New Michigan Law Impacts DWI Cases

DWI charges, a defense attorney will examine evidence to determine if any procedural errors or violations occurred. When investigating possible DWI cases, law enforcement officials are bound by statutes including the recently passed new law known as Michigan Public Act 315.

In an effort to strengthen laws against drugged driving, Michigan lawmakers took steps to pass the new law which effectively bars the results of all field sobriety tests from being used in criminal trials. However, the authors of the new law failed to include specific language to limit the inadmissibility of FST evidence to only drugged driving cases.

The new law officially went into effect on Jan. 12 and has caused much confusion among state prosecutors and law enforcement officials. At issue is the law's lack of specificity in providing a definition for "roadside assessment tests." Consequently, defense attorneys argue that the new law also pertains to FST evidence in DWI cases.

Based on the plain language of the new law, defense attorneys argue the results of standard FSTs like the walk and turn and one-leg stand, are no longer legally admissible during DWI trails. Lawmakers are expected to take steps to amend the law's language by the end of this month.

As the law currently stands, the results of standard FSTs cannot be introduced in a DWI trial. However, police officers are still performing FSTs and can use the results of these tests to establish probable cause and obtain a warrant to administer blood alcohol tests, the results of which are still admissible in court.

Individuals who are arrested in Michigan for DWI would be wise to consult with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can review the facts of a case and help determine the best defenses and course of legal action.

Source: The Detroit News, "Roadside sobriety tests lose legal teeth," Mike Martindale, March, 1, 2015

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