• The Michigan DUI Process
  • February 14, 2011
  • Law Firm: Plachta Murphy Associates P.C. - Grand Rapids Office
  • A DUI 101 GUIDE

    Attention: If you have been arrested for a drunk driving or impaired operating charge in the State of Michigan, beware of the DUI laws in this state - the penalties can be severe for even a first offense and reduced charges are possible if you have a decent case and a knowledgeable defense lawyer.

    DUI Process

    TRAFFIC STOP

    Usually, the entire DUI process begins when one of two events occurs. Either when a person is pulled over for a traffic violation or when a person enters a DUI checkpoint. By far, the most common beginning occurs when the officer pulls the suspect over for a traffic violation. The violation most often is either running a stop sign or light, weaving between lanes, speeding or allowing for a simple defect to the vehicle. At this time, the officer will state that he or she noticed what is called the objective symptoms of intoxication. These symptoms include slurred speech, watery eyes and the smell of alcohol on the suspect's breath.

    DUI CHECKPOINT

    In Michigan, police departments may use DUI checkpoints in order to enforce drunk-driving laws. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence after being stopped at a Michigan DUI checkpoint, you should contact a DUI defense lawyer to discuss your case and learn about your options. If you are stopped at a Michigan DUI checkpoint call an attorney immediately.

    DUI INVESTIGATION

    Once the officer has detected any of the objective signs of intoxication, then he or she will begin the DUI investigation. The suspect will be asked to step out of the vehicle and the officer will begin to administer a series of field sobriety tests (FST). The name comes from the fact that the officer conducts the tests in the field. There are several different types of field sobriety tests, and an officer is not require to give all of the tests at the time of his or her investigation. The officer is also not required to tell you that you can refuse to participate in the tests.

    PRELIMINARY Breath Test (PBT)

    When stopped by a law enforcement officer for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you may be asked to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) at the roadside to determine whether you are under the influence of alcohol. If you refuse to take the PBT, you will be charged with a civil infraction and fined up to $100 plus court costs. Persons under age 21 who refuse to take the PBT will receive two points on their driving record. Even if you take the PBT, you must still take the evidentiary chemical test (blood, breath, or urine test). Please see below.

    Michigan Implied Consent Law

    If arrested, you will be required to take a chemical test to determine you Bodily Alcohol Content (BAC) or to ascertain whether there are drugs in your body. Under Michigan’s Implied Consent Law, all drivers are considered to have given their consent to this test. If you refuse a test, six points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended for one year. Please be aware that suspension of a license is automatic for any refusal to submit to the test. This is a separate consequence from any subsequent convictions resulting from the traffic stop or checkpoint.

    If you are arrested a second time in seven years and again unreasonably refuse the test, six points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended for two years.

    If you refuse to take the test under the Implied Consent Law or if the test shows your BAC is .08 or greater, your driver’s license will be destroyed by the officer, and you will be issued a 625g paper permit, which allows you to drive if your license was valid at the time of arrest, until your case is resolved in court.

    DUI ARREST

    After the officer completes the FSTs, he or she will claim that the driver failed the tests, and the officer will arrest the driver for driving under the influence (DUI). If the driver was administered the PAS breath test in the field, and the driver blew more than the legal limit, the officer will also use that result as "probable cause" to arrest. In a normal DUI case, the officer will place the driver under arrest for DUI.

    In order for the officer to make this arrest, the officer must have probable cause to believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and that the driver's ability to drive the vehicle is impaired. At this time, the driver is placed in handcuffs and taken for a chemical test. The chemical test may be either blood, breath or a urine test, if drugs are suspected. This test is used to determine the level of alcohol in the driver's blood. This is called the BAC test, or the Blood Alcohol Test. The officer, if possible, will give the driver a choice of which test he or she would like to take. The DUI suspect is required by law to take a chemical test. However, in most cases the police will not force you to take a test. Instead, you will just be punished more severely by both the DMV and the court for the refusal. If the driver does not take a test, then the Department of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend the driver's license for a significant period of time of at least one year; in some cases, the suspension may be longer.

    If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI offense in the West Michigan area, call Miles J. Murphy. Mr. Murphy understands the serious nature of this offense, how best to defend you, and how to resolve your case without you going to jail. Mr. Murphy has extensive knowledge of the law and the legal system.

    For more information about the various defenses for your DUI case, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Miles Murphy at Plachta, Murphy & Associates, P.C. Mr. Murphy can be reached at 616-458-3994 or [email protected]