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OWI Causing Serious Injury Case Dismissed
Patrick Barone, founder of the Barone Defense Firm, recently persuaded an Oakland County Circuit Court Judge to dismiss an OWI Causing Serious Injury Case. The client was facing up to 5 years in prison.
The facts of this case involved a serious crash that took place on I 696, in the area of Novi. The case started in front of Judge Robert Bondy who, after presiding over the preliminary examination, bound the case over to the Oakland County Circuit Court for trial.
Our client was the University of Michigan professor who is driving home after a work meeting. At some point his Tesla apparently became incapacitated and completely stopped in the freeway. He was rear ended shortly afterward. The other driver was seriously injured in the crash having suffered several broken bones to her legs. This individual was a nurse returning home from work.
After a brief investigation at the roadside our client was taken to the hospital for treatment because he was seriously injured as well. His injuries involved trauma to the head, and he had absolutely no recollection of what had happened.
A warrant to obtain a sample of his blood was obtained by the police and a subsequent blood test suggested that our client had a bodily alcohol content a .175, or more than twice the legal limit. The client was therefore charged with a five-year felony known as operating while intoxicated causing serious injury.
Once we were retained by the client, we immediately engaged in the discovery process and began to explore several possible avenues for defense. These included investigating whether it was possible that the self-driving feature of the Tesla had malfunctioned causing the vehicle to stop. If we had been able to establish this then the client may have had a defense leading to the dismissal of the causing serious injury enhancement and leaving only the 93-day misdemeanor have operating while intoxicated, Or the 180 day misdemeanor operating with a badly alcohol content also known as super drunk driving. This is because to prove the charge of drunk driving causing serious injury the prosecutor must show that the operation of the vehicle by our client was the factual and proximate cause of the injuries to the other driver. If the malfunction was not predicable, it would be a supervening intervening event that would break the chain of causation.
Another potential legal defense involved the search warrant itself. It was our opinion that the search warrant was not supported by adequate probable cause. After the case was bound over our first avenue of defense was to file a motion to dismiss arguing the lack of probable cause. We believed that if the court should agree with us that the warrant was not supported by probable cause and agreed that the appropriate remedy was suppression of the blood test result, then the case would have to be dismissed.
We filed the motion, and the motion was scheduled for oral argument. At the motion hearing the prosecutor argued that they should be allowed to amend the charge to reckless driving causing serious injury. The judge agreed with our argument and disagreed with the prosecutors and therefore dismissed the case.