OWI Causing Serious Injury or Death

DUI Accident 2

Lansing Michigan OWI Causing Serious Injury or Death Attorney

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) is a misdemeanor unless it is your third offense, then it is elevated to a felony. The exception to that is if there are aggravating factors, namely causing serious injury or death while driving under the influence. Even if it is your first offense, you will not find yourself facing the standard 93 or 180-day misdemeanor. Instead, you will be facing up to 15 years in prison for a serious felony. With practically no reasonable chance of a non-felony plea offer, you need to be represented by an experienced OWI lawyer. The standard OWI defenses still apply and we apply the same approach as are other OWI cases. However, these charges have the added element that the drunk driving caused someone to be injured or killed.


OWI, OWVI, OUID Causing Serious Injury

  • Up to five years in prison
  • $1,000-5,000 in fines plus court costs
  • 180 days vehicle immobilization unless forfeited
  • License plate confiscation
  • $2,000 in driver’s responsibility fees ($1,000 for two consecutive years)

OWI, OWVI, OUID Causing Death

  • Up to 15 years in prison
  • $2,500-10,000 in fines plus court costs
  • 180 days vehicle immobilization unless forfeited
  • License plate confiscation
  • $2,000 in driver’s responsibility fees ($1,000 for two consecutive years)

Additional Felony Charges

In addition to the OWI causing injury charge, you could also face additional and more serious felony charges if the victim dies. Many prosecutors will add charges of Manslaughter with a Motor Vehicle and even Second Degree Murder. Here is what the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in those cases.

Manslaughter with a Motor Vehicle Elements

1)Defendant was driving a car

2)In a grossly negligent manner

3)That substantially caused the death of another person

Second Degree Murder Elements

1)Defendant caused the death of another person

2)With malice

3)And without justification or excuse

Causation Element

Causation is a vitally important factor in both OWI Causing Serious Injury and OWI Causing Death. It is not enough that the defendant was driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level and was in accident where someone was hurt or killed. Michigan does not apply it as a strict liability crime. This was a clarified a few years ago by the Michigan Supreme Court in the case of People v Feezel, where defendant was charged with OUID Causing Death when THC was found in his system.

In Feezel, the Court held that the trial court was wrong to not allow the defense to prevent evidence of the defendant’s intoxication. The Court held that evidence of gross negligence is relevant if it tends to prove the decedent may have acted in wanton or reckless disregard for the result of his actions. Evidence of defendant’s intoxication could be an intervening cause of death thus breaking the chain of causation between the defendant and the decedent. The prosecutor still has to prove that defendant’s intoxicated driving was a substantial cause of the other person’s death and evidence that the defendant was acting grossly negligent, is relevant to determining causation.

Causation is a crucial element in these felony OWI charges. It is important that you have a lawyer that is experienced in defending these types of felony OWI cases. Expert testimony and accident reconstruction are very important as well as the computer readings of the cars involved showing when the brakes were applied, acceleration, deceleration, and speeds. If charged with OWI Causing a Serious Injury, the prosecutor has to prove that the victim has suffered a serious injury that was caused by defendant’s drunk driving.

Michigan OWI Lawyer

If you have been charged with felony OWI or OWI Causing Injury or Death, you need the best representation possible because your freedom is at stake. Contact Austin Legal Services, PLC at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan felony OWI attorney today!

Representing felony OWI cases throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Jackson, Livingston, Kent, Washtenaw, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Shiawassee, Barry in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Ithaca, Charlotte, Jackson, Brighton, Howell, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Hastings, Corunna, Durand.

Felony OWI: OWI 3rd Offense

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Lansing Michigan Felony OWI Attorney


An OWI charge can have a life altering impact on your future. If convicted of OWI or even Impaired Driving, you will have a criminal conviction on your record that can never be removed from your criminal or driving records. Your insurance will skyrocket, you will pay hefty fines and court costs, your car may be taken, your license suspended, probation will dictate your life for the next sixth months to a year, the college scholarship you had may be gone, and your career paths may be detoured or permanently altered. If you are charged with a felony OWI, the impact and consequences are much worse.

