This will be an article about “testing” in Michigan DUI cases. As a DUI lawyer who concentrates his practice in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties, I have watched testing as a condition of bond (release) and it has grown to become the normal operating procedure in most Detroit-area courts. As a term of DUI probation, testing (both breath and urine) has become almost universal. My inspiration for this installment is about half editorial and half informational; half of me is frustrated at the whole system and the sometimes unreasonable burden it places on people facing an OWI charge, and the other half of me wants people to understand this whole “testing” business, including, not coincidentally, the business of testing. The other day, a client called my office upset that he may violate the testing requirement of his bond. He’s a decent, honest guy, and his concern was that no matter how hard he tries, how much water he drinks, or how long he waits, he cannot provide a urine sample with someone watching him. This might be funny in another context, but not when his shy bladder has the potential to put him in the crosshairs of being sent to jail.
In a recent blog article about how a DUI can just “happen,” I noted that an important part of my job as a DUI attorney is to play the role of diplomat, and help translate to each side what the other means, and why certain things are the way they are. This means that I have to explain to the client how things work, and why. Sometimes, there is no “why,” and things are just the way they are. On the flip side, (like in the case of the guy who can’t pee) I have to explain to the court how, despite appearances, my client is not simply disregarding its orders. This installment will be my attempt to explain the court’s side of things to the reader as well as providing an opportunity to vent some of my own frustration about the problems caused by all the “testing.”
It has been empirically validated that separating a person from alcohol is one of the best ways to help him or her get sober. It is also well known that DUI drivers, as a group, have a higher incidence of alcohol problems than the population at large. Given the automatic statistically increased risk of having a drinking problem DUI drivers bring with them, it is understandable that the court system likes to keep them away from alcohol. Of course, doing this flips the presumption of innocence concept on its head, but that is a very deep subject best saved for another time. For now, what matters is that many, if not most people arrested for DUI will be required to provide either a breath or urine sample during at least part of the time their cases are pending in court, and it is often a great big hassle that causes all kinds of headaches…