Mounting a defense against drunk driving charges in Michigan

Michigan has tough drunk driving laws, and even first time offenders may face jail time in certain situations. While the evidence in drunk driving cases may often seem compelling, criminal defense attorneys still have a number of options available to them as they advocate on behalf of a motorist charged with driving under the influence.

In some cases, an attorney may choose to mount an affirmative defense to drunk driving charges. This approach may be taken if the driver involved was coerced into driving drunk or was only behind the wheel in order to prevent a greater harm. An example of this could be rushing a badly injured individual to a hospital. However, an affirmative defense is rare in drunk driving cases, and a defense attorney is more likely to challenge either the actions of the police officers involved or the results of the toxicology tests used to establish impairment.

Law enforcement officers must respect the constitutional rights of suspects, and a defense attorney may closely scrutinize police reports to ensure that the officers involved had the necessary probable cause to make the initial traffic stop. Another common defense to DWI charges is questioning the accuracy of breath or blood test results. Breath testing equipment is sophisticated, but it must be properly maintained and calibrated to function correctly. While blood tests are considered the most reliable way to determine blood alcohol levels, they may still be unreliable if the sample tested is mishandled.

The consequences of a drunk driving conviction can be severe in Michigan. In addition to fines and possible jail time, a DWI may appear on routine background checks and make finding a job or apartment challenging. In addition to mounting a defense, an attorney may seek to have drunk driving charges reduced by pointing out mitigating factors to the prosecutor involved during plea negotiations.