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Michigan legislator convicted of OWI

A Michigan elected official has been found guilty of OWI. He could face up to 93 days in jail, although that sentence is unlikely for a first-time offender.

The man, a state representative, was arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving eight months ago on the campus of Michigan State University. Since then, he has tried to fight the charges, but lost when a six-member jury issued its verdict.

During the two-day trial, the man's attorney said he believed the blood alcohol test could have been contaminated and said his client was not drunk as he drove on Jan. 19, 2012. At trial, the representative's attorney brought in several experts who criticized the practices of the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Laboratory and said instruments from another test could have contaminated this man's blood sample.

The man's attorney, in closing arguments, asked the jury members to question the government's evidence and see if they believed in the evidence enough that they could find the man guilty of OWI beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor, however, told the jurors that they could not be swayed by thoughts that a conviction might put a black mark on the legislator's record and to look at the facts in front of them.

In the end, after the man was found guilty, his lawyer said they presented their evidence and would abide by the verdict. It is unknown what effect, if any, the conviction will have on the man's career in politics.

In this case, the jurors did not believe the blood alcohol sample had been compromised in any way. However, that does not mean that questioning the science is an invalid defense technique. Throughout Michigan and the country each year, cases are thrown out due to unreliable blood testing. Challenging the results is the right of every defendant.

Source: State News, "Bob Genetski declared guilty of operating while intoxicated," Rebecca Ryan, Sept. 25, 2012

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