Michigan OWI criminal defense lawyer Michael P. Manley explains your rights
There are many different types of DUI tests - from breath tests to blood tests, field sobriety tests and more. While you are not required to comply with an officer's request to take field sobriety tests, you are required to take a blood, breath or urine test if you are arrested for OWI.
Michigan DUI defense attorney Michael P. Manley has years of experience working with people facing DUI charges. He is well-versed in the Michigan laws involving different tests frequently used by police if they believe someone has been drinking and driving.
What types of DUI tests are given in Michigan?
Police officers in Michigan use several different DUI tests in an effort to determine if someone is driving under the influence of alcohol. The three most common tests police use to determine Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) are:
Michigan police also sometimes administer different field sobriety tests to determine if a driver is drunk. There are three common types of field sobriety tests:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
- One Leg Stand (OLS)
- Walk and Turn (WAT)
If you were given any of these tests and have been charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI) in Michigan, contact Michigan DUI defense lawyer Michael P. Manley as soon as possible. He has the knowledge and the expertise to handle your case and give it the attention it rightfully deserves. Schedule an appointment right now and discover what he can do for you.
Are DUI tests mandatory in Michigan?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions about DUI charges we often hear at our law firm. Here are the rules for each test:
- Field sobriety tests - Contrary to what many people believe, field sobriety tests are not mandatory. You are not required to take these voluntary tests, and you may want to politely refuse to take them if an officer asks you to step out of the vehicle.
- Preliminary breath test (PBT) - You have the right to refuse to take this test to determine your BAC at the scene. It is a civil infraction to refuse to take a PBT at the scene and you could be fined up to $100. The PBT test at the scene is different than the breathalyzer (Datamaster). Much more serious consequences occur if you refuse to take the breathalyzer at the jail or police station.
What happen if I refuse to take a DUI breath or blood test in Michigan?
Michigan's "Implied Consent" law requires a person to take a breath or blood test when asked by a police officer. If you refuse to take this test then your license is suspended for one year or more if it is your second refusal. Once the officer determines there was a refusal he/she will provide the suspected drunk driver with a temporary paper driving permit that states the person refused the test.
You must send in a portion of the permit to the Secretary of State within 14 days to contest the officer's determination that the test was refused. Failure to send in the form within 14 days will result in an automatic one-year suspension.
If a hearing is requested, the facts are limited to four questions:
1) Whether the peace officer had reasonable grounds to believe that you committed a crime described in MCL 257.625c(1);
2) Whether you were placed under arrest for a crime described in MCL 257.625c(1);
3) If you refused to submit to a chemical test upon the request of the officer, whether the refusal was reasonable; and
4) Whether you were advised of your rights under MCL 257 .625a.
If the hearing officer determines one of the four issues was violated, no suspension will occur. If the hearing officer finds there was a refusal, a one year suspension will be imposed. Restricted license privileges can be sought with the Circuit Court in some instances. Michael P. Manley has extensive experience in implied consent hearing as well as Circuit Court license restoration hearings.
Are DUI tests in Michigan accurate?
Each of these tests has flaws that can produce incorrect results in certain circumstances. (Problems with each one of the tests are explained below.) In general, the most common reasons why such tests are inaccurate include:
- Operator error - Police officers sometimes make mistakes when administering a DUI test to a driver.
- Defective equipment - DUI test results will be incorrect if the equipment is broken or the settings are wrong on a breathalyzer or other DUI test equipment.
- Improper storage - Test samples often need to be stored at the correct temperature and other precise details. Otherwise, the test samples could become altered and no longer accurate.
Whatever the reason, it's wise to discuss your circumstances with an experienced attorney in Michigan. Don't wait to contact our firm. In many cases, you often have a narrow window of time to challenge your DUI test results or take legal action if you refused a DUI breath test.
If you refused a breath, blood or urine test, for example, you have 14 days after your DUI arrest to request a hearing to appeal your automatic driver's license suspension. Otherwise, your driver's license will automatically be suspended for one year or more.
