Case Study: How We Fought a Second OWI Offense and Won For Our Client

In October, Josh* was charged with 2nd charge – OWI out of Westland, Michigan. He was accused of operating his vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. Two years prior, he received an OWI charge in Westland as well. According to Michigan law, if he was convicted or pled guilty to another OWI offense, his license would be revoked for 1 year. Josh obviously hoped to avoid this, along with avoiding the accompanying jail time.

Shortly after his arrest, Josh arrived to our office. I explained to him our process and how we litigate OWIs. Since it was a blood draw case, I informed Josh how he would be formally charged about 3 months from the date of the blood draw. Typically, blood test results take a while to develop. Eventually, charges were brought against Josh in February 2019. Then, we walked him into court on the warrant and received a Pre-Trial date.

Reviewing the Police Report

In the meantime, I reviewed police reports and video from the incident. I needed to determine if the officer held a valid reason to stop the vehicle. Additionally, whether there was probable cause to arrest him, and whether or not the blood draw was done properly. In order to determine if these issues were worthy of motions, I watched the videos several times. Luckily, the officer wore a body camera.

Subsequently, the video did not show any poor driving by Josh, despite the police report stating otherwise. At this point, I knew that the rest of the police report would be greatly exaggerated. In the video, the officer asked Josh to exit the vehicle and engage in some field sobriety tests. Usually, officers do not administer these tests properly. However, most attorneys don’t know the proper technique. Unfortunately, this means a lot of officers get away with conducting poor work.

Furthermore, I determined that the officer improperly instructed and evaluated nearly every test. This is the exact ammo I needed to file motions to dismiss. If the officer did not do his job properly, he could not have established probable cause to arrest Josh.

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Nevertheless, police arrested Josh and drew his blood.

Filing the Motion to Dismiss Charges

After the arrest, I filed a motion to dismiss due to lack of probable cause to arrest. Step by step, I explained the field sobriety tests in my motion to show just how poorly the officer had done. We then arrived at court for his scheduled pre-trial, where the prosecutor asked me about the motions. She appeared eager to know the short and sweet version of the contents of the motion.

After I explained to her what I saw, she said she would review them and get in touch with me. About a week later, I received a call from the prosecutor. She agreed to drop the charges if he pled guilty to a miscellaneous traffic misdemeanor and paid a fine.

Accepting the Plea Offer to Freedom

Once I got off the phone call, I knew I needed to have a conversation with Josh. This offer meant the prosecutor worried about her evidence. It’s unlikely that the judge would have granted our motion, due to her bias towards Josh. Therefore, I explained to Josh that he could either go to trial and show a jury that he was not under the influence of marijuana, or accept the plea and finish the case. Eventually, Josh agreed to take the plea deal.

However, the judge was unhappy with the plea offer and threatened to deny it. The prosecutor actually came in and admitted that she possessed shaky evidence and this offer meant a fair resolution. Hesitantly, the judge accepted the plea offer. She lectured Josh, but ultimately she required him to pay a $300 fine. There was no probation ordered, and his fine was covered by his bond money.

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Because we never relented in our conviction that Josh was innocent, he walked out of court that day a free man with a valid license.

*Last name has been omitted to respect client’s privacy