It’s likely that if you’re reading this, you have received a notice of an ignition interlock violation, are about to lose your license all over again, and have already paid to have a camera-enabled interlock unit installed in his or her vehicle; that became mandatory in June of 2016.  One of the ideas behind this new requirement was to cut down on the number of ignition interlock violations that seem to be clogging up the schedule of the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS).  Whether the camera units do that or not remains to be seen, but it probably doesn’t make you feel any better at the moment.  Putting aside all the diplomatic nicety and legal finery for one moment, and before we dive into any meaningful discussion, let me just agree that this sucks.  Almost every one (I’d like to believe every last one) of my interlock violation clients, whatever the underlying basis for their violation, were not drinking; I have no interest in helping someone win a violation case who was.  For everything else I could say about this, none of it changes the basic fact that even if you’ve remained genuinely sober, if you’ve been violated, you need to win your license back, and getting all mad about things won’t help.  After all the work that you put into getting sober, changing your life and then winning your license back the first time, you probably don’t deserve this, but, as Clint Eastwood’s cowboy character said in “Unforgiven,” the western movie, “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

violation-300x300I’ve had interlock violation cases that have come as a complete surprise to my client, I’ve had plenty where the client first tried, unsuccessfully, to “head off” a violation by calling the interlock company and/or faxing documents to the Secretary of State in Lansing, and just about everything in-between.  Obviously, if I’m involved, those efforts didn’t work, although I do make my staff and all of our resources available to my existing clients to try and avoid a violation in the first place.  How and why ever it happened, when a person opens that envelope and learns that their license is going to be taken away, especially when they weren’t drinking and have remained sober, a flood of negative emotions rushes to the surface.  I understand that, but my job, as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, is to help you move past the emotional stress and win your license back.  As the saying goes, “It is what it is,” and there is no way to go back in time and undo things; instead, we need to take the appropriate corrective action under the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

In another ignition interlock violation article I put up about a year ago, I reprinted the “Notice of Proper Ignition Interlock Use” section that is part of every winning license appeal order (although some hearing officers title it a bit differently in their opinions).  Key to those instructions is what to do after a missed rolling retest or any positive alcohol reading:  Get a PBT (breath) or EtG (urine) test.  For anyone reading this article because of a violation, you either did get a test (if doing so was relevant to your kind of violation; it is usually not in “Tamper/Circumvent” cases, for example) or you did not.  If you should have gotten a test but didn’t, then it’s too late now, so there’s no point crying over spilled milk.  We’ll have to work with what we have.  In those of my cases where I don’t have a confirming negative test, I win interlock violation cases by using context, and how the alleged violation doesn’t fit within the context of my client’s behavior, case, life and/or recovery.  In a very real way, this requires learning all of the relevant facts, understanding the procedure, knowing about the hearing officer, and also just having a real “intuition” about how to put a successful appeal together.

In my previous DUI article, we looked at pre-trials.  We learned that there can be multiple pre-trials in a DUI (or any criminal) case, and that the ultimate goal of a pre-trial is to work out a plea arrangement that will avoid a person actually holding a trial on his or her charge.  It was also pointed out that trials are rare in DUI cases, and that the overwhelming majority of drunk driving charges are resolved through a plea.  But what is a plea?  How is a plea different from a plea bargain (if it is)?  What about a sentence bargain?  In this article, I want to provide straight answers to these questions and explain how lawyers use pleas, plea bargains and sentence bargains to resolve DUI and criminal cases.

First, let’s define things a bit.  In this article and in the larger world, the word “plea” is generally (but not always) used to mean a plea of guilty to some charge, even if not the one originally brought.  In my recent 2-part article about the arraignment stage of a DUI case, we were reminded that when a person is first charged with Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), he or she should always plead “not guilty” at the arraignment.  In the broadest sense (as it relates to DUI and criminal cases), a plea is an answer, or response, to a charge.  Therefore, we begin a case by pleading not guilty to the original charge that’s brought.   We’ll get into this more later, but so that the reader doesn’t fear this will some long, boring and useless article about legal procedure, the primary reason a person should plead not guilty at his or her arraignment is because very often, a plea bargain can be worked out down the road so that the person does not wind up being convicted of that original charge.  For example, in the case of an OWI charge (which carries 6 points, a fine of up to $500, and a 6-month suspension of the driver’s license with NO driving whatsoever for the first 30 days, followed by 5 months of restricted driving, like to and from work), it is common for the lawyer to be able to negotiate with the prosecutor so that the client pleads to a less severe charge, like Operating While Visibly Impaired (usually called “Impaired”), which only carries 4 points (as opposed to 6), a fine of up to $300 (instead of $500) and will merely restrict a driver’s license for 90 days (rather than the tougher suspension that is imposed for an OWI).  In other words, you start by pleading “not guilty” so a better deal can be worked out later on.