In Michigan, if you are convicted of drunk driving (OWI, Impaired Driving) for a third time in your lifetime, even if your previous convictions were 30 years ago, you will be a felon. Not only will you have a felony on your record, but the penalties attached to it are far worse than the OWI first and second offense misdemeanor punishments. The fines and costs are much greater, and it is all but guaranteed you will do some jail time, perhaps even prison. If you are charged as an habitual offender (previous felony convictions) the maximum penalties are even harsher. Also, being charged as a felony or third offense OWI means that it is stratospherically unlikely you will be offered a plea reduction to a misdemeanor OWI. If eligible, you may be entered into sobriety court which will usually lower the charge to a second offense OWI upon successful completion, but you will have the felony on your record in the meantime and the felony penalties that go along with it.

Penalties for an OWI 3rd Offense

You face up to five years in prison, plus $5,000 in fines and court costs, 60-180 days of community service, $2,000 in driver’s responsibility fees ($1,000 a year for two consecutive years), license plate and vehicle immobilization for one to three years (if not ordered forfeited). If you had your driver’s license suspended within the past seven years, you will lose your driver’s license for five years. Otherwise, you will lose it for a year. Even then, you are not guaranteed to get it back because you will have to be successful at a driver’s license restoration hearing for a Driver’s Assessment Appeal Division (DAAD) hearing officer.

It is important more than ever that you be represented by an experienced OWI attorney if you are facing a felony OWI. Unless they have to, prosecutors will not cut you a break during negotiations and neither will judges at sentencing. It is important that you have someone with experience and a trained eye to thoroughly review your entire case including the legality of the stop (did the police have reasonable suspicion), the administering of any field sobriety tests (were they administered correctly and under correct conditions, was the officer properly trained in how to conduct field sobriety tests and the preliminary breath test), were the observation and other rules followed with the evidential breath or other chemical test (was the officer certified to use the machine, was it properly calibrated, did it have maintenance issues, was the blood draw done properly, is there proper chain of custody). That is how we approach an OWI case. Leave no stone unturned because there are a lot of variables.

Michigan Felony OWI Attorney

If you have been charged with felony or third offense OWI, you need the best representation possible because your life and future plans are at stake. Contact Austin Legal Services, PLC at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan felony OWI attorney today!

Representing felony OWI cases throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Jackson, Livingston, Kent, Washtenaw, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Shiawasse, Barry in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Ithaca, Charlotte, Jackson, Brighton, Howell, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Hastings, Corunna, Durand.

Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)

0_0_0_0_250_127_csupload_57316743 Lansing Michigan Driving Offense Attorney
 In Michigan, you can be guilty of the offense of Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) if you operate a motor vehicle on a public roadway or areas generally accessible to the public, if any of the following are met:
  • your driver’s license has been suspended
  • your driver’s license has been revoked
  • you applied for a driver’s license and were denied
  • you have never applied for a driver’s license
  • you permit someone to operate you vehicle who fall into one of the above mentioned categories

What are the penalties for driving on a suspended, revoked, or denied license?

First Offense:

  • 93 days in jail
  • $500 in fines
  • Registration plates canceled
  • One year probation
  • Additional license suspension
  • $1,000 driver’s responsibility fees ($500/year for two consecutive years)

Second Offense:

  • One-year in jail
  • $1,000 in fines
  • Registration plates canceled
  • Two years probation
  • Additional license suspension
  • $1,000 driver’s responsibility fees ($500/year for two consecutive years)

A second offense is one that occurs within seven years of your first offense.

All subsequent offenses have the same penalty as the second offense except the vehicle immobilization period becomes longer.

DWLS Causing Serious Injury:

  • Five years in prison
  • $1,000-$5,000 in fines
  • Vehicle immobilization or forfeiture
  • Five years probation

DWLS Causing Death:

  • 15 years in prison
  • $2,500-$10,000 in fines
  • Vehicle immobilization or forfeiture
  • Five years probation

What sentence am I likely to receive?

