Articles Posted in Breath Testing

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 1950’s 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.

The Michigan DUI Lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm had be advising our clients that if they were convicted of operating while intoxicated they should expect to be placed on a term of probation. However, in March 2021 the Michigan legislature passed new and amended laws that focused on Criminal Justice Reform, and specifically provided that non-serious misdemeanors should not be ordered to jail, nor ordered to probation.  Michigan Compiled Laws Sec. 769.5(3) further clarifies that the appropriate sentence for these non-serious misdemeanors would be a fine, community service, or other non-jail and non-probation sentence. On this basis one might assume, therefore,that a qualifying Michigan drunk driving charge would not receive probation.

This despite the fact that the statutory penalties for a first offense Michigan DUI could include a maximum fine of $700, 360 hours of community service, and other non-probation or non-jail alternatives that may include counseling or rehabilitative services, and other educational programs like a Victim Impact Panel.  The maximum period of probation would be 24 months of probation, and the maximum jail term would be 180 days if a High BAC, or 93 days in an OWI or Impaired Driving.

This criminal justice reform measure appears to address these statutory penalties to allow offenders to avoid the probation and jail aspects of the case.

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.

The infrastructure spending bill now pending before the United States Senate contains a provision requiring that all manufacturers selling cars in the Unites States install technology that will preclude the vehicle from being operated by an intoxicated driver. This provision was sponsored by Michigan’s Rep. Debbie Dingell, D, among others.

According to the 2702-page bill, the Department of Transportation will be charged with the responsibility to determine the safety standards applicable to the technology and are required to do so within three years. Car manufacturers will then be given an additional two years to comply with these standards. However, if the DOT fails to finalize the rules within 10 years, the agency must report to the US Congress why they failed to comply.

There is little guidance in the bill relative to how the DOT should exercise their authority other than to say that whatever technology they settle on should “passively” and “accurately” monitor a driver’s performance and determine whether the driver is impaired.  Furthermore, the technology must “passively and accurately detect whether the blood alcohol concentration of the driver of a motor vehicle” is too high.

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