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The Cops Have Stopped You. Now What?

Gormley Law Offices, PLC, is here to protect your rights if you are stopped for DUI/OWI in Michigan. Our lawyers in Howell and Fowlerville know what to do, and we can advise you about the same. You can always reach us at 517-219-9301. If you encounter a police officer, you should know what your legal obligations and rights are.

Here are some of the most important things you should know:

  • You have a Fifth Amendment constitutional protection against self-incrimination and are not required to assist police officers to collect evidence to be used against you.
  • Much of the evidence used by police in court is obtained from the defendant.
  • It is much better to decline to take a field sobriety test rather than take the test and perform poorly in the officer’s opinion.
  • There is NO obligation to tell an officer if you have been drinking/using drugs, how much you had, when you drank/used drugs or where you last drank/used drugs.
  • If you refuse to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT), often given at the scene, you could receive a civil infraction ticket subjecting you to a fine but NO potential jail for your refusal to take that test. (Note: this does not apply to a Datamaster breath test often given at a jail. A PBT is often a hand-held box with a small white tube. A Datamaster looks like a small computer with a flexible hose and a keyboard.)
  • A Preliminary Breath Test result is generally not admissible at a trial, but the result can be used by a police officer to arrest you or get a search warrant to draw your blood.
  • Michigan law states that a driver arrested for a drunk/drugged driving offense has given their “Implied Consent” to take a properly offered “Datamaster (breath) test, blood draw or urine test given after you have been read your Chemical Testing Rights. If you refuse such an Implied Consent test, properly offered, you could face a mandatory license suspension of one year for a first refusal.
  • If you take an Implied Consent test at the request of an officer, you have a right to obtain your own independent test after you have taken the officer’s test. The results of an independent test can be used against you, but if the results are below the legal limit, the independent test could help avoid you being charged or convicted of a drunk driving offense.
  • It is legal (and not just a good idea) to ask to speak with an attorney before answering any questions.
  • Resisting an arrest or even politely refusing to comply with a search warrant to draw your blood often results in a felony charge.

What About Field Sobriety Tests?

There is NO obligation imposed on a driver to consent to or voluntarily take basic field sobriety tests such as:

  • Walk heel to toe and turn
  • Finger dexterity tests
  • Recite ABC’s or count forward/backward
  • One leg stand or ‘Romberg’ testing
  • Pick a number
  • ‘Memory’ tests
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (“Follow my pen with your eye without moving your head”) test

Officers often get you to consent to these tests by telling you they just want to “see if you are safe to continue your drive.” These tests are always used to gather evidence to use against you in a prosecution. You do not have to give them that evidence.

Call Us Right Away

Remember, one of the most important things to do after you are stopped on suspicion of DUI/OWI is to contact a lawyer. Call our Howell or Fowlerville office at 517-219-9301 or send us an email for a free consultation. We also proudly represent clients in nearby Brighton, Lansing and East Lansing, and all Livingston County, MI communities.