Police in Michigan have taken a 27-year-old woman into custody under the state’s super drunk driving law after she passed through a drive-thru at a Steak n’ Shake in Pittsfield Township twice. Officers at the scene asked her to submit to standard field sobriety tests, which she presumably failed as she was thereafter taken into custody for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. According to Michigan’s super drunk law, persons who register a blood alcohol content meeting or exceeding .17 percent may face greater consequences than someone whose BAC is closer to the .08 legal limit. Since officers reportedly measured the defendant’s BAC at .17, it appears she met this standard. Her vehicle was impounded, and she was detained at the Washtenaw County Jail, where her case is awaiting review by a prosecutor.
On Tuesday, Dec. 31 at about 12:22 a.m., authorities reported, the woman arrived at the restaurant in a white Ford Explorer and ordered food. She left the scene after employees claimed that she was acting in a disorderly fashion and called the police. However, she returned to the drive-thru, located at 4120 Ellsworth Road, a second time shortly thereafter and was contacted by police, whereupon the officer allegedly observed that she harbored an open container of alcohol on her lap.
DUI investigations performed on the field tend to involve at least one of two forms of preliminary alcohol screenings: a Breathalyzer device or a field sobriety test. In cases like this in which the defendant has been subjected to a standardized field sobriety test, the test’s veracity could potentially be challenged based upon its relatively limited ability to discern a failed result caused by intoxication and one caused by another factor entirely, such as a medical condition that inhibits certain muscular movements.
Moreover, it may be necessary to review the nature of the conduct the Shake n’ Steak employees described to determine whether it truly merited police involvement. If the prosecutor is unable to prove actual intoxication at the time of her arrest, it may be possible to have the DUI charge reduced to a lesser offense such as disorderly conduct. If the Breathalyzer results that were administered later are allowed to stand, it may still be possible for the defense attorney to negotiate reduced charges or penalties.