Detroit Traffic Lawyers Explain OWI Probable Cause

Detroit Traffic Lawyers Discuss
Probable Cause in Drunk Driving Cases

Detroit area OWI (“DUI”) tickets usually begin with a traffic stop by a police officer. Our Detroit area traffic lawyers want you to know your rights if you are (or already were) stopped by a Detroit officer for suspected drunk driving.

This article covers when a police officer may pull you over for suspected drunk driving.

In Michigan, in any traffic stop – including OWI or DUI – a police officer must have “probable cause” to pull you over.  This means that the police must have a reasonable suspicion that the vehicle or one of its occupants is in violation of the law.

Remember that the police are allowed to pull you over for one offense (such as broken taillight) and then charge you with a different offense (such as OWI) – as long as they had probable cause for the original offence. Read More on Probable Cause in Traffic Stops Here.

Additionally, if the police receive a 911 phone tip about a suspected drunk driver in Michigan – and then the officer makes the same observation – then the police typically have probable cause to conduct a valid traffic stop for suspected drunk driving.

A police officer can base his probable cause in a Drunk Driving arrest on a number of factors.

1. OWI Probable Cause – Observation

Probable cause to arrest for a drunk driving case typically begins with the police officer’s observations.

– Does the suspected drunk driver smell like intoxicants?

– Does the suspected drunk driver have red, watery or glassy eyes?

– Is the suspected drunk driver’s speech slurred?

– Is the suspected drunk driver having trouble with bodily movements?

– Has the suspected drunk driver urinated on themselves?

A skilled attorney can often challenge probable cause based on observation in an OWI stop or arrest.

2. OWI Probable Cause – Field Sobriety

After making observations, the officer will typically move on to a field sobriety test – designed to test the driver’s ability to follow directions, pay attention & exercise motor skills.

Michigan law only recognizes a very specific field sobriety test as scientifically valid. So the arresting officer must administered the field sobriety test properly to have it deemed accurate.

An experienced OWI traffic lawyer can review video of the field sobriety tests and the police report to assess whether your field sobriety test was performed correctly.  If the tests were the basis of the probable cause to arrest you and they were not performed properly, a skilled lawyer may be able to get your OWI case dismissed.

3. OWI Probable Cause – Breathalyzer

The final weapon used by police to establish probable cause in a drunk driving case, is the preliminary breath test (PBT).

Most people realize that if the police suspect that a driver is intoxicated they can require them to submit to a breathalyzer test – and refusing to take a breathalyzer test will result in an automatic and immediate suspension of their driver’s license.

However, many people do not realize that Michigan courts require a police officer to have a foundation for having a driver take the breathalyzer test.

A skilled drunk driving lawyer may be able to challenge the foundation for the preliminary breath test, and have the results suppressed (“thrown out”) getting your case dismissed.

And, even if there was a proper foundation for the PBT, if the police officer is improperly trained or improperly performs the breathalyzer test, an experienced DUI / OWI lawyer may still be able to get the results of the test “thrown out”.

Our Detroit Traffic Lawyers Can Help

If you were arrested for drunk driving in Detroit or anywhere in Southeast Michigan our skilled and experienced DUI traffic lawyers are here to help. Call us today so we can look at all of the factors in your case –including the traffic stop – to ensure you have the best defense and get the best possible results in your OWI case.

Detroit Traffic Lawyers for Reckless Driving

Detroit Traffic Lawyers Explain
Reckless & Careless Driving

Reckless Driving Tickets

In Michigan, reckless driving is a criminal traffic offense. This means you can face criminal penalties, including jail time, as well as administrative action, such as license suspension.

Michigan’s Compiled Laws, 257.626, defines reckless driving as operating a motor vehicle in a manner that shows willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other drivers, passengers, pedestrians or property.

Obviously, you can be issued a reckless driving ticket on a highway or road – but you can also get a reckless driving ticket if you are driving on any other place open to the general public, including a parking lot or even a frozen lake.