Why should I hire a lawyer if I took a DUI test in Michigan?
When you have an experienced attorney on your side, you can take an aggressive stance right from the start. Knowledgeable attorneys routinely conduct a detailed investigation, including carefully reviewing your DUI test results and consulting with experts in their field.
Board Certified Criminal Trial Expert Michael P. Manley knows Michigan's DUI laws inside and out and has the case results to prove it. A native of Flint, Manley graduated at the top of his class at the University of Detroit School of Law.
Breath Tests and Breathalyzers
Breathalyzer results provide an estimate of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). Michigan police officers often administer this test to determine if a driver is drunk. This test is often given by a police officer at the side of the road soon after a traffic stop.
An important rule to understand in Michigan is you do not have to take a roadside breath test to determine your BAC. However, under Michigan's "Implied Consent" law, you are required to take one of three chemical tests (breath, blood or urine) to determine your BAC.
If you refuse to take a roadside breath test, your driver's license will automatically be suspended for one year or more. The penalties for a DUI conviction vary depending on whether you have previous DUI convictions and your BAC.
Attorney Michael P. Manley understands how to challenge Breathalyzer tests. Many factors can affect the result of a breath test. In addition to operator error, improper handling of evidence and defective equipment, breath test results might be inaccurate due to:
- Diet - Low carb, high protein diets like the Atkins Diet sometimes produce high BAC readings
- Diabetes - Acetone in the breath caused by hypoglycemia can produce false BAC readings
- Holding your breath - Higher BAC readings can occur, sometimes by as much as 20 percent.
- Burping - False BAC readings have been recorded by people who burped within 20 minutes of taking a breath test, because small amounts of alcohol can be picked up.
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As the name of the test implies, a blood sample taken from you at a hospital or police station will be used to determine your BAC level. This chemical test may be requested by a police officer who believes that a breathalyzer test did not correctly measure your BAC.
Most blood test results are deemed accurate in court. But your Michigan DUI attorney should challenge these tests, because some results can produce falsely high BAC readings for several different reasons, including:
- People with diabetes or high ketones in the blood
- Alcohol swab on the skin before the needle is inserted
- Testing only the blood serum instead of testing the whole blood. Blood serum tests sometimes produce BAC results that are 25 percent higher
- Improperly stored blood sample
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Another alternative to breathalyzer tests, urine tests are sometimes given by police in Michigan to determine a person's BAC level. Ethyl glucornide (Etg), a substance formed by the consumption of alcohol, should appear in a person's urine soon after consumption of alcohol.
But such tests are not 100 percent foolproof. In some cases, urine tests produce false BAC readings. In particular, alcohol can sometimes take up to 2 hours to appear in a person's urine. As a result, a person's urine test might not accurate reflect how much alcohol was in his or her body at the time of the traffic stop.
Nicotine, certain prescription drugs and other pharmaceuticals can also affect a person's BAC in urine. Because of the various factors that may be involved, it's important to have a lawyer examine your test results and decide if you have a legitimate case if you've been charged with OWI due to positive urine test.
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Field Sobriety Test
Police officers in Michigan often want to administer one or more of these three common field sobriety tests to determine if a driver is drunk. Remember, field sobriety tests are strictly voluntary. You may refuse to take any of these field sobriety tests. There is no penalty for refusing to take one. The three common field sobriety tests are:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) - This test requires you to follow a light with your eyes without moving your head. Police officers who administer this test are looking for involuntary eye movements known as horizontal gaze nystagmus, in which a person's eyes bounce or move erratically from side to side or up and down.
- One Leg Stand (OLS) - This test involves standing on one leg and raising the other foot 6 inches in the air and holding the raised foot in place for approximately 30 seconds. Many sober people are unable to perform this test because of poor balance, physical condition and other reasons.
- Walk and Turn (WAT) - This test requires people to walk heel to toe in a straight line. At a certain point, the person must then turn and walk back the same way. Like the one leg stand test, many sober people fail this test due to poor balance, fatigue and health-related reasons.