DUI Tests and Your Rights
March 17, 2023
According to statistics from Michigan Annual Drunk Driving Audit, there were 27,506 total alcohol-related arrests statewide in 2021. Under Michigan laws, operating a vehicle while under the influence (OWI) of a controlled substance or an alcoholic liquor is prohibited. Upon reasonable suspicion of drunk driving, a police officer can stop your vehicle, ask you some questions, and request a DUI test.
Surprisingly, many Michigan drivers are unaware of their rights and obligations after a DUI stop. Due to this, many alleged drunk drivers often suffer severe consequences or end up in the worst possible situation. Conversely, understanding your rights when arrested and charged with a DUI/OWI can help make your case feel more manageable and ultimately protect your driving privileges.
At Detroit Legal Group PLLC, we provide clear legal guidance to clients facing drunk driving charges. Our strategic Michigan criminal defense attorneys can fully explain your rights when pulled over for a DUI/OWI and outline a solid defense strategy to help fight any drunk driving charges levied against you. We're proud to serve clients across Detroit, Dearborn, Warren, and Southfield, Michigan.
Understanding Implied Consent in Michigan
According to Michigan's Implied Consent Law, any motorist who applies for and accepts the state's driver's license is required to submit to chemical tests – including blood, breath, or urine test – if they're arrested by an officer based on a drunk driving suspicion. If you refuse to take the chemical test after a lawful arrest, your driver's license will be automatically suspended.
Blood Alcohol Test vs. Sobriety Test
A blood alcohol test is a test that is usually performed to determine the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or amount of alcohol in the person's body or blood. In Michigan, a motorist may be charged with an OWI for having a BAC of at least 0.08%. Also, under state laws, blood alcohol tests are compulsory after a lawful arrest. Refusing a blood alcohol test may result in various administrative penalties.
In contrast, field sobriety tests are a group of three standardized tests – the horizontal gaze, the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand tests – used by law enforcement officers to determine if a person's driving ability is impaired. Different research has shown that the science behind field sobriety tests is flawed. These tests cannot accurately ascertain whether a driver is sober or impaired. Hence, field sobriety tests are voluntary in Michigan, and there are no punishments for refusing.
Types of Sobriety Tests
As mentioned earlier, there are three types of field sobriety tests. These include:
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
In the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer will ask the driver to trail a moving object by focusing their eyes. Drivers who are unable to do this suggest that their driving ability might be impaired.
The Walk-and-Turn Test
In the walk-and-turn test, the officer instructs the driver to take nine steps along a straight line in a heel-to-toe style, turn on one foot, then return to his or her starting spot in the same heel-to-toe style.
The One-Leg Stand Test
In the one-leg stand test, the officer will ask the driver to stand on one foot at nearly six inches above the ground and count loudly for about 30 seconds.
Essentially, sobriety tests are considered flawed and not compulsory. A highly-skilled DUI/OWI defense attorney can evaluate your case details and enlighten you about the ramifications of refusing a DUI test in the state.
Consequences of Refusal
Below are some of the consequences of refusing a field sobriety test or blood alcohol test in Michigan:
Field Sobriety Tests
In Michigan, field sobriety tests are voluntary. You can politely and lawfully refuse to take a field sobriety test. There are no penalties for refusing.
Blood Alcohol Test
Conversely, refusal to take a blood alcohol test after a lawful arrest is a violation of Michigan's implied consent law. This is punishable by a fine, a one-year license suspension, demerit points on your driving record, and other administrative penalties.
Unfortunately, if you're convicted of DUI/OWI, you may end up facing additional penalties and other severe social consequences. Therefore, hiring a reliable criminal defense lawyer is crucial when facing drunk driving charges for proper guidance and to help build your defense strategy.
Experienced Guidance Every Step of the Way
When accused of drunk driving in Michigan, knowing your rights with DUI tests and the consequences of refusing a chemical test can protect you from the worst-case scenario and help you make informed decisions. At Detroit Legal Group PLLC, we have the diligence and knowledge to defend and represent individuals who have been wrongfully arrested for impaired driving.
Our attorneys can investigate every detail of your case thoroughly and determine whether the law enforcement officer had probable cause to stop your vehicle or arrest you. In addition, we will carefully evaluate the different tests performed by the officers and identify possible issues. Our trusted legal team will fight aggressively to protect your driving privileges and help keep your record clean.
Contact us at Detroit Legal Group PLLC today to schedule a simple case evaluation with experienced DUI/OWI defense lawyers. Our reliable attorney can direct you through the Michigan criminal justice system in pursuit of the most favorable outcome for your personal situation. We're proud to serve clients across Detroit, Dearborn, Warren, and Southfield, Michigan.