Not all pleas, however, are plea bargains, but all plea bargains and plea deals (a “plea bargain” and a “plea deal” are the same thing) are pleas.  Thus, someone might say that a particular case was resolved by a plea, but that may or may not include a plea bargain, or plea deal.  And before we sort this out, here’s one more thing to throw in the mix:  Sometimes, the prosecutor is unwilling to allow a plea bargain, and some courts, to kind of make up for that, will work out a sentence bargain and agree to certain specific terms for what will ultimately happen to the person, like an agreement for no jail.  In most cases, a plea is negotiated (lawyers most often say “worked out”) between the prosecutor and defense lawyer at a pre-trial meeting, and then it is “put on the record,” meaning the resolution is finalized by the Judge in open court.

In part 1 of this article, I began explaining how I do Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals within the framework of the Michigan Secretary of State’s established process.  I pointed out that genuine sobriety is a non-negotiable requirement for me to take on a license case because it is also a non-negotiable requirement to win one.  I next explained that my first meeting with a new client takes about 3 hours, and that most of that time is spent preparing the client to undergo the required substance abuse evaluation (it is correctly entitled a “substance use evaluation,” but everyone substitutes the word “abuse” for “use”) which is more less the foundation of a license restoration or clearance case.  I also mentioned that about half of my clients come from out-of-town, and for them, we arrange it so that they’ll come see me first and then go from my office to have their substance abuse evaluation completed, making the trip a kind of “one and done” deal.  Unless she’s unavailable, I generally use one primary evaluator whose office is just a few blocks from mine, although I do also have a small circle of other honest, top-notch clinicians to whom I send my clients, as well.  For those local to the Detroit area, scheduling an evaluation the same day they see me isn’t really necessary, but seeing me before being evaluated certainly is.  We concluded part 1 by noting that there are 5 possible prognoses in the actual substance abuse evaluation form, and that “good” is really the best.  Here, in part 2, we’ll resume our discussion by looking at the letters of support.

tumblr_lojitzZdp81qzwokwo1_r1_1280In addition to a substance abuse evaluation, a person must also submit letters of support when filing a license reinstatement case.  The state mandates at least 3 letters (and asks for no more than 6, but that’s not a hard and fast rule), while I want at least 4 (this way, if one is “screwed up” for some reason or other, than at least we still have the required 3 in the race).  The letters of support are the primary evidence submitted to prove that your alcohol problem is under control, which really amounts to testimonial evidence that proves your abstinence from alcohol.  I do not mean this disrespectfully, but 99% of the letters I initially review before editing are nowhere near good enough for submission as the come.  This has nothing to do grammar, either.  If all the support letters in my next 100 license restoration cases were drafted by lawyers and writers, I’d still have to fix 99% of them.  Letters of support serve a very specific evidentiary purpose (specifically, to prove that your alcohol problem is under control), but most people who write them try a bit too hard, and those efforts put the letters into the larger (but useless) category of what a colleague of mine calls “good guy letters.”  In the context of a license appeal, it doesn’t matter a bit if you’re a good person or not.  You could be the biggest rat on the planet, but to the Secretary of State (SOS), if your letters of support verify your sobriety, then they’re helpful.  On the other hand, you could be the nicest and most helpful person in the world, but without corroboration of your abstinence, the letters of support are worthless.

