OWI charges are always serious – even if it is your first offense. Many drivers do not realize, however, that their defenses begin the second the police pull them over. Many people do not understand their rights, and as a result, they face OWI charges that they may have avoided, or they compromise their abilities to structure effective defenses. Here are three mistakes to avoid if police stop you under suspicion of operating while intoxicated, and after the arrest:
- Admitting guilt;
- Answering every question the officer asks;
- And not contacting a criminal law attorney.
If you are facing OWI charges in Michigan, contact Gordon & Hess, PLC. Brian E. Gordon is a criminal defense lawyer in Grand Rapids who can investigate your arrest, structure your defense, and aggressively fight for a positive outcome to your case. Our attorneys offer 30 years of combined legal experience. Call 616-272-3331 to schedule a free half-hour, confidential consultation. Until then, read on to learn three mistakes to avoid during and after an OWI arrest: Mistake 1: Admitting Guilt Although you should never lie to an officer, you are under no obligation to admit guilt. If you are arrested, the prosecuting authority can and will use your statements against you – even if you said them before hearing your Miranda Rights. Sometimes drivers assume their blood-alcohol concentrations are above 0.08 percent when, in fact, they are under the legal limit. Breathalyzers are not always calibrated or administered correctly, and field sobriety tests are notoriously inaccurate. However, if you admit guilt, you give the prosecuting authority more evidence to use against you in court. Mistake 2: Answering Every Question the Officer Asks You do not have to answer any questions that the officer asks. If the police ask if you have been drinking or how many drinks you have had, do not lie; rather, simply state that you do not feel comfortable answering questions without a criminal defense lawyer present. This may make the officer suspicious, but it will give the prosecuting authority less evidence to use against you. Mistake 3: Not Contacting a Criminal Law Attorney OWI convictions can have life-changing consequences. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the penalties of a first offense may include:
- A fine of $100 to $500
- Up to 93 days in jail;
- Up to 360 hours of community service;
- A six-month driver’s license suspension;
- Vehicle immobilization;
- Six points on your driver record;
- And a $1,000 Driver Responsibility Fee for two years.
Depending on the facts surrounding your arrest, your criminal law attorney may be able to structure a defense to reduce the charges or penalties, or to get the charges dismissed altogether. Possible OWI defenses include:
- The officer made the stop without reasonable suspicion;
- The officer did not administer the breath test properly;
- The breathalyzer was not calibrated correctly;
- Or the officer did not have the qualifications to perform field sobriety tests.
If you are facing charges for operating while intoxicated in Michigan, contact Gordon & Hess, PLC. Brian E. Gordon is a Michigan DUI attorney who can evaluate the charges against you and structure your defense. We represent clients throughout west Michigan. Call 616-272-3331 to schedule a free consultation.