Articles Posted in Driving Under the Influence (Alcohol, Drugs, OWI, High BAC)

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License Revocations and Appeals to the OHAO

I wanted to use this post as a forum to reflect on my vast experience handling driver license appeals with the Michigan  Department of State, Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight (OHAO). The OHAO was formerly called the Driver License Appeal Division or DLAD. The OHAO or DLAD is the place that you go when you are eligible for a driver license restoration hearing.

A person that is classified as a habitual drunk driver or has a felony conviction involving a motor vehicle faces indefinite license revocation. Indefinite license revocations are imposed for the following scenarios:

  • 2 or more offenses for operating under the influence (drugs or alcohol) within 7 years.
  • 3 or more offenses for operating under the influence (drugs or alcohol) within 10 years.
  • A conviction for operating under the influence causing a serious personal injury.
  • A conviction for operating under the influence causing death.
  • A felony conviction which results in license revocation.

Appealing a license revocation: Evidence MUST be consistent!

There is a long list of evidence that is required and must be submitted before a client can get an OHAO hearing:

  • Form 258: Current substance abuse evaluation.
  • Form 257: Petitioner’s background.
  • Drug Screen: 12 panel drug test with at least two integrity variables.
  • Three to six community support letters (we may ask for more), preferred to be from a cross section of individuals (family, co-workers, friends, neighbors).
  • Doctor’s letter may be required depending upon medical history and current use of certain prescribed drugs.
  • DI4P: Physician’s Statement if a medical situation has caused impairment, loss of consciousness or could affect safe driving.
  • Optional: Evidence of attendance at support meetings, counseling, AA.
  • Optional: Other positive documentation such as completion of probation, Sobriety Court, etc.

Link to forms 257 and 258, license appeal hearing

Hiring an attorney that knows the OHAO process should be your first priority if you are thinking about a license appeal. The license restoration process is very particular and specialized. Just because you waiting several years for a hearing, went to jail or need a license to work does not mean that you will win your hearing. I could say that your evidence must be consistent. It is probably better to say that your evidence muse be almost perfect!

You will lose your hearing if your evidence does not prove that you are likely to remain sober. You must be able to c0mmunicate your case to the OHAO with supportive evidence that you understand your duty to protect the public and that it is never acceptable to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, An experienced OHAO practitioner can increase your chances of winning an OHAO hearing by and prepare you for your evaluation. The following are examples of just a few ways that you can lose your OHAO hearing:

  • Inconsistent sobriety dates for alcohol and drugs.
  • Failure to mention all prior criminal offenses involving alcohol or drugs.
  • Failure to maintain unbroken sobriety.
  • Failure to obtain a doctor’s letter if you are taking certain medications for sleep, pain or psychological reasons.
  • Substance abuse evaluation (form 258) is not complete, does not cover all substances used or has a marginal prognosis.

Getting you ready for your hearing

In the aftermath of Covid-19, OHAO hearings are now held remotely via Microsoft Teams.

Oftentimes we represent clients who have already attempted a hearing without the help of counsel. Even though they have winning cases, they lose simply because they did not know how to present their case to the OHAO. An individual that appears before the OHAO must be able to testify as to their past and also as to their present and future behavior. A person’s background regarding use of alcohol and drugs is scrutinized because the State of Michigan owes a huge responsibility to the drivers of Michigan, and the burden is on the petitioner to show they are again worthy of the privilege of driving.

Proceedings before the OHAO are very unique. First, most clients are surprised to hear that they are not adversarial, per se. Additionally, most are not aware that the hearing officer is going to ask probing and invasive questions about their substance abuse history. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, many people do not realize there is a RIGHT way to approach these hearings and answer the questions.

That being said, our office has developed a paradigm for approaching all cases. From our first consultation we explain to clients the strengths and weaknesses of their case, and give an honest assessment of if the matter is worth pursuing. Our track record with these types of cases is very good, we generally win. We know how to win and what is expected because our lawyers have appeared before each OHAO officer as much as any other attorney in the State of Michigan.

Winning your license restoration hearing

When you win your license restoration hearing after serving a mandatory period of revocation, you will be allowed to drive with some restrictions and requirements. At the very least, the OHAO will require the installation of a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID). In addition, the petitioner will only be allowed to drive for designated purposes, such as employment, or for designated days and hours.

After successfully abiding by the restrictions and requirements for a period of at least one (1) year, the individual may file an appeal to the OHAO for a FULL RESTORATION OF LICENSE. The same documentation (form 257, form 258, character letters, etc.) must be supplied to the OHAO, along with a current BAIID report, before a full license restoration hearing can be scheduled.,

The Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID)

In Michigan, you are considered a habitual drunk driver if:

  • Two or more DUI convictions within 7 years.
  • Three or more DUI convictions within 10 years.

Habitual offenders that are able to get their license restored will be allowed to operate a vehicle that has a BAIID device installed. As we have discussed, a person that has multiple driving under the influence convictions will not be eligible to appeal for a license until the minimum revocation period has been served. After serving the minimum revocation period, the party is required to prove his or her case before the OHAO. If you are well prepared and your evidence is consistent, you can expect to win your hearing and be granted a restricted license with the BAIID device.

A BAIID is a technical device that measures a person’s bodily alcohol content (BAC) and is connected with a motor vehicle’s ignition and other control systems. The BAIID keeps the vehicle from starting if the BAC is .025 or higher. The BAIID also includes a camera which records an image of the individual providing the sample. The device will also require random rolling retests while the person is driving the vehicle.

If there are alcohol readings or other BAIID violations after the device is installed, they will be reported to the Secretary of State as violations. If the BAIID has a false positive violation for alcohol, we strongly urge you to find a location as soon as you can to provide a breath sample that will nullify the false reading. You should also keep a notebook in the vehicle and write down anything to support your case should you be improperly violated.

BAIID VIOLATIONSBAIID violations are classified as “minor” and “major” violations:

Major Violations:

  • Rolling retest violation: Failing to take the retest when prompted by the BAIID; or the random retest detects a BAC of .025 or higher, and there is no sample with a BAC of less than .025 within 5 minutes.
  • An arrest or conviction for drunk and/or drugged driving.
  • Tampering or circumventing with the BAIID.
  • Three minor violations within a monitoring period.
  • Removing the BAIID without having another device installed within 7 days.
  • Operating a vehicle without a properly installed BAIID.

VIOLATION CONSEQUENCES: Minor violations will result in a 3-month BAIID extension. Major violations will result in the immediate reinstatement of your original driver’s license revocation/denial. You may appeal that action to the Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight within 14 days and should consult with a lawyer if you find yourself in this position.

Go for the win the first time!

We take the time to learn each client’s unique case history and work on tailoring each case to that individual’s circumstances. We believe in each client’s cause and fight aggressively to get petitioners back on the road. Our office has a strong record of winning cases like this. We have a proven formula that gets results.

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According to 2019 Michigan State Police records – 4,933 crimes were reported to the Clinton Township Police. The majority of crimes reported were for larceny, retail fraud (shoplifting), operating while intoxicated (OWI), OWI with a high BAC (.17 or more), domestic violence and assault crimes. The jurisdictional geographical boundaries of the 41B District Court include Clinton Township, Mt. Clemens & Harrison Township. 

41B District Court Information, Location, Zoom Identification

The 41B District Court  has jurisdiction to handle civil, traffic and criminal cases arising in Clinton Township, Harrison Township and Mount Clemens.

Clinton Township has its own police department while Harrison Township and Mount Clemens employ the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department for police services. The 41B District Court is served by 3 judges: Judge Sebastian Lucido, Judge Jacob Femminineo and Judge Carrie Lynn Fuca. In 2020, Judge Femminineo replaced long standing Judge Linda Davis. Judge Linda Davis is now active in the organization that she spearheaded, Families Against Narcotics (FAN).

41B District Court has an expansive jurisdiction with east to west borders from Lake St. Clair in Harrison Township to Hayes Road, and north and south borders from 14 Mile Road to Hall Road. The area has a diverse mixture of established and newer real estate, shopping centers, major retailers (Target, Walmart, etc.) Macomb County Community College, and the Partridge Creek Mall. The Macomb County Sheriff’s Department and the Clinton Township Police are the predominant law enforcement agencies in the area.

More than 10% of the total number of crimes in Macomb County are reported in 41B District Court boundaries. In 2019, there were 41,683 crimes reported in Macomb County with 4,933 being reported through the Clinton Township Police Department and several more reported to the Macomb County Sheriff Department.

We are frequent practitioners in the 41B District Court with more experience in that jurisdiction than any other attorneys in Macomb County.  In our opinion, the 41B District Court will give a person a second chance and has a philosophy to encourage rehabilitation and therapeutic justice rather than jail and punitive measures. 

Hire a lawyer now! Court personnel cannot give legal advice and the prosecutor does not represent you!

The court staff, the prosecutor and judicial officers are forbidden by law to provide you with legal advice. If you are facing a criminal or drunk driving matter in the 41B District Court, you need a skilled Clinton Township criminal defense lawyer to fight for your rights and get your life back on track. The 41B District handles a wide range of the criminal cases that occur in Clinton Township, Harrison Township and Mount Clemens.  The following is list of some of the most prevalent misdemeanor and felony cases on the 41B District Court’s criminal docket:

Crimes involving firearms are also on the rise throughout Macomb County. Gun crimes include carry a concealed weapon, brandishing a firearm and possession of a firearm under the influence.

Dismissals, felonies reduced to misdemeanors: There’s always a way to resolve a legal predicament. Just because you are guilty does not mean that you will be found guilty. In many cases, there’s a way to get out of the criminal justice system unscathed and without a conviction or by getting a felony dropped down to a petty offense.  An attorney can explain how all of these special provisions of law are utilized in the 41-B District Court which can result in a dismissal of a criminal matter:

Multiple criminal offenses and drunk driving are eligible for expungement

Michigan has adopted Clean Slate legislation that enables eligible individuals to get multiple offenses, and one drunk driving offense, expunged. For the first time ever (effective February 19, 2022) an individual can file a petition to get any of the following offenses for drinking or drugged driving expunged:

  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)
  • Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI)
  • High BAC .17 or more or Super Drunk Driving
  • Minor with any BAC (Zero Tolerance)
  • Operating with the Presence of a Controlled Substance conviction

The following driving offenses are not eligible for expungement:

  • OWI with a child (passenger under 16)
  • OWI or Impaired Driving causing serious injury
  • OWI or Impaired Driving causing death.

Retail Fraud Cases in the 41B District Court: DISMISSED!

The offense of retail fraud, also known as shoplifting, can occur when an individual intentionally does any of the following at a retail or business establishment:

  • Conceals property with the intent to steal
  • Changes a price tag or packaging of an item
  • Attempts to defeat the checkout scanner

If you are charged with retail fraud, chances are that you have not been in trouble before and had the money to pay for the goods. If a client is not a US citizen, we will take extra measures in our negotiations to AVOID DEPORTATION. Getting the best 41B District Court retail fraud lawyer is important if you want to keep your dignity, keep your case private, avoid deportation and get the charge dismissed with NO JAIL.