I personally work on each and every letter to make sure it is (honestly) revised to remove irrelevant language.  The SOS knows that it’s been hard for you without a license, so anyone telling them how difficult it’s been for you to get by, or get to work is just wasting ink and time. Instead the point is to make sure that your abstinence, and the letter writer’s observations of it are clearly explained, and that all relevant time frames are referenced, as well.  If Recovery Ron quit drinking back in 2006 and later met Helpful Hannah in 2009, she can’t really attest to any of his abstinence back in 2006, 2007 or 2008, can she?  Likewise, if Ron lived with Talking Tom from 2004 through 2009, but then after he me Hannah, the two of them moved to Florida, Tom can’t really say much about Ron’s abstinence after he moved out in 2009, can he?  Add to that that each letter must be consistent with every other letter and that they must all, as a group, be consistent with the evaluation, and you find yourself at a point where it’s easy to overlook something.  In fact, I get plenty of cases where people have tried and lost a previous license appeal, either on their own, without a lawyer, or with some lawyer whose claims of “doing” license appeals exceeded his or her abilities and/or experience where the letters were a main reason for the loss.  If there’s one thing you can take to the bank, it’s that a loss (for a genuinely sober person) because of a bad evaluation or letters that weren’t good enough is 100% the fault of the person who submitted them.  For those who tried on their own, that’s the price of trying to “play lawyer,” while for those who hired a lawyer, the blame for failing rests squarely on that lawyer’s shoulders.

There are specific steps you must take to win back your Michigan driver’s license.  As a driver’s license restoration lawyer, I have developed a system guaranteed to succeed in every case I take.  A person must, however, be genuinely sober as a prerequisite to me accepting his or her case.  Because the whole point of the license appeal process is to prove that a person has quit drinking for good, it’s not like I am not imposing any conditions beyond those mandated by the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (the AHS – formerly known as the DAAD, and the DLAD before that), yet sometimes I wonder why this topic isn’t front and center with every lawyer who will accept money to file a license case.  At any rate, this 2-part article will provide a summary overview of how I do license appeals in my office.  It will, of course, take into account the formal state process, but my goal is give the reader an idea of what the way things work in my office.

qualitymanagementsystemsSobriety is everything to a Michigan clearance or restoration case.  Proving sobriety is really the “meat and potatoes” of a license restoration or clearance case.  Proving that you’re sober means showing not only that you have quit drinking, but that you also have the commitment and tools to stay quit and remain sober for life.  In the previous article about license restorations, I pointed out that license appeals are hard because they are supposed to be hard; the main rule governing the process instructs the AHS hearing officer to NOT grant an appeal unless you prove, by what is defined as “clear and convincing evidence,” that your alcohol problem is under control (you’ve quit drinking) and that it is likely to remain under control (you are likely to never drink again).  Anyone who is really sober knows that all sobriety requires abstinence, but mere abstinence, by itself, is not sobriety.  Real sobriety is a state of being and is a radical and better change from one’s drinking days.  Sober people are content, grateful, and have a sense of genuine serenity about their lives and recovery.

It starts with a phone call to my office.  We need to ask a few questions, first, to make sure a person is both eligible to file an appeal and that he or she meets the criteria to actually win.  All of my consultations are done over the phone, right when you call.  I have an incredibly great staff, but when someone hires me, they get me, and no one else, as their lawyer.  I personally prepare and review every single one of my cases; I prepare each and every client for his or her hearing, and it’s me, and me alone, who shows up to conduct it.  About half of my clients live in the local, Detroit area, while the other half come from out-of-state (or from another part of the state).   For those that don’t live close by, we arrange for them to have their substance abuse evaluation completed immediately after they leave my office for our first meeting, so we can make the visit a “one and done.”  That first meeting with a new client takes about 3 hours, with most of that time being spent preparing to have the evaluation completed.  To do that, I make a copy of all the relevant documents and put together a “package” to give the evaluator, including a form of my own creation, called a “Substance Abuse Evaluation Checklist” that I fill out during our meeting.  Local clients can simply call the evaluator after our meeting and set up an appointment for another day.  Whether local or not, after spending over 3 hours in my office, my clients walk out knowing exactly what we’re doing, what’s going to happen, and when.  They also leave with the comfort of a guarantee to win their license case and an understanding of why, given how the license appeal process works and how I do things, that should be expected.

