Many people think they know everything they need to know about operating while intoxicated (OWI) investigations, procedures, and arrests, but White Law, PLLC is here to give you the facts. After decades of representing OWI clients, we can safely say that many buy into widespread OWI myths without realizing it, and it’s high time we put this misinformation in its place.
“A 0.08% BAC Is Required for an OWI Arrest”
Many people believe that as long as their blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the 0.08% mark, they won’t face OWI charges, but that’s not true. To understand the discrepancy, we have to look at Michigan’s legal definition of an OWI.
Michigan law states that an adult operates while intoxicated when he or she has a 0.08% BAC, but also when a person generically is, “under the influence of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or other intoxicating substance or a combination of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or other intoxicating substance.”
Based on this definition, the police can arrest someone for an OWI if they believe the driver is under the influence of alcohol, regardless of the driver’s BAC. Therefore, don’t underestimate the power police have when charging people with OWIs.
While the police have the right to arrest citizens for OWIs if their BACs are under 0.08%, citizens have rights as well.
“You Have to Submit to a Breathalyzer Test”
Many people assume that you have to submit to a breathalyzer test, but that’s not true. Let’s look at Michigan law to determine the facts.
First, we need to look at the implied consent law. Michigan law states that any driver operating upon a public highway or on any other place open to the general public is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of his or her blood, breath, or urine to determine the amount of alcohol in his or her blood, breath, or urine.
However, implied consent does not mean that a person automatically has to give up their blood, breath, or urine.
As another portion of Michigan law states, “ If a person refuses to submit to a chemical test pursuant to section 625d, the peace officer shall immediately notify the person in writing that within 14 days of the date of the notice the person may request a hearing as provided in section 625f.”
The law goes on to say, “The notice shall specifically state that failure to request a hearing within 14 days will result in the suspension of the person's license or permit to drive.”
There are two key aspects to consider in the definition. First, the license suspension that many fear for not complying to take a breathalyzer test is not automatic. Second, the refuser has a chance to go to a hearing to argue that he or she is innocent of wrongdoing and should not have his or her license suspended.
It’s important to note that if someone refuses to take a breathalyzer, he or she can hire counsel to represent his or her case in court. Therefore, hiring an experienced attorney could result in no license suspension for someone who refuses to take a breathalyzer.
All this to say, those asked to perform a breathalyzer test can refuse to take it and face potential penalties, but it’s possible to fight those penalties at a hearing. However, just because someone takes a breathalyzer test, that doesn’t mean the test is conclusive.
“Breathalyzer Results Are Conclusive and Damning”
Breathalyzer results are not as conclusive, nor damning, as many believe them to be. Portable breathalyzers must be calibrated to receive accurate results, and false positives can happen. Additionally, an officer may give a breathalyzer test incorrectly, leading to tainted results that aren’t conclusive.
In fact, portable breathalyzers are so unreliable that they can only be used as evidence in OWI cases under specific circumstances. Therefore, even the court systems believe that preliminary breathalyzer test results should only be used as evidence in very specific cases.
As you can see, breathalyzer results are not nearly as conclusive as people believe them to be. However, if you are pulled over for drunk driving, be smart and never lie to the police.
“Lying to the Police Can Help Your Case”
Some people believe that lying to the police will help their cases, but that’s not true. If an officer asks if you’ve been out drinking, and you lie, you put yourself in a compromising position. If you lie and an officer finds out that you were lying, you could be charged for obstruction of justice.
As you probably know, you have the right to keep quiet when asked questions by the police. If an officer asks you if you were out drinking, the best answer is to decline to answer politely. If you feel obligated to answer, you can say you had a drink and you won’t get charged for underselling how much alcohol you consumed.
Now that we’ve covered a variety of OWI myths, let’s investigate the most important one, that it’s impossible to fight OWI charges.
“Fighting OWI Charges Is Impossible”
It’s possible to fight OWI charges, and White Law is here to help. Our award-winning criminal defense has helped thousands of clients fight for the outcomes they deserve. If you or a loved one has been accused of an OWI, contact our firm for a free consultation.
Call (517) 316-1195 now for a free consultation for your case.