Doctor Cleared of Drugged Driving Charges
This client was referred to us by Dr. Felix Adatsi, formerly the director of the alcohol testing unit of the Michigan State Police Forensic Toxicology Lab, located in Lansing Michigan. This is where all blood testing is done for all Michigan drunk driving arrests involving blood rather than breath (DataMaster) evidence.
Prior to retaining us, a toxicologist friend of our client contacted Dr. Atatsi to discuss the case. During this conversation Dr. Atatsi provided our name and suggested that the Doctor call us for representation. Dr. Adatsi knows all of the drunk driving lawyers in Michigan, and the fact that Dr. Adatsi would refer the case to us is a simple but powerful demonstration the reputation of the Barone Defense Firm.
Our client was a 77 year medical doctor who had no prior alcohol or drug related charges. However, he was very concerned with how the Medical board that licenses doctors would look at his arrest, and was concerned that if he was convicted he might lose his medical license.
The facts of this case included a blood test (from Dr. Adastsi’s lab) that showed the presence of a high level of Ambien, along with several other drugs, including Vicodin. These drugs are what are called “zero tolerance” meaning that all the prosecutor needs to show is their presence; it does not matter if they actually caused any impairment or intoxication. This is what is a Michigan drunk driving charge (OWI) based on the theory of OWPD (Operating With Presence of Drugs).
In this case the Doctor was on his way back from visiting family in Las Vegas. As he was leaving Airlines Parking he hit a car, then without stopping, continued to attempt to exit the parking lot. He fell asleep (the police would say “passed out”) as he was paying for his parking. The police responded and found him to be extremely unsteady. He was also uncooperative. He was arrested and voluntarily gave a blood sample.
Once we were retained we hired an investigator to go to Airlines Parking to interview all of the employees and witnesses. They all said approximately the same thing, which was that the doctor had vomit on his pants, a plastic bag filled with prescription vials, and that he looked intoxicated.
Because of the ramifications to this Doctor of any alcohol or drug related conviction it was important to either win the case or negotiate a non-alcohol or drug related reduction. As we geared-up for trial we considered a sleep driving defense or a defense based on the Doctor’s many medical issues.
After discussions with prosecutor we were able to convince him to offer a reduction to reckless driving. However, this is a 90 day hard suspension, meaning the Doctor could not lawfully drive for 90 days. Also, this would still need to be reported to the medical licensing board.
Finally, after setting the case for trial, and engaging in further negotiations, we were able to convince the prosecutor to add a count of “leaving the scene of a property damage accident” and a dismissal of the OWI.
Result: Drunk Driving Charges Dismissed.
Patrick T. Barone
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