Law Office of Edward J. Sternisha, PLLC - 448 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Being convicted of an alcohol related driving offense in Michigan means you will ALWAYS have a criminal record. Even though convictions for some crimes can be expunged or set aside, meaning it gets removed from your public record, alcohol related driving convictions cannot be removed. Further, aside from the penalties the court may assess, such as jail time, fines, and probation, your driver’s license will be affected, your insurance rates will go up, and you may lose your job – or be prevented from obtaining certain jobs. An OWI conviction can be very costly – especially if you don’t hire the right attorney. Not only is Ed Sternisha licensed as an attorney, he also holds licenses or certifications in many other areas, including being licensed as a private investigator, and as an insurance agent. He was also a police officer who made many drunk driving arrests and knows exactly what rules the police must follow. Ed uses his experience in these other areas to help him better serve each client who comes into his office. Plus, Ed only handles drunk driving cases – meaning it is not simply something he dabbles in; it is 100% of his business!
This is a common question with a fairly simple answer. Every state sets its own drunk driving laws. Some states call it DUI or DWI or something similar, while Michigan calls it OWI. Because DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) requires a prosecutor to prove a defendant was “driving,” Michigan legislators decided to call it OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) to eliminate the “driving” requirement and allow prosecutors to merely prove that a defendant was “operating” a vehicle. This means that even if a police officer does not actually see a person driving, the officer may still be able to arrest them for Operating While Intoxicated.
The information provided by Attorney Sternisha anywhere online is for informational purposes only and is NOT considered legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created. Attorney Sternisha is only licensed to practice law in Michigan. Law Office of Edward J Sternisha DUI defense lawyer in Grand Rapids.
Absolutely NOT! The prosecutor has an obligation to prove every element of the crime in order to convict someone of Operating While Intoxicated. Having a breath, blood, or urine test indicate that a defendant was over the legal limit is only one element that must be proven. There are many other things Attorney Ed Sternisha considers while personally investigating his client’s cases. In one particular case, the blood test revealed a result of .14% BAC, much higher than the limit of .08%. Ed fought very hard and a jury found his client NOT GUILTY because the prosecutor was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ed’s client was actually “operating” a vehicle while his BAC was that high. In another case, because one test result indicated Ed’s client was over the limit but another test taken only minutes later returned a result below the limit, Ed was able to get the OWI charge dismissed.
Ed has also investigated cases where it was clear that the officer had no legal grounds for stopping his client's vehicle, thus drawing the admissibility of the blood or breath test into question, and still other cases where it was clear that the police failed to administer the Field Sobriety Tests or the breath tests properly. Always plead Not Guilty and Call Ed Instead for a FREE consultation.
If stopped by the police, remember, you still have your basic constitutional rights, so remain silent. Any admissions you make WILL be used against you. If you refuse to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) at the roadside you will be responsible for a civil infraction. A civil infraction IS NOT a crime and you cannot be arrested for it - you will merely be assessed a fine. If you decide to take a PBT or perform FSTs, the results WILL be used against you and the police may decide to arrest you at that point. If you do not take the tests, the police will have less evidence to use against you later and without sufficient probable cause, the police cannot arrest you. Currently there is NO PENALTY for refusing to perform field sobriety tests.
If arrested, the police may ask you to submit to an evidential chemical test (breath, blood, or urine). This test is different than the PBT you may have submitted to at the roadside and your failure to submit to this test will result in your driving privileges being suspended for at least one year. Remember, this is the test that you are asked to do AFTER being arrested. Refusal of this test is not a crime either, however, if you refuse to submit, the police may obtain a search warrant from a judge allowing them to obtain a blood sample.
Regardless of what evidence the police may claim to have against you, do not make any admissions and plead NOT GUILTY at your arraignment. Let Attorney Ed Sternisha investigate your case to see if the police followed all procedures properly. Do not go it alone - you have too much to lose!
Remember, if you drink, call a cab. If arrested, Call Ed Instead!