Reckless Driving Ticket Penalties

In Michigan, reckless driving is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in prison and a fine of up to $500. If you are convicted of reckless driving, there will also be an automatic license suspension possible for length of not more than one year. Conviction of reckless driving results in 6 points on your driving record.

The reckless driving statutes are very vague, and open to interpretation. Police officers frequently charge a driver with reckless driving in addition to other charges such as an OWI or speeding ticket. Drivers are also often charged with reckless driving when they have been involved in an accident.

Because of the severe nature of the reckless driving penalties – and because reckless driving charges are highly “subjective”- it is important to consult with an experienced traffic lawyer. A skilled traffic attorney can challenge the alleged “reckless” nature of your driving.

A good traffic lawyer may also be able to get the reckless driving ticket reduced to careless driving or a non-criminal traffic violation, such as speeding. Without legal representation of a lawyer, however, a reduction of the charges is much less likely.

Careless Driving Tickets

Careless driving is a lesser charge than reckless driving. In Michigan, careless driving is a civil infraction – not a crime.

Careless driving is defined as driving on a road or other place open to the general public (including parking lots & frozen lakes) in a careless or negligent manner that is likely to endanger any person or property.

While reckless driving must be intentional under Michigan law, careless driving can be committed with the driver not intending to cause harm. For example, if you were speeding and/or you unintentionally ran a red light, you did not intend to hurt anyone – but you still have put people and property at risk for harm.

Careless Driving Ticket Penalties

Careless driving is punishable by a fine of up to $100 and results in three points on your driving record.

What is considered careless driving is also “subjective”. Careless driving can be a stand-alone traffic offense (for example if an officer sees you tailgating or weaving in and out of traffic). It can also be added onto other charges, such as speeding. And it is frequently issued by police when there has been an accident.

Because careless driving carries 3 points – which can dramatically increase your insurance rates – it is important to consult with an experienced traffic lawyer.

Our Detroit Traffic Lawyers Can Help

Our Detroit area traffic lawyers have fought aggressively to help hundreds of people in the Detroit area fight their reckless & careless driving tickets – avoiding points that could result in increased insurance, license suspensions & big driver responsibility fees. Call our affordable Detroit area traffic ticket lawyers today for a free consultation, to see how we can help you fight your reckless or careless driving ticket.

Detroit Traffic Lawyers – Fighting Speeding Tickets

Detroit Traffic Lawyers Explain:
How to Fight a Speeding Ticket

If you have received a speeding ticket in the greater Detroit area, you are likely concerned about the effect that the points will have on your driving record and your auto insurance rates. Our experienced Detroit area speeding ticket lawyers will give you a free consultation to help you understand the points, fines, penalties and other consequences you are facing.

Below is a brief explanation of the “steps” you can take in fighting a Detroit area speeding ticket. However, you should always call an experienced traffic lawyer to understand the best steps to take in your specific speeding ticket.

The Speeding Ticket Process in Detroit

Under Michigan law, speeding is a “civil infraction” – this means that it is not a misdemeanor or a felony and you cannot be sentenced to any jail time. However you can get points, you can lose your license and you can be assessed big fines for a speeding ticket.  Points can cost you thousands of dollars in increased insurance rates.

If you simply pay your speeding ticket, you are “admitting responsibility” and you will receive the points. Once you do this, you are “stuck” with those points on your driving record.

However, if you ignore your speeding ticket, you will “automatically” be found responsible and will also receive the fine, and the points, plus late fees.

Your third and best option is usually “contesting” (fighting) the ticket. In most cases, investing a relatively small amount of money to hire a skilled traffic lawyer can save you hundreds of dollars in fines and thousands of dollars in insurance increases, driver responsibility fees & license restoration costs later!

There are three steps to fighting a speeding tickets.

1. Informal Hearing for Speeding Tickets

Your speeding ticket will tell you how to call, write or come in to the court to request an informal hearing. It will also state how many days you have to respond. Once you request an informal hearing, the Court will mail you a court date.