Domestic Violence

Are you being charged with domestic violence in the 41B District Court? Are other attorneys telling you to just plead guilty? Have you been told that you can’t get the no-contact order lifted? Does your significant other, spouse or other side want the case dismissed? If you are in this position, get a Macomb County domestic violence lawyer to explain how you can get the charge DISMISSED, can get the no-contact order lifted and will not be labeled with an assault crime.

Over 200 Charged with Operating While Intoxicated in the 41B District in 2019

There is always a consistently high number of OWI/DUI cases in the 41B District Court. From our experience, you are not looking at jail or losing your license for a first time drinking/drugged driving offense. In addition, if you are charged with a felony OWI/DUI (OWI Third), there is a good chance it can be reduced to a misdemeanor with the right 41B District Court drunk driving lawyers. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. Fortunately, the judges in the 41B District Court have a sentencing philosophy that encourages rehabilitation rather than incarceration.

If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater), there is a good chance it can be reduced to a lower offense. Using local Clinton Township drunk driving defense lawyers that know the local policies, practices and prosecutors is your best bet if you are looking to get significant deal on any drunk driving case.

All of the 41B District Court Judges have been in private law practice 

The 41B District Court bench all had careers in the private sector running their own law practices. The 41B District Court Judges all know what its like to stand next to another person that is falsely accused of a crime or needs someone to fight for their rights. The 41B District Court is a court system that works with lawyers and those accused of crimes to deliver just and fair results.

From the moment that there is an arrest or a criminal investigation, you need to all of the protection that a local criminal defense attorney can offer. Getting a local Clinton Township criminal defense attorney that knows the system is the best place to start if you are looking to get out of the court system with the best possible outcome.

The 41B District Court Probation Department

It is within the judge’s discretion whether or not to place an individual on probation after being convicted of a criminal or drunk driving offense. For most criminal matters, there will be a period of probation imposed. The maximum period of probation that can be imposed for a misdemeanor is 2 years.  Probation may be non-reporting or require the individual to REPORT (to a probation officer. In certain situations, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can advocate for a short term of probation (3-6 months) or for NO PROBATION.

Probation Violations: The 41B District Court lists various situations that can result in a probation violation:

If you violate your probation for any reason, probation can be terminated, any deal or deferral can be taken away and jail can be imposed. The list below contains common reasons for a probation violation warrant.

  • Alcohol and drug testing violations (failing tests, missed tests).
  • Failure to appear for probation appointments.
  • Getting charged with a new criminal matter.
  • Failure to obtain permission to leave the State of Michigan.
  • Failure to provide current address to the probation department.
  • Failure to attend counseling or program as ordered by the Judge.
  • Failure to pay fines & costs by the due date.
  • Failure to pay restitution.

Probation Modification Hearings: In Michigan, probation can be imposed for up to two (2) years for a misdemeanor offense. While on probation, a person’s right to travel or consume alcoholic beverages can be restricted. Other rights can also be limited or denied while on probation. Probation is an alternative to jail but it also a restraint on personal freedoms and rights. If you are on probation and have been compliant, the 41B District Court Judges may consider modifying or terminating your probation. You will need to talk to an attorney about filing a motion to modify or terminate probation. There are three major reasons that clients ask us to file a motion to modify probation:

  1. Motion to terminate probation early.
  2. Motion to amend probation from reporting to non-reporting.
  3. Motion to amend probation regarding termination/reduction of alcohol/drug testing.

Isolated Incident, First Offender, Not Likely to Get Into Trouble Again: An attorney can advocate for lesser probation, non-reporting probation or a shorter period of probation for eligible offenders.

Traffic Violations in the 41B District Court: Reduced to Avoid Points and Record of any Conviction!

Like other district courts in Macomb County, I would say that traffic tickets are on the top of the list of types of cases that are litigated at the 41B District Court. Gratiot Avenue, Metro Parkway, a stretch of I-94 and Hall Road all contribute to the traffic volume in the 41B District Court.  When resolving a traffic matter in the 41B District Court, we are often able to negotiate a reduction or avoid points. A substantial reduction in a traffic ticket occurs when it is reduced to an offense such as impeding traffic or double parking. A traffic ticket that is reduced to impeding traffic or double parking does not carry any points and will never appear on a person’s driving record! We are also able to get favorable results for individuals charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses such as driving while suspended, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident

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An alien (non-US citizen) faces deportation for certain crimes such as retail fraud or domestic violence. Among other steps, getting the crime dismissed or amended to a non-deportable crime is the  key to avoiding deportation.

What does INS stand for?

INS  is the abbreviation that stands for the United States Immigration and Naturalization Services. The INS is responsible for handling immigration and naturalization issues. The immigration arm of INS is responsible for the process of a foreign person, alien to the United States, to become a permanent citizen. Becoming a citizen is a complex process. A person that is found guilty of certain crimes may not only be denied citizenship but also face deportation.

What types of crimes can result in deportation?

An individual that is not a United States citizen (alien) may face deportation if convicted of a crime that constitutes either of the following:

According to federal laws, 8 U.S. Code 1227, an alien may be deported for the following: 

  • Crimes of moral turpitude: Any alien who is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude committed within five years (or 10 years in the case of an alien provided lawful permanent resident status) after the date of admission, and is convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed, is deportable.
  • Multiple criminal convictions: Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of two or more crimes involving moral turpitude, not arising out of a single scheme of criminal misconduct, regardless of whether confined therefor and regardless of whether the convictions were in a single trial, is deportable.
  • Aggravated felony: Any alien who is convicted of an aggravated felony at any time after admission is deportable.
  • High speed flight: Any alien who is convicted of a violation of relating to high speed flight from an immigration checkpoint is deportable.
  • Failure to register as a sex offender is deportable.
  • Any alien who at any time after admission is convicted of a crime of domestic violence, a crime of stalking, or a crime of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment.
  • Retail fraud (shoplifting).

Can an alien that is convicted of drunk driving or impaired driving be deported?

A conviction of an offense in Michigan for operating while intoxicated (OWI) or impaired driving (OWVI) is NOT a crime that involves moral turpitude and is not deportable.

Are there circumstances where a person can be deported upon being convicted of drunk driving or impaired driving?

A Michigan drunk driving, or a drunk driving in any other state, with aggravating factors may result in deportation. A felony drunk driving causing a death or serious personal injury are deportable crimes.

Retail Fraud is a deportable offense

A crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) is defined as an act that is depraved, dishonest, or vile.  A misdemeanor or felony may constitute a CIMT. Some examples are rape, fraud, murder, arson, and assault with the intention to rob or kill. A person may be deported if convicted of a CIMT within five years of admission to the US or if they commit 2 or more unrelated CIMTs at any time after they are admitted. A petty offense exception may apply if the penalty for the crime is less that 1 year.  In Michigan, the crime of shoplifting is called retail fraud. Retail fraud is a deportable crime in because it is a CIMT that involves dishonesty.

There are ways for an alien that is charged with retail fraud, or other CIMT or aggravated felony, to avoid deportation. The key is to get the CIMT charge amended to one that is a non-deportable crime. There are other measures that need to be taken to avoid the scrutiny of deportation scrutiny. Once the charge is reduced, the original police report cannot be used on the court record as a factual basis to establish the amended outcome.

Criminal charges can have a huge impact on immigration status. Immigration status can be changed Do not hesitate to hire a criminal defense lawyer that understands how to represent aliens facing criminal charges that can . You absolutely need to hire the best criminal defense lawyer if you are not a United States Citizen and you are  charged with a felony or crime involving moral turpitude!

The prosecutor’s consent is required to get a plea bargain, or to get the charge reduced or amended to an offense that does not require deportation. The prosecutor may also need to obtain the consent of the victim. There may be other steps that we would recommend to insure a soft landing which may include: attending a counseling program paying restitution to the retail establishment and obtaining character letters. We have had extremely favorable results representing aliens charged with a CIMT,  such as retail fraud or larceny,  by getting the CIMT dismissed and amending it to a non-deportable charge such as “disturbing the peace” or disorderly conduct.

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macomb-courts-logoMacomb County OWI Guide by Local OWI Attorneys

Macomb County: 2,000 Arrests Per Year for Driving Under the Influence

Whatever situation you are facing, we know that you didn’t intentionally set out to get charged with driving under the influence.  You’re in the right place if you are looking for answers and straight facts if are charged with an OWI anywhere in Macomb County. 

We have dedicated this  article to give you the big picture on the topic of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI/OWI) in Macomb County based upon our experience handling over 10,000 criminal cases with DUI/OWI cases consistently one of the most prevalent criminal charges that we handle for our clients.

The district courts located in Macomb County are as follows:

Frequently Asked Questions: Jail, CPL, Expungement, etc.

Based upon our experience, here are a few of the most common questions that we are asked by our clients that are charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs:

  • Am I going to jail? You are not looking at jail in any Macomb County County District Court if you are found guilty of a first time offense involving operating while under the influence (including OWI, High BAC or Impaired Driving).
  • Will I lose my driver’s license? For first time offenses that involve operating under the influence, there may a brief period of suspension with no driving privileges upon being found guilty. For example, an individual convicted of OWI with a high BAC will be suspended (no driving) for the first 45 days followed by restrictions (for employment and other purposes) with a BAIID device  for 320 days. We explain license sanctions in more detail in this article.
  • When should I hire a lawyer? It might take a month or longer before you get your first court date. However, you don’t need to wait until you get a court date before hiring a lawyer. You should consider hiring a lawyer as soon as possible if you are charged with any crime or drunk driving. There are proactive measures and strategies that can be taken right away if you are facing a criminal offense or drunk driving.
  • Can a drunk driving ever get dismissed? The answer to this question is YES. It is difficult to get a drunk driving dismissed but entirely possible based upon numerous legal and non-legal variables and circumstances. Even when a case cannot be dismissed, there is a good chance that it will be reduced to a lower charge. Getting a local attorney that specializes in drunk driving is your best option if you are looking to get the best possible representation.
  • Can I get an old drunk driving expunged? YES. Effective February 19, 2022, as part of Michigan’s Clean Slate laws, an individual may get one and only one drunk driving expunged if he or she meets the eligibility requirements and has resolved any underlying alcohol or substance abuse problem. The DUI expungement law will allow for expungement of any 1 of the following offenses:
    • Operating While Intoxicated
    • Operating Under the Influence of Drugs
    • Operating While Impaired
    • Operating with a High BAC .17 or greater
    • Zero tolerance/minor with any BAC
  • What is a BAIID device? A Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device, or BAIID, is a device installed in a vehicle that captures the image of the drive and measures the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The BAIID notifies the driver to provide breath samples when starting the car and at intervals while driving. The information is recorded and downloaded by the BAIID installer. BAIID violations can result in reinstatement of license suspension or revocation. A BAIID device allows an individual, whose license is otherwise legally suspended or revoked, to drive a vehicle. The BAIID is required for individuals that have been convicted of OWI with a high BAC, Sobriety Court participants convicted of two drunk driving offenses within 7 years and individuals with multiple drinking/drugged driving convictions that been granted driving privileges by the Secretary of State after a license restoration hearing.
  • Will I lose my CPL if I am convicted of an OWI or Impaired Driving? Unfortunately, you will lose your Concealed Pistol License (CPL) rights if you are convicted OWI or Impaired Driving. The right to have a CPL is gone for 3 years after a first time offense for operating under the influence. An individual convicted for a second offense will lose his or her CPL rights for 8 years.
  • Can I travel across the border into Canada if I am convicted of OWI or Impaired Driving?  Based upon Canadian immigration laws, a person that has been convicted of OWI or Impaired Driving will be considered criminally inadmissible to enter into Canada. Under certain circumstances, this harsh restriction may be overcome by showing of rehabilitation or obtaining a permit.

