Drunk Driving Cases Handled
by Attorney Patrick T. Barone

Case 1:

City of Waterford vs. S.P.
51st District Court
Waterford Michigan

In this case the client was arrested for OUIL, and because he refused the breath test he was also charged with a violation of the implied consent law. At the hearing before the Driver License Appeal Division the Hearing Officer was successfully persuaded by defense counsel that the breath test refusal was proper. The Hearing Officer dismissed the implied consent charge. No points were assessed to the client’s driver license, and the client did not lose his driving privileges.

At the trial on the underlying OUIL, the Arresting Officer testified that he observed the client weaving across the center line of traffic several times, then suddenly turning right from the main road onto a side street to avoid a traffic control device. The Officer also testified that the client was observed traveling in excess of the speed limit. The Police Officer told the jury that in his opinion all of this indicated a driver who exhibited signs of intoxication.

The Police Officer further testified that upon activating his overhead lights, the client’s vehicle stopped at an angle, and in such a way as to impede traffic. Further, that the client had blood shot eyes, and that the strong odor of intoxicants was emanating from the vehicle and his person. His speech was slurred, he was unsteady on his feet, and the client admitted to drinking 3-4 beers.

The client was asked to recite the alphabet, and the arresting officer testified that this attempted recited was so slurred as to be unintelligible. Also, that the client could not count backwards, missed several numbers, and stopped inappropriately. The client admitted to not remembering the Police Officer’s instructions. Based on all of this the Officer concluded that the client was operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor. The Officer told the jury that the client was read his chemical rights, but refused to take the breath test.

On cross-examination the Police Officer admitted that sober drivers also sometimes weave, turn suddenly and speed, and that other things beside alcohol can cause blood shot eyes. The arresting officer was questioned regarding the use of "divided attention" field sobriety tests, and admitted that good reflexes and motor skills were necessary in order to properly operate a motor vehicle. He was also questioned regarding the statistical inaccuracy of field sobriety tests in evaluating sobriety versus intoxication.

The jury deliberated for about twenty minutes before returning a verdict of not guilty.

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