There is no shortage of DUI cases in Michigan. According to the annual drunk driving audit of all courts, required by law and conducted by the Michigan State Police, there were approximately 46,248 alcohol-related traffic arrests in 2014 (2015 figures won’t be available for almost another year). Even though there are plenty of DUI arrests during the fall and winter, things do get busier when the weather is warmer. Boats get put in the water, barbecue parties happen all the time, the concert season swings into full gear, and people are just more inclined get out more than they do in the colder months. Whereas most of my 250-plus DUI articles focus on a particular aspect of drinking and driving cases, I want to put up a short installment here that is more about general observations rather than specific analysis of drunk driving cases.
Cell phone tips about drunk drivers are relatively common nowadays. Absolutely everyone has a cell phone. The Police are experts at detecting signs of impaired driving, but when another motorist sees it so plainly that he or she picks up the phone and calls it in, it’s not unusual to find the driver was really, really drunk. To date, I’ve never heard from anyone who has been erroneously called in and subsequently pulled over for being drunk and was found not to be. In fact, I have not, in my 25-plus years, even met more than a couple of people who have ever been asked to step out of their vehicle who was not ultimately arrested for drinking and driving. By the time a police officer gets to that, and barring a miracle, you’re going to jail. If there’s a summary to this paragraph, it is probably that if you get called in as a suspected drunk driver or are asked to step out of the vehicle by the police, you get arrested.
If you have no prior DUI convictions within 7 years, you should almost always take the breath test. The bad news here is that there is no way you can know when you should refuse. If you decline, the Police will write you up for that refusal, and your driver’s license will be suspended for 1 year, unless you win (unlikely) a hearing at the Secretary of State or go to circuit court (different from the court where your DUI is pending) and file a petition for a restricted license. That costs a lot of money and takes weeks and weeks, during which you cannot legally drive. In 2nd offense and 3rd offense DUI cases, refusing the breathalyzer isn’t quite the same deal, although it almost never helps anyone, and, moreover, some 2nd offenders are finding themselves eligible for a restricted license if they go through a sobriety court, all of which is really complicated by having an additional suspension for refusing the breath test. On top of all this, you can generally count on the police getting a warrant for a blood draw, especially for someone who has a prior DUI (or even more than one) on his or her record, so all refusing the breath test really does is make you look bad and causes you to come back with a elevated BAC (blood tests usually produce higher BAC results than breath tests). Short answer; take the test.