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Michigan DUI Traffic Stops
Once the officer has suspicion of drunk driving or they smell the odor of the alcoholic mix, they will typically ask you to step from the vehicle and conduct Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). These will be very similar to what you have seen on TV or in videos of people stopped for DUI.
Touch your nose, walk the line, and other dexterity tests. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus will be typically conducted to see if there is an indication of a lack of smooth pursuit.
The Preliminary Breath Test – PBT
Whether or not you pass or fail the Field Sobriety Tests, the officer will typically ask you to submit to a Preliminary Breath Test or PBT. In Michigan, the implied consent laws mandate that you subject yourself to this test, with consequences for failure to submit to a Preliminary breath test at the roadside.
Refusing to take the PBT at this stage is a civil infraction that will add significant points to your license, but could help your case down the road.
A Preliminary Breath Test is a portable machine that has replaceable tubes and measures your blood alcohol. Remember that this is a machine like any other and because of its size it is prone to not be as accurate as the Datamaster test that we will detail later in the lifecycle. In fact, the courts have ruled that the results from a Preliminary Breath Test or PBT are NOT admissible in your case unless the defense “opens the door” to such evidence by claiming a rising blood alcohol level or other evidentiary challenges.
What this test can do is lend credibility to the Datamaster test that will usually be administered at the police station and will be anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes after your initial traffic stop. If your datamaster test is administered more than 60 minutes after your traffic stop, this could call into question the results, but will typically NOT keep it out of evidence and away from the jury.
Depending on the results of your PBT, the officer will arrest you for suspicion of Operating While Intoxicated or OWI in Michigan. In Michigan this means that you have a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. We will detail these charges later in the DUI lifecycle. Your arrest will mean handcuffs and a ride in the back of the police car to the station.
You need to remember that there is often times video of the back seat of the vehicle and we have seen damaging statements made by clients while handcuffed and angry in the back of a patrol car. This video can also prove to be helpful in determining the exact time you may have been given a datamaster and the observation periods required. We will detail this later so do not be concerned about that now.
The bottom line is that you will be in a cell usually with other intoxicated individuals. Please remember that anything you say to these people could be used against you as well so make sure to remain silent. If you did chat it up with other inmates, make sure to let your attorney know this so that it can be dealt with immediately.
There could also be booking video or breath testing video so make sure this is included in any discovery requests. Again, we will detail this in the “Discovery” section of the timeline. Another practice that is becoming more common across the state is police agencies taking suspects directly to the hospital to conduct blood testing for alcohol. This is quite interesting as it bypasses the typical Datamaster test and raises a whole host of issues after the United States Supreme Court case.