Even though jail is a possibility, it is still rare for a regular DWLS conviction. Although, with each conviction jail becomes more likely. Most jurisdictions are likely to sentence you to probation plus fines and court costs. Keep in mind that each judge and jurisdiction is different so it pays to have a lawyer who is familiar with that area so you can have a better idea of what the sentence will be.

Are there defenses to DWLS? Yes, like any law there are defenses which is why you should have an experienced criminal lawyer scrutinize the police reports for any deficiencies or problems that could be used to either dismiss the case or reduce the charge to a lesser charge or even a civil infraction. Some possible defenses include:

  • Invalid or Illegal Stop— The police must have reasonable suspicion to pull your vehicle over as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. The stop cannot be a pretext, or a fishing expedition for the police. They must have observed you committing some infraction of the  motor vehicle code such as speeding, crossing the center line, running a stop sign, etc. or have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. If they cannot articulate that, then the stop would be illegal meaning that any evidence the police obtained from that stop would be “fruit of the poisonous tree” and therefore inadmissible.
  • Emergency— If circumstances dictated that you had to drive in order to save your life or the life of someone else, then the case may be dismissed if this can be verified. Keep in mind that the situation has to be a true emergency and not merely something that was really important.
  • No Actual Knowledge that Your License was Suspended— The prosecutor has the burden of proving that your license was suspended and you knew or should have known that your license was suspended. If the Secretary of State can demonstrate that they mailed you a notice to your address that was on file and it was never returned, you are presumed to have received that notice unless you can prove otherwise.  If you changed addresses and didn’t inform the SOS that is not their fault. It is your duty to keep them informed of your whereabouts.

There may be other mitigating factors that could persuade a prosecutor to reduce the charge, give you a civil infraction, or dismiss your case.  That is why you need an experienced criminal attorney representing you.

What are possible plea deals? It all depends on the location and what that particular prosecutor’s office usual policy is. They may be willing to negotiate down to Allowing an Unlicensed Driver to Operate Your Vehicle or a civil infraction of No Valid Operator’s License or “No Ops.” This will also depend on how much leverage can be garnered from the police report.

What about driving on an expired license? Thanks to a recent Court of Appeals holding, we now know for certain that an expired license doesn’t fit into any of the categories listed in the DWLS statute. The reason is because someone with an expired license is different from someone with a revoked, suspended, or denied license because they are not considered an unsafe driver. The statute was clearly passed to sanction unsafe drivers. Driving on an expired license is a civil infraction of $150 with driver’s responsibility payments of $150 for two consecutive years.


If you have been charged with DWLS, consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area as soon as possible. Call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan Driving Offense Attorney.
Representing DWLS Client throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Barry, Jackson, Shiawassee, Washtenaw, Gratiot, Livingston, Kent and in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Hastings, Howell, Brighton, Jackson, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Corunna, Ithaca.

Michigan Implied Consent Law

0_0_0_0_250_200_csupload_54757363Lansing Michigan OWI Lawyer

In Michigan, whether you are a licensed driver or not, you are deemed to have given your consent simply by driving a car on a public roadway to submit to chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine) for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol or the presence of a controlled substance, or both, in your blood. The law, MCL 257.625, applies to drivers who have been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving as well as felonious driving, negligent homicide, manslaughter, or murder resulting from operating a motor vehicle. These laws were enacted when people quickly learned that the easiest way to get around the alcohol testing was to just simply refuse to comply. Thus, the Michigan legislature adopted the implied consent law to act as a deterrent and provide punishment for such refusal.

