Detroit Traffic Ticket Attorneys Explain
New Change to Michigan Drunk Driving Law
As experienced Detroit Drunk Driving Attorneys, we want to bring attention to a new – and disturbing – change in Michigan Drunk Driving law.
In a nutshell, the Michigan Supreme Court just expanded the definition of “drunk driving” to include moving your car, truck or motorcycle up and down your own private driveway.
While one might think that to be convicted of drunken driving you should actually be driving, the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled otherwise.
This all started in 2014 with a simple noise complaint. A state police trooper, responding to the complaint, parked his squad car in front of a Northville man’s home. The man backed his car out of his garage – but when he noticed the state trooper, he pulled back into the garage.
The man refused the field sobriety test, so the trooper arrested him for drunk driving in his own driveway – before he ever reached the street.
Is it Drunk Driving if you are on Private Property?
The man’s blood level later tested at three times the legal limit. So he was clearly drunk . . . but was he legally driving?
The first two courts ruled that he was not driving, based on Michigan’s drunk driving laws.
Michigan’s drunk driving law prohibits motorists under the influence of alcohol “from operating a vehicle upon a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles.”
The Oakland County Circuit Court and the Michigan Court of Appeals both agreed that his driveway was not “open to the general public or generally accessible” – meaning that he wasn’t driving drunk. And, most attorneys would also consider a driveway to be private, and not open to the public.
But the Michigan Supreme Court majority disagreed, ruling that the upper portion of a driveway is generally accessible to the public, even though they clearly would have to trespass to access it!
Are Arrests for Drunk Driving on Private Property Unfair?
As experienced Detroit drunk driving attorneys, we are forced to wonder whether this decision tramples on the Michigan residents’ civil liberties and respect for private property.
In fact, one of the Judges who disagreed with the Supreme Court ruling on Drunk Driving stated emphatically that “private property rights are, of course, central to our legal system.” Adding that, “If a private citizen chooses to have a few beers while washing his car (or to wash his car while having a few beers), on a patch of his own land covered by a driveway, that is his right.”
Everyone agrees that you should never drive while intoxicated. But our drunk driving attorneys want you to know that you can now legally be arrested in your own driveway – thanks to this overreaching interpretation of the law.
Our Detroit Traffic Ticket Attorneys Can Help
If you were arrested for drunk driving in Detroit or anywhere in Southeast Michigan our skilled and experienced traffic attorneys are here to help. Call us today so we can look at all of the factors in your case, to ensure that you have the best defense and get the best possible results in your drunk driving case.
Detroit Traffic & Drunk Driving Attorneys
Free Consultation: 800-717-4757