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State Police Recruits New Troopers; Meaning of Implied Consent

Sgt. Mark Thompson of the Michigan State Police discusses voluntary cooperation for drug and alcohol testing when driving a vehicle.

Since I was knee high to a grass hopper, I’ve always wanted to be a police officer. I suppose the desire began while listening to the stories my uncle, Al “Bear Bait” Thompson, who was an Alaska State Trooper/Game Warden, would tell at family gatherings. Those stories were interesting, full of adventure and certainly piqued my 10-year-old interest in law enforcement.

And the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve been involved in law enforcement for 33 years, and the last 27 as a trooper. I know I’ve made a positive impact in the community by helping people who needed help and arresting people who broke the law. Through the years there were many excellent times as well as a few heartbreaking times. Through it all, I know I’ve made the right career choice and have been a positive influence for my state and its citizens.

So why am I telling you all this? Colonel Kristie Etue, Director of the Michigan State Police, has announced the Michigan State Police are going to hire approximately 180 new troopers. The State Police are looking for qualified applicants and the hiring process is going on now.

The first State Police Recruit School will possibly start in June with approximately 100 recruits. A second Recruit School is scheduled to start later in 2012 with approximately 80 recruits. If you are interested in being a trooper, go to the Michigan State Police website, at www.michigan.gov/msp and click on Education, Training and Careers where you will find information on how to become a trooper and contact information for a Michigan State Police – Recruiter in your area.

Implied consent: what it means

Have you ever heard of “Implied Consent?” It’s something every driver should know and understand. Michigan Compiled Law (MCL) 257.625c explains Implied Consent.

Implied Consent affects all persons who operate a vehicle. A person that operates a vehicle is considered to have given consent to chemical tests of his or her blood, breath, or urine for the purposes of determining the amount of alcohol or presence of a controlled substance for the following offenses: murder of manslaughter, resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle, if reasonable cause to believe the driver was Operating While Impaired (OWI) or impaired,  felonious driving, if reasonable cause to believe the driver was OWI or impaired, OWI, OWI causing death, OWI causing serious injury, Unlawful Blood Alcohol Content, Impaired Driving, Operating While Under the Influence of Drugs, Zero Tolerance (underage drinking), Child Endangerment, Commercial motor vehicle – refusing to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT), and Commercial motor vehicle - .04-.07 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).

It’s a big list, but basically it means if you drive a vehicle, you are considered to have given “implied consent,” which means you will voluntarily cooperate with the police to be tested for alcohol or drugs. 

This does not mean a trooper can just pull a driver over and take them in for a breath or blood test. The trooper must have a “Reasonable Suspicion” of unlawful intoxication before they can ask for an alcohol test. A trooper will develop reasonable suspicion by observing the way a vehicle is being driven and by having the driver perform various field sobriety tests; reciting the ABC’s, walking on a line, horizontal gaze nystagmus (involuntary jerking or bouncing of the eyeball when a person consumes alcohol), PBT, among others.

Not all drivers cooperate when asked to take a test for alcohol or drugs. When this happens, the trooper has the option of seeking a search warrant for the driver’s blood. It is not difficult for a trooper to seek a search warrant for a driver’s blood. Troopers will fill out a search warrant form and fax it to the judge or magistrate. A trooper may have a valid search warrant for a driver’s blood in twenty to thirty minutes. Then the driver is transported to a hospital where the blood is drawn and then sent to the crime lab for analysis. 

If a driver chooses not to voluntarily take the breath, blood or urine test, forms will filed with the Secretary of State to have the driver’s operator license suspended and the addition of six points to the driver’s, driving record.

I mentioned a trooper must have Reasonable Suspicion of an unlawful act before they can take action. Over time the courts have defined legal issues or established a set of rules that police officers must follow and Reasonable Suspicion is one of those legal issues. Reasonable Suspicion is defined as “an objective basis – supported by specific and articulated facts – for suspecting a person of committing a crime. This is a standard most commonly applied in the context of searches.” 

"Drinking and driving: there are stupider things, but it's a very short list," - Author Unknown

If you have a question, please send it to askatrooper12@gmail.com or mail it to the Michigan State Police – Brighton Post, 4803 S. Old US-23, Brighton, MI   48114

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