The police officer administering the chemical test must give you certain warnings or advisements before you submit to the chemical test. Sometimes they are spoken verbally but often they are prepared on a form for you to read and sign indicating that you understand each one. The officer must “substantially comply” with giving the warnings or advisements before the penalties for refusal can be invoked. The following are the warnings or advisements must be given:

  1. If you take a chemical test at the officer’s request, you may request a chemical test to be conducted by a person of your choosing (at your own expense and provided the request is reasonable)\
  2. Results of the test are admissible in a judicial proceeding and will be admissible as evidence of your guilt or innocence
  3. You are responsible for obtaining a chemical analysis of a test sample obtained at yoru own request
  4. If you refuse the officer’s request, a test will not be given without a court order, but the officer may seek a court order
  5. Refusing the officer’s request will result in a suspension of your driver’s license and six points will be added to your driving record.


Is Refusing a Chemical Test a Crime?

In several states, yes, but in Michigan, no. At least, not yet.


Can My Refusal be Used as Evidence Against Me at Trial?

Yes! Juries often conclude, rightly or wrongly, that if you refused it was because you were drunk, even though the judge will give them a jury instruction that states that evidence of a refusal is only for the purposes of concluding if the chemical test was offered and not for evidence of guilt. This can be very damaging. Many clients have wrongly decided that such refusal keeps an official blood alcohol content or BAC record out of their case only to find out how detrimental and costly, in more ways than one, that refusal can be.


Can I be Forced to Submit to a Chemical Test?

Only with a court order signed by a judge. Otherwise, your compliance must be voluntary. The court order can give the officer’s the right to physically restrain you even to the point of using a catheter for obtaining a urine sample.


Can Evidence Obtained From the Chemical Test be Used Against me for Other Crimes?

No. The results cannot be used against you in any non-DUI situations.


Can I Contest My Refusal?

Yes. You are entitled to an administrative hearing called an Implied Consent Hearing. The hearing must take place within 45 days of the arrest and at least five days notice of the hearing must be given to the officer and the prosecutor. The state has the burden of proving their case by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not, 50.1%) that a violation of the Implied Consent Law has occurred. These are the factors that the state must prove:

The officer had reasonable grounds for a drunk driving investigation.
You were placed under arrest.
Did you refuse the officer’s chemical test
Was the refusal reasonable
Were you advised of your Implied Consent rights

With the burden of proof so long, the state usually wins. The best way for a defendant to win is for the officer to be a no-show which does happen sometimes. Although losing this battle can sometime help you win the war because it provides you with the officer’s testimony under oath which can later be used at motions or trial in your DUI case. It also locks the officer into a story which can later be used for impeachment. Remember, losing the Implied Consent hearing has no bearing on your DUI criminal case.

If you lose your Implied Consent Hearing you can always appeal to the Circuit Court, but they are rarely successful.


What Constitutes a Refusal?

It’s not always as clear cut as you think it is. It is important to inform the officer of any health or breathing problems that you may have, particularly if given a breath test on the DataMaster. For example, emphysema can cause a breath sample not to register if you aren’t able to breath for the requisite amount of time. The officer may think you are refusing or purposely trying to throw off the machine and many have been falsely accused of refusing this way.


What are the Penalties for Refusal?

First Offense: License suspended for one year and six points added to your driving record

Second Offense: License suspended for two years with six points added to your driving record

A second offense is constituted if it occurred within seven years of the first offense. For first offense refusals, the license suspension can be appealed to the Circuit Court for “hardship” which means they could grant you a partial or restricted license. With the second offense, there is no hardship appeal.


If you have lost your license because of an implied consent violation, you will need to represented by an experienced implied consent hearing attorney to get your license back or get a restricted license issued by the court. Call Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan OWI attorney about your implied consent hearing.


Representing DUI and OWI clients at implied consent hearing throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Barry, Livingston, Kent, Washtenaw in the cities of Lansing, Mason, Hastings, St. John, Charlotte, Brighton, Howell, Ann Arbor, Jackson, and Grand Rapids.

