CZARNECKI & TAYLOR are experienced Macomb DUI defense attorneys. We do, however, handle drunk driving cases in Wayne, Oakland, and St. Clair counties. We have seen many drunk driving cases over the years. Our experience, has shown that drunk driving cases are subject to some tried and tested defenses. The best way to beat a drunk driving offense is to have an experienced attorney recognize these defenses and know how use them effectively.
When a person is arrested for drunk driving, it is often an experience that causes a great deal of anxiety. For many people, this is their first time being arrested. People who are arrested for a DUI are often wrongly labeled as dangerous, careless, and irresponsible. Those views are not correct. This is the truth: Good people make bad choices. Most people charged with an DUI/OWI are decent, honest and hardworking. A person should not be labeled a criminal because he or she had a few glasses of wine at dinner and was stopped for speeding and blew over .08. People make mistakes.
The best thing you can do to help you get through the anxiety of a criminal case is to hire an experienced attorney. An experienced DUI defense attorney understands that you made a mistake. Your attorney will guide you through every part of the legal process.
While most cases are often resolved by favorable plea deals, each case should begin with a proper analysis of the facts. Each case is different. If your DUI defense attorney is knowledgeable and thorough, he or she might be able to get the case dismissed for something like an improper stop. Other times, your DUI defense attorney will have to defend you at trial. The following DUI defense strategies are just some of the ways that drinking and driving cases can be defended.
Illegal search and seizure (4th Amendment violation)
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits police from randomly stopping people without “reasonable suspicion.” The police cannot stop someone on a hunch. The Supreme Court has stated that the police must be able to articulate facts that lead the police to believe a crime is “afoot.” In other words, this means that the police must establish a legal reason for the traffic stop. If the police do not possess a valid reason for a stop, the evidence may be suppressed by the court as the “fruits” of a search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
For drinking and driving offenses, the police officer must witness evidence of bad driving. This means that the officer must witness a person speeding, swerving, or committing any one of the numerous civil infractions. If the police officer has a legal right to stop the vehicle, the officer may be able to conduct a drinking and driving investigation if the facts support such an investigation. If the police do not have a reason to stop the vehicle or, if after the stop, the police do not have any evidence to support an OWI investigation the evidence may be suppressed.
A Fourth Amendment defense is factually based on the actions of the police. A defense attorney would have to review the police report and dash-cam video to properly assess this defense.
For example, I represented a client who had been stopped because the officer claimed that the taillights of the client’s vehicle did not work that night. The officer’s claim was problematic. When we reviewed the dash-cam video, it showed that the client’s taillights worked perfectly.
In a written brief, I challenged a stop where the Federal Border Patrol stopped the client’s vehicle because the agent claimed the client did not use her headlights. Eventually, she was arrested for drunk driving by the local police. We won the motion to suppress and dismiss on the grounds that the federal government does not have the authority to stop a person for a civil infraction.
Medical conditions (e.g. Diabetes) may lead an officer to wrongly believe you are intoxicated
Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can create the appearance of intoxication. Diabetes can also lead to a false positive on a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) or Breathalyzer (BAC). The alleged smell of alcohol on a diabetics breath can also be caused by diabetes. The process of ketosis can ferment glucose in the blood stream which can cause an odor of alcohol.
Allergies, colds, crying, fatigue, speech impediments, etc. can be innocent explanations for the appearance of intoxication. Officers often claim that a person’s eyes were bloodshot and watery as evidence to support a DUI arrest. However, bloodshot and watery eyes may be the result of a cold or allergy.
Improper administration of Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
- Police must follow proper procedure when administering FSTs. An officer’s failure to follow proper protocol may be a basis to attack the officer’s claim that you failed the tests.
- Police should not make a person perform a Nystagmus Horizontal Gaze test, that is watch an officer’s pen or finger with his or her eyes, if the person is facing the sun, the headlights or flashing lights of the patrol car.
- Officers should not make women perform the heel-toe walk test if they are wearing heels.