Do not miss your court date or you will lose automatically (by “default”) and you can expect the maximum fines and points, as well as possible additional court costs.

The Informal Hearing is conducted by a magistrate not a judge.

2. Formal Hearing for Speeding Tickets

If you request a formal hearing, you will be notified by mail of your court date. The formal hearing will be held before a judge. You cannot get a jury trial for a speeding ticket because it is a civil infraction.

Excuses for missing your hearing are not typically accepted. It is your responsibility to find out when your hearing is and to be there or you will “automatically” lose.

It is important to have a skilled traffic lawyer represent you at the Formal Hearing.

Without a lawyer a formal hearing can actually make thing worse. The magistrate could add court costs to your fine if you lose. Or, if the officer gave you a break when writing the ticket and wrote it for a lesser speed, the judge could increase your speeding ticket at the Formal Hearing.

Why you need a traffic lawyer for Speeding Ticket Hearings

Contact a speeding ticket lawyer as soon as possible so that they have time to prepare the best “defense” for you. If you have received a speeding ticket and you have a Formal Hearing date coming up and you do not have a lawyer, call us immediately.

An experienced traffic ticket lawyer who has been in that court many times will know the prosecutor and the magistrate and will have a good relationship with him or her. As skilled traffic lawyer will know what to say – and what the prosecutor and magistrate are likely to accept – in terms of reducing or dismissing a charge.

In many cases, a lawyer may be able to get your speeding ticket reduced from a “moving violation” to a “non-moving violation” which will reduce or eliminate the points. This is important because it can protect you from a future suspension if you have (or get) other points. And reducing the points will help keep your insurance rates from going up – which can save you thousands of dollars a year.

3. Second Formal Hearing or “Appeal”

If you lose in the Informal Hearing and also in the First Formal Fearing, you can appeal your speeding ticket to a Second Formal Hearing or “Appeal”.

However, no new “evidence” can be presented at the appeal. For this reason it is typically much better to ensure that you hire a lawyer to get the best results at the Informal Hearing or First Formal Hearing.

Our experienced speeding ticket lawyers can help you determine if it is worth the time and expense to file an “appeal” after the first Formal Hearing. In some cases, there may be nothing you can do. However, in many cases a skilled traffic lawyer can argue that the judge or prosecutor did not follow the law or procedure correctly – which may result in a successful appeal.

Our Detroit Traffic Lawyers Can Help

We have fought aggressively to help hundreds of people in the Detroit area fight their speeding tickets and avoid points that could result in increased insurance, license suspensions & large driver responsibility fees. Call our affordable Detroit area traffic ticket lawyers today for a free consultation, to see how we can help you fight your speeding ticket.

 

When the Police Can Pull You Over

Detroit Lawyers Discuss Traffic Stops:

When Can the Police Pull Me Over?

In Michigan, a police officer must have “probable cause” to pull you over in a traffic stop.  This means that an officer must have a valid and reasonable suspicion that the car or one of its occupants is in violation of the law.

As long as the police have a valid reason for the traffic stop, they can charge you with other crimes even if they had no “probable cause” to pull you over for the crime you are eventually charged with.  For example, an officer can pull you over for a broken tail light and then arrest you for an OWI or drug possession.

In other words, an officer is not required to issue a ticket or arrest you for the violation that justified the original traffic stop. For example, you may be pulled over for speeding, or an illegal U-turn, and end up with an OWI.

It’s also allowed for a police officer to run a license plate check on a vehicle without probable cause.  And if the car is registered to someone with a warrant or a suspended license – now the police do have probable cause to make a legal stop. So if you’re driving someone else’s car, and they have a warrant or suspended license, this traffic stop would be valid, even if you yourself have a valid license and no warrants.

Keep in mind that resisting the officer who is issuing the ticket or arrest is not allowed – even if you believe that the officer did not have probable cause to pull you over. The time to challenge probable cause is in court, not at the time of the arrest. Failure to cooperate, leaving the scene, or using physical force can result in additional charges such as resisting arrest or fleeing and eluding.

