Articles Posted in Breath Testing

What’s the Difference Between DUI and OWI? In Michigan the most appropriate legal acronym is “OWI.” But “DUI” is still used as a more general reference to drunk driving, due to this ubiquitous abbreviation being the best-known and most widely used acronym in the United States. At Barone Defense Firm (BDF), within our law office, our Michigan criminal attorneys near me use either acronym interchangeably.

Intoxicated driving cases are a major legal practice area for Michigan criminal defense lawyers in our state. The OWI criminal charge threatens the driving privileges of the person charged with a crime of drunken driving or drugged driving.

This is one major reason that our criminal lawyers in Michigan travel statewide to defend such cases for our clients. This should not be left to any Michigan lawyer who is not an experienced criminal defense attorneys in the field of OWI defense.

A recent news report outlines some of the circumstances surrounding the arrest of Michigan Democratic state Rep. Mary Cavanagh of Redford, and as true with many media outlet stories it seeks more shock than substance.  To help elaborate on substance, and dispel some myths and misunderstandings about drunk driving laws, this article addresses the following three topic:

  1. A second DUI arrest does not necessarily mean enhanced DUI penalties, driver license sanctions or conviction,
  2. Being unable to stand on one leg is only a part of standard field sobriety tests, and;

Why Does Michigan’s Law of Implied Consent Exist?

The first DUI laws went in the books all the way back in the 1950s when cars where just starting to become very common. Back then, there were no breath tests, so that law enforcement tool in a DUI investigation was not available to police officers. That only happened ten years later, in the 1960s. Technology has improved a lot since then, and the law has changed too, because the law of implied consent is younger than the first breath tests. Back in the “olden days” people could refuse a breath test in a drunk driving case without an possible sanction. That is no longer true, and today, there are serious consequences if you unreasonably refuse to to a breath test.

The Michigan Law of Implied Consent

Most of the time if you are pleading guilty it is because your lawyer has successfully engaged in plea bargaining with the prosecutor. Consequently, preparation for court when pleading guilty really begins to take place almost as soon as you first hire your lawyer. Therefore, the total preparation will take place over several weeks or months, and sometimes even years before you are set to appear in court. At a minimum the following things should have occurred before you plead guilty.

  1. You’ve reviewed all the discovery with your attorney.
  2. You’ve discussed possible defenses with your attorney.

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Early Discharge on OWI Probation in Michigan

The Michigan DUI Lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm have be advising our clients in Oakland County and throughout the State of Michigan, that if you are convicted of operating while intoxicated (OWI) then you should expect to be placed on a term of probation.

While on probation, you will have a variety of conditions of probation and these will be based in part on whatever “rehabilitative goals” are set by the Judge.

In a criminal case, after your arrest but before your conviction or acquittal, you will be on bond. There are several mandatory and many discretionary terms and conditions of bond, and these have been previously discussed. A show cause is what happens when someone does something on bond contrary to what’s been ordered.

The most common allegations of a bond violation that we see at the Barone Defense Firm related to alcohol and drug testing. Often, a client will miss a drug or alcohol test, which is the most common alleged bond violation, followed by a positive drug or alcohol test.

A bond violation is a serious matter because it is considered a contempt of court. After the court receives notice from the monitoring agency that there’s been an alleged violation, the court will issue a show cause order. The purpose of a show cause order is to require you to appear in court to show cause why you should not be held in contempt of court for violating a court order. Because the judge has ordered you to do something (test according to a set schedule), and it is alleged that you violated that order, unless you have a defense to the allegations, you will be found in contempt of court. See, e.g.,  People v Mysliwiec, 315 Mich App 414, 417 (2016).

The Michigan Eastern District Court has partially ruled in favor of a Michigan resident, finding that he does have a civil rights cause of action against the Michigan State Police (MSP) for recklessly allowing breath test evidence from faulty instruments to be used in prosecuting him. Other possible civil rights violations relating the MSP breath test program were also found. The lawsuit against Intoximeter, the corporation that services the breath test instrument used by the MSP, was however dismissed.

This case arose out of an ongoing fraud investigation in the MSP DUI breath test program the began with the discovery by a defense attorney  of some questionable 120-day inspection reports relative to his client’s DataMaster DMT breath test result. The DataMaster DMT (DMT) is an infrared evidential breath alcohol test instrument used in the prosecution of drunk driving cases throughout the State.  According to Michigan law and administrative rules each DMT instrument is to be inspected by a “class four” certified technician every 120 days. These 120-day inspections are intended to ensure that the instruments are correctly calibrated and are in good working order.

These 120-day inspections are in addition to weekly self-checks the device conducts automatically using a dry-gas simulator solution. Certain error codes can be generated during these tests that may cause the instrument to be taken out of service. If that happens the instruments can only be brought back into service after further inspection by a class four operator. Around the time of the discovery of the questionable records, the Michigan State Police (“MSP”) had begun to uncover their own cadre of suspect records.

While President Bidens Investment and Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA) does require automakers to incorporate advanced impairment detection technology, and sets a timeline for doing so, it is soley up to the Secretary of Transportation to define what the specific technology solution will be. The only guideline in the IIJA is that the technology be “advanced” and “passive” and that it either measure driver impairment through driver performance, measure driver intoxication by analyzing the driver’s blood alcohol level, or both.

MADD Has Already Made Suggestions

MADD was instrumental in the drafting and passage of this legislation, and have indicated that such AIDP will:

On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed into law the bipartisan Investment Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA). This new law contains a provision requiring that all passenger vehicles eventually be equipped with technology that will stop drunk drivers. New cars may start utilizing such technology immediately, but the law won’t require this advanced impaired driving technology any sooner than 2 years from now, though it’s likely to take far longer.

What is the Timeline for Requiring Advanced Impairment Detection Technology?

As previously indicated in our previous article entitled Infrastructure Bill to Combat Drunk Driving by Requiring Alcohol Monitoring Technology the new law does not, with any degree of specificity, indicate what technologies are to be utilized for this purpose.  Instead, the law sets forth a timeline for the Secretary of Transportation to write the specific motor vehicle safety standard. Section 24220(c) indicates that not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of the IIJA, the Secretary of Transportation (SOT) shall issue a “final rule” requiring that a motor vehicle safety standard be added to the relevant section of the federal code.

The bipartisan Investment Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA) seeks to combat drunk driving by requiring all new passenger vehicles be equipped with Advanced Alcohol Monitoring Technology. The drive behind this section of the 2702-page IIJA was led by Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. MADD also played a significant role in the development of this law.

However, until now, their efforts have focused on requiring all first-time drunk driving offenders to use Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices (BAIID). The IIJA instead focuses on different type of technology and this technology will be required in all passenger vehicles, regardless of whether the driver has ever been charged with drunk driving.

Congresswoman Dingell and MADD’s combined efforts bore fruit on November 15, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed into IIJA into law. Section 24220 of the Act is entitled “Advanced Impaired Driving Technology” (AIDP) and requires that “drunk and impaired driving prevention technology” become standard equipment in all new passenger motor vehicles.

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