also, there are lesser offenses, such as Operating While Visibly Impaired, Impaired Driving (OWVI), Reckless Driving, and Careless Driving charges that drastically reduce points, cut fines in half, and reduce onerous driver's license sanctions.
A drunk driving arrest can be challenged, and our drunk driving lawyer knows the details that are important to provide you with seasoned and 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?
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 "consent" to a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test. This is of course a legal fiction, as few, if any, drivers are consciously aware that they gave their "implied consent" to have their breath, blood, or urine tested. There are two types of tests that are commonly given to a suspected drunk driver:
- 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 a "calibrated" blood alcohol monitoring machine kept at the sheriff department or jail.
The preliminary breath test (PBT) is usually given on scene. This is a device that gives a police officer probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving. Refusal to take the PBT test is a civil infraction that carries a $125 fine with no license sanctions. This portable device should NOT to be confused with the Datamaster BAC machine which is kept at the local jail or sheriff's office.
The Datamaster BAC machine is a calibrated blood alcohol machine which can (in theory anyway) accurately test a person's blood alcohol content (BAC). A clean straw is inserted into the machine and the suspected drunk driver is told to blow for 15 - 30 seconds. If you refuse to take this breath test, you will be given an "Implied Consent" violation, which will leads to a one year driver's license suspension and six points put on 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 a sufficient breath sample and give you a "technical refusal," which is treated as though you refused to take the breath test. There are also medications that can falsely increase the BAC result.
When someone refuses to take the Datamaster test or does not blow hard enough into the plastic straw, the police usually seek a search warrant to draw blood. The blood is shipped off to the state police laboratory for analysis.
A hemophiliac or a diabetic is not covered by the Implied Consent law. Some over the counter drugs can throw off the Datamaster results or 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 breath test.
If you are ticketed for an Implied Consent refusal you have 14 days to request a hearing. If you do not, 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 police officer who gave the test is required to give you a Notice of Implied Consent Refusal Form which contains information on how to request a hearing. A hearing date is set within 60 days, and you and the officer must appear and present live testimony before an administrative law judge. We have successfully won implied consent cases. At a minimum, request the hearing while you seek legal advice from our drunk driving lawyer. You can always cancel the hearing.
Driving under the influence of illegal drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana LSD, etcetera, have the same penalties as drunk driving. But, unlike drunk driving cases, there is no legal limit. The standard test is a urine or blood test. By getting behind the wheel 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 blood test, the police officer can seek a search warrant, strap you down to a table, and take it against your will.
If you have illegal drugs in your blood stream such as cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, or LSD, you will arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs (OWID) which has the same penalties as drunk driving (OWI).
Visit our THC Marijuana - Impaired Driving page for information on driving if you have a Michigan medical marihuana card.
Driving and Recreational Marijuana.
With new laws come new challenges. The legal system does not know how to treat those who drive with active THC in their bodies. Most police officers sadly are arresting persons and taking their blood, having it tested, and then charging them with operating under the influence of a controlled substance.
In October 2010, the Michigan Legislature doubled the penalties for drunk drivers with a high blood alcohol content (BAC). Known as the 'Super Drunk" law, this is not a separate offense, but rather doubles many of the drunk driving penalties. The current drunk driving BAC level is .08. The Super Drunk driving law considers those whose blood alcohol content of .17 or more to be SUPER DRUNK.
You can be convicted of standard drunk driving or Super Drunk. The penalties for a first time offender with a .17 blood alcohol content 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.
Super Drunk Driving
Super Drunk driving remains a misdemeanor offense which can include work crew, community service, and six points on your license. You can only be charged as a Super Drunk as a first offender.
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, call us before going to court. We can help.