Everyone knows that it’s difficult to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case (or obtain the clearance of a Michigan hold on a driving record) after multiple DUI convictions.  There is, however, a LOT of misunderstanding out there about how the license appeal process works and why winning is so hard.  In this article, I want to clear up a few things about that.  In many of my other driver’s license restoration articles on this blog, as well as in the license restoration section of my website, I undertake a close-up examination of the issues and steps involved in the license appeal process.  Here, I want to take a step back from that and look at the bigger picture.  Winning licenses back is so routine to me that I guarantee to win every license restoration case I take, but that’s because I completely understand the process and know precisely who it’s designed to keep out of the driver’s seat.  And make no mistake, the license restoration process was intentionally designed to deny most appeals.

metricdriven-product-management-producthuntto-17-638We must begin with the simple but important truth that the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) is supposed to refuse to return a license to anyone who still drinks alcohol.  The SOS knows that everyone “needs” a license; everyone understands that it’s hard to get by without one, but none of that matters in terms of who can win a license back.  The state sees anyone with multiple DUI convictions as a high risk (too high a risk), and is not willing to consider putting that person back on the road again until he or she can prove they’ve become genuinely sober, as in completely alcohol-free.  I get loads of calls from people who want to explain that they can safely enjoy the occasional drink and are no longer any kind of risk on the road and blah blah blahThe state does not buy any of that.  A person can argue all he or she wants about how the system is unfair, but unless you play by the rules already in place, you’re simply wasting your breath.  In fact, the primary reason I guarantee to win every license appeal I file is that I will ONLY accept cases for people who are honestly, genuinely and really sober and have given up any of the “I can still have a glass of wine (or a beer) every once in a while” stuff.  And that brings us right to the heart of the matter; license appeals are hard because they are designed to be hard.

Statistically speaking, more than 95% of all alcoholics are unable to accumulate any kind of long-term abstinence.  Of course, a lot of people with 2 DUI’s will say, “But I’m NOT an alcoholic!”  Perhaps not, but then again, maybe so; it doesn’t really matter what you or I think, because if you want to win back your license, you have to play by the state’s rules (not that the state says everyone with 2 DUI’s is an alcoholic).  However, anyone who has had his or her license revoked for 2 or more DUI’s is legally categorized by the state as a “habitual alcohol offender.”  Skipping all the go-nowhere discussion about definitions here, you can just take that to mean that the state sees you as having a problem with alcohol, even if that “problem” is that you have a demonstrably increased risk to make bad decisions (like getting behind the wheel) some of the times you drink, as evidenced by your driving record.  The state is not willing to bet that someone has somehow improved his or her decision making skills enough, after drinking, to ever give him or her a license back.  Instead, under the rules, after a person’s license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s, the only way for him or her to ever legally drive again is to prove that he or she has quit drinking for good, because people who do not drink do not drink and drive.  And that’s the easy part of why things are so hard…

In my previous, 2-part DUI article, we looked at what happens at the arraignment in a drunk driving case.  In this article, we’ll examine the next step in the Michigan DUI (and criminal case) process, called a pre-trial.  It is important to note that a DUI case is a criminal case, albeit one that is somewhat specialized.  Therefore, pretty much everything that we’ll look at here in the context of DUI cases applies, at least generally, to all other types of criminal cases, as well.  We should also note that although most courts send out a notice for a pretrial date, a few courts issue a notice for what is titled “arraignment/pre-trial.”  To keep things easy, a person can forget the word “arraignment” on such a notice and just show up in court with his or her lawyer, because the court date will simply be, for all practical purposes, a pre-trial.

In my DUI and criminal practice, I often find a lot of apprehension and confusion about the term “pre-trial.”  At its most basic, a pre-trial is pretty much what it sounds like – a conference before an actual trial. Thus, we get the term pre, meaning prior to, trial.  If that was all there is to it, then I could sign off on this article right here and say, “mission accomplished.”  This simple description of a pre-trial, however, misses a lot.  As we begin our examination of pre-trials, perhaps one of the most important differences to point out between it and the arraignment stage is that while an arraignment is essentially a one-shot, single-purpose proceeding (and one that is often waived, or skipped), the pre-trial itself can serve multiple purposes, and play many roles (some of them rather important) in the overall process of resolving a drinking and driving or criminal case.

