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Vehicle Stops for DUI in Michigan

Most lawful vehicle stops in the state of Michigan are based off of traffic violations of either a local ordinance promulgated under MCL § 257.951 or of state laws. A common traffic violation warranting a lawful vehicle stop is speeding, which involves several speed restrictions outlined in MCL §§ 257.627 to 257.633. Another common traffic violation is a driver’s disobedience of traffic signs, signals, and markings (including running a red light or stop sign), which is covered by MCL §§ 257.608 to 257.616. Further, an illegal U-turn is a civil infraction that warrants a stop under MCL 257.647. A vehicle can also be stopped if a police officer observes that a person in the vehicle isn’t wearing a safety belt, which violates MCL § 257.710(e). Another justification for a lawful vehicle stop is  if a police officer has reasonable cause to believe that a vehicle has unlawful modifications under MCL §§ 257.627 to 257.633 or if the vehicle’s weight exceeds the state’s limits under MCL § 257.724. Unlawful modifications include out of spec lighting, lamps, window tinting, bumpers, tires, etc.

A person can also be stopped if the police officer has reasonable cause to believe that the driver is driving while intoxicated or recklessly driving under MCL §§ 257.625 and 257.626. Police officers will often look for the following factors: signs of intoxication, disregarding traffic laws, or driving erratically. Police officers will also lawfully stop a vehicle when the vehicle has been involved in an accident. Leaving the scene of an accident or committing a “hit and run” is a violation covered by MCL §§ 257.617 to 257.624. It is generally unlawful for police officers to stop a vehicle without the occurrence of a traffic violation or reasonable suspicion or cause that a crime has been committed.

Implied Consent Law in Michigan

Under MCL 257.625(c) of Michigan’s vehicle code, a person who is operating a vehicle in a place generally open to the public is deemed to have given consent to chemical tests for the purpose of determining the presence of alcohol or drugs in their body. The implied consent statute is read liberally in order to prevent intoxicated driving on public thoroughfares. There are a number of warnings or advisements that must be given for implied consent to chemical testing, which include the person’s choice of who administers the test, the admissibility of the test in a possible DUI case, and that the person is responsible for obtaining the results. Although a person can refuse to chemical testing, refusal is found to be a civil infraction carrying independent penalties.

In the special circumstances of an accident, a blood sample that is taken from a driver of one of the vehicles for the purpose of medical treatment as admissible in a DUI case regardless of whether the person had been offered or refused chemical testing. Thus, any consent, including implied consent, is not required for admitting chemical testing that was conducted after an accident. Chemical testing conducted after an accident is admitted into a DUI case after the prosecution requests that the medical facility or person disclose the results. The medical facility or person disclosing the results is immune from liability under MCL 257.625(a)(6)(e) in order to promote disclosure. The request for the chemical testing results by the prosecution can be made either pursuant to filing a DUI complaint or after filing in order to allow the prosecution to adequately try the case. In People v. Perlos, the court found that filing a complaint was not necessary for the admissibility of chemical testing since the statute is narrowly tailored to accidents, which do not require consent or a warrant.

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