Michigan State Police Maintain Annual Drunk Driving Statistics

There are approximately 2,000 or more arrests per year for driving under the influence in Macomb County. The Michigan State Police (MSP Drunk Driving Audit) keeps statistics on the number of individuals tested for alcohol and drugs, the test result scores and the outcome of each case in the court system. For 2019 (2020 results are not being used because  irregularities due to Covid-19 stay-at-home measures), the Michigan State Police report indicates the following number of people were tested for alcohol or drugs by a breath or blood test in Macomb and surrounding counties:

  • Wayne: 4,631
  • Oakland: 4,126
  • Macomb: 2,130
  • St. Clair: 468

The MSP Drunk Driving Audit gives the numbers of those tested by each police department as well. In 2019, some of the larger police departments in Macomb County and neighboring Oakland County reported a large number amount of individuals tested for alcohol and drugs:

Macomb County: Number of individuals tested for alcohol/drugs

  • Clinton Township Police: 164
  • Chesterfield Township Police: 153
  • Sterling Heights Police: 140
  • Shelby Township Police: 137

Oakland County: Number of individuals tested for alcohol/drugs

  • Troy Police: 280
  • Royal Oak Police : 215
  • Rochester Police : 120

(Above numbers do not account for other individuals tested by Macomb Sheriff, Oakland Sheriff & MSP within the above cities.)

Of those tested, most wound up facing a criminal charge for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Those finding themselves charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI/OWI), rarely fit the mold of someone that you would expect to get into trouble with the law. In many situations, our clients have responsible employment, solid relationships and lead healthy lifestyles. On the other extreme, we have represented those that admit to a substance abuse problem, use alcohol as a social lubricant after a recent breakup or divorce and/or are self-medicating to numb psychological disorders, relationship problems or a significant loss. Unfortunately, once in the court system, a person can be unfairly treated and characterized as a substance abuser because of an isolated episode of alcohol consumption and lack of knowledge of Michigan’s strict DUI laws.

What do the all of the abbreviations (OWI, DUI, etc.) stand for?

The following are common abbreviations used by the legal system in reference to the various charges for operating while intoxicated or impaired:

  • OWI = Operating while intoxicated: This offense covers charges when a person has a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater which is abbreviated as OWI. The abbreviations of DUI and OUIL mean the same thing as an OWI but are from a generation of prior drunk driving laws.
  • OWVI = Operating while visibly impaired:  This is the offense which is a lower charge than OWI . OWI is often reduced to OWVI in the court system.
  • OWPD = Operating with the presence of a Schedule 1 controlled substance: As determined by a blood test.
  • OUID = Operating under the influence of drugs: Includes situations where someone is impaired by the use of prescription medications.
  • OWI with High BAC = Operating with a high blood alcohol content: This is also referred to as a “super drunk driving” and is charged when a person has a blood alcohol content of .17% or more. OWI with high BAC carries much higher criminal and driving penalties than OWI or OWVI. Most county prosecutors have a policy and do not reduce OWI with a high BAC without policy deviation granted.

Why did the police destroy my driver’s license? Can I drive with this paper license?

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Yes, you can drive fully on the paper license issued by the police when you were released from jail.

The following is a directive to law enforcement officers after placing someone under arrest for a DUI:

MCL 257.625g: On behalf of the secretary of state, immediately confiscate the person’s license or permit to operate a motor vehicle and, if the person is otherwise eligible for a license or permit, issue a temporary license or permit to the person. The temporary license or permit shall be on a form provided by the secretary of state.

Once officially arrested for a drunk driving offense, the police will destroy the driver’s license of the accused party and issue a Michigan Temporary Driving Permit (see above image).  The temporary permit will be provided to the offender upon release from jail along with a baggie containing the following:  breath-test result, search warrant for blood if there was a refusal, ticket or other notification, bond receipt and towing receipt. This Michigan Temporary Driving Permit will enable the person to continue to operate a vehicle without any restrictions. Upon being found guilty or convicted of operating while intoxicated or impaired, the Secretary of State will take appropriate action against the party’s license (suspend, revoke, restrict). The aggrieved party may obtain a new picture license after all of the license action has expired with respect to the underlying conviction offense. License action may also be imposed for alcohol/drug test refusals pursuant to Michigan’s implied consent laws.

License Suspension, Revocations, Restrictions

There are mandatory license sanctions for every OWI offense. Upon conviction, these sanctions, or action, is imposed by the Secretary of State and the court system is powerless to intervene or provide any relief when a person is suspended or revoked for a drinking or driving offense.  Sobriety court may also save a repeat OWI/DUI offender from a mandatory license revocation.

Michigan Alcohol or Drug Crime License Action
First Offense OWI (.08 or greater)  30 days suspended, 150 days restricted
First Offense OUID (drugs)  30 days suspended, 150 days restricted
Second Offense within 7 Years Indefinite revocation (minimum 1 year)
Second Offense within 7 Years (Sobriety Court) 45 days suspended, 320 days restricted with BAIID
Third Offense within 10 Years Indefinite revocation 1 year to 5 years
Child Endangerment w/Child u/age 16 90 days suspended, 90 days restricted
Super Drunk (High BAC .17% or greater) 45 days suspended, 320 days restricted with BAIID
Impaired Driving (OWVI) 90 days restricted
Zero Tolerance, Under 21 w/.02% – .07% 30 days restricted
OWI/Causing Injury Indefinite revocation
OWI Causing Death Indefinite revocation
Other Felony Convictions w/Motor Vehicle Revocation or Suspension
First Offense Drug Crime  30 days suspended, 150 days restricted
Second Offense Drug Crime  60 days suspended, 305 days restricted

A person issued a restricted license  may operate a vehicle, to and from any combination of the following places:

  • In the course of the person’s employment/occupation.
  • The person’s residence.
  • The person’s workplace.
  • An alcohol, drug or mental health education treatment program as ordered by the court.
  • AA or NA meetings.
  • An educational institution at which the person is enrolled as a student.
  • A place of regularly occurring medical treatment for a serous condition or medical emergency of the person or a member of the person’s household.
  • An ignition interlock service provider (for those required to have a BAIID device).
  • The judge has discretion to permit a minor’s custodian to drive to a day care center or educational institutional where the child is enrolled.

An indefinite license revocation may be appealed after a minimum of one (1) year (or after 5 years for a second revocation) to the Michigan Department of State. The process to regain driving privileges is known as a driver’s license restoration proceeding.

The Science of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

Shot, Beer, and Wine

Law enforcement officers use breath, blood or urine tests to measure a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). In Michigan, an individual can be considered legally intoxicated even though the individual is not actually intoxicated. This is possible because Michigan has set legal BAC limits for individuals that operate a vehicle after consuming alcoholic beverages:

  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI): A person that operates a motor vehicle with BAC of .08% to .16% is considered legally intoxication, regardless of actual intoxication. A BAC of .08% is sufficient to support a charge of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).
  • Super Drunk Driving or OWI with High BAC: A person that operates a motor vehicle with BAC of .17% or greater, regardless of actual intoxication, faces a higher charge of OWI with a High BAC.

DUI BAC CHART MALE & FEMALE

The science of alcohol elimination from the body also plays a role in a person’s BAC. Just as alcohol is absorbed in a person’s blood over time, it is also eliminated. Although each person has a unique metabolism rate, it is estimated that alcohol is eliminated from the body at the rate of .015% per hour after hitting a peak BAC.  At this rate, it takes an estimated 70 to 90 minutes, or longer, for the human body to eliminate a single drink. A single drink = 1.5 oz. shot of 80 proof hard liquor, a 5 oz. glass of wine (12% alcohol) or a 12 ounce beer (5% alcohol).  See hours to zero chart below:

HOURS TO ZERO

Once behind the wheel of a car after consuming alcoholic beverages, ignorance of the law is not a excuse and the law enforcement officials do not discriminate even for those individuals that have never been in trouble.

Defending OWI Offenders in Macomb County

Although I have not officially counted, there are more laws, ordinances and administrative rules on the books for drunk driving than exist for murder, kidnapping and armed robbery combined! 

Getting charged with an OWI can be a dreadful ordeal. Being arrested and spending the night in jail is something that most of our clients have never experienced and that they don’t easily forget. Getting past these traumatic events requires an action plan by attorneys that specialize in handling  Macomb County drunk driving cases. There are 2 main variables that can influence drunk driving charges:

  1. Blood alcohol content (BAC):  Having a BAC of .08 or more meets the threshold for the charge of OWI. However, if the offender has a BAC of .17 or more, the charge is increased to “Super Drunk Driving“.
  2.  Prior drunk driving convictions: A person with one or more prior drunk driving convictions faces enhanced penalties for future drunk driving convictions. A second offense for drunk driving within 7 years of a first offense carries up to 1 year in jail and revocation of driving privileges. Getting a third drunk driving in one’s lifetime is a felony that can carry five (5) years in prison.

Working with a local attorney who knows how to deal with the following inquiries is your best bet to get an OWI dismissed or reduced:

  • What was the reason for the traffic stop?
  • Did the police have evidence that you operated the vehicle?
  • Was there an accident? Single vehicle or with another vehicle or pedestrian?
  • Was anyone injured?
  • Was the vehicle in a safe place (parked, engine off)?
  • What the vehicle likely to be put in a position of danger?
  • What did you consume (alcohol, prescription meds, illegal drugs)?
  • Did others that saw you earlier feel that you were impaired or high?
  • Is the test result accurate or is an independent test necessary?
  • Was the testing equipment inspected? Calibrated?
  • Does our client have any prior offenses for driving under the influence?
  • Does our client have any other criminal record?
  • Was client cooperative with the police?
  • Should our client get an independent substance abuse evaluation?
  • Should our client begin counseling and/or AA?

