DUI Charges and Arrest in Kent County - DUI Attorney - Grandville, Walker, Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Kentwood
Being charged with a DUI in Kent County can be a daunting experience, given the gravity of the offense and its potential consequences. The district courts in Kent County, serving Grandville, Walker, Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Kentwood, and communities covered by the 63rd Court, administer justice under the watchful eyes of distinguished judges such as Jeffrey J. O'Hara, Sara J. Smolenski, Amanda J. Sterkenburg, Steven M. Timmers, Pablo Cortes, Michael J. Distel, Nicholas S. Ayoub, Jennifer Faber, Angela T. Ross, and Nicholas John Christensen. The judges ensure adherence to protocols while handling DUI cases. However, understanding the procedures, particularly those involving field sobriety tests, can be crucial for defendants.
Field Sobriety Tests: A Tricky Terrain
In an ideal world, a defendant would not have to participate in any field sobriety tests. These tests, designed to provide evidence of intoxication, often do not favor the defendant. The police officers can find minor deviations from the instructions as signs of intoxication, affecting the defendant's case adversely.
Prosecution often relies on the "totality of the circumstances" argument, asserting that any mistakes on these tests indicate intoxication. It is essential for the defense attorney to focus on favorable test results and discredit what the prosecution interprets as signs of intoxication.
Field Sobriety Tests in Michigan
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has approved only three field sobriety tests. However, in Michigan, including the courts in Kent County, officers often request defendants to perform tasks such as singing the alphabet, counting backwards, or estimating time, which are not part of the approved tests.
This deviation from the approved tests can be challenged by the defense attorney. If the officer cannot adhere to the rules and protocols they are trained on, it raises doubts about their adherence to the proper procedures.
The Three Approved Sobriety Tests
The NHTSA manual endorses the Walk and Turn Test, the One-legged Stand, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.
Walk and Turn Test: This test demands the defendant to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line and then turn. This test is easy to fail even when sober. Failing this test does not automatically mean the defendant is intoxicated.
One-legged Stand: In this test, the defendant is asked to stand on one leg for about 30 seconds. However, this test does not account for physical conditions or age, which can make it unreliable.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: This test checks for involuntary eye jerking, which is supposed to be indicative of alcohol presence. However, this test is highly subjective and can be challenged in court due to its questionable reliability.
The Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)
The Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) is often the first BAC reading in a drunk driving case. While the results of the PBT are instrumental in justifying an arrest, misunderstandings about the consequences of declining the test are common. In fact, refusing the test can lead to an unfavorable outcome for the defendant.
However, if a PBT is administered, the defense attorney must decide whether the PBT results would benefit the case or if they should be excluded. The key lies in strategic use of these results.
Facing DUI charges in Kent County's District Courts requires a comprehensive understanding of the role and implications of sobriety tests. By challenging the validity of these tests, ensuring the officer's adherence to their protocol, and focusing on favorable results, a defendant can significantly strengthen their defense. As defendants navigate these challenging circumstances, they can trust the fair and judicious administration of the courts led by their respected judges.
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