So you didn't get a ticket, eh?

The majority of Michigan DUI cases result in a person being arrested, tested on a breath machine, and processed. Following the booking procedure, the motorist is given a temporary driver's license, a pink ticket from the Datamaster that reveals the breath alcohol level, and a traffic ticket that says "OWI" on it that instructs the person to appear at the local district court within 14 days.

In a few cases, however, the driver does not get a ticket. No court date is scheduled, and the person is not required to post a bond. The police simply let the person leave the next morning. Inevitably, the person goes home, goes back to work, and he or she tries to forget the whole thing ever happened.


No Ticket = A Pending Arrest Warrant

For a variety of reasons, police may not issue a traffic ticket. A ticket is simply the easiest way for the police to start the Michigan drunk driving prosecution process. It takes only a few minutes to fill out a traffic ticket, and it is acceptable in most courts as the "charging document."

A more formal process requires the issuance of an arrest warrant. While people tend to fear the phrase, "a warrant has been issued for your arrest," it is simply the more formal manner of proceeding with a drunk driving case. The charges and possible penalties are detailed in the formal complaint, even though the word "OWI" was sufficient on the traffic ticket.

Police routinely do not issue traffic tickets when 1) the arrested motorist has prior offenses; 2) a blood or urine test result is pending; and 3) the arrested driver blows over the .17 "super drunk" limit. With prior offenses and a high BAC charge, the county prosecutor picks these charges up and employs a formal complaint to detail the enhanced penalties. When a blood or urine test is pending, the police may not want to proceed with a ticket since they do not know what the test might reveal and do not want to trigger time-frames that might not provide enough time for the test results to be returned prior to trial.

In any event, the charges are not disappearing, and there are several reasons why a person should call a DUI lawyer immediately. Legal defenses may exist shortly after the arrest that disappear within a few days, and critical evidence such as patrol car videos and radio dispatch recordings are erased after a period of time. In many jurisdictions, patrol car videos are maintained for only 14 to 30 days. If these materials are not requested before they are recycled, they are forever lost. Worse still, the police are held utterly blameless because the destruction occurred pursuant to a policy that required the materials to be requested before the recordings were erased.

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