Fighting Improper Traffic Stops in Detroit

The good news – if you were stopped in the Detroit area – is that the standard for probable cause is not subjective. The officer who pulled you over cannot go outside the bounds of what is reasonable for the situation.

If the police office did not have a reasonable reason to pull you over, your traffic lawyer may be able to challenge the traffic stop. If the judge determines that the officer did not have “probable cause” to make the stop, the arrest may be considered “unconstitutional”. This can mean that a good traffic lawyer may be able to file a motion to get the evidence suppressed, and possibly get your ticket or charge dismissed.

An experienced traffic lawyer can examine the circumstances behind your traffic stop, and determine if there may be grounds to challenge it for a lack of probable cause.

Our Detroit Traffic Lawyers Can Help

If you received a ticket or were arrested during a Detroit area traffic stop, your next step should be to talk to an experienced Detroit area traffic lawyer. Any improper or illegal behavior by a police officer during a traffic stop can be used by your traffic attorney to have the evidence “suppressed” and they may be able to get your charges dropped or reduced.

We have helped hundreds of Detroit area residents fight illegal or improper traffic stops. Our Detroit area traffic lawyers are committed to offering you the most effective representation in your traffic ticket case, at the most affordable prices, and your first consultation is always FREE. Call us today.

Detroit Traffic Lawyers Explain Traffic Stop Rights

Detroit Traffic Lawyers Explain
Your Legal Rights in a Police Traffic Stop

Everybody knows that sinking feeling when you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. But what most people don’t know is exactly what their rights are (and aren’t) when stopped by the police. Our experienced Detroit Traffic Lawyers explain what you can, can’t and must do during a traffic stop.

What You Must Do in a Detroit Traffic Stop

You must show your identification if you are stopped while driving. You must also present your vehicle registration and proof of automobile insurance.

If the police suspect that you are driving while intoxicated (or under the influence of a controlled substance) they can require you to submit to a breathalyzer test. You must comply. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test will result in an automatic and immediate suspension of your driver’s license.

You may not, ever, physically resist the police if they try to detain you, search you or handcuff you. It is possible to contest the arrest or detention later in court, but physical resistance during a stop or arrest will almost always lead to additional charges against you.

Your Rights in a Detroit Traffic Stop

If you are stopped while driving, you do not have to answer any additional questions without a lawyer present. However, your level of “cooperation” will often affect how well (or how poorly) you are treated by the officers.

It is wise to be cooperative – but do not try to explain yourself or make excuses. If you do, these statements may be used against you in court.

If you are detained by the police, ask to speak to an attorney as soon as possible and clearly tell the police you will not answer any questions until your lawyer is present. You only have the right to a court-appointed lawyer if: (1.) the crime you are charged with has a penalty of imprisonment; and, (2.) you are indigent and cannot afford an attorney.

After you have been stopped, it is within your legal rights to ask if you are being detained. If the officer says you are not being detained, you are free to leave. You should never run from a police officer or leave without being told that you are not being detained.  Leaving can lead to additional charges, such as fleeing and eluding a police officer.

The police are legally allowed to search your body and your car without your consent for firearms or dangerous weapons. The police are also legally allowed to search your car – even without a search warrant – if they have “probable cause” to believe that the car or driver was or is involved in a crime.

If the police take things from you while searching you or your car, you have the right to ask for a receipt for whatever they take.

You may indicate to the officers that you do not consent to a full search of your person – but you may not resist them physically.

Our Detroit Traffic Lawyers Can Help

If you get a ticket or are arrested during the traffic stop, your next step should be to talk to an experienced traffic lawyer. Any improper or illegal behavior by a police officer during a traffic stop can be used by your traffic lawyer to have evidence “suppressed” and/or get your charges dropped or reduced.

Our Detroit area traffic lawyers are committed to offering you the most effective representation in your traffic ticket case, at the most affordable prices. And your first consultation is always FREE.