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DUI Stops in Michigan

When preparing for trial, an experienced Michigan DUI attorney will plan multiple angles of attack against the prosecution. From the administration of field sobriety tests to the collection, storage, and transportation of chemical BAC testing samples, there are a multitude of factors that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the prosecution to be successful. One of the first elements to be attacked when defending a DUI case is the initial traffic stop that led to the arrest.

What Makes a Traffic Stop Lawful?

Law enforcement officers cannot arbitrarily pull you over. In order for a traffic stop to be lawful, the officer must be able to cite clear, logical reasons for initiating it; in other words, a “hunch” is not enough.

Additionally, an officer may be wearing a body camera, conduct a preliminary breath test, field sobriety test, or ask questions for more evidence for an arrest.

Attacking the Traffic Stop

During the trial, your attorney will have the chance to cross-examine the arresting officer who initiated your traffic stop. An experienced attorney will know how to use this opportunity to attack the stop and raise reasonable suspicion in the minds of the jurors.

For example, the officer may have stated that he initiated the traffic stop because he noticed you swerving. During cross-examination, the defense attorney may ask whether the officer saw other motorists swerving that day. If the officer answers yes, the question then becomes, “Did you pull them over as well?” If the officer says no to this question, then the defense has shown that swerving in and of itself is not an indication of drunk driving. This type of questioning will slowly poke holes in the officer’s testimony and raise reasonable doubt of the prosecution’s case.

DUI Roadblocks

In many states, law enforcement agencies routinely conduct drunk driving roadblocks with the intention of arresting as many people as possible on suspicion of impaired or intoxicated driving. Sometimes, these roadblocks are conducted under the guise of a “safety” or seatbelt checkpoint.

In Michigan, however, our lawmakers have determined that these types of stops and searches are unconstitutional. In our state, an officer must have a legitimate reason before pulling your vehicle to the side of the road.

Although roadblocks are not lawful, Michigan police officers sometimes employ other strategies for pulling over vehicles and questioning drivers. For example, during the annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign, officers will stand on busy street corners while several patrol cars wait on standby.

As cars pass by, the officer on the corner will look for drivers and passengers who are not wearing their seatbelts. If the officer spots a seatbelt violation, he or she will radio to the patrol cars, which will then give pursuit to the vehicle and initiate a lawful traffic stop.