Restoring Your Michigan Driving Privileges


Lansing Michigan Driver’s License Appeals and Restoration Attorney


In Michigan, if you have two or more drunk driving convictions (OWI, OWVI, OUIL, UBAL) within seven years or three such convictions within ten years, you will lose your driving privileges and have to pay dearly to get them back. Losing your license for any length of time can be burdensome;not only on yourself but on those around you who have now become your defacto chauffeurs. And if you have more than one revocation within seven years, you will have to wait five years before applying to get your driving privileges back.When it comes to drunk driving, Michigan doesn’t mess around.

Your first step in getting your license back after you have waited the mandatory time period, is to apply for a hearing with the Drivers Assessment and Appeals Division (DAAD). The burden of proof is on you, the petitioner, to demonstrate through “clear and convincing evidence” that you deserve to have your license back. At a bare minimum, you will have to demonstrate and affirm complete abstinence from alcohol for at least six months and in many cases a year (or even longer if your BAC was 0.20 or higher, you relapsed, or have three or more drunk driving convictions). That means no drinking. Period.

That’s right—no afternoon cocktails, evening nightcaps, or even a glass of wine at Cousin Bill’s wedding. Any of those incidents will immediately get you disqualified and you’ll have to wait another year to re-apply. You will also have to show that you are at minimum a low risk of being a repeat offender, and that you have the ability and motivation to obey the law.

In your petition is a section for an alcohol assessment which needs to be completed by a professional. It is important that the outcome of this assessment is good and at a minimum shows you are a low risk for alcohol or substance use or abuse. Ideally, the results should be that you are no risk and that your sobriety should continue.

As evidence, you will need quality letters of reference and recommendation. While the DAAD requests three, I always tell clients to have five. Make sure they are people who can attest to your character and your abstention from alcohol. Letters from clergy, AA sponsors are always good ones to have. You will also need letters and proof that you have completed and are still attending treatment programs, 12-step programs, AA meetings, Sobriety Court, etc. Without these you will not get your license back. You can also have character witnesses to testify on your behalf at the hearing. Also, very important: make sure you have paid your driver responsibility fees!

If successful. the DAAD will authorize a restricted license and require you to use an ignition interlock device. After another year, you can petition again for full driving privileges. If you are denied, you can always appeal to the circuit court, but don’t get your hopes up. Appeals to the circuit court are often costly and rarely render a positive result. Your best bet is to prevail at the DAAD hearing.

Do you need a lawyer to handle your appeal? It isn’t required, but I would never advise anyone to go it alone. The process is very tedious and complicated and for those unfamiliar with the process and what the board is really looking for, it is overwhelming. Also, if your appeal for re-instatement is denied, you have to wait a full year before re-applying! The risks are too high and your diving privileges are too important. Plus, an experienced attorney can tell you exactly what the DAAD is looking for and what will definitely get you disqualified. Experienced attorneys can also tell you what you’ll need and what you won’t need as well as preparing your witnesses for the hearing officer’s questioning. Statistics show that your chances of prevailing are much better when you have a lawyer. Your diving privileges are too important. It’s worth the investment to get your license back.


If your license has been suspended due to OWI drunk driving offenses, call Austin Legal Services today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan driver’s license restoration attorney. Let us help you get back on the road.

Representing driver’s license appeals and restoration Clients throughout Michigan in the counties of: Ingham, Eaton, Jackson, Livingston, Shiawassee, Kent, Clinton, Barry, and Gratiot and in the cities of: Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Bath, Ithaca, Jackson, Brighton, Howell, Corunna, Grand Rapids. 

What to Do When You Recieve a Traffic or Speeding Ticket

0_0_0_0_250_166_csupload_54757685I JUST RECEIVED A TICKET—NOW WHAT?

You’ve just received a traffic ticket. There are certain steps that you can take in order to fight the ticket or help you prepare a defense. This is a basic guide with general information on what you can do to help win your case.

1. Make note of the surrounding events

Take copious notes of the events surrounding your ticket. Make sure you note the time of day, weather conditions, how many cars were on the road, the condition of the road, and any other information that may be important to your case. Document any statements that the officer may have said or his demeanor and behavior. Make sure you write it down as soon as possible so it’s still fresh in your memory.

