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DUI Reduced to Allowing DUI

By working hard to prepare our defense, and then answering “ready for trial” when the prosecutor failed to offer a meaningful reduction, we were able to push the prosecutor into offering an excellent negotiated plea bargain that saved our client his driver’s license, his job, and his family.

Case Facts and Client Background

Our client was a young father, and he and his wife were expecting their second child approximately five months from the date of his arrest.  He was also in the automotive industry wherein his job required significant driving of company cars and customer cars that required a full valid license. An arrest for operating while intoxicated (OWI) or commonly called drunk driving or DUI in Michigan, never occurs at a good time, but the timing of this case certainly had extreme emotional and personal complications.

This client called us on a weekend, and we scheduled a time to meet in person for a consultation.  The client wanted to meet with us along with his wife and infant son.  This meeting was scheduled immediately after his release from jail. At this introductory meeting we discussed our clients concerns about how a DUI conviction would impact his family and his profession. Because this client had never been in trouble before, we discussed also the court process, how a Michigan DUI progresses through the courts and likely consequences for a conviction. The client expressed his difficult financial situation, but after our consultation he could see the value in what we offer and he therefore made the informed choice to place his future and trust with the Barone Defense Firm.

Immediately after being retained, we scheduled our next meeting and began developing the story of the case.  Step by step, detail after detail, we worked through the timeline of the case.  Discovering the Story is technique utilized by the Michigan DUI attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm.  It is used to help us more fully understand the client, and to assist us in getting into the shoes of the client.  We reverse roles with the client, and through this process we develop a strategy allowing us to virtually live through what our client has endured, before, during, and after the arrest.  We continue to develop this process throughout the case in preparation for a jury trial where our client’s story will be told.

Basic Facts of this DUI Case

In this drunk driving case, a citizen called 911 concerned that someone was either sleeping or had a medical issue in a running truck that was in a lane of travel.  Two officers arrived and approached the truck.  One of the officers opened to door and physically awoke the client.  The report alleged that the officer also put the car in park, but that issue was in dispute based upon other evidence we obtained through dash cam video and from running our own demonstrations with the truck.  Client was run through standard field sobriety tests and placed under arrest.  Once handcuffed and placed in the back of the police car the officer began asking him questions and afforded him to make a phone call to his wife on speaker phone.

Case Analysis – 3 DUI Defenses Raised

In approaching our defense to this, we focused on 3 major issues: Miranda rights, operation, and reliability issues with the breath test results.

Miranda

In reviewing this evidence we determined to file a motion to suppress all of these recorded statements in violation of Miranda.  Questions about the applicability of Miranda are common ones from clients, but is not often a legal issue in drunk driving cases, but here, we assessed that it was and needed to attempt to suppress the statements made by our client.

Operation

In Michigan, although it is referred to as drunk driving, driving is not an element of the crime.  The element required to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt is operation, which means having actual physical control. Sleeping in a running car is not by itself Operation but is dependent upon other factors.  Our client initially believed that his truck was off the roadway but evidence revealed that the truck was in a lane of travel and therefore would still be considered a position of risk, and would be considered operation.

Breath Test Issues

Last, we found that there was a legal issue with the Datamaster Breath Result of .11 and .11.  This became the biggest defense in the case, however, it would be a defense to be used at Trial as the Court would not suppress the results.

Conduct of Trial

We selected a jury, known as voir dire, to discuss with the jury their life experiences and personal experiences and opinions about being a juror, and being a juror on a case like this. For example, a common question is “why are we having a jury trial when a machine says someone is a .11; which is over a .08?” It is a question that many clients or defendants may even have and is certainly a question that a juror is going to have. It is important that we discuss all the difficult topics of the case even though we are not permitted to discuss the specific facts of the case during voir dire.  Ultimately, we had very good discussions with all the jurors and our jury was set, and the trial date was scheduled weeks later….and only a week before the due date for our client’s second child.

Plea Negotiations

Our negotiations and discussions with the prosecutor had been on-going and continued even though we picked a jury, and 3 days before the Trial date we reached a plea agreement.  What had convinced the prosecutor to change the plea offer (from OWVI or Impaired) was presenting him with issues of a State witness that was subpoenaed that would either cause suppression the .11 breath tests or at minimum call into question the reliability and accuracy of those results.  We agreed to accept a plea to a charge Allowing an Intoxicated Person to Operate.

Results

The significance of this plea is that it does not suspend your driving privileges in any way.  No suspension, No restrictions, No Points.  Most importantly, it meant our client would keep his job and be able to continue to provide for his growing family.  One week after accepting the plea I received several pictures of their beautiful and healthy baby girl.

The Trial Attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm are preparing for trial from moment one on every case because trial may be the only option to obtain the result needed for a client.  If you are arrested for Drunk or Drugged Driving and in need of Excellence, Experience, and Results, contact the Team at the Barone Defense Firm.