The Court Process in Macomb County

Drunk driving cases are crimes and the court process is governed by the rules of criminal procedure. A person charged with a crime is entitled to protection under the United States Constitution pursuant to the Bill of Rights. Whether it is a misdemeanor or felony drunk driving, the accused is entitled to discovery of all reports, test results, witness statements, accident reports and video/photographic evidence. In addition, the accused is entitled to a trial by jury. The following is a basic framework of the court process in Macomb County for OWI cases:

  • Arrest-Misdemeanor OWI: The accused is held in jail until BAC drops and then released with legal papers after posting a bond. Attorney can waive formal arraignment in most Macomb County Courts.
  • Arrest-Felony OWI: The accused is held in jail and appearance is required for formal arraignment before a judge or magistrate.
  • Arraignment: May be waived by attorney for misdemeanor OWI in most Macomb County Courts. An appearance is mandatory for felony OWI and an attorney’s presence is required. An attorney can often save a person from having to use the services of a bondsman. Upon arraignment, bond conditions are also imposed that testing and travel restrictions.
  • Blood Draw: The accused may be formally charged pending blood results or released and later charged when the blood test results are returned. It can take several weeks and sometimes months for blood tests to be returned.
  • Discovery: The process of obtaining all evidence in a criminal case. Discovery may also include an independent investigation, accident reconstruction, obtaining witness statements and obtaining independent analysis of breath or blood samples.
  • Pretrial Conference:pretrial conference is a meeting between the  defense attorney and the prosecutor. There may be more than one pretrial conference. A pretrial conference is used to discuss plea bargaining, trial, discovery and other matters that pertain to the underlying case.  The majority of cases in Macomb County, 90% or more, are resolved after one or more pretrial conferences.
  • Probable Cause Conference/Preliminary Examination: Probable cause conference and preliminary examination are proceedings that are scheduled for crimes that are classified as felonies. Similar to a pretrial conference, a felony can be resolved at the probable cause conference stage of a criminal case.
  • Motions: When a judge is needed to address a matter before trial, a motion is filed to make the request. These requests are often necessary when the prosecutor will not dismiss a defective case or certain evidence should be admitted or excluded.
  • Plea Bargain: A plea bargain usually means that the original charge has been amended or reduced to something much more favorable. A plea bargain can occur at any stage of a criminal case even during a trial. The prosecutor will consult with any victim and arresting law enforcement officer to get approval for certain plea bargains. A person charged with a crime is not required to accept a plea bargain.
  • Trial: The prosecutor is required to prove the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (this applies to all crimes and drunk driving).
  • Substance Abuse Evaluation and /or Presentence Report: A substance abuse evaluation is MANDATORY If the accused if found guilty or pleads guilty to operating while impaired or intoxicated.
  • Sentencing Phase: At the sentence stage, the court will hear from the probation department, prosecutor, defense attorney, defendant and any victim that may be involved.

What about driving under the influence of marijuana?  

Marijuana is now legal in Michigan for recreational and medical use. However, a person that drives under the influence of marijuana is exposed to the same fate as someone that drives after consuming alcohol.

Alcohol can be tested by obtaining a breath sample with equipment known as a breathalyzer instrument. Marijuana is discovered by a blood test. In Michigan, drinking and driving charges are based upon legally established measurements of blood alcohol content (BAC) as measured by the testing equipment. The legal limits (BAC) for drunk driving in Michigan per se cases are as follows: Content results

  • OWI = BAC .08 or greater
  • Super OWI = BAC .17 or greater

No such legal limits for THC exist at this time and there is no approved testing instrument for marijuana that compares to the breathalyzer.  Currently, police utilize blood to test for marijuana and drugs. Future testing is likely to include breath equipment capable of testing for marijuana.

In general, the blood test results (THC nanogram levels) alone are insufficient to convict without other proof of impairment. There are a multitude of legal challenges that can be made in these cases especially when the blood test does not account for active THC or there is a lapse in time when marijuana was last used.

What will happen with my drunk/drugged case in Maacomb County?

Getting a dismissal is a top priority in every criminal or drunk driving case. Depending upon several factors in a given case, we may recommend fighting the case at trial, seeking a deviation request (for a reduction to a lower charge) or negotiating a plea bargain to a better place. According to US Justice Department Statistics, approximately 90% or more of all criminal and drunk driving in the United States are resolved by plea bargaining. The same is true for criminal and drunk driving cases in Michigan and in the Macomb County .  Plea bargaining can result in a dismissal, a reduction in the charges as well as recommendations for leniency at the sentencing phase of the case. Here are some common scenarios for drunk driving/drugged driving cases in Macomb County:

FIRST OFFENSE: No prior record, no Accident, low BAC (under .16), no substance abuse problem, cooperative with police: I would call this best case scenario. A person charged in Macomb County with an OWI in this position is likely to get a reduction to “impaired driving” with a sentence as follows:

    • Fines/costs range from $900.00 to $1500.00, depending upon the court.
    • 1 year probation (a strong argument can be made for non-reporting probation.
    • Testing is likely in most Macomb County County courts.
    • Community service is unlikely in most Macomb County courts.
    • Attending some form of counseling is likely in most Most County courts (usually a short program consisting of 1-8 sessions).
    • Most Macomb County judges will consider modification of probation and testing requirements if there has been at least 6 months or more of compliance.

SUPER OWI, High BAC (.17 or greater): Getting charged with OWI with a high blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17 or greater in Michigan means stiffer penalties and being labeled a “super drunk driver”. For whatever reason, we are seeing a greater number of clients charged with “super drunk driving”. In 2018, approximately 660 individuals were tested by  the police in Warren, Shelby Township, Sterling Heights and Clinton Township with 301 registering a BAC of .17 or greater. If convicted of “super drunk driving”, the offender is required to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) on any vehicle he or she intends to operate for a period of 320 days after serving out a 45 day driver’s license suspension with no driving privileges. Contact a local Macomb County OWI lawyer to find out how a “Super OWI” can be dropped down to a much lower offense that will NOT REQUIRE the BAIID.

SECOND OFFENSE WITHIN 7 YEARS: Along with possibility of jail, a second offender faces mandatory license revocation upon being convicted of a second drinking and driving offense within a period of 7 years or a third conviction within a 10 year period. There are NO driving privileges allowed during a period of revocation. For those facing license revocation, driving privileges can be saved if the person is accepted in a Sobriety Court program. The Sobriety Court program allows eligible individuals convicted of certain drunk driving offenses to obtain a restricted driver license with installation of an ignition interlock device (BAIID) on vehicles they drive and own.  Sobriety Court is a good fit for someone that needs an intensive alcohol rehabilitation program and also for those convicted of a second offense for operating under the influence within a 7 year year period.

THIRD LIFETIME OFFENSE, Felony Drunk Driving: A person convicted of OWI with two prior offenses in his or her lifetime faces the following penalties:

  • $500 to $5,000 fine, and either of the following:
    • 1 to 5 years imprisonment
    • Probation, with 30 days to 1 year in jail.
  • 60 to 180 days community service.
  • Driver’s license revocation and denial if there are 2 convictions within 7 years or 3 convictions within 10 years. The minimum period of revocation and denial is 1 year (minimum of 5 years if there was a prior revocation within 7 years).
  • License plate confiscation.
  • Vehicle immobilization for 1 to 3 years, unless the vehicle is forfeited.
  • Possible vehicle forfeiture.
  • Vehicle registration denial.
  • 6 points added to the offender’s driving record.

You may think the odds are against you if you are charged with an OWI 3rd (felony) but that is not necessarily the case. If you find yourself in this position, you need to a solid action plan for the best chance to get the felony dropped down to a misdemeanor in the court system. In avoiding a felony, our clients have been able to avoid jail, retain their right to own firearms, retain driving privileges, retain valuable career licenses and not be labeled a felon!

Fighting for non-reporting probation, no testing, a limited counseling program (1 day class) and other leniency are realistic goals for individuals that qualify as isolated offenders and do not display a problem with alcohol.

Can a drunk driving case ever be completely dismissed?

I am sure you are wondering whether a drunk driving can be completely dismissed. There are various legal avenues that can be pursued which may result in a dismissal, major reduction or not guilty verdict of a drunk driving case which include: filing a deviation request, filing a motion to dismiss and/or proceeding to a trial.

Deviation request:  A deviation request is a formal request with supportive material to seek a favorable outcome when the policy of the prosecutor otherwise is against any plea bargain. Our firm utilizes deviation requests extensively in our criminal and drunk driving cases when a client has several positive factors and we feel that the prosecutor will consider a compassionate outcome.

Motion to Dismiss:  Many cases can be won prior to trial with a properly drafted and researched motion to dismiss. A motion to dismiss can be filed for a number of reasons including:

  • Suppression of test results (failure to follow protocol in the testing process).
  • Failure to establish an element of the crime (such as operation of the motor vehicle, parked vehicle).
  • Invalid traffic stop.

A motion to dismiss may also result in a plea bargain when the prosecutor does not want to run the risk of holding a hearing on a motion to dismiss.

Trial: Any person accused of a crime, including drunk driving offense, is afforded the right to a trial by the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution. A trial may be held before a judge or jury. The judge or jury  is required to return a verdict of not guilty unless the case is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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detroit-police

Detroit 

The City of Detroit is amid major economic growth.   Detroit’s growth includes a real estate boom, renovations of historic structures, updated infrastructures and housing developments.  The downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods are experiencing an influx in population which is likely to continue for several years to come.  The City of Detroit is also attracting visitors for entertainment and tourism from the suburbs, Canada, other states and countries. Places like the Eastern Market, Greektown, Midtown, Little Caesars Arena, Fox Theatre, Belle Isle, the DIA casinos, festivals, concerts and restaurants have become major attractions in the City of Detroit.  In addition, all of Detroit’s professional sports teams (Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, Pistons) have returned to downtown Detroit.

There are many dimensions to the City of Detroit. Detroit is known for its hard working and hard partying people. It is also a devoted sports town. Detroit is uniquely situated geographically with an international border shared with the Country of Canada which is divided by the Detroit River and accessible by crossing the Ambassador Bridge or Detroit/Windsor Tunnel . Detroit has 3 major casinos and hosts the International Auto Show each year.  The Covid-19 pandemic has been a game changer but Detroit has endured the worst pandemic ever is more vibrant than ever.

36th District Court is the busiest in Michigan

The 36th District Court is by far the busiest district court in the State of Michigan. It has a single location at 421 Madison, Detroit, Michigan 48226. There are 30 judges at this location that have demanding criminal, drunk driving and traffic dockets.

36-district-image

Winding up in the 36th District Court can be an intimidating place without the guidance of an attorney. Dealing with security on the main floor, locating your court room and attempting to discuss your case with the prosecutor can be overwhelming and sometimes futile. By saying the wrong thing without proper representation, you could wind up having your case scheduled for jury trial and miss an opportunity to get out of the system.  If you find yourself in this position, getting experienced 36th District Court defense attorneys is crucial to navigate you through this major urban court system. Here are a few things that you should know up front about the 36th District Court:

  • Court employees and court officers are prohibited from giving any legal advice.
  • You are not allowed to bring your cell phone into the court building.
  • You will be required to appear for an arraignment and will be unable to make any progress without an attorney.
  • You will be required to appear for a pretrial conference if you are unable to resolve your case at the arraignment.
  • Your case will be handled by either the Wayne County Prosecutor or Detroit City Attorney for purpose of negotiations, plea bargaining and trial.
  • You will be required to pay all fines and costs on the date of your sentence.

