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DUI Roadside Investigations

As part of their attempt to gain a conviction in your Michigan DUI case a prosecutor will have two theories available too present to the jury at trial. These first theory is the "per se" theory of DUI. In Michigan this is also called the UBAL (Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Level) theory. The UBAL DUI theory is based exclusively on the chemical test. A Michigan DUI arrest can also be based on the alternative theory of OUIL (Operating Under the Influence of Liquor). This theory is typically based primarily on the roadside investigation. This means that the "reliability" of the observations made by the police officer are of paramount importance in determining the issue of guilt or innocence. If yours is a DUI drugs case, then similar theories are available to the prosecutor.

Conduct of the Roadside Investigation – DUI Law Enforcement Training

Most of Michigan's police officers have received training on, and become participants in, the National Highway Safety Administration's Standardized Field Sobriety Test Program. This training classically takes place over three days, and includes learning about the three phases of a DUI investigation. These include:

Phase One : Vehicle in Motion – Just as with the other two phases phase one consists of two parts. The first part consists of watching you drive your case. The decision of phase one is “do I stop the vehicle?” If yes, then part two consists of watching how your respond to the stop signal. Being ordered to stop your car by a police officer requires you to be able to divide your attention and may give the officer clues as to your level of intoxication. These observations will be recorded in the police officer’s narrative report and will be utilized in court when the officer is trained to give clear and convincing evidence of your impairment.

Phase Two : Personal Contact – now that the vehicle is stopped, this phase begins with the officer approaching your care for the face-to-face observation. Here the decision point is “do I ask the driver to step from the car?” If the decision is “yes” then the officer will further observe your exit from the vehicle as well as your ability to walk toward the rear of the vehicle for further evaluation. The officers are trained to engage all their senses. For example, what does the officer smell the odor of alcohol or cover up odors, what does the officer see relative to the driver’s eyes, face and clothing, are the eye bloodshot, is the face flush, etc., and what does the officer hear, including manner of speech, answers given.

Phase Three: Pre-Arrest Screening: This includes the administration of the three standardized field sobriety tests, which are the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). Here the decision point is “do I arrest the driver.” These field tasks are usually followed up by roadside breath or saliva testing, after which the arrest occurs.

The field sobriety tests are to be administered according to the standardized protocol, and a failure to do so significantly compromises their evidentiary value. Case law and statutory law in Michigan suggests that the police officer must administer them in “substantial compliance” with their training. A failure on the part of the police officer can result in the field sobriety tasks being suppressed or kept out of trial.

For more information on this topic, see Mr. Barone's article " Do Field Sobriety Tests Reliably Predict Intoxication ?"

Client Reviews
Patrick Barone is the ONLY choice for DUI defense. He was realistic from the start and made it a point to look at my case before taking my money. As a business owner, when I think of attorneys, I think of the "shark infested waters. Patrick is a shark alright, but his prey is not the client; it's justice for his client. Ten stars Patrick!! Chris F.
Attorney Patrick Barone was very helpful and helped me understand the charge and sentence absolutely clearly. He also guided me through step by step helping me form a statement. His instructions were clear and detailed. It was obvious he cared about me understanding every important detail within my case. I would absolutely recommend this defense firm to anyone in need. Aaron B.
The Barone Defense Firm is the firm I recommend. They are truly concerned about the person, not just the legal issue, but the person as well. They are the most knowledgeable defense firm that I am aware of, having actually written the book on DWI Defense. If you are faced with a DWI you will not find a more professional and skilled law firm. But, most importantly, they care about how the accused individual recovers his or her life when the case is complete. Very remarkable group of lawyers. William H.