If you have been arrested for DUI in Michigan, you may be wondering if there is any way to get out of the charges you face. Depending on the circumstances of the case, it could be possible to get your DUI charges dismissed or dropped.
Experienced Michigan DUI defense lawyer Shaun R. Marks helps his clients explore all legal options, including strategies that could potentially result in dropped charges. In cases where this is not possible, Shaun helps his clients seek the best possible outcome, such as a plea deal with reduced charges.
Contact attorney Shaun R. Marks, P.C. today at (866) 492-1417 to learn more about your legal options following a Michigan drunk driving arrest in a free consultation.
Can I Get a DUI Conviction Expunged in Michigan?
Being convicted of a drunk driving offense in Michigan can be extremely stressful, as a criminal record can continue to affect your life even after you have served your sentence. Fortunately, Michigan’s new Clean Slate Law allows certain types of convictions to be removed from your record via expungement. Some offenses are even eligible for automatic expungement.
First-offense OWI convictions are eligible for expungement under this new law. To qualify, you must wait for five years after completing your sentence to apply. This only applies to first-time offenses, as only one OWI conviction may be expunged in your lifetime. You do not qualify for expungement if you were driving a commercial vehicle or if others were injured or killed while you were driving under the influence.
How Can I Get DUI Charges Reduced in Michigan?
Although it is exceedingly difficult to get a DUI charge dropped in Michigan, there are ways to get charges reduced. DUI defense lawyers often negotiate with the prosecution to arrive at a plea bargain. In such deals, the accused agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for lower penalties.
For instance, an OWI charge may be reduced to a lesser charge like reckless driving involving alcohol or careless driving. These lower charges do not carry jail time and a careless driving charge does not even result in a criminal record.
Police Errors That Can Result in Dismissed DUI Charges
DUI charge dismissal is not common, but most dismissed charges are the result of procedural errors by police officers. When you hire an experienced Michigan DUI defense lawyer to assist you with your case, one of the first things they will do is investigate all details of your arrest to determine if the police made a mistake that could get the charges dropped. Below are some of the most common police errors our lawyers see in our cases.
Lack of Probable Cause
Police officers must have probable cause to make an arrest for DUI or any other criminal charge. In DUI cases, probable cause is also required to pull a driver over. The officer must have a reasonable suspicion to pull the driver over, such as witnessing them swerve or drift.
The officer does not necessarily need to believe that the driver is drunk before pulling them over. For instance, they could pull the driver over for failing to signal or for running a stoplight. If the officer finds reason to suspect intoxication during this traffic stop, such as the scent of alcohol on the driver’s breath, they can investigate this suspicion by issuing a breathalyzer or field sobriety test and then make an arrest based on probable cause.
However, sometimes DUI arrests happen without sufficient probable cause. If the officer did not have probable cause and simply decided to pull the driver over with no evidence, the validity of the stop could potentially be challenged in court. If a judge determines that the arresting officer did not have probable cause, the charges could potentially be dropped.
Breathalyzer Test Errors
Many Michigan DUI arrests are made based on a failed breathalyzer test. Police officers often administer preliminary roadside breathalyzer tests at the scene, before administering a more sophisticated Datamaster breath test at the police station for a more accurate result. However, these Datamaster breath tests are imperfect and sometimes produce faulty readings.
In some cases, faulty readings occur due to police officers failing to follow Michigan’s breath alcohol test administration standards. Test results can also be inaccurate if the suspect has certain health conditions, such as gastro-esophageal disorders and respiratory disorders. Diabetics who have acetone in their breath may also produce an inaccurate reading on chemical tests.
An experienced DUI defense lawyer can evaluate the conditions of your test and determine if a faulty reading was made. If there is sufficient evidence, your lawyer may pursue a DUI charge dismissal.
Field Sobriety Test Errors
Michigan police may administer field sobriety tests to determine if a driver is under the influence. Common tests include:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN) – an officer observes the eyes of a suspect and looks for involuntary eye movements. This is commonly administered by asking the suspect to follow a moving pen with their eyes.
- One leg stand – The suspect is asked to stand on one leg and the officer observes whether they can maintain their balance.
- Walk and turn – The suspect is instructed to walk in a straight line, placing their left foot on a line and their right heel against the toe of their left foot.
A failed field sobriety test may be used as probable cause to charge a suspect with DUI. However, field sobriety tests are notoriously unreliable. A suspect can easily fail a field sobriety test even if they were sober. If your lawyer finds enough evidence to doubt the accuracy of your field sobriety test, the charges against you could be dismissed.
Do Dropped DUI Charges Show Up On Criminal Background Checks?
When we get DUI charges dropped for our clients, they often wonder whether these charges will remain on their criminal records. Fortunately, dismissed charges are removed from your criminal record.
Michigan uses a system called ICHAT (Internet Criminal History Access Tool), which is a database of criminal records. Once a charge has been dropped, your ICHAT must also be updated to remove the record of this arrest from the system. All other data related to the arrest, such as fingerprints, must also be destroyed.
Learn More From Michigan DUI Defense Lawyer Shaun R. Marks, P.C.
Michigan DUI defense lawyer Shaun R. Marks has extensive experience representing clients in Michigan drunk driving cases. Shaun consistently shows dedication to his clients by meticulously investigating their cases and searching for potential errors that could result in a DUI charge dismissal. In addition, Shaun helps his clients explore all other avenues for minimizing their charges and the impact on their lives, including plea bargains, expungements, and driver’s license restoration.
If you are facing an OWI charge or another drunk driving charge in Michigan, Shaun is prepared to help you understand your legal rights and guide you through the criminal justice process. Get in touch with attorney Shaun R. Marks today at (866) 492-1417 to discuss your case in a free consultation.
Attorney Shaun Marks had received his Juris Doctor degree with Cum Laude honors from the Detroit College of Law in 1994. He received his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Michigan-Flint. He has served in the U.S. Air force Security Police and as an Assistant city Attorney for the City of Flint. He has also worked in the office of former U.S. Senator Donald Riegle. Attorney Marks has successfully represented thousands of clients in criminal matters in state and federal courts across Michigan.