Flashing lights in the rearview mirror usually mean bad news for someone. If that someone is you because you are suspected of driving under the influence, here’s what you need to do if you’re arrested. Please keep in mind that these are suggestions on what to do, because only a practicing, trained lawyer can advise you of exactly what to do for your unique situation.
1) Get sober in jail. Depending upon your blood alcohol level, it may be a while before you are deemed sober and released from custody.
2) Get arraigned. To be able to get bond or any other form of leave from jail, you must be arraigned by the court. Usually this entails being charged with the particular offense at issue. This can range from:
You will come before a judge or magistrate who will explain the charges that have been brought against you along with the punishments associated with those charges. In addition to jail time, there are also potential fines, court costs, and probation as well as license sanctions and driver responsibility fees.
3) Plead and get bail/bond. What you plead is ultimately up to you, but the chances are very good that a plea of “not guilty” is the best option. Sometimes, it is not. It is best to consult with your lawyer on what to do next. Once you have plead, you will be assessed bail or bond, which is the amount of money that you must put up as collateral to ensure your presence at the next phase of the proceedings. The magistrate or judge has the final say in what the bail or bond will be, and it can range from a personal bond (as in your word, no money) to $500. The more serious the charges, of course, the higher the bond. Depending upon the nature of your charges, the judge or magistrate may also require ongoing drug and/or alcohol testing.
4) Find a lawyer. The magistrate or judge will advise you at the hearing of your right to representation, along with your right to a jury trial and other essential rights enshrined in the Constitution. At this point, the right that you should be most focused on using is that of representation. Finding a lawyer who is knowledgeable in OWI in Michigan can mean the difference between a conviction on your record and jail time, and a lesser charge with probation, or even complete dismissal of the charges.
5) The lawyer will investigate. Part of the benefit of having an attorney by your side through this process is that the attorney will independently investigate the nature of the charges and the circumstances surrounding the arrest. They will look at questions such as whether the stop itself was lawful, whether department policies on testing were followed, and if the police actually saw you driving and for how long. The attorney can request evidence surrounding the traffic stop including video of the arrest, logs of the testing, and any 911 call transcripts.
6) Pre-Trial Hearing. Again, having an attorney by your side at this stage of the proceedings is immensely valuable especially if the attorney has identified serious errors in the way the arrest was handled. The pre-trial hearing is often the time when an attorney can argue that the charges should be dismissed entirely due to impropriety or insufficient evidence or through exclusion of evidence on technical grounds.
7) Disposition. Assuming the charges are not dismissed, it is still extremely beneficial to have counsel with you at this stage of the process because they can help negotiate lesser charges, lesser penalties, and lesser sanctions. Chances are that anything less than what is being offered by the district attorney will be an improvement in matters. Not only can counsel help negotiate punishment, they can also help to mitigate sanctions such as license restrictions that can wreak havoc on future driving ability, testing requirements, and fines.
If you have been arrested for OWI in Michigan, it is critical to find competent and knowledgeable counsel who can help you get the best possible outcome. The team at Michigan Gun Law is ready to help you today.