A common misconception is that the pre-trial is a one-time proceeding in the court process.  There can be several pre-trials in any given case.  A “Pre-trial” can be identified as a stage or step in the court process only to the extent that it describes a meeting of the parties before a trial.  And here’s something to calm a lot of people down – trials are rare in DUI cases.  In Michigan, DUI trials are, statistically speaking, hopeless losers.  What does all this mean?  It means that in all DUI cases, the pre-trial is important; it’s where the action is, and that it will be where pretty much every charge gets worked out.  So how does that happen?

In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of the arraignment in Michigan DUI cases.  Our purpose in this 2-part article is to look at what happens in the real world, and what a person going in for an arraignment can expect after a DUI arrest.  As I noted in the first part, not all drinking and driving charges require that a person actually go to court for the arraignment, and, as a DUI lawyer, I can waive (essentially meaning cancel) it in many cases so that my client doesn’t have to show up.  We learned, in part 1, that the legal purpose of the arraignment is to inform a person of the charge or charges being brought, advise him or her of their constitutional rights, explain the various bond conditions, including that there is to be no drinking or drug use while the case is pending, set a bail or bond amount, if any, and then set up a “testing” schedule that will require the person to provide breath and/or urine samples at specified intervals to make sure he or she isn’t drinking or using any drugs.  In this second part, we’ll begin by looking at the standard conditions of bond that apply in every DUI (and every criminal) case in Michigan, and then we’ll move on to look at the testing requirement.

timothy-mcginty-judgejpg-a0d5cf2c7ae03aa6A quick history lesson may help put things in context here:  Going back over 25 years, to when I was a new lawyer, there was no such thing as testing as a condition of bond because there was no such thing, at least in 1st offense DUI cases, as a “no-drinking” requirement as part of any bond.  In fact, even when 1st offenders were put on probation, it was common for a Judge to only order, as a condition of probation, that a person not drink and drive.  In other words, Judges didn’t order that a person not drink, just not drink and drive.  Then, as social attitudes toward drunk driving evolved, it became common for Judges to order that, while on probation, a DUI offender not drink at all.  Back then, compliance was checked by “random” PBT and urine tests, and those were most often administered when a person would report to his or her probation officer.  It was a later idea to require that anyone arrested for a DUI and waiting for his or her case to come up be required, as a condition of release, to not drink.  It didn’t take long, as the whole testing industry began to boom, to thereafter ensure compliance with an order to not drink while on bond by requiring regular testing, as well.  Slowly but surely this practice has spread throughout the Detroit area and has now become standard operating procedure.

Before getting on to the testing conditions of the bond order, the Judge or Magistrate will either specifically outline the other legal conditions of bond or simply apprise a person that those conditions are on the bond form that he or she has received, or will receive, before leaving court.  Unless otherwise specified on the record in open court, the standard terms and conditions of every bond order in Michigan (for every criminal case, not just DUI charges) always include that the person agree to the following:

The very first formal step in a Michigan DUI (or any criminal case, for that matter) is the arraignment.  This 2-part article will be a real-world examination of what the arraignment is all about.  Nowadays, an increasing number of courts in the Detroit area are requiring people arrested for an OWI charge (the legal term for a drunk driving offense) to show up for this proceeding.  This marks a change from not that long ago, when the vast majority of Detroit-area courts allowed it to be “waived,” or skipped, simply by having the lawyer file certain papers with the court.  The primary reason for this change is the growth of alcohol (and, in some cases, drug) testing as a condition of bond and release in DUI cases.  Because our limited purpose here is to look at what actually happens and what you can expect at an arraignment, we’ll forego all the legal double-talk and any kind philosophical analysis of the whole “testing” requirement.  As we’ll see, testing just is what it is, and that includes often being an exercise in frustration, and always an inconvenience, for those required to do it.

