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People vs. R.W.

Charge: OWI 2nd Offense
Court: 52-1 (Novi) District Court

The police report in this case indicates that the reporting officer received a radio run to a particular Michigan Neighborhood (in the area or jurisdiction of the Novi District Court) because a resident had heard a crash. When the Oakland County Deputy Sheriff arrived he observed a fluid trail leading to R.W.’s address. He also observed R.W. walking in the street in the same general area

R.W. was placed into the Deputy’s car, and driven a short distance back to his home. There, the Deputy continued his investigation, and found that the jeep parked in his driveway had visible body damage, and that the airbag had deployed. There was a bottle of C&C whiskey in the car, as well as the owner’s watch. The Deputy also found the keys to the car in R.W.’s pocket.

R.W. also was observed to have “strong odor of intoxicants, dilated pupils and slurred speech, as well as minor injuries on his wrist and forehead”. A roadside breath test indicated a BrAC of .174. The evidentiary breath test was refused, and a search warrant for blood was obtained. The blood test result came back at .14. It was also determined that the driver had been involved in another accident the same evening where he’d driven off the road, and collided with a fence and two other cars, doing significant damage to everything he struck. After completing his investigation, the Deputy charged our client with a violation of Michigan’s implied consent statute, as well as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).

After consulting with our client we agreed that the best course of action was to set the matter for a bench (non-jury) trial. On the day of the trial we appeared and presented to the prosecutor and investigating officers everything we would be using to defend the case. This included numerous photographs and videotapes, as well as a night time videotape of the “scene” as it would have appeared on the evening in question. This night time videotape was taken with night vision goggles. We also identified for the prosecutor and the for the officers exactly what issues we would be presenting to the Judge at the trial. At the conclusion of this pre-trial presentation, we offered to plead guilty to the reduced charge of reckless driving. (This was a sort of “dry-run” of the trial without the Judge being present).

After our pretrial presentation, the prosecutor and the officers discussed the case and ultimately agreed to the reduction in the charges. We were then also successful in persuading the Judge to agree to the reduction, and our client tendered his plea of guilty to the reduced charge of reckless driving.

This reduction in the charges benefited the client because it resulted in a driver license sanction of only a 90 day suspension. This was far better than the one-year revocation that would have been imposed if our client had been convicted of any alcohol related traffic offense. The other major advantage to the client was that at the conclusion of the 90 day suspension, his license would be returned upon the payment of a reinstatement fee. Had the one-year revocation been imposed, then our client would have had to request a hearing with the DLAD and prevail at the hearing to attempt to have even restricted driving privileges restored. If he were not to prevail at this first hearing, he would have had to wait an additional year before re-applying. Also, even if he did prevail, he would probably have had to install an ignition interlock on his car and drive with only restricted driving privileges for the next year. Only after this one year period would he even be eligible for full restoration. Consequently, this reduction to a reckless driving from an OWI 2nd was a significant benefit and a victory for the client.