Originally Posted on: Dec. 22 2005,17:53 by William Maze

Three different cases in two different courts resulted in a wonderful holiday season string of victories today.

Case No. 1: In the first case, attorney Shannon Stevens was able to get an OWI case dismissed. In that case, the accused was picking up a passenger at Detroit Metro Airport. Officers approached the vehicle because it was in an area where vehicles were not allowed to wait to pick-up passengers. Officers noticed an open can of beer in the vehicle. After a brief investigation, the driver was arrested. A breath machine established that the BrAC was .17, but our firm challenged the testing procedure.

Ms. Stevens requested access to discovery, including videos and audio tapes. Although the Metro Airport police and the prosecutors cooperated fully with Ms. Stevens, the police agency in charge of the breath machine refused to provide access to many materials, including videos.

After filing motions and providing several additional opportunities for the police to produce the requested materials, the Court granted Ms. Stevens’ motion for dismissal. Ms. Stevens and her client were compelled to go to court many times over several months, and patience and perseverance paid off.

Case No. 2: Our client was charged with OWI 2nd and Driving While License Suspended. The BrAC was low, the driving was fine, and the field sobriety tests were performed improperly by the officer. Despite improper performance of the field sobriety tests, our client performed those tasks exceptionally well. The breath results were challenged because the officer failed to properly observe the accused for 15 minutes prior to taking the breath sample. (In this case, videotapes revealed an observation period of less than 11 minutes.)

After reviewing the videotapes and the motions filed by Mr. Maze, the prosecuting attorney offered to dismiss the drunk driving charges as well as the driving while license suspended charge in exchange for a plea to reckless driving. Many years ago, reducing drunk driving charges to reckless driving was common practice. Nowadays, it is virtually nonexistent, and prosecutors routinely reject efforts to resolve drunk driving cases in this manner. Although reckless driving carries significant fines, points, and a mandatory suspension period, the client was very happy with the result and will not face mandatory license revocation for habitual drunk driving..

Case No. 3: The same prosecutor as in Case No. 2 stipulated to suppression of the breath test results as well as suppression of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. (This particular prosecutor, incidentally, is very thorough and meticulous and almost never yields on arguments or permits pleas to non-alcohol related charges.)

Videotapes in this case showed that the officer did not engage in the proper observation of the accused. As to the HGN test, the officer failed to properly perform this eye evaluation, deviating dramatically from the standardized procedure.

Because the driving was not erratic and performance of physical field sobriety tests strongly suggest that the accused was not impaired by alcohol, this case may ultimately result in a dismissal or a not guilty verdict.