1006-n-mcb-redistrict-wright-750x447There isn’t much difference between what really happens at an arraignment and how it is defined and described in law dictionaries and rule books:  An arraignment is a hearing, held in open court, in which the person charged with an offense (the defendant) is told of the precise charge or charges against him or her, the possible penalties that may be imposed for each, is asked to enter a plea, and is then given rules to follow (conditions of bond) in order to stay out of jail.  Part of the process requires that  bail amount (also called “bond”) be established.  To determine what bail or bond, if any, is set, the Judge or Magistrate will examine a person’s prior record, the nature of the current charge, and his or her ties to the community.  Sometimes, a Judge or Magistrate may release the person without requiring any money.  This is called a “personal recognizance” or just “personal” bond.  This brief description leaves a lot out, but that’s consistent with our mission here, which to bypass all the technical stuff (at least as much as possible) and examine how things really work when you’re standing there, in court.  If you’ve been charged with a DUI and you have to go to an arraignment, it will be in a real courtroom, not in a laboratory or law library.

After most DUI arrests, a person will either be arraigned before he or she is let out of jail, usually the next morning, or he or she will be advised to show up in court on a certain date for an arraignment.  A lawyer is not needed for an arraignment.  There are cases where I will go, but not usually.  To be perfectly candid, a lawyer does not need to go to a DUI arraignment unless there is some risk of the client getting a really high bond, which is far more likely in a 2nd  offense or 3rd offense case, or a DUI causing injury or death cases (I don’t handle death cases), or if there is something specific to address with the Judge that is best handled by experienced counsel, like securing an exception from an expected or standard condition of bond.  Such situations are far more the exception rather than the rule.

In the previous article, I talked about simplifying things if you’ve been arrested for a Michigan DUI.  Instead of wasting time over-analyzing and over-thinking things like the traffic stop and analysis of the evidence, I pointed out of all the DUI arrests in Michigan, less than 1.5% are thrown out of court, and that less than .15% (that’s correct – POINT one five percent) go through a trial and win by a “not guilty” verdict.  That means that under 1.7% of all the DUI cases get “knocked out” of court somehow, and that more than 98.3% of them go all the way through the system.  Of course, everyone wants to be part of that small, lucky group, but your invitation to that club is not a matter of choice beyond making sure you hire a qualified DUI lawyer who doesn’t miss anything.  No matter how badly anyone wants to, if you’ve been charged with a DUI offense, you have less than a 1.7% chance of beating it.  Accordingly, once the evidence has been carefully examined, and assuming that your case is like the 98-plus percent of all the others, it becomes critically important to focus on making things better.  In this article, I want to look at what that really means.  To avoid turning this article into a textbook, we’ll skip the in-depth analysis and instead take a quick (but good enough) look at some simple scenarios to make our point.

not-getting-results-from-your-workouts-its-not-you-its-your-workout-guru-21731037For purposes of this installment, we will assume that all of the evidence in our scenarios has been examined and that the charge is legally solid.  We also need to assume (because it is a deep subject best taken up in another article) that each situation has been (or will be) properly negotiated, and that the best plea bargain or plea deal possible has been worked out.  In some cases, for example, a charge like OWI with a BAC of .17 or greater (High BAC) can be negotiated down to Operating While Visibly Impaired (Impaired).  In other cases, there are no plea bargains that can be negotiated.  In some situations, a 3rd offense (felony) drunk driving can be negotiated down to a 2nd offense (misdemeanor).  While negotiating the best plea deal is important, it is important to remember that the plea itself is not the be-all and end-all of DUI cases.  I often point out that success in a DUI case is judged by what does NOT happen to you.  I think the reader would agree that if Tipsy Tina manages to get her OWI charge reduced to Impaired driving, but winds up in front of the one Judge in the Detroit area who puts most 1st offense DUI drivers in jail, followed by 24 months of demanding, reporting probation, she didn’t do as well as Swerving Sam, who despite not getting any kind of plea bargain on his OWI charge, only had to pay fines and costs and stay out of trouble for a year of non-reporting probation.