- Dexterity tests can be challenged as improperly administered. We once had an officer make our client perform the finger dexterity test. The client had to touch his thumb to the tips of the other fingers of the same hand. Prior to performing the test, the client was on video telling the officer that his hands were damaged in a work accident. Nevertheless, the officer made him perform the test. As you can predict, the officer claimed he failed the test. At court, we presented evidence showing that the client did in fact have his hands broken in a work accident. We provided the Court with X-Rays and medical records. Eventually, the case was dismissed for additional reasons.
- A police officer had a client perform a straight line walk when the wind was extremely strong. She swayed during the test. We were able to destroy the reliability of that test.
- FSTs are just one part of a drinking and driving investigation. Standing alone they are not proof of intoxication.
Improper Maintenance of Breathalyzer Machine
In any drinking and driving case we request the Datamaster logs to see if the police properly calibrated and maintained the machine according to Michigan State Police Protocol.
Once, I had a case set for trial in Rochester, Oakland County. During my investigation of the case, I found that the police did not properly maintain the Datamaster. The data master logs showed the machine had not been accurate or calibrated correctly. Based on this analysis, the reliability of the BAC results were proven to be unreliable. The prosecutor offered the client an amazing plea deal that avoided trial.
Improper blood draw
Michigan State Police protocol and administrative rules require that a blood draw must be done in a medical environment with a licensed phlebotomist. The test must be done promptly after an arrest.
Once drawn, the blood must be stored in the MSP test kit. Proper storage prevents fermentation. If fermentation occurs a challenge can made that the hight BAC was not the result of our client’s intoxication but due to fermentation of alcohol. The results could even be eliminated from any court proceeding. Without blood results, the prosecutor may not have much to rely on to prove a DUI.
Violations of the Michigan Rules of Evidence and criminal procedure
Many of the defenses related to this category may not become apparent until shortly before or during trial. These issues relate to rules of evidence, for example, hearsay, the improper introduction of evidence, character evidence, etc. Only an experienced DUI attorney will know when an evidentiary issue or objection occurs
The defenses in this article are just some of the ways to look for a DUI defense. There are many others depending upon the facts of your case. An experienced DUI defense attorney will be able to explain additional options and defenses that could lead to a reduction, acquittal or even dismissal of your case.
CZARNECKI & TAYLOR APPROACH TO DUI DEFENSE
Our approach is different.
We are different than most attorneys. We aggressively fight for your rights while treating you with empathy and understanding. Each case begins with a personal interview in our office. This is necessary. We try to find out who you are as a person. We may need to explain who you are and what your background is if we have to address the court.
People often hear the term “attorney & counselor” when talking about attorneys. Sometimes people commit drinking and driving offenses because there is an underlying alcohol problem that the person is struggling to overcome. An addiction is a hard thing to battle. During our interview, we can discuss if an alcohol issue is at the root of the charge. If it is not, so much the better. However, if it is, we can start you on the path to counseling and recovery. This is where the “counselor” part comes into play. DUI defense work has been part of our expertise for nearly 15 years.
Our experience has helped people start on the path to recovery because we are familiar with several types of recovery programs. Recommendations can be made for substance abuse counselors that have had great results in helping people battle their addiction. As you can see, a quality DUI defense can be more than just looking at legal defenses and arguments.
If you have to face sentencing, the fact that you are being proactive in your recovery is something that the courts like to see. We can help prepare and present that evidence to the court if necessary. We speak for you in court. We will also help you with what you need to explain to the court from your point of view.
Our client’s specific needs drive our defense. We treat you as a person and not a case file, that is, the way the courts and prosecutor see you. We work with you and for you by focusing on your needs. Your input will help define the goals of your case. We will address the legal aspects and explain the options to you. Together we will discuss the plan for achieving those goals.
If you have been arrested for a felony or misdemeanor Michigan drinking and driving offense, CZARNECKI & TAYLOR can provide you with an experienced DUI defense to protect you and minimize the risks that you face. We will work to get the best outcome for you.
We are very well known in the Macomb County courts as well as courts in various counties.
We offer flexible payment plans. We understand that people have to budget and hiring an attorney is not something people expect to do.
You can call us just to ask questions. We are more than willing to help alleviate your concerns by explaining the process to you.
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Phone: JAMES E. CZARNECKI II  718-2345
GENEVIEVE L. TAYLOR  350-6044
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