2. Take pictures or video when available

This can be crucial in a lot ofcases. For example, it can be used to show that the stop sign was obscured by bushes and therefore you couldn’t see it to stop. Or it can be used to show the curvature of the highway which may account for inaccurate radar or laser readings,or to show the width of the lanes or the conditions of the road, any of which may be important in presenting a defense. Make sure that the pictures are taken during the same time of day and similar conditions as when you were pulled over.

3. Don’t Miss Your Deadline to Request a Hearing

It is important that you contact the court and request a hearing within the timeframe your state allows or else you will get a default judgment against you which means that you will be automatically held responsible and you will have to pay the entire fine amount as well as any points that may go along with it. The information on the deadline and who to contact is usually on the back of your ticket. With some courts you can merely call the clerk and request a hearing and others you will have to send in a written request.

In Michigan, you have 10 days to request a hearing.

4. Informal vs formal hearing

An informal hearing is one with just you and the magistrate where you will have a chance to plead your case as to why you should not be held responsible for the citation. The police officer is not required to be there and you will have no chance for cross-examination.After you have made your argument, the magistrate will decide if you reresponsible or not. You cannot be represented by a lawyer at this hearing; you are completely on your own.

A formal hearing is infront ofthe judge and the police officer will be required to be there. Often times if the police officer does not show up, the judge will dismiss the case. You wil lhave the opportunity to cross examine the police officer as well as call your own witnesses and present your own evidence. You are also entitled to be represented by a lawyer at this stage and it is recommended that you hire an experienced traffic law attorney.

5. Make sure you know what you are being ticketed for

Look at the citation on the ticket to make sure exactly what you are being ticked for as it could be very crucial to your defense and how you plan on proceeding. Often the ticket will give a citation number for the law so you can look it up if you wish. It is recommended that you do this so you know exactly what the elements of the charge is and what the prosecution will have to prove to hold you responsible.

6. Check to see if your state allows for discovery

Some states allow for discovery in traffic ticket cases. That means you can make requests to the prosecution for any documents or evidence that they may have relating to your case. You could, for example, request the officer’s note book, training manual, manual for the radar or laser equipment that the officer used, cruiser cam video, etc.This can greatly help you prepare for your case and even win your case in some instances.

Michigan, however, does not allow for discovery in traffic ticket cases.

7. Consider Delaying

You may want to consider delaying the case. This can help give you more time to prepare and the longer the case goes on, the more likely that the officer’s memory of the event fades. It also increases the likelihood that the officer won’t show which often results in a dismissal. Most states call such delays a “continuance.” Michigan calls them an “adjournment.” Just call up the clerk and tell them that you need to delay the case and they will usually do this at least once without a problem. Beyond that, they will probably get suspicious and require a showing of good cause before they’ll grant it.

8. Start preparing your case and making an argument

How you prepare for your case and mount a defense will depend on what you have been ticketed for. The best way to start is to look up the citation to see what the elements are that the prosecution has to prove. Then determine what elements, if any, the prosecution will have trouble proving. If you have been ticketed for speeding, ask if the officer was using a laser or a radar gun. Ask him question about the equipment such as how it works, what his training consisted of, when the last time he read the manual for the equipment, when was the last time the equipment was calibrated. Based on his answers, you can make an argument as to why the radaror laser reading could be inaccurate or untrustworthy or perhaps that the officer doesn’t possess the knowledge or the proper training on how to use it.It’s worth a try.

9. Balance costs and risks of is it worth fighting

You will have to decide if the ticket is worth fighting. Traffic court, like most other court dates, will not go quickly and you can expect to be waiting around for quite a while. Sometimes as long as half a day. If you hire a lawyer to represent you, expect to pay him at least a few hundred dollars. If you have a lot of points on your license and you’re getting close to sanctions or suspension, then it might be a good investment to hire a lawyer and contest the ticket. If nothing else, they can usually plea bargain it down to where you will get a no-point infraction, a lower point infraction, or get the fine reduced. If there is little damage,other than the fine, to be done to your driving record, then the investment in money and time may not be worth it. Or you just may want to consider representing yourself and negotiating with the prosecutor on your own. It’s just like anything else: the more serious the consequences, the more beneficial it is to bring in professional reinforcements.