Most prevalent crimes handled at the 36th District Court

Our firm has represented clients charged with just about every imaginable misdemeanor and  felony crime in the 36th District Court. The following is list of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on 36th District Court’s docket:

What to expect at a bond hearing in the 36th District Court

If you are arrested or arraigned for a criminal matter in the 36th District Court, you will appear before either a magistrate or judge.  Insofar as possible, it is always advisable to have an attorney present for arraignment purposes. An attorney can make a considerable difference at an arraignment hearing by advocating for a personal bond (where no money needs to be posted) or a for a low cash/10% bond arrangement. In addition to the cash component of bond, the Court can also impose bond conditions upon a person’s release from jail. Drug and alcohol testing are common bond conditions for those charged with any crime involving drugs or alcohol. A ‘no-contact order‘ is assured in assault cases, domestic violence, sex crimes and all other crimes involving a victim. In retail fraud cases, the accused party may be instructed to refrain from entering the establishment where the alleged shoplifting occurred. A motion for a hearing can always be filed to modify bond conditions, remove a no-contact order or eliminate travel restrictions.

Crime classification: Misdemeanor or Felony

Misdemeanor or Felony Classification: In Michigan, the district courts have full jurisdiction to dispose of misdemeanors through sentencing. A misdemeanor is classified as an offense that carries up to 1 year in jail.  A felony is classified as a crime that can carry more than 1 year in jail. A felony case is initiated in the district court for the arraignment, probable cause conference and preliminary examination. A felony that is not resolved in the district court will be moved to the circuit court for further proceedings. In certain cases, a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor and can remain in the district court. . Accomplishing reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor, thus avoiding a felony conviction, is considered a huge victory. 

Economic and property crimes: Larceny, embezzlement, retail fraud and malicious destruction of property to name a few, are all crimes where the classification (felony or misdemeanor) and potential punishment is dependent upon the amount of property loss. For most property crimes, if the amount involved in $1,000.00 or more, it is classified as felony.

Case results in the 36th District Court

The outcome of a criminal case in the 36th District Courts is dependent upon many components.  The most significant factors that can have a bearing on the disposition of a case are:

  • Prior criminal history of the accused party.
  • Cooperation with the police.
  • Whether another party was injured, or property was damaged.
  • The ability of the accused party to provide restitution for damages to the injured party.
  • Whether the offense is a ‘policy case’ (crimes against senior citizens, children

All these special provisions of law are possible in the 36th District Court which can result in the ultimate dismissal of a criminal matter:

Even individuals that have a prior criminal record will be given respect and consideration for plea deals to get a dismissal under certain circumstances.

Non-Resident or Canadian: If you reside outside of Michigan, consider getting an attorney that is experienced with the 36th District Court system and will provide you with efficient representation.

Drunk Driving Cases in the 36th District Court

Based upon 2016 statistics compiled by the Michigan State Police, the Detroit Police Precincts reported numerous drunk driving cases in the City of Detroit. Law enforcement in the City of Detroit is also provided by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan State Police. There was a total of 11,903 injury crashes in Wayne County with 648 involving alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs. Another 183 fatality crashes were reported with 76 involving alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

1st offense drinking and driving:  For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 36th District Court. A person without any prior drinking and driving offenses can expect to get an OWI reduced to ‘operating while impaired’. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. In addition to probation, a person convicted for a first drinking and driving offense (operating while impaired) is looking at:

  • Probation for 1 year or less
  • Fines and costs approximately $1,200.00
  • Restricted license for 90 days
  • Attend an alcohol or substance abuse program (discretionary)
  • Possible drug testing, alcohol testing, AA meetings (discretionary)
  • 4 points on driving record

Super Drunk Driving: If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater) a deviation may need to be filed to get a plea bargain for a lower offense. Super DUI convictions will result in mandatory license suspension for 45 days followed by a restricted license for a period of 320 days with the requirement of a vehicle breathalyzer ignition interlock device (BAIID). The Court can also order installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle driven by a person convicted of any drinking and driving offense, not just a Super DUI.

Repeat DUI Offender: A repeat drinking and driving offender may be looking at a longer period of probation, up to 2 years, with the possibility of some jail time.  There are many steps that we can recommend to those charged with a repeat offense to reduce the likelihood of incarceration in almost every court.

Third Lifetime DUI = Felony: DUI 3rd is a felony/with a maximum penalty of 1-5 years in prison.  Felony matters begin in the district court and can remain in the district court for purpose of sentencing and probation ONLY if reduced to a misdemeanor. Felonies that are not resolved in the district court are handled in the Circuit Court after the probable cause conference or preliminary examination. Click here for more information on felony procedure.

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macomb-courts-logoMacomb County District Courts

We have dedicated this  article to give you the big picture on the topic of misdemeanors in Macomb County. This project is based upon our experience handling more than 10,000 criminal cases in Michigan. Misdemeanor cases are handled in the local district courts for each county. The district court system in Michigan is broken down based upon population. This map illustrates the jurisdictional picture of the district court system in Macomb County where misdemeanor cases are adjudicated:

District-Courts-Macomb-Map

The list below contains links to the district courts located in Macomb County:

Most Prevalent Misdemeanors in Macomb County

In Michigan, each crime is classified as either misdemeanor or felony. The maximum term of incarceration determines whether a crime is classified as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor is defined as a crime that carries 1 year or less in jail. A felony is defined as a crime that carries more than 1 year, up to life, in prison.

Based upon our experience, the following are the most prevalent misdemeanor crimes that you will find on the dockets of the Macomb County District Courts:

Each of the above offenses constitutes a crime. Drunk driving, retail fraud, MDOP and assault may also be charged as felonies depending upon the circumstances. Upon conviction, the offense will appear on a person’s permanent public criminal history with the Michigan State Police and the FBI. With some exceptions, most misdemeanors are eligible for expungement.

Our research indicates that there are several thousand arrests in Michigan for misdemeanor offenses. Drunk Driving cases account for roughly 10,000 arrests each year in the Counties of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne.  In 2018, approximately 20,000 property crimes were reported in Macomb County alone. Property crimes include retail fraud, MDOP, other larceny crimes, joyriding and embezzlement.

Certain misdemeanor offenses may be more prevalent in a particular geographical area because of specific police activity. For example the following criminal offenses are targeted by the police and thus more prevalent in these areas:

Penalties  and Consequences for Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are extremely serious matters. The presiding district court judge has vast power to sentence an individual following a conviction for a misdemeanor. The list of potential penalties and consequences for a misdemeanor conviction are as follows:

  • Jail: Up to 1 year incarceration.
  • Fine, court costs and cost of prosecution in the judge’s discretion.
  • No limit on restitution for any loss, injury or damage to victim(s) or third parties such as insurance companies.
  • Probation for up to two (2) years.
  • Probation for up to five (5) years for stalking.
  • Substance abuse counseling, attendance of AA meetings.
  • GPS monitoring (in cases such as stalking).
  • Loss of right to obtain a concealed pistol license (CPL) for a period of 3 years or 8 years, depending upon the offense.
  • Suspension or revocation of driver’s license for traffic misdemeanors and OWI.
  • Points added to your driving record for traffic misdemeanors and OWI.
  • No contact order as a bond condition and during the entire period of probation.
  • Alcohol and drug test testing as a bond condition and during the entire period of probation.
  • Travel restrictions as a bond condition and during entire period of probation.
  • Reporting to a probation officer at intervals to be determined by the judge.
  • Deportation for non-US citizens upon conviction of misdemeanors that constitute crimes of moral turpitude.

Getting an experienced criminal defense attorney can be the best decision that you can make if you are charged with a misdemeanor. There may be ways to avoid a conviction altogether, have the offense reduced or amended and avoid many of the penalties and consequences as listed above.

Getting a Misdemeanor Case Under Control

A misdemeanor needs to be taken seriously. Fortunately, there are distinct provisions of law in Michigan designated to obtain a dismissal of a misdemeanor without going to trial. These provisions of law afford an individual a chance to get a criminal charge dropped after completing a period of probation and complying with the terms of probation. The following is a list of provisions used extensively in every Macomb County Court with links for expanded explanations:

  • HYTA: HYTA status enables youthful offenders (age 18 but under age 26) to get a criminal offense (felony or misdemeanor) dismissed and sealed.
  • Dismissal of Drug Crimes: First time drug offenses involving use or possession, but not delivery, can be dismissed pursuant to application of MCL 333.7411.
  • Domestic Violence: A domestic violence charge can be dismissed pursuant to MCL 769.4a.
  • Delayed sentence with dismissal: MCL 771.1 is a special provision of law that can be utilized to get a criminal case deferred and dismissed.

All of the above provisions of law are subject to eligibility and the judge’s approval. Getting a criminal conviction deferred and dismissed pursuant to MCL 771.1 requires the prosecutor’s approval and the approval of the court. Getting HYTA for offenders that are 21 but under age 26, also requires the prosecutor’s approval. The victim of any crime may also object to a favorable plea bargain.

Retail Fraud/Shoplifting Can be Dismissed in Macomb County

Retail fraud is the name given for the crime of shoplifting in Michigan and it is always one of the most prevalent crimes that we see in every courtroom in Macomb County. The offense of retail fraud is committed by taking something from a retail establishment with the intent to steal. The crime is accomplished by the intentional concealment of goods, changing a price tag/package or by attempting to defeat the scanning process. Retail fraud is a serious crime and constitutes a crime of moral turpitude that will result in deportation for those that do not have United States citizenship. The penalty for retail fraud depends upon the value of the goods:

  • Retail Fraud First Degree (value of goods $1,000.00 or more): Felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment.
  • Retail Fraud Second Degree (value of goods $200.00 up to $1,000.00): Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
  • Retail Fraud Third Degree (value of goods up to $200.00): Misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail.

Virtually every major retailer (Kohl’s, Target, Walmart, Meijer, Sam’s Club) utilizes loss prevention employees to deter shoplifting and apprehend shoplifters. Once charged with this crime, an attorney’s services are crucial to find a way to avoid a conviction in the criminal justice system. First offenders almost always qualify for a plea bargain to get the matter deferred and dismissed. The terms of the probation can differ depending the court and whether the judge believes the offender needs to be supervised or non-supervised. Non US Citizens need to hire a lawyer to avoid a “theft” related conviction altogether to avoid deportation.

Avoiding Traffic Misdemeanors

Not all traffic offenses are created equal. Traffic offenses are classified as civil infractions or misdemeanors. Civil infractions, such as speeding, are considered less serious. Misdemeanor traffic offenses often carry greater points (6 in many cases), possible jail and appear on a person’s criminal record.  In Michigan, the following offenses are misdemeanors:

We look for ways to reduce the impact of a traffic misdemeanors by scheduling a pretrial conference with the prosecutor to seek meaningful reductions. This often can result in a misdemeanor being reduced to a civil infraction thereby saving a person from having a criminal record. In addition, getting a traffic misdemeanor reduced to a lower offense can also result in meaningful reduction in points and insurance premium savings. It is a wise investment to fight every traffic ticket!

Operating While Intoxicated 

As we have said, Operating while Intoxicated (OWI) is always one of the most prevalent crimes on every district court lineup. The Michigan Drunk Driving Audit is a website which compiles detailed statistics regarding drunk cases based upon  information obtained from police agencies and courts. In 2019, there were approximately 2,200 individuals tested for drugs or alcohol Macomb County.  The statistics are further broken with based upon blood alcohol content of (BAC). In 2018, approximately 600 individuals in Macomb County tested with an elevated BAC result of .17% or greater, constituting “Super Drunk Driving“.