No matter how it happens, we come to a point where the plea is what it is.  Whether a person is ultimately convicted of a 1st offense Impaired driving, a 1st offense OWI, a High BAC charge, a 2nd offense OWI, or a 3rd offense OWI, the most important thing thereafter is to limit the consequences he or she will endure.  This is the point of our discussion.  Let’s be even more clear here: The real goal in every DUI case (and every criminal case, for that matter) is to minimize punishment.  This is done, in each and every case, by combining a clear knowledge of the facts and the law with the skillful management of time, perception and science.  As honest as I am, however, and for as much information as I put up on this blog, I must also be somewhat circumspect and reserved here.  I’ve seen enough of the things I have been the first to write about subsequently recycled on other lawyer’s websites.  While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (and I am genuinely flattered by that), I’m not about to teach every other lawyer with internet access how to get better results like mine.  I spent more money than the price of a car on my post-graduate education in addiction studies in order to help my DUI clients enjoy better outcomes in their cases, and be able to guarantee to win every one of my driver’s license cases.  Perhaps most of all, and this is about the only polite way to say this, magicians don’t tell how the magic is done.  That’s a nice way of saying that there is more than this to what I can say here.  As the magic shop tells it, “The secret is told when the trick is sold.” I always want my clients to know exactly what we’re doing, and why, but much of that is best reserved for our private conversations.  Having said that, we’ll be as candid here as we can…

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Michigan, you could almost spend forever reading websites and relevant blog articles.  Sometimes, for as much information as a person can find, it is just better to avoid getting overwhelmed and simplify everything by finding a lawyer you can trust to examine and handle everything for you, especially if you’re not being overcharged or getting sold out.  In my role as a Michigan DUI lawyer, I have published well over 250 DUI articles, and most of them are rather detailed, often providing an up-close examination of one, or just a few key aspects of the drunk driving case process.  In this article, I want to skip all of that and focus, instead, on the very real experience of just wanting to get past a DUI as painlessly as possible while knowing that the facts of the case were properly checked out and that the course of action you choose is the absolute best, under the circumstances.

raf,750x1000,075,t,353d77_4d8b4ffd91We cannot overlook that there is big money in the more complicated approaches marketed by some lawyers.  The simple truth, however, is provided by the Michigan State Police Annual Drunk Driving Audit.  This audit is required by law and accounts for every single drinking and driving arrest that takes place each year, as well as every step taken in every one of those cases in every court within the state:  Last year (2015), out of 43,553 DUI and related arrests in Michigan, only 62 people fought their cases at trial and won.  That equals .144% or, to put it in words, zero point one four-four percent, meaning less than .15 percent.  Over the last 5 years, from 2011 through 2015, there have been 244,839 DUI related arrests in Michigan; only 334 of those people went to trial and were found “not guilty” dropping the average success rate from .144 in 2015 to .136% over that 5-year period.  A quick perusal of lawyer websites reveals the popular marketing tactic of listing all the things that “could” potentially be wrong with a DUI case, although, as the numbers show, not often enough to even equal one-quarter of one percent acquittal rate.  A variation on this theme is to run through all the things the police must get right for a DUI charge to stand up in court.  You can do that with just about anything in life and make success sound like a miracle, but the fact is, we all do things involving multiple steps a million times every day without incident.  Making coffee can be made to seem like a ballet of complicated and risky steps, but for most of us, it’s something we do almost on auto-pilot.  Once in a while, we might turn on the coffee maker before we’ve added water, or maybe added 1 scoop of coffee too few, or too many, or even drop and break the mug, but those are the exceptions, and not the rule.  Ditto for DUI arrests.

At the end of the day, a DUI case is all about being able to prove that the person arrested was over the legal limit at the time he or she was driving.  The protections of the legal system are put in place to keep an innocent person from being found guilty of a crime he or she didn’t commit.  If you were not drinking, or you only had 1 or 2 drinks with dinner, then the system is supposed to prevent you from being convicted of DUI.  If you did have a few too many, however, then your only hope to get out of the case completely is that the police hopelessly bungled the evidence against you.  And while things do go wrong for the police once in a while, for the most part, they’re typically not botched so catastrophically that you’ll find a Judge who is anxious to throw a DUI charge out of court.  Judges do NOT view drunk driving cases as a game in which they sit and just hope to find some technical little flaw in the evidence so that they can dismiss all charges.  When is the last time you ever heard of that happening in a drinking and driving case, or, for that matter, ever heard about a Judge known for being “easy” on drunk drivers?  The answer, of course, is never.