Appeals Court Tosses DUI Charge Because Cop Got The Speed Limit Wrong!

The cop pulled him over because he was speeding, but was he really…?

The year was 2015. The place: the village of Saranac in Ionia County, Michigan. Anthony Owen was barreling along on a country road at 43 mph when the dreaded red and blue flashers filled his rear view mirror. He pulled over and was joined by a sheriff’s deputy who informed him he’d been doing 43 in a 25 zone. Owen pointed out that there was no signage posted on that road telling him what the speed limit was, so he’d assumed it was 55, which is pretty standard for country roads in Michigan. 

The issue of the speed limit was a problem from the very beginning

But the cop insisted the speed limit was 25 and Owen was speeding. Which was only part of his problem, because he’d had a few drinks before being pulled over, so his BAC was over the legal limit. And to make matters worse, Owen had a gun with him in the vehicle. Once the issue of the firearm came to light, and Owen failed the preliminary breath test and the roadside sobriety tests, he was arrested and charged with Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI), and being a concealed pistol licensee in Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated.

Owen’s constitutional rights were violated by this search and seizure

According to Owen and his eagle-eyed defense attorney, because the speed limit on that road wasn’t posted, and was in fact 55 mph, the deputy should never have stopped him. Which made any evidence collected from an unlawful search and seizure, a violation of Owen’s constitutional rights. Owen’s attorney moved to suppress all evidence collected during the traffic stop and have the charges dismissed, but the District Court denied the motion. So Owen’s attorney appealed to the Circuit Court, which sent the case back for an evidentiary hearing that resulted in the District Court granting the motion (which of course led to the prosecutor then appealing to the circuit court.)

It all got complicated after that, as the courts went back and forth…

In the end, there was a lot of back and forth between the courts, with motions being granted and then denied, and Courts taking one position and then changing their stance. In the end, Owen accepted a conditional guilty plea and was convicted on both counts, but he wasn’t done fighting. The case ended up before the Michigan Supreme Court, where the Judges agreed with Owen and his attorney that his rights had been violated. According to their opinion, “Since 2006, under the Motor Vehicle Code, villages could not have blanket village-wide 25-mile-per hour speed limits within their boundaries” and so the officer “lacked reasonable suspicion to justify the stop.” 

The takeaway here is bigger than just a dismissed DUI charge

So what’s the real story here? Simple: a sharp attorney found a 4th Amendment Violation which resulted in his client’s conviction being reversed. And that, dear readers, is what we’ve been telling people for years – a good attorney can make all the difference to the outcome of your case! So if you’ve been charged with a crime, regardless of the circumstances, call 866 766 5245. Here at The Kronzek Firm we have a team of incredibly experienced, creative and hard working defense attorneys who will push the envelope and think outside the box in order to craft a fierce defense on your behalf. Because getting the right help makes all the difference.

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