Central Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney.

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The police officer is not your friend.

Do you remember a police officer coming into your second grade class? He might have passed his badge or handcuffs around the room. You were told that the police officer was your friend and if you were ever in trouble, you should ask him for help. They lied to you.

Certainly there are great cops out there who do wonderful things. We’ve all heard stories about cops saving people from perilous situations. Occasionally they stop violent crime while it is in progress. I’m not suggesting that cops are inherently bad people. However, you must realize that their job is at odds with your interests. They are tasked with investigating crimes and gathering sufficient evidence to put you in a jail cell.

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March 4, 2010   Comments Off

FST: One Leg Stand (a.k.a. Stupid Human Trick #2)

The One Leg Stand is another test that officers frequently employ as they attempt to guess whether someone that has been stopped is under the influence of alcohol. This test essentially asks the subject to stand on one leg while counting out loud.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the One Leg Stand (OLS) is another field sobriety test which may be employed by officers to assist in determining whether a subject is intoxicated. (NHTSA DWI Detection Manual at VII-6).

According to NHTSA, when properly administered, this test consists of two phases. The first phase is the “Instruction Stage”. You probably didn’t realize it, but the officer was (or should have been) paying attention to your behavior during the instructions. He should have asked you to stand with your feet together and with your arms at your side while he explained the test to you. He never warned you, but he was already looking for evidence to use against you. If you failed to stand with your legs together or arms at your side, he’s going to count that against you.

The next phase is the “Balance and Counting Stage”. During this stage, the officer instructs you to raise either foot (your choice) approximately six inches off the ground, keeping the raised foot parallel to the ground. He should have told you to look at your foot and count out loud until instructed to stop.

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February 1, 2010   1 Comment

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests & HGN (a.k.a. Stupid Human Trick #1)

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) a Field Sobriety Test (FST) is a psychophysical test that measures impairment in the cognitive and motor skills of a driver. Essentially, these are supposed to test a driver’s ability to pay attention to more than one thing at a time and also test his motor skills and/or balance.

For decades, officers have been administering varying forms of FSTs. These have ranged from reciting the alphabet to picking up the officer’s loose change that he threw on the ground. Beginning in the 1970s, NHTSA sponsored a series of pseudo-scientific research studies on FSTs through a contract with the Southern California Research Institute.

The results of these studies found that the three most reliable FSTs were 1) Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), 2) Walk-and-Turn (WAT), and 3) One Leg Stand (OLS). The initial studies found that the combination of these three tests, if properly administered, could predict a blood alcohol content above .10 in approximately 80% of the cases. That means that the police would reach the wrong conclusion with 20 out of every 100 people tested.

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July 3, 2009   Comments Off

Why you should (politely) refuse a preliminary breath test (PBT).

In most states, it is common for the police to request that you submit to a preliminary breath test during the course of a drunk driving “investigation”. In Michigan, most people are best advised to refuse the test.

What is a preliminary breath test (PBT)?

A PBT is a small handheld device that attempts to measure blood alcohol content by measuring the alcohol contained in your breath as you exhale into the PBT. To do this, most PBTs make use of a fuel cell that oxidizes the alcohol in your breath as it passes over the fuel cell. This oxidation process alters the electrical current flowing through the device and it attempts to calculate your blood alcohol content based on this change in electrical current. Generally speaking, the results of a PBT are not admissible to prove the amount of alcohol in one’s body in a trial for driving under the influence. [Read more →]

May 22, 2009   Comments Off