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Michigan Drunk Driving Defense Blog

Should teens have to take a breath test at prom?

Prom season is almost upon us. In the coming weeks, teens in Michigan will put on gowns and tuxedos for the dance that many consider a rite of passage in high school.

Many teens do not consider alcohol to be part of the prom experience. However, some do. How to deal with this issue is a concern for school officials, while still respecting the students’ rights.

Survey suggests it's up to parents to prevent underage drinking

Under Michigan law, it is illegal for people under age 21 to drink alcohol. A conviction for underage drinking, which may seem like a relatively minor crime in at least some situations, can have lifelong consequences. It can appear on you permanent record, which could affect your ability to get a job, obtain a mortgage or travel abroad.

For parents of teens who do not want them to drink, the laws on the books may not be the most effective way to control their behavior. A survey by Mothers Against Drunk Driving suggests that teenagers are more likely to listen to their parents than many mothers and fathers may believe.

Sobriety courts are an option for some Michigan DUI defendants

Ingham County is one of the Michigan counties who provide “sobriety court” for certain DUI defendants. This court system is different than regular criminal court, because it is more focused on helping defendants struggling with addiction get sober. While sobriety court does not make sense for everyone accused of drinking and driving, it helps many people get over an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and stop driving under the influence.

The state of Michigan apparently is pleased with the work of the 54 sobriety courts or similarly specialty courts established in the state. The Legislature recently approved funding a new, multi-county court to cover Crawford, Kalkaska, Missaukee and Roscommon Counties, for three years.

Smartphone DUI breath tests not 100 percent accurate

Nowadays, people in Lansing are closely attached to their smartphones, especially teens and people in their 20s and 30s. Users may sometimes find themselves in a situation where they are not sure if they are over the limit to drive, or if they are at risk of an arrest for DUI.

As a service to our readers, we will avoid the clichéd joke, but smartphone apps and attachments do exist that claim to measure your BAL, so that you know whether or not to drive.

Breath test results thrown out due to insufficient testing

Michigan officials usually are very careful about the text of the bills they vote on or enact as a regulation. This is because every word can make a big difference about how the law is interpreted. When police deviate from the letter of the law, it often means that a suspect’s rights are being violated. This is why even seemingly minor infractions matter, as a case from another state shows.

Until recently, Missouri regulations required police officers to periodically test their breath test machines at three levels: at 0.10 percent, 0.08 percent and 0.04 percent. This was likely to ensure that the device is giving accurate results during a DUI stop. But many officers failed to test their devices at all three levels, though the regulation was in place for 14 months.

Despite 0.00 BAL, man arrested for DUI

The process of dealing with a DUI charge can take a lot of time, energy and expense. Even when you were not guilty of DUI, it can take a while for the system to catch up to that fact and lead to a dismissal or not guilty verdict.

Because of this, one would hope that police in Lansing and outside of Michigan would only arrest drivers for DWI when they have probable cause to do so. But in one major metro area in another state, prosecutors are dropping DUI charges more than a quarter of the time.

Government DUI 'survey' creates privacy outcry

Police officers in Lansing are prohibited by the Constitution from performing random traffic stops to look for drunk drivers. But what if the officers are not trying to arrest anybody, but get them to answer a government survey instead?

Readers may have heard that a private business is working with police in several cities to pull over drivers at random. The drivers are asked about their driving habits, and to submit to blood and saliva tests, often with a police officer present. The company has contracted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to perform this nationwide study, which is called the National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drugged Driving.

If police don't follow procedure, breath test can get skewed

The tactics that police officers in Lansing use to gather evidence against a driver they suspect of being intoxicated vary in their level of objectivity. For example, it is up to the individual officer’s subjective opinion if a driver has passed a field sobriety test or not.

Breath tests are, theoretically, a scientific measurement of the suspect’s blood-alcohol level. But even that test can be contaminated if the officer performing the traffic stop does not follow proper procedure.

Explaining 'super drunk DUI' penalties in Michigan

Regular readers of this DUI defense blog can probably remember us discussing Michigan’s “super drunk” driving law. But for new readers, and those curious about the differences defendants face in regular DUI charges compared with “super drunk” DUI, here is a brief summary.

The standard DUI law has a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail for someone convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher. If convicted of being “super drunk” -- defined as driving with a BAL of more than 0.17 percent -- the maximum incarceration time jumps to 180 days. The possible fines also double.

Ex-football player gets 180 day in jail after felony DUI trial

Readers in Lansing may have been following the case of Josh Brent, the former professional football player accused of DUI manslaughter in connection with the death of his teammate and friend in a 2012 car accident. On Jan. 24, Brent was sentenced to 180 days in jail. He could have faced up to 20 years in prison after being convicted two days prior.

Brent, a defensive tackle, played for the Dallas Cowboys in 2012. His college teammate and friend, Jerry Brown, made the team's practice squad.