You Still Have Rights When Stopped for an OWI
Being pulled over for a suspected operating while under the influence (OWI) in Michigan is scary. You may think that fully cooperating with the police officer and providing as much information as possible is not only beneficial for you but also required of you. This is not true. You do have rights when pulled over for an OWI, and it is important that you know what they are so you do not hurt your case before it has even begun.
You are Protected From Self-Incrimination
You must provide the police officer with your driver’s license, insurance information, and registration card when you are pulled over. However, you do not have to provide more information than that. The Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incriminating yourself and so, you should say as little as possible. You do not have to tell the officer that you were drinking or that you are under the influence of drugs, although you should not lie either. If the officer asks if you are under the influence, simply ask if you are under arrest.
You are Protected From Unlawful Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment protects you from unlawful search and seizure, and in most cases, police officers must obtain a warrant before searching your property. This is not necessarily true with OWI stops, though. Due to the fact that you could easily leave the scene, officers can search your car during an OWI stop. Still, police officers must have probable cause that incriminating evidence exists in the vehicle before conducting a search.
You Have the Right to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests
A police officer may ask you to perform several different types of field sobriety tests if you are pulled over for a suspected OWI, and you have the right to refuse them. Field sobriety tests are highly subjective, and an officer may use them to prove you are guilty even when you are not. You have no legal obligation to perform these tests and doing so will likely only hurt your case.
However, it is important to understand that you are required to take a breathalyzer at the scene if the officer asks. Refusing to take a breathalyzer at the scene can result in the loss of your driver’s license. After taking the test, you also have the right to have your own independent test conducted, if you think it can help dispute the officer’s findings.
You Have the Right to a Grand Rapids Criminal Defense Lawyer
Any time you are facing criminal charges, you have the right to speak to a Michigan criminal defense lawyer, and you should always assert that right after arrest. If you have been charged with an OWI, our experienced attorneys at Van Den Heuvel Law Office can help. We know the defenses available in these cases, and will ensure that your rights are upheld throughout the entire process. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.