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Michigan Criminal Law Blog

What Can Be Used as OWI Evidence?

Drunk Driving ArrestMost people assume drunk driving arrests are cut and dry. If a driver has a high enough blood alcohol level and driving is affected, he or she will be charged with and convicted of drunk driving.

But it’s not always that simple.

There are instances in which someone can be charged with drunk driving and despite the best efforts of law enforcement and others involved, the conviction never comes. There are also plenty of instances in which there should be no conviction, but bad judgment and other factors lead to one.

The most important thing you can do if you or a loved one has been accused of drunk driving is to work with an experienced attorney who understands how to question the evidence law enforcement has against you and show the court it’s not enough to convict.

Why is Evidence So Important in an OWI Case?

The evidence against you in an OWI case is important because it’s what the case against you is built on. Your guilt – and therefore the consequences that occur after your conviction – are based on supporting evidence.

In order to make the charges stick, the evidence must be clear, undeniable, and overwhelmingly supportive of the case against you. It needs to show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you were indeed driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Often, it is a lack of evidence that gets an OWI case dismissed. If there is not enough evidence to show you shouldn’t have been driving because of the amount of alcohol you consumed, you won’t need to worry about a conviction.

What Type of Evidence Can Be Used Against You?

Just because the arresting officer says you were driving while drunk doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted of drunk driving. The evidence against you needs to hold up in court and support the claims against you.

What are the most common types of evidence used to build a case against those accused of OWI?

  • Operation of the vehicle, including weaving, speeding, or disobeying traffic signals
  • Has behavior been affected by medication, weather conditions, or a mechanical issue with the car?
  • Was the vehicle in motion, or stopped on or off the road, and were the keys in the ignition when law enforcement approached?
  • Did the driver say anything that would indicate he or she consumed alcohol before driving?

Signs of Intoxication

  • Were there symptoms of intoxication during the traffic stop, including slurred speech, difficulty standing or walking, bloodshot eyes, or difficult comprehending instructions?
  • Did the driver smell of alcohol?
  • Did the driver admit to drinking or could there have been other causes, including over-the-counter medications, illness, or fatigue?

Field Evidence and Chemical Test Results

  • How did the driver respond to simple directions during a field test?
  • What were the results of the breathalyzer test?
  • Was there a blood test? What was the result?

Keep in mind you are not obligated to say anything, other than providing identifying information, to law enforcement if you are pulled over for OWI. Anything you say can be used against you, so be careful about the information you share, even if you think you are defending yourself.

It’s always better to wait until an attorney is there to guide you and protect your rights before speaking to law enforcement.

For more information or to discuss your OWI with an experienced attorney, contact Andrew W. Kowalkowski, PLLC at 248.974.9594.

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