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3 things to know about OWI interactions in Michigan

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2022 | OWI

Police officers need to have a specific reason for pulling over a vehicle. The fact that sobriety checkpoints are illegal in this state means that officers have to watch motorist behavior a bit closer so they can spot impaired drivers since they can’t count on predictable checks for issues.

There are three times when police officers may come into contact with you and subsequently try to determine if you’re impaired.

#1: Primary enforcement stops

Primary enforcement stops occur when the officer sees something that’s breaking a law. For example, failing to wear a seat belt is considered a primary enforcement reason in Michigan. Speeding, running red lights, and using a cellphone are also primary enforcement actions. If an officer initiates a traffic stop for this reason, they may perceive the driver’s behavior during the contact with them as being associated with impairment.

#2: Reasonable suspicion stops

A police officer can also initiate a traffic stop if they see something that any reasonable person would think signals a law has been broken, is being broken or will be broken. In the case of drunk driving stops, this might be things like the vehicle swerving between lanes or moving against the flow of traffic. Failing to stop, not obeying traffic signs or signals, and failing to use turn signals or headlights also provides reasonable suspicion for an OWI traffic stop.

#3: Crash stops

Law enforcement officers will likely investigate if you’re involved in a traffic accident, whether with another vehicle or a single-vehicle event. This investigation could unearth signs that you’re impaired.

Remember that you have specific rights during these interactions with police officers. You may be interrogated or asked to take tests to determine your impairment. If the officer determines there’s probable cause to press charges, you’ll be placed under arrest.

Anyone facing an OWI charge in Michigan should remember they must evaluate their defense strategy options. This is best done quickly because some options are time-sensitive. You should understand how each option may impact your future, especially if your career requires a clean driving or criminal record.