There are many legal and technical aspects to a drunk driving case. Here are few frequently asked DUI questions:

  • Can the case be dismissed?
  • Can the charge be reduced?
  • Am I going to jail?
  • What will happen to my license?
  • Why did they destroy my license?
  • Was I required to give a blood test or take a breathalyzer test?
  • Can an attorney get the police in-car video and body-cam video? Continue reading ›

 

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What you can expect if you are involved in a criminal, drunk driving or traffic matter in the Cities of Warren & Centerline

Our publications explore criminal and drunk driving issues within the realm of our law firm’s expertise. We have the distinction of practicing criminal law longer than most other Macomb County lawyers. This publication is about the 37th District Court where we regularly provide legal services to our clients charged with criminal matters, (misdemeanors and felonies), drug crimes, drunk driving and traffic tickets.

Locations of the 37th District Court 

The 37th District Court has two locations which are located in the cities of Centerline and Warren. The jurisdictional boundaries of these Courts cover 36 square miles (from 8 Mile Road to 14 Mile Road and from Hayes to Dequindre). The Centerline and Warren Police Departments, as well as the Michigan State Police, patrol the streets and major roads within the boundaries of the 37th District Court; including I-696, Dequinder, Ryan, Van Dyke, Schoenherr, Hayes and 8 Mile).  The City of Warren is also home to many industrial centers, the General Motors Tech Center, automobile dealers,  restaurants, bars and retail establishments.

  • Warren Location: 8300 Common Road, Warren, MI 48093, Phone: 586-574-4910
  • Centerline Location: 7070 E. Ten Mile Road, Centerline, MI 48015, Phone: 586-757-8333

The Warren Police Department (WPD) is located directly behind the 37th District Court. The WPD is one of the most active law enforcement agencies in Macomb County with impressive detective bureau, helicopter unit, motorcycle and traffic patrol squad. The detective bureau has a drug enforcement team, as well as other units, which engage in various undercover operations.  The drug enforcement unit keeps close tabs on its 8 Mile Border and regularly arrests individuals that are caught returning to Warren after buying drugs (heroin) in the City of Detroit.  The Michigan State Police also have a presence in Warren as the law enforcement entity responsible for patrolling I-696 expressway.

Dismissals of criminal cases in the 37th District Court!

The 37th District Court has 4 elected judges. Each judge rotates once per month to preside over the Centerline caseload. As experienced criminal defense attorneys in Macomb County, I can say that all of the judges are extremely fair. They are judges that will listen to arguments and fairly dispose of criminal, drunk driving, drug and traffic cases. In my opinion, the 37th District Court is a court with a philosophy of rehabilitation, rather than a direct line to incarceration, and eligible offenders are given a second chance.

Our firm has represented clients charged with just about every imaginable misdemeanor and  felony crime in the 37th District Court. The following is list of some of the most prevalent cases that we regularly see on the 37th District Court dockets in both Centerline and Warren:

Getting out on bond, bond conditions

The 37th District Court is notorious for setting high bonds on individuals charged with a felony.  It is also a court that gets more drug cases than any other district court within Macomb County and the judges do not hesitate to set high bonds for those charged with minor drug crimes!  Insofar as possible, it is always advisable to have an attorney present for arraignment purposes. An attorney can make a considerable difference at arraignment by advocating for a personal bond (where no money needs to be posted) or a for a low cash/10% bond arrangement. Most judges will listen to an attorney’s remarks regarding bond which can save potentially thousands of dollars that a bondsman would otherwise cost.  In addition to the cash component of bond, the Court can also impose bond conditions upon a person’s release from jail including the following:

  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • GPS monitoring (sex crimes, violent crimes)
  • A ‘no-contact order‘ (assault, domestic violence, retail fraud)

A motion for a hearing can always be filed to modify bond conditions, remove a no-contact order or eliminate travel restrictions.

Misdemeanor or Felony Classification

In Michigan, the district courts have full jurisdiction to dispose of misdemeanors through sentencing. A misdemeanor is classified as an offense that carries up to 1 year in jail.  Felony cases are another matter. A felony is classified as a crime that can carry more than 1 year in jail. A felony case is initiated in the district court for the arraignment, probable cause conference and preliminary examination. A felony that is not resolved in the district court will be moved to the circuit court for further proceedings. In certain cases, a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor and can remain in the district court. Accomplishing reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor, thus avoiding a felony conviction, is considered a huge victory.

The outcome of a criminal case in the 37th District Court, as well as other Macomb County District Courts, is dependent upon many circumstances.  The most significant factors that can have an impact on a case are:

  • The prior criminal record of the accused party.
  • Cooperation with the police (no resistance or difficulty at the time of arrest).
  • Whether another party was injured.
  • Whether the accused party can provide restitution for damages to the injured party.
  • Whether the offense is a ‘policy case’ (crimes against senior citizens, children).

In our experience, criminal cases can be resolved favorably at the 37th District Court. Whenever possible, the judges will accept dispositions to allow an offender the opportunity to get a dismissal under these special provisions of law: HYTA for youthful offenders, MCL 333.7411 for first time drug offenders and MCL 769.a for domestic violence. The court will also utilize a provision of law known as a deferral or delayed sentence which allows an offender leniency or a dismissal after a period of probation. Even individuals that have a prior criminal record will be given respect and consideration for plea deals to get a dismissal under certain circumstances.

Drunk Driving Cases in the 37th District Court: 164 DUI cases in 2019

The highways and roads within the jurisdiction of 37th District Court are well traveled. They are used to cross town from the northern suburbs to the City of Detroit and to travel from the east side to the west side. Within its boundaries, there is an abundance of traffic associated with the I-696 expressway, the automotive industry and retail establishments. Heavy traffic volume is the reason that we see so many drunk driving cases within the 37th District Court. In 2019, Warren and Centerline administered a total of 164 breath and blood tests for individuals charged with drunk driving or drugged driving. Over 59 of the test results registered a blood alcohol content of .17 or greater to support a charge of ‘Super DUI or operating with a high BAC (.17 or greater).

Statistically, more than 90% of drunk driving cases do not go to trial and are resolved negotiating and entering into a plea bargain. Plea bargains can mean getting a better deal without spending thousands of dollars on trial. However, there are many aspects of a drunk driving case that must be done according to administrative rules and going to trial is encouraged if the police screwed up and we have a chance of getting a not guilty verdict before a jury.

First Time Drunk Driving:  For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 37thDistrict Courts. A person without any prior drinking and driving offenses can expect to get an OWI reduced to ‘operating while impaired’. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. In addition to probation, a person convicted for a first drinking and driving offense (operating while impaired) is looking at:

  • Probation for 1 year or less
  • Fines and costs approximately $1,200.00
  • Restricted license for 90 days
  • Attend an alcohol or substance abuse program (discretionary)
  • Possible drug testing, alcohol testing, AA meetings (discretionary)
  • 4 points on driving record

Super Drunk Driving: If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater) a deviation may need to be filed to get a plea bargain for a lower offense. Super DUI convictions will result in mandatory license suspension for 45 days followed by a restricted license for a period of 320 days with the requirement of a vehicle breathalyzer ignition interlock device (BAIID). The Court can also order installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle driven by a person convicted of any drinking and driving offense, not just a Super DUI.

Repeat DUI Offender: A repeat drinking and driving offender may be looking at a longer period of probation, up to 2 years, with the possibility of some jail time.  There are many steps that we can recommend to those charged with a repeat offense to reduce the likelihood of incarceration in almost every court.

Third Lifetime DUI = Felony: DUI 3rd is a felony/with a maximum penalty of 1-5 years in prison.  Felony matters begin in the district court and can remain in the district court for purpose of sentencing and probation ONLY if reduced to a misdemeanor. Felonies that are not resolved in the district court are handled in the Circuit Court after the probable cause conference or preliminary examination. Click here for more information on felony procedure.

Drug Crimes in the City of Warren

There are more drug crimes in the City of Warren that wind up in the 37th District Court than in any other court located in Macomb County. In my opinion, many factors contribute to the high number of drug crimes in the City of Warren including an aggressive police department and surveillance of drug activity coming from Detroit.  In fact, there are more crimes consistently reported in the City of Warren for larceny, retail fraud and assaults than in other Macomb County courts. In 2019, there were a total of 8,801 crimes reported in the City of Warren compared to 4,660 reported in the neighboring City of Sterling Heights. Both cities are approximately 36 square miles each.

More than ever, our clients are benefiting from aggressive legal representation to avoid felony convictions for drug crimes. In addition, the courts are more willing to utilize therapeutic rehabilitative measures, rather than punitive measures, as a means to sentence drug users.

37th District Court Probation Department: 8300 Common Road, Warren, Michigan 48093

The 37th District Court  has its own probation department which is located in the Court building at 8300 Common Road, Warren, Michigan. Both Centerline and Warren use the probation department at this address. It is within the judge’s discretion whether or not to place an individual on probation after being convicted of a crime or drunk driving offense. In many cases that qualify as isolated incidents, we may be able to convince the judge that probation, also known as community supervision, is not necessary. When probation is imposed, the judge may require reporting or non-reporting.  For obvious reasons, no probation or non-reporting is preferable.  The probation department utilizes on-line reporting. When allowed to report on-line, the probationer is not required to personally appear at the probation department to report unless otherwise instructed to do so. The maximum period of probation that can be imposed in the 37th District Court is 2 years. However, our experience is that probation is rarely imposed for more than 1 year for most misdemeanor offenses.

Traffic Violations in the 37th District Court: Avoid Points & Record of any Conviction!

The Warren Police, Centerline Police and Michigan State Police all have an active presence monitoring the activity of vehicular traffic with the jurisdiction of the 37th District Court.  I would say that traffic tickets are on the top of the list of types of cases that are litigated at the 37th District Court. When resolving a traffic matter in the 37th District Court, we are often able to get a reduction or avoid points. A traffic ticket can be reduced to a Michigan civil infraction known as impeding traffic or double parking which are offenses that will never appear on a person’s driving record and do not carry any points.

Court personnel are forbidden by law to give legal advice. Yet courts are making it easier than ever to just pay your traffic ticket by visiting the court’s website and conveniently providing an option to pay by credit card.  Unfortunately, most individuals that receive a traffic ticket do not hire a lawyer and wind up with a record and points that will have an impact on insurance premiums for several years. The path of least resistance, paying the ticket, can be much costlier in the long run.

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District-Courts-Macomb-Map

MAP OF MACOMB COUNTY DISTRICT COURTS

In 2019, Over 8,000 crimes reported in the cities of Eastpointe, Fraser and Roseville

Eastpointe and Roseville Courts: Bulging Criminal, Drunk Driving and Traffic Dockets

The 38th District Court (known as the Eastpointe Court) and the 39th District Court (known as the Roseville Court), are neighboring district courts in the southeastern part of Macomb County. The 39th District Court in Roseville has jurisdiction over the cities of Roseville and Fraser. Districting is based upon several factors which include density and traffic. As the above map illustrates, these districts are relatively small in relation to other districts in Macomb County. Eastpointe and Roseville cover a combined geographic area of approximately 25 square miles, compared to the 42-1 District in Romeo which encompasses an area of 180 square miles and other cities and townships.

