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Councilman contests DUI


February 27, 2014
GROSSE POINTE SHORES and WOODS — A city councilman failed last week to suppress evidence against him in a six-month-old drunken driving case and appears resolved to face trial.

Michael Richard Koester, a first-term member of the Grosse Pointe Woods council, appeared in court last week hoping to void the legitimacy of his arrest at about 2:45 a.m. Saturday, July 6, 2013, in Grosse Pointe Shores.

Officers said he had a .111 percent blood alcohol level while driving off the right-hand curb of the 1100 block of eastbound Lakeshore and knocking down a light pole.

During a 20 minute hearing Wednesday, Feb. 19, in Shores Municipal Court, Judge Matthew Rumora denied Koester's motions to:

challenge evidence Koester was driving and

suppress the results of field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test indicating his intoxication at the time.

The night of the arrest, Officer John Jabreal reported coming upon Koester, smelling of alcohol and standing near a damaged 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck and streetlight.

"Tracks on the street and lawn indicated the vehicle left the roadway and struck the pole," Jabreal reported at the time.

Strike 1

Rumora, having read Jabreal's report and reviewed a video of the arrest, rejected the challenge to Koester driving.

"There was no indication anyone else had been in the vehicle or that anyone was driving the vehicle," Rumora ruled. "Not only that, but in the booking room, the defendant made numerous incriminating statements. He said, 'My actions were inappropriate. My actions were poor.' If he had never been driving the vehicle, he would never have said that."

Strike 2

Rumora also denied Koester's complaint that he wasn't given an opportunity to take another preliminary breath test.

"At 4:16 a.m. (the night of the incident) Mr. Koester mentioned to the officers, 'I have a right to go to the hospital. I have a right to have an independent test,'" said Don Berschback, Koester's attorney, in court.

Berschback also is a municipal attorney for the Woods.

"I reviewed the video," Rumora said. "The defendant inquired numerous times about taking another test. He never said, 'Take to the hospital, I want the test.'"

Shores officers took Koester to the Woods for lockup because Shores headquarters no longer has detention facilities.

"We took him to the Woods for housing, not a Breathalyzer," Jabreal testified.

"When he got to Grosse Pointe Woods, Woods police personnel were advised that he wanted to take a Breathalyzer, but they didn't give him one," Rumora said. "The statute requires that he be given a reasonable opportunity to have a person of his own choosing administer the test. He was given a reasonable opportunity, but there's no requirement that the Woods police give him the test."

Rumora denied the motion to suppress the Breathalyzer test results.

Strike 3

Rumora also denied Koester's motion to dismiss the case because police lacked probable cause to administer the breath test, despite failing a roadside balance test.

"He failed this test because he swayed and wobbled as he walked," Rumora said, citing police reports.

He added, "If you look at the thing in its entirety, you have a vehicle that's run off the road (and) hit a pole. Obviously, there had to be some implication (of) erratic driving, even though the defendant denied hitting that pole. The officer could smell the odor of intoxicating liquor on him.

"Based on that and all the other circumstances, the officer would have been remiss if he wouldn't have administered a PBT at that point.

Rumora asked Berschback, "Are we going to set this for trial?"

"I think we will, you honor," Berschback said. "I'll talk to the prosecutor about it."

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