Driving under the influence (DUI), or in Michigan Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), is usually charged using a breath test result. However, due to the recently discovered breath testing fraud, more often Michigan DUI cases are charged using a blood test result. Breath test results are available immediately after the test is administered at the police station or jail. Blood sample results, however, can take weeks or months to be returned from the Michigan State Police (MSP) forensics lab. The prosecutor in a DUI case generally, but not always, waits for blood results to submit formal charges because if the result is over .08 then the case can be charged under Michigan’s Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level law. And if the test result is above a .17, then it is considered a super-drunk driving.
What is the Process That My Blood Sample Goes Through?
If you have gone through a Michigan DUI arrest that involved a blood sample, you may have noticed that the police officer provided special vials to be used for the sample. These blood collection vials come from a kit that is specifically made for police agencies in Michigan to collect blood samples for criminal investigations. There should be two vials with grey caps. Sodium fluoride should be in the vials to properly preserve the blood. The vials are sent to the Michigan State Police forensics lab in Lansing for testing. Once tested, the results are sent back to the arresting agency, and the prosecutor for that agency. The prosecutor will review the matter, and if appropriate, will file DUI charges against you in court. If the blood is being tested for alcohol only, the process usually takes three to six weeks. If it’s also being tested for drugs, it could take months. During the coronavirus pandemic, the results could take even longer to be returned.
Since it Could Take Over a Month Before My Michigan DUI Case is Charged Do I Need to Hire an Attorney Now?
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Michigan and the police obtained a blood sample from you, you need an attorney immediately because there are things the attorney can be doing right away to help you. There are also things you can do to help in your defense. A Michigan DUI lawyer from the Barone Defense Firm can help explain these things to you and thereby maximize your chances for a favorable outcome.
Here are the Top Four Reasons You Should Hire an Attorney Now:
- Evidence: Aside from the police report, your attorney should request preservation of all evidence available in a DUI case. This evidence can include the police report, dashcam videos, body cam footage, dispatch audio, booking room video, and the blood sample report. Most police agencies have document retention policies that require deleting this evidence after a period of time; sometimes only 30 days. If you want your best chance at a good result in your Michigan DUI case, you should hire an attorney who will request preservation of this evidence immediately upon being hired.
- Proactive Measures: Evidence that shows the court that you’re not going to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs ever again can be a very powerful tool for your attorney in reducing your charges. One of the best ways to show a prosecutor and a judge that you aren’t going to drive impaired again is by right away getting an alcohol assessment or substance use evaluation. The best attorneys will know the best counselors to refer you to for this assessment; counselors whose findings will be respected by the judges and prosecutors in the court hearing your case.
- Time: Time is an extremely valuable resource in a Michigan DUI case because your attorney could be using this time to do a number of things (in addition to the above). There may be collateral issues that need to be investigated. For example, some employers require reporting of a criminal charge or conviction. A good attorney can determine right away whether this is the case with your employer and prepare to properly report. Your attorney can use the time waiting for the blood sample to do scene investigation. Your attorney can also be using this time to get to know you and build a relationship with you. With this relationship, the attorney can better understand your life and what you need during your case and in the result of your case.
- Case filed unexpectedly: Some courts will move forward with DUI charges even if the blood sample isn’t returned. This is especially true if other charges or civil infractions are involved. Your attorney should be prepared for the charges even if they are filed before the blood comes back.
What Can I Do to Prepare if My Michigan DUI Case Involved a Blood Sample?
Your best course of action is to retain an attorney as quickly as possible after the incident because your attorney can be doing all the above and more to help you. The attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm have been specifically trained in DUI defense. We have a proactive approach to DUI cases that has allowed us to help thousands of people minimize the consequences of DUI/OWI charges in Michigan for more than 30 years. Please don’t hesitate to call us now if you need help with a drunk driving charge in Michigan.