  • 38th District Court is located at 16101 Nine Mile, Eastpointe, Michigan 48021. Serviced by 1 Judge with jurisdiction for the City of Eastpointe.
  • 39th District Court is located at 29733 Gratiot Avenue, Roseville, Michigan 48066.  Serviced by 3 Judges with jurisdiction for the City of Roseville and the City of Fraser.

The Eastpointe Police, Roseville Police and Fraser Police provide law enforcement services to the areas covered by the 38th and 39th District Courts.

  • Gratiot Avenue runs through both districts and is patrolled by both the Eastpointe and Roseville Police.
  • A stretch of I-94 and I-696 in Roseville are the responsibility of the Michigan State Police.
  • 8 Mile Road: The Eastpointe Police and Detroit Police monitor this shared border.
  • The Fraser Police monitor activity East of Hayes from 13 Mile Road to 15 Mile Road.

All of the above mentioned roads and expressways generate a considerable mixture of  local, commuting, retail and connecting traffic.

The information in this publication is based upon the experience of our Eastpointe and Roseville criminal defense lawyers.

Criminal Cases in the 38th and 39th District Courts: Provisions of Law to Get Dismissals Available!

There were a total of 8,014 criminal incidents reported by the neighboring cities of Eastpointe, Fraser and Roseville in 2019. The breakdown of crimes reported for each city is as follows:

  • Fraser 866 crimes reported
  • Eastpointe 2,992 crimes reported
  • Roseville 4,156 crimes reported

The majority of these crimes reported in the cities of Eastpointe, Fraser and Roseville involved assault, larceny, drugs and retail fraud. The following is list of the most prevalent misdemeanor and felony cases that we regularly see on the 38th and 39th District Court dockets:

Purpose of Arraignment and Bond: If you are arrested or arraigned for a criminal matter in the 38th District Court or the 39th District Court, you will appear before either a magistrate or judge for purpose of formal arraignment. The following will occur at an arraignment:

  • Charges are read to the defendant.
  • Defendant is advised of rights (to an attorney, to a trial, etc.).
  • For all felony matters, the defendant is given court dates for probable cause conference and preliminary examination.
  • For misdemeanor offenses, the defendant MAY be given a date for a pretrial conference or it will be scheduled at a later date (by mail).
  • The defendant MAY be instructed to provide finger prints.
  • Bond will be determined by the judge or magistrate.

WHENEVER POSSIBLE, it is advisable to have an attorney present for arraignment purposes. An attorney can make a considerable difference at an arraignment hearing by advocating for a low bond and keeping the bond conditions under control.

Bond Condition: EVEN THOUGH PRESUMED INNOCENT,  bond conditions restrict and limit the personal freedom of an individual.   Depending on the circumstances of each case, the following are common bond conditions:

  • No out of state travel (without permission from the court)
  • No contact order (used extensively with respect to domestic violence and assault crimes)
  • GPS Monitoring (used extensively for those charged with sex crimes involving minors).
  • Testing for drugs and alcohol (wearing a monitor, random testing)
  • No possession of firearms
  • No consumption of marijuana or alcohol even though otherwise legal

Again, retaining a local Roseville or Eastpointe criminal defense lawyer can make a big difference in the outcome of the arraignment. It always helps when we can collect background and prepare for the arraignment ahead of time to avoid harsh bond conditions. For this reason, we advise our clients to contact us immediately if they believe the court has an arrest warrant.

Misdemeanor or Felony Classification: In Michigan, the district courts have full jurisdiction to dispose of misdemeanors through sentencing. A misdemeanor is classified as an offense that carries up to 1 year in jail.  Felony cases are another matter. A felony is classified as a crime that can carry more than 1 year in jail. A felony case is initiated in the district court for the arraignment, probable cause conference and preliminary examination. A felony that is not resolved in the district court will be moved to the circuit court for further proceedings. In certain cases, a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor and can remain in the district court. Accomplishing reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor, thus avoiding a felony conviction, is considered a huge victory.

The outcome of a criminal case in the 38th and 39th District Courts, as well as other Macomb County District Courts, is dependent upon many components.  The most significant factors that can have a bearing on the disposition of a case are:

  • Prior criminal history of the accused party.
  • Cooperation with the police.
  • Whether another party was injured, or property was damaged.
  • The ability of the accused party to provide restitution for damages to the injured party.
  • Whether the offense is a ‘policy case’ (crimes against senior citizens, children

All of these special provisions of law are possible in the 38th District Court and the 39th District Court which can result in the ultimate dismissal of a criminal matter:

Even individuals that have a prior criminal record will be given respect and consideration favorable dispositions in the 38th and 39th District Courts.

High Number of Drunk Driving Cases in the 38th District Court and the 39th District Court

Based upon 2019 statistics, more 130 individuals were tested for alcohol or drugs in connection with suspicion for operating while intoxicated by the Eastpointe, Roseville and Fraser Police Departments:

  • Eastpointe:  58 breath & blood tests for DUI/OWI
  • Fraser:  35 breath & blood tests for DUI/OWI
  • Roseville:  54 breath & blood tests for

Blood is tested for both alcohol and drugs and is not included in the above summary of DUI cases in the 38th and 39th Districts. The actual number of DUI cases is higher when blood results for alcohol and drugs are factored into the totals. The above numbers confirm a high number of DUI cases in these districts. Traffic generated on the expressways, Gratiot Avenue and 8 Mile Road are all contributing factors.

APPROXIMATE DRINK – WEIGHT INDEX CHART FOR MALES AND FEMALESDUI_Image

1st offense drinking and driving:  For most first time drinking and driving offenders, jail is not likely absent some other aggravating circumstances in the 38th and 39th District Courts. A person without any prior drinking and driving offenses can expect to get an OWI reduced to ‘operating while impaired’. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. In addition to probation, a person convicted for a first drinking and driving offense (operating while impaired) is looking at:

  • Probation for 1 year or less
  • Fines and costs approximately $1,200.00
  • Restricted license for 90 days
  • Attend an alcohol or substance abuse program (discretionary)
  • Possible drug testing, alcohol testing, AA meetings (discretionary)
  • 4 points on driving record

Super Drunk Driving: If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater) a deviation may need to be filed to get a plea bargain to a lower offense. Super DUI convictions will result in mandatory license suspension for 45 days followed by a restricted license for a period of 320 days with the requirement of a vehicle breathalyzer ignition interlock device (BAIID). The Court can also order installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle driven by a person convicted of any drinking and driving offense, not just a Super DUI.

Repeat DUI Offender: A repeat drinking and driving offender may be looking at a longer period of probation, up to 2 years, with the possibility of some jail time.  There are many steps that we can recommend to those charged with a repeat offense to reduce the likelihood of incarceration in almost every Macomb County court.

Third Lifetime DUI = Felony: DUI 3rd is a felony/with a maximum penalty of 1-5 years in prison.  Felony matters begin in the district court and can remain in the district court for purpose of sentencing and probation if reduced to a misdemeanor. Felonies that are not resolved in the district court are handled in the Circuit Court after the probable cause conference or preliminary examination. We evaluate every DUI 3rd for opportunities to get it reduced to a misdemeanor by filing strategic legal motions, negotiations and filing a deviation request.

Traffic Violations in the 38th and 39th District Courts: Reduced to Avoid Points and Record of any Conviction!

Several police agencies have an active presence monitoring the activity of vehicular traffic within the jurisdiction of the 38th and 39th District Courts.  Like other district courts in Macomb County, I would say that traffic tickets are on the top of the list of types of cases that are litigated at these Courts. When resolving a traffic matter in the 38th and 39th District Courts, we are often able to negotiate a reduction or avoid points. A substantial reduction in a traffic ticket occurs when it is reduced to an offense such as impeding traffic or double parking. A traffic ticket that is reduced to impeding traffic or double parking does not carry any points and will never appear on a person’s driving record! We are also able to get favorable results for individuals charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses such as driving while suspended, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

Court Personnel are Forbidden to Give Legal Advice: Yet most courts are making it easier than ever to just pay your traffic ticket by visiting the court’s website and giving offenders the convenient option to pay by credit card.  What they won’t tell you on their website is that you will get points on your driving record and that you may will wind up with higher insurance premiums for several years. Unfortunately, most individuals that receive a traffic ticket do not hire a lawyer. The path of least resistance, paying the ticket, can be much costlier in the long run.

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nautical-mile-sign

The city of St. Clair Shores, in Macomb County,  is nestled between Lake St. Clair along its entire easterly border and I-94 running alongside its western border.  The 40th District Court has jurisdiction over legal matters that arise in the City of St. Clair Shores that include the following:

The 40th District Court is located on the corner of 11 Mile Road and Jefferson: 27701 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores, Michigan 48081, Phone: 586-445-5280. Honorable Mark A. Fratarcangeli and Honorable Joseph Craigen Oster presiding.

St. Clair Shores: Nautical Mile, I-94, I-696

St. Clair Shores is best known for its several miles of coastline on Lake St. Clair. The lake is a big draw for recreation and for many that choose to live in St. Clair Shores. The area has a reputation for its charm and being a safe place to live. St. Clair Shores is the hometown of ABDO LAW partner, Cy M. Abdo.

Most of the recreational activity and action in St. Clair Shores takes place in a dedicated zone known as the Nautical Mile. The Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores, located on Jefferson from 9 Mile Road to 10 Mile Road,  is a Michigan landmark which consists of numerous restaurants, bars, marinas and boat dealers along a one mile stretch of land on the shoreline of Lake St. Clair.

The City of St. Clair Shores has its own police department and the Michigan State Police patrol the I-94 and I-696 interstate expressways.

Criminal Cases in the 40th District Courts: Provisions of Law to Get Dismissals Available!

In 2019, 3116 crimes were reported in the entire city of St. Clair Shores. The following is a list of the most prevalent crimes reported in St. Clair Shores as well as most other Macomb County cities and townships:

 The 40th District Court keeps close tabs on the community to insure safe streets and recreational enjoyment. I would say that both judges take a ‘hands on’ approach to their cases. They use alcohol and drug testing extensively to monitor individuals that are on bond or convicted of an alcohol or drug related offense. Jail is rare for first time offenders. However, you will always want the benefit of an experienced 40th District Court criminal defense lawyer to get the best possible result .

Arraignment and Bond: If you are arrested or arraigned on a criminal matter in the 40th District Court, you will appear either before a magistrate or judge.  If you receive a misdemeanor ticket, your attorney may waive the arraignment and have the matter scheduled for a pretrial conference at a later date. If you have a warrant for your arrest or are otherwise required to personally appear for arraignment, the presence of an experienced St. Clair Shores criminal defense lawyer can a big difference at an arraignment to keep the bond low and keep the bond conditions at a minimum. I have found that Judge Oster, Judge Fratarcangeli and the magistrate will listen to an attorney’s remarks regarding bond which can save potentially thousands of dollars that a bondsman would otherwise cost.  However, even though you are presumed innocent, the 40th District Court will require alcohol and/or drug testing as a condition of bond upon being arraigned and during the pendency of the case.

