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Open Intoxicants in a Motor Vehicle

Many times if you are facing a Michigan DUI charge, the investigating officers will have the right to search your vehicle after your arrest. This could lead to additional charges for having open intoxicants in your vehicle. They are misdemeanor charges and can be used as leverage by the prosecuting attorney to secure a plea to other charges. You may have defenses to this crime, especially if there were other people in the vehicle or there were issues with an illegal search.

Locked Areas and Containers

There may be evidentiary issues with regard to how the police found open intoxicants in your vehicle. As a general rule, there is a Fourth Amendment exception to searches that are conducted as an incident of valid arrest. This certainly applies to motor vehicles as Michigan citizens have a lessened expectation of privacy when it comes to their automobiles. However, if the police opened locked areas like a trunk, glove compartment or other containers inside the vehicle, they may need independent probably cause to do so or they should have conducted an inventory search instead.

Open Intoxicant Charge Can Affect Your Underlying DUI Case

One of the dangers of a companion Open Intoxicants charge is that it can negatively affect the bargaining position with the prosecuting attorney and the jury if not handled properly. Therefore, this additional charge should be handled by a skilled Michigan DUI attorney. There is a possibility that a reduced plea could include a dismissal of the Open Intoxicants crime.

Another unintended consequence of this charge is that it could be used against you in your underlying DUI charge. The prosecuting attorneys may attempt to show that due to the fact that there were open bottles of liquor found in the vehicle that this could be circumstantial evidence of intoxication as well as impaired driving. Therefore it is very important to diffuse the importance of this evidence early in the case.

View the entire Michigan Open Intoxicants statute here

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