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City of Ypsilanti vs. L. L.

Court: 14A2 District Court
Charge: OUIL / UBAL 1st

The client was stopped for going through a flashing red light without stopping, and for pulling straight out of a parking lot, again without stopping first. Upon contact with the driver, the officer noted a strong odor of intoxicants, and that the driver’s eyes were bloodshot and glossy. The driver stated that he didn’t know how much he’d had to drink.

The driver was ordered out of the vehicle and asked to perform a finger-to-nose test. The arresting officer’s narrative report indicated that he tried three times, but was “unable to perform it in such a manner where I felt comfortable in letting him drive. His coordination was off”. He was able to say the alphabet, but in counting backwards did so slowly. His breath test results were 0.10.

It was suggested to this client that he might have a very good case to present to a jury, but after a great deal of thought, the client decided not to proceed to trial. Instead we engaged in plea negotiations with the prosecuting attorney, and ultimately persuaded the prosecutor to reduce the charge to the non-alcohol related charge of reckless driving.

It should be noted that in most instances it does not make sense to plead guilty to a reckless driving, because the client can nearly always plead to the alternative charge of OWI, which is an alcohol related offense, but which does not carry mandatory suspension of driving privileges. However, because of the very particular and individual circumstances of this client, this was an excellent result. This is because the client was a law student, and was therefore appropriately apprehensive that an alcohol related conviction on his record might have a deleterious effect on his future employment opportunities. He also was about to leave Michigan to the City of Chicago to complete a summer internship with a law firm located there. Consequently, he was able to accept the imposition of the mandatory 90 day suspension of his driving privileges that are always imposed by the Secretary of State upon receiving notice of a conviction for reckless driving. For this client, a reckless was an excellent result, and made the risks associated with trial not worthwhile.