Defendant was arrested after being found intoxicated in the parking lot of an apartment building in Michigan. The Public Safety Sergeant responded to the scene. After conducting an investigation and speaking to witnesses, Safety Sergeant concluded that defendant had driven a Grand Am to the apartment complex that evening and subjected defendant to a field sobriety test. He stated that when defendant failed the test he placed defendant under arrest. Defendant refused a chemical test, so Safety Sergeant obtained a search warrant for defendant's blood. The blood test revealed that defendant's blood alcohol level was 0.161.
Defendant argues that the trial court violated his due process rights by refusing to suppress the results of this blood test. Specifically, defendant argues that Safety Sergeant in his affidavit in support of the search warrant knowingly or recklessly included false statements that defendant had driven the Grand Am to the apartment building losing control and striking a mailbox along the way.
Generally, the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures requires police officers to obtain a search warrant based on probable cause. Probable cause is found when the facts and circumstances within an officer's knowledge are sufficient to warrant a reasonable person to believe that an offense had been or is being committed. A defendant has the right to challenge the truthfulness in an affidavit's factual statements.
In Safety Sergeant's investigation, he obtained the statement of Witness A, who lived at the apartment building. Witness A testified that he heard a loud noise while he was inside his apartment and that when he went outside to investigate he saw a green Grand Am parked in his assigned space. Witness A observed defendant get out of the driver's side of the Grand Am, which was still running, and get in a fight with an individual from a black SUV that had parked immediately behind the Grand Am. Witness A described defendant as slurring his words, stumbling, and intoxicated. Safety Sergeant also observed that the driver's side door of the Grand Am was damaged, that the driver's side window was smashed, and that the side view mirror had been broken. Safety Sergeant testified that as he was taking pictures of the car, defendant walked toward him. Safety Sergeant noted that defendant was staggering and had glass on his shirt and on the left side of his face, which was cut.
The court of appeal found this evidence was sufficient for a reasonable person to conclude that defendant had driven the Grand Am to the apartment building striking the mailbox along the way. Therefore, defendant has failed to show that false information was inserted into the search warrant affidavit, and the trial court did not err in denying his motion to suppress the results of that search warrant.
There is no denying that Michigan has harsh punishments for drinking and driving; jail, probation and license suspension are all possible, not to mention skyrocketing insurance rates and possible job loss. Retaining a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney who is committed to protecting your rights as soon as you are charged is essential.
Your attorney should thoroughly investigate the charges, including examining factors such as:
- Did your arresting officer have cause to stop your vehicle?
- Did the officer properly administer your breath or blood test?
- Was the breath or blood testing equipment working properly?
- Did the officer violate your constitutional rights?
By examining these and other factors, your attorney can develop a defense strategy tailored to your situation and pursue a resolution that meets your needs.