No-Contact Orders: The 40th District Court will also impose a no-contact order in every case involving domestic violence. When a no-contact order is imposed, it restricts an individual’s right to contact or communicate with the alleged victim, even if they are married. If you find yourself in this position, a skilled domestic violence defense lawyer can file a motion to remove the no-contact order. Violating any bond condition is no joke and can result in jail time while the underlying case is pending.

Alcohol/Drug Testing: Those facing alcohol or drug charges in the 40th District Court will almost automatically be required to engage in testing for alcohol and/or drugs soon after a case enters the court system. Testing will also be imposed on those charged with offenses that involve alcohol or drugs such as disorderly conduct or domestic violence. Urine testing is the preferred means to test for drugs. For alcohol testing, the 40th District Court will consider one of the following:

  • Random breath tests
  • Ankle (SCRAM) continuous monitoring system
  • Soberlink (handheld device connected to cellular service or Wifi)

Once a person is required to be tested for alcohol and/or drugs, the 40th District Court Probation Department will be quick to set up a show cause or violation hearing if a person misses a prompt to provide a breath or urine sample or there are any positive results for any alcohol or drugs. We have represented clients that have faced show cause violations because of alcohol or drug use. A testing violation can also occur where the offender denies any alcohol or drug use and claims that the result was a “false positive”. These situations can usually be resolved with the court when the offender has an action plan to avoid further violations or can show the court that there has not been any use of alcohol or drugs.

Misdemeanor or Felony Classification: In Michigan, the district courts have full jurisdiction to dispose of misdemeanors through sentencing. A misdemeanor is classified as an offense that carries up to 1 year in jail.  Felony cases are another matter. A felony is classified as a crime that can carry more than 1 year in jail. A felony case is initiated in the district court for the arraignment, probable cause conference and preliminary examination. A felony that is not resolved in the district court will be moved to the circuit court for further proceedings. In certain cases, a felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor and can remain in the district court. Accomplishing reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor, thus avoiding a felony conviction, is a huge legal victory.

The outcome of a criminal case in the 40th District Courts, as well as other Macomb County District Courts, is dependent upon many components.  The most significant factors that can have a bearing on the disposition of a case are:

  • Prior criminal history of the accused party.
  • Cooperation with the police.
  • Whether another party was injured, or property was damaged.
  • The ability of the accused party to provide restitution for damages to the injured party.
  • Whether the offense is a ‘policy case’ (crimes against senior citizens, children).

In our experience, criminal cases can be resolved favorably at the 40th District Court. All these special provisions of law are possible in the 40th District Court which can result in a dismissal of a criminal matter:

Drunk Driving Cases in the 40th District Court

In 2019, there were approximately 164 arrests for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol in St. Clair Shores.  Out of this number, 60 individuals registered a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .17 or greater and faced  “super drunk driving” or OWI with a High BAC. In 2016, there were about one-third fewer individuals facing “super drunk driving” in St. Clair Shores with only 42 offenders testing with a BAC of .17 or more.

1st offense drinking and driving:  A person without any prior DUI/OWI offenses can expect to get through the court process by getting a plea deal to a reduced charge, with no jail and no loss of license.  In practice, the majority of first time arrests for  OWI (.08 to .16) can be negotiated to a reduced to ‘operating while impaired’. It is extremely difficult and rare, but not impossible, to get a drinking and driving offense reduced to a non-criminal offense. In addition to probation, a person convicted for a first drinking and driving offense (operating while impaired) is looking at:

  • Probation for 1 year or less
  • Fines and costs approximately $1,200.00
  • Restricted license for 90 days
  • Attend an alcohol or substance abuse program (discretionary)
  • Possible drug testing, alcohol testing, AA meetings (discretionary)
  • 4 points on driving record

Super Drunk Driving: If a person is charged with Super DUI (BAC .17 or greater) a deviation may need to be filed to get a plea bargain for a lower offense. Super DUI convictions will result in mandatory license suspension for 45 days followed by a restricted license for a period of 320 days with the requirement of a vehicle breathalyzer ignition interlock device (BAIID). The Court can also order installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle driven by a person convicted of any drinking and driving offense, not just a Super DUI.

Repeat DUI Offender: A repeat drinking and driving offender may be looking at a longer period of probation, up to 2 years, with the possibility of some jail time.  There are many steps that we can recommend to those charged with a repeat offense to reduce the likelihood of incarceration in almost every court.

Third Lifetime DUI = Felony: DUI 3rd is a felony/with a maximum penalty of 1-5 years in prison.  Felony matters begin in the district court and can remain in the district court for purpose of sentencing and probation ONLY if reduced to a misdemeanor. Felonies that are not resolved in the district court are handled in the Circuit Court after the probable cause conference or preliminary examination. Click here for more information on felony procedure.

The 40th District Court Probation Department: 27701 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores, Michigan 48081

The 40th District Court has its own probation department located inside of the courthouse.

It is within the judge’s discretion whether to place an individual on probation after being convicted of a criminal or drunk driving offense. When probation is imposed, the judge may require reporting or non-reporting probation.  The maximum period of probation that can be imposed in the district courts is 2 years.

Traffic Violations in the 40th District Court: Reduced to Avoid Points and Record of any Conviction!

94-696

Like other district courts in Macomb County, I would say that traffic tickets are on the top of the list of types of cases that are litigated at the 40th District Court. The presence of I-94 and I-696 contribute to the traffic volume in St. Clair Shores.  When resolving a traffic matter in the 40th District Court, we are often able to negotiate a reduction or avoid points. A substantial reduction in a traffic ticket occurs when it is reduced to an offense such as impeding traffic or double parking. A traffic ticket that is reduced to impeding traffic or double parking does not carry any points and will never appear on a person’s driving record! We are also able to get favorable results for individuals charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses such as driving while suspended, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident

Courts are making it easier than ever to just pay your traffic ticket by visiting the court’s website and conveniently providing an option to pay by credit card.  Unfortunately, most individuals that receive a traffic ticket do not hire a lawyer and wind up with a record and points that will have an impact on insurance premiums for several years. The path of least resistance, paying the ticket, can be much costlier in the long run.

Continue reading ›

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Drug Crimes, Assault Crimes, Theft Crimes Highest on the List of Most Frequent Felonies in Michigan

Being accused or charged with any crime, misdemeanor or felony, is a serious matter requiring the expertise of a criminal defense lawyer. A crime classified as a felony is invariably worse than a petty crime or misdemeanor. A felony is defined as an offense that can carry more than 1 year in jail up to life in prison. If the offense carries 1 year or less in jail, it is classified as a misdemeanor.  In addition to the possibility of jail/imprisonment, felonies have other consequences including: loss of rights to own or possess firearms, up to 5 years probation, possible term of imprisonment, international travel restrictions and the stigma of a felony conviction.

While researching cases, we came across an  article written by the Michigan Bar Association regarding the Top 50 Felonies Most Frequently Charged in Michigan in the State of Michigan. This list of cases also is consistent with the caseload that our Macomb County criminal defense lawyers see on the dockets of courts located in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and St. Clair counties.

With more than 40 years experience specializing in criminal defense, I can say that the majority of our clients facing felony charges have never committed a prior felony and the underlying conduct supporting the felony charge does not involve egregious misbehavior.  Nonetheless, a felony charge is possible even for offenses involving simple possession or when a theft involves property valued greater than $1,000.00.

Top Felonies in the Metro-Detroit Courts

Pursuant to the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, felonies are broken down into categories that determine the accompanying sentence. Punishment for each class is listed below:

  • Class A – Life imprisonment
  • Class B – Up to 20 years in prison
  • Class C – Up to 15 years in prison
  • Class D – Up to 10 years in prison
  • Class E – Up to 5 years in prison
  • Class F – Up to 4 years in prison
  • Class G – Up to 2 years in prison
  • Class H – Jail or other intermediate sanctions, such as fines

 

Below is a list of the most prevalent felony crimes that we routinely handle in the Metro-Detroit courts and that also that fall within the top 50 felonies in Michigan.

Crime Statistics for Macomb County

The Michigan State Police maintains annual crime reporting statistics for each county in the State of Michigan. For 2017, approximately 50,000 crimes were reported in Macomb County. As criminal defense attorneys in Macomb County, these statistics are meaningful in various ways. The economy, social influences (“me too”), crime waves and police practices are all factors that can have a bearing on crime reporting. Statistics indicate that all larcenies constitute the largest number of crimes reported. Nearly 10,000 larceny related crimes reported which include the following:

  • Larceny from a building
  • Larceny from a motor vehicle
  • Larceny misdemeanors (under $1,000) and Larceny felonies (over $1,000)
  • Theft of motor vehicle parts and accessories

Retail fraud (shoplifting) offenses are not included in the above statistic. Separately, approximately 2,500 retail fraud cases were reported in Macomb County for 2017. Retail fraud is classified as a misdemeanor when the amount involved is under $1,000 and a felony if the amount involved is $1,000 or more. The cities in Macomb County that reported the highest number of retail fraud for 2017 were: Roseville (536), Warren (463), Sterling Heights (425), Chesterfield Township (265)  and Clinton Township (209). The numbers for these cities are not surprising considering that these areas all have large retail centers and stores (Target, Meijer, Kohl’s, Costco, Sam’s, Walmart) within their jurisdiction.

Drug Residue or $1.00 more than $999.00 May Lead to a Felony Charge!

DRUG CRIMES: Simple possession of drugs tops the list of felony crimes in Michigan. The drug crime of possession of marijuana is classified as a misdemeanor.  As I have stated, a felony charge may be lodged for unintended behavior. For example, a person may be charged with felony possession of drugs when a police search reveals a minuscule quantity of drug residue. Felony charges can be prosecuted even though the drug residue is unusable, un-measurable and is scraped from a pipe or from the carpet of a vehicle. In researching this matter, I found that the prosecutor in Harris County, Texas has a adopted a policy to avoid prosecuting those found with drug residue. While this is a step in the right direction, Michigan has not adopted this policy. In addition to residue cases, drug charges may be brought against an innocent passenger of a motor vehicle because drugs are found in a compartment or area of the vehicle within reach, possession or view of the passenger(s).

THEFT & PROPERTY CRIMES: Several other felony crimes fall within the theft offense, or property crime category, including retail fraud, embezzlement, credit card fraud, uttering and publishing. A crime can be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony without any intent or deliberation to wind up in that position. For example, if a theft related offense (embezzlement, retail fraud 1st degree) involves a claim of loss of $1,000.00 or more, the prosecutor will bring a felony charge. If the amount of loss is $999.00 or less, it is a misdemeanor. The danger and concern that exists is when the alleged victim makes a claim that is greater than the actual loss. Not all property crimes are dependent upon the property value. Crimes such as uttering and publishing, credit card fraud, larceny in a building, larceny from a motor vehicle constitute felonies without regard to the value of property misappropriated. Michigan State Police statistics for 2017 indicate that more than 7,000 crimes relating to larceny were reported in Macomb County.

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