There are many things that are great about Thanksgiving. Friends and family get together to enjoy turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. Another common theme of Thanksgiving is alcohol consumption. Many people drink before, during, and after eating. The drinking doesn’t start on Thanksgiving either. In fact, the biggest bar night of the year in Michigan and Ann Arbor is the day before Thanksgiving. This is also one of the nights where police patrols are at their peak. Many people are arrested for drunk driving the day before Thanksgiving and on Thanksgiving night.
What do you do if you are arrested or pulled over on or before Thanksgiving?
The first thing is to never admit to drinking. If you admit to consuming any beer, wine, or spirits in Michigan, then that is enough probable cause for a law enforcement to further investigate whether you are drunk.
It is common for law enforcement to investigate by conducting roadside tests, a breathalyzer also known as a preliminary breath test, and asking questions to confuse you. There are several ways to go about this. One way is to decline to complete the roadside tests. The reasoning is that you are creating more evidence for an arrest and if you are arrested, then this will be used against you when a prosecutor is deciding to move forward with charges. These tests are also difficult to successfully complete even if you are sober or had very little to drink. These roadside tests can be unreliable, yet dangerous to your defense. Police often try to say you don’t have a choice and tell you that you are not cooperating, but our constitution doesn’t require you to tell on yourself. Its the right to remain silent.
If you decide to complete a PBT or breathalyzer, then there is more evidence that can used against you in charging the crime. A PBT in itself is not admissible at trial, but it can be used against you as probable cause that you are intoxicated.
Some people decide to decline a PBT in Michigan. This is not a bad idea, because again you are giving the police less evidence to use against you. If you decline the PBT, then you will be issued a civil infraction for refusing this test. The civil infraction includes a fine, but is not criminal.
If you are asked to do a PBT, the officer at this point probably believes they have enough to arrest you for suspicion of drunk driving and in most cases will arrest you.
What happens at the police station after you are arrested for drunk driving in Michigan?
Once you are taken to the police station, you will also be asked to take another type of breathalyzer called a DataMaster. This one you cannot decline without serious consequences. If you decline the DataMaster or other official breathalyzer at the police station, then you may automatically receive a drivers license suspension. The year long suspension issued by the Michigan Secretary of State can be worse than dealing with the original issue. To add insult to injury, the police then may get a warrant to draw blood and have a medical professional take blood to have it tested.
Remember that there are some days that are really bad to drink and drive, the day of and night before Thanksgiving are probably the nights you’re most likely to have issues. If you are arrested for drunk driving in or around Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Milan, Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Romulus, Belleville, Northville, Novi, or the surrounding communities, then call my office for free at (734) 887-6079. We can discuss your case at no cost to see if I can help you. Be safe and have a great Thanksgiving.
Here are the drunk driving laws in Michigan from the Secretary of State: https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1627_8665-24488–,00.html