DUI Myths Answered!
I have represented many clients for a variety of "DUI" offenses in Michigan. This is a list of the 5 most common questions, or statements I hear from my clients that are not always true about their DUI arrest. This is not intended to be legal advice, just a look at the stages of a DUI arrest.
Refuse the breathalyzer and you won't get arrested!False. The police can arrest you if there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed. Probable cause could mean signs of impairment included impaired driving, smelling of alcohol, and the failing of field sobriety tests (walk-the-line tests). A positive alcohol reading on a preliminary breath test (PBT or breathalyzer) result could also be probable cause to arrest you. Although, without a PBT, you are not completely free from arrest. Additionally, in Michigan, refusing the PBT is a civil infraction that carries a fine of $150 plus court costs, and if you are under 21 years of age, 2 points will be added to your driving record.
I did the PBT on the road, so I don't have to do another breathalyzer at the police station.False. Well it's a free country, so I guess you don't HAVE to do anything-- but this will not be without consequence! The PBT we mentioned in the previous topic, is the breathalyzer the police usually request "at the scene" or "on the road" when they pull you over. This PBT is not admissible in court to prove your intoxication in the DUI case. This is just used for probable cause purposes. Once you are arrested and taken back to the police station, you will be requested to blow into a machine known as a DataMaster. This machine is similar to a PBT, however it is larger, and will be located on a desk at the police station, and its results are more reliable. The police will read you a form that explains to you the Implied Consent laws of Michigan and consequences of refusing to blow into the DataMaster. In a nutshell, by having a MIchigan driver's license all drivers have given consent to submit to this test, and if you refuse, your license will automatically be suspended for 1-year and 6 points will be added to your driver's license. Even if your DUI case eventually gets dismissed in court or you are found not guilty by a jury, your license will still be suspended. Additionally, if you refuse, the police will likely seek a warrant to draw your blood, and that will be tested for alcohol or drugs. If you refuse a DataMaster, you must immediately contact a lawyer, because you only have 14 days to file for an appeal, which is your only chance to save your license for the next year.
I wasn't read my rights, so my case gets thrown out!False...well sometimes. I hear this from clients in many cases, not just DUI's, but we will stick with the DUI example to keep things simple. A police officer only has to read you your Miranda Rights if you are in custody AND being interrogated. So even if that is the case, you are in custody AND being interrogated, you aren't read your rights...you're case doesn't automatically get thrown out. However, a Judge could find that those statements you made during the interrogation are not admissible because you were not read your rights--so those statements could be thrown out, but not necessary all of the other evidence in the case. In a "normal" DUI situation, the police usually do not need your statements to prove their case against you, because they usually have other evidence: swerving in the road, smell of alcohol, failing the walk-the-line tests, and the DataMaster breathalyzer result. So, many times the police will not read you your rights because they do not intend on interrogating you and/or using your statements against you.
If I pass the field sobriety tests I won't get arrested!Not always true. If you pass the field sobriety tests (walk-the-line, ABCs, horizontal gaze nystagmus test, count-backwards, etc.), you will also have to the other tests (breathalyzer, blood) for the police to let you go. The field sobriety tests are just one way the police can show probable cause that a crime was committed. Your swerving, smell of alcohol, and "I only had 2 beers, officer" statement, could be enough to arrest you. However, it should be noted that in Michigan it is not a crime to refuse the field sobriety tests.