10. Contact a lawyer if you have any doubts

If you have any doubts as to what you should do or if you should hire a lawyer, call up a lawyer that does traffic tickets to ask. Most attorneys will offer a free consultation so take advantage of it. Most lawyers who are experienced with traffic ticket defense should be able to tell you rather quickly if you need professional lega lrepresentation or how you should proceed with your case.

When the Police Pull You Over

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A guide on what to do when the police pull you over.

Under What Circumstances Can the Police Pull Me Over?

The police need reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to pull you over. It is a very low standard. Simply going over the speed limit by one mile per hour is enough. Almost any traffic infraction will be enough to stop your vehicle.

What Should You Do When Pulled Over

When the police activate their lights, begin to slow down and look for a safe place to pull over. Put on your signal indicating where you are pulling over. If necessary, drive really slow until you reach a safe place or a well lit area.

Stay calm. Turn off your engine and turn on your interior car light if it is dark out. Keep your hands on the steering wheel. Make no sudden movements to grab your license or registration or any other sudden movements. Inform the officer of any movement you intend on making with your hands and make them slowly.

DO NOT get out of the car—that is considered an act of aggression! Wait with your hands on the wheel until the police come up to your window. Be prepared to show your license and registration and proof of insurance for the vehicle. Try not to act suspicious or nervous. Obey the officer’s instructions and be polite, even if the officer isn’t being nice to you in return. If the officer is being rude to you, ask for his name and badge number.

If the officer has given you a command that you believe to be unlawful, it is always better to obey the officer’s commands than risk injury or being charged with “resisting and obstructing.” You can always challenge the officer’s decisions and evidence later in court.

Do not give any incriminating statements to the police. If they ask you why they pulled you over, do not tell them anything incriminating. Simply tell them that you do not know or not sure. Be polite and do not have an attitude with them. Ordinarily traffic stops ar enot considered police custody which would trigger Miranda Warnings so you have to be careful about incriminating statements.

Police can order the driver and any passenger outside of the car for any reason—they don’t have to have one (it’s for officer’s safety).

Do I Have the Right to See the Radar Reading? No, you do not. A lot of police officers won’t show it to you if you ask because they don’t have to. Some might show you, but most usually will not.

Plain View

The police have the right to seize any illegal property or contraband that is in “plain view” as long as they have the legal right to be there. That includes obvious smells such as marijuana smoke or drugs in the car or open containers of alcohol. But the police cannot move or manipulate the evidence in order to uncover it.

Police can search the vehicle if they believe that there is a reasonable suspicion of weapons in thevehicle. But that search is limited to where weapons can be found and where the driver has access. Incriminating evidence that is obtained while lawfully searching the vehicle is admissible.

If they police do not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to search your vehicle, they cannot lawfully do so without your permission. Do not let them bluff you by telling you that they will go get a warrant so you might as well let them search. There is an automobile exception to search warrants meaning that if the police have probable cause to search your vehicle then they never need a warrant because your car is likely to drive away.

The police can search anywhere in your car except the trunk. They may however search the trunk if the flop sea tis open from the inside. Trunk Exception—Police may search your trunk if they have probable cause that something illegal is in the trunk.

You may give the police permission to search your car but you don’t have to and that will not and cannot be used against you. The police can ask you but may not force you but they may trick you and they do not have to tell you that you can refuse. The scope of the search must be reasonable and you can revoke consent anytime during the search. Police may search objects in the vehicle if they have probable cause and they do not have to worry about if the driver or passenger is the owner of the objects.

Drug Dogs

Police can have drug dogs sniff around a stopped vehicle even if they have no reasonable suspicion to believe that drugs exist. If the drug dog indicates that drugs are present, that is enough probable cause for the police to start searching your car and your person and the car’s passengers for drugs.