Traffic Stops and Drunk Driving

The way most people have contact with the police is by a traffic stop. For
most motorists, a traffic stop for speeding is not all that involved; however, police agencies seem to be getting more aggressive on these stops.
If you are stopped only for speeding, a police officer in the State of Michigan cannot arrest you. Speeding is a civil infraction, not a Misdemeanor.

Now, the officer can ask you for your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of automobile insurance. You are required to have all three of those documents with you when you drive. Problems arise when you are stopped for speeding, a non-arrestable offense, but you either do not have driving privileges, do not have automobile insurance, or the vehicle is not properly registered. The officer can arrest you for driving while your license is suspended.

Let us say, however, that you have all of the documents and are only being
stopped for speeding but the officer says your eyes are “watery” and that he or she can smell the odor of intoxicants. Can he arrest you? No. Can he ask you to step out of the vehicle? Yes. “Watery eyes” and an “odor of intoxicants” are not crimes; however, you can be arrested if the officer believes you are operating the vehicle “under the influence” of alcohol.

At this point, all the officer knows is that you are driving above the speed
limit which you cannot be arrested for, and that you have “watery eyes” and that he can smell intoxicants. How does the officer decide that you are “under the influence?”

Too many times attorneys wait to see the driver’s lab results, rather that look at the reason for the stop. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) was formed 50 years ago to “save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce vehicle-related crashes.” NHTSA created standard field sobriety tests (“SFSTs”) to help determine if a driver is operating their vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

The NHTSA also produced the NHTSA DWI Traffic Stop Detection Cues
book. This book is used to train police officers on various cues that suggest an individual is driving under the influence of alcohol. These cues include weaving, straddling a lane line, swerving, drifting, stopping problems, varying speeds, slow response to traffic signals, etc. There are 24 cues in all. Speeding, alone, is not a cue for drunk driving.

I have seen far too often attorneys plead their clients to drunk driving
charges based upon only a stop for speeding without any further investigation. This is a disservice to their clients. An attorney should be fully versed in the 24 DWI cues police officers are taught by the NHTSA. If those cues are not present, how can they prove “operating under the influence?”

People who are stopped by police and get drunk driving tickets should hire a competent criminal defense attorney who specializes in drunk driving defense. Attorney Alfred P. Brandt has successfully fought drunk driving charges for 35 years. He has the training, experience and expertise to handle your case. If you have a drunk driving case, contact Alfred P. Brandt for a free case review.

If you have a criminal case in Calhoun County, Lenawee County, Hillsdale
County, Washtenaw County, Jackson County, or Ingham County, contact Mr.
Brandt about your case.

The information on this website is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be taken as legal advice for an individual case. This information is not intended to form an attorney-client relationship

Contact us for a free consultation

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