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Michigan DUI Mistrial Leads to Reckless Driving Saving CDL for Trucker
Michigan Commercial Driving License (CDL) holders face severe and potentially career ending driving sanctions when convicted of DUI. In part this is because a Michigan DUI conviction results in a 1-year hard suspension of the CDL. A hard suspension means no driving, no restrictions, no alternatives, and puts the CDL off the road for at least one year. That means no money coming in and no alternatives other than finding a new line of work. Making matters worse, these penalties apply even when a conviction is a result of operating your personal vehicle. Therefore, many CDL holders seek out and retain the Barone Defense Firm for representation because of our extensive experience with CDL Professionals.
This case involved a CDL holder who had been pulled over for speeding by the Michigan State Police (MSP). He was referred to us from a former client, who was also a CDL holder. The client understandably was distraught and terribly concerned about his future and ability to financially care for his family. Obviously, the stakes were high, and we immediately began putting a plan together. We spent several hours with the client in order to know everything about him and the night of the arrest. We interviewed the passenger as well to have his personal assessment and recollection of the events. Both men had immigrated to the United States and moved to Michigan and established their families and lives here.
The most crucial evidence in this case came from a detailed review of the dash cam video and audio. It presented three big issues for us in the case:
- English was second language for client and had difficulty understanding some of what the Trooper was asking him.
- The Trooper failed to ‘substantially comply' in conducting Standard Field Sobriety Tests, the roadside dexterity tests, and;
- The failure to comply with the Administrative Rules for Breath Testing for chemical evidence.
We filed a motion seeking dismissal of the case prior to Trial for lack of probable cause. Lack of probable cause is an argument that there is insufficient reliable evidence to support a valid arrest. Probable Cause is also a low standard of proof, unlike proof beyond a reasonable doubt that is required at Trial. The Judge agreed to suppress some of the results of the Field Tests but determined probable cause still existed, and therefore, the case moved forward. At this point it should be clear that if you're facing a DUI and have a CDL it's important to hire an experienced Michigan DUI Lawyer to represent you.
Trial is always a last resort but is something that every attorney at the Barone Defense Firm is preparing for from the initial moment we are retained. The decision to go to Trial or accept a plea is always the educated decision of the client. The goal is to obtain the very best result for that client; and often, it is necessary to proceed to Trial to obtain that goal. We knew the dash cam contained the evidence that the Trooper did not comply with proper procedure for administering the Datamaster, the Breathalyzer at the station however his testimony would play a crucial role in the argument of this issue. Upon direct examination, and then on cross-examination, the Trooper's testimony balanced on potential perjury because his sworn under oath testimony was at best mistakenly false or worse purposefully and knowingly false, wherein he testified that he:
- complied with all the Administrative Rules,
- that he waited 15 minutes to administer the test and that was documented on the evidence ticket (which is the print-out of the breath test results), and;
- that he always does the same thing.
The time on the evidence ticket however noted a time before he and our client arrived at the jail. Further, the video, including the audio, supported that the test was conducted within a couple of minutes of arriving at the jail. We made a motion mid-trial to suppress the evidence. The Judge agreed with our argument and suppressed the Breath Test Results. In addition, because the prosecutor had specifically referenced the breath alcohol level to the jury before properly having the evidence admitted the Judge ordered a Mistrial.
The result of a mistrial means that the we would need to start the trial over, albeit without any chemical evidence. The case was reset for two weeks later. The day before the second trial the prosecuting attorney, who was still upset, offered a reckless driving. This would mean the client would face a 90-day suspension of his personal and CDL license but avoid the 1-year suspension of his CDL and all of the typical Michigan CDL DUI penalites. After discussing the offer with his family and employer he agreed to the Plea Offer. He was sentenced to pay a fine of $425 and no probation.