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What Happens After You’re Pulled Over for Drunk Driving in Michigan?

By Daniel T. Geherin

You’re leaving a tailgate after consuming a few beers and suddenly you hear sirens behind you.  Your fear, panic and anxiety start to kick in – what am I supposed to say?  Do I have to take the tests they request?  What will happen if I’m over the limit? Most people who have never been in trouble with the law before have no idea what the next moments will bring.

First, the police will ask many questions about what you’ve have consumed and when.  They’ll almost never read you Miranda rights----because you’re technically not in custody at that point.  If they notice objective signs of alcohol or drug use (bloodshot eyes, slurred search, confusion, they’ll ask you to step out of your car to begin a series of tests.

Second, they may ask you to participate in Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFTs), a battery of divided-attention tasks which are designed to gauge a person’s impairment (or lack thereof).  These may include tests that check your eyes (called HGN, or Nystagmus tests); balance tests (called One-Leg Stand); walking/coordination tests (called Walk and Turn); memory/speaking tests (i.e., reciting the alphabet or counting numbers); time-estimate tests (called Rhomberg tests); and finger dexterity tests.  

Third, they may ask (or demand) that you take a roadside breath test called a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT), which can justify your arrest if it registers an unlawful blood alcohol level.

Fourth, they may arrest you, and then read you a series of rights called Chemical Test Rights.  These explain that you must take the officer’s choice of test (breath, blood or urine), and a failure to do so can result in drastic license consequences.  If you agree, you’ll be taken to the police station for a breath test, or to a local hospital/clinic for a blood draw.  

Fifth, the police will typically impound your car and have it towed to a local lot.  In rare instances, they’ll allow a sober person to drive it away or allow it to be safely parked.  

Sixth, after the test, the police will typically take you to the police station or jail until your blood alcohol level returns to a safe level or until you can see a Magistrate. If your blood-alcohol level is over the limit, or if you have refused the test, the police will confiscate and destroy your driver’s license. Some counties proceed to an immediate court arraignment, while the majority of counties release a person pending a review of the chemical test results and reports by a prosecuting attorney.   

Every police agency operates a little differently and every county has different arrest and court procedures.  However, these general steps are followed in most every OWI stops in Michigan.  If you have questions about what to expect (or do) following an arrest, you should consult an experienced and specialized OWI/DUI defense attorney.  

Daniel T. Geherin, owner of Geherin Law Group, is an attorney for drunk driving and criminal defense in Ann Arbor. Dan—a former prosecutor and board-certified criminal trial attorney—is also the founder of and author of The Michigan Drunk Driving and Driver’s License Restoration Handbook. He has dedicated his career to both defending drunk driving allegations and helping put clients back on the road following a license revocation or suspension, and he’s recognized as both a criminal and license appeals expert in Ann Arbor and throughout Michigan.    

Over the last 25+ years, Dan has advised countless first-time OWI/DUI clients on how best to protect themselves to either avoid or lessen the consequences of a conviction. Dan and his team will obtain all the records related to your arrest, including all police video, and review it carefully to determine whether a good litigation challenge exists to possibly avoid a conviction.  They have a long and proven track record of success in defending and litigating drunk driving cases, including many dismissals and trial acquittals.    

In 2020 and 2021, Geherin Law Group was named a “Tier 1” OWI/DUI Defense Firm in Ann Arbor by US News Best Lawyers.  Dan has consistently been named by Michigan SuperLawyers Magazine in the field of DUI Defense. Dan was even given the highest rating for legal ethics and ability, AV-Preeminent, by Martindale Hubbell.  The firm prides itself on transparent pricing, including flat and fixed fees and military and student discounts.  We offer a free, no-pressure initial consultation.  While retention is never cheap, it is often the best way to help avoid or lessen the severe direct and secondary consequences that come with an OWI conviction.  

If you’re facing first-time OWI arrest, and you’re concerned over the consequences, please consider the combination of extensive criminal/license experience of the Geherin Law Group.  We’re available 24/7, and are dedicated to our clients. We’ll fight zealously to protect and restore your reputation and driver’s license.  For more information, contact us 24/7 at (734) 263-2780.