Soon after a DUI arrest, upon a person’s release, a lot of things happen. As a Michigan DUI lawyer, I am familiar with the emotional and the “what’s next?” stress that follows someone’s release from jail. It’s not like a you leave the police station or jail and can go to the parking lot, get into your car, and drive yourself home. In some cases, you need someone to post bond for you just to get you out. Then, you have to go and get your vehicle out of impound, and you need even more money to get it out. Once you are out of jail and the car is out of impound, that doesn’t mean that the misery of the whole arrest experience is anywhere near out of your head; you can probably still almost smell and taste that nasty jail cell. In this article, I want to go over the first few things you should do upon your release. While it is understandable that this whole situation “feels” like and emergency, there is nothing you need to do so quickly that you don’t even have time to think about it, or otherwise consider your options, and that includes hiring a lawyer. In fact, the biggest mistake you can make is to act too quickly.
Chances are, you were given some kind of papers (these should, but don’t always include an actual ticket, a DataMaster breath result sheet, a Michigan Temporary Driving Permit, and a bond receipt) and some kind of instructions about calling the court. Sometimes, a ticket will have, instructions directing you to call or appear “on or before” a certain date, or, there may be a date certain on it. As certain as that date looks, don’t worry; that’s not your actual court date. In many cases, if you contact the court within the “on or before” date on your citation, you’ll be asked if the address information on the ticket is correct, and, once you confirm that it is, you will be told that a court date will be mailed out to you. In almost every district court in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne County, it will take at least a month from the time of your arrest until your first “real” court date. Places like Clarkston, Troy, any of the Grosse Pointes, Plymouth/Canton, Sterling Heights, Clinton Township, Shelby Township and New Baltimore often take even longer to have you in for your first substantive proceeding.
This brings us the very first thing you should do (after, of course, getting your vehicle out of impound, because on top of every other money grab, you pay storage fees while it sits there): Slow down, relax, and start researching things. I’m sure that being told to relax at this point is kind of like telling an upset person to calm down. That never works, but here, the implications of what’s happening here go beyond just being riled up at the moment. There are things to be done, and it will be far better to do them with a clear, cool head than it will be to be guided solely by raw emotion. In more than 25 years as a practicing lawyer, I have been contacted often enough by people right after an arrest; these folks are genuinely afraid, and, therefore, vulnerable. There is an operating belief in the legal industry that drives lawyers to advertise things like “phones answered 24 hours” in order to be there and lock in these people right when they call. For many people, the first lawyer they speak with who has any answers or reassurance becomes the “savior” they hire. This is why so many of the personal injury lawyers do hospital visits. However, the better practice is always to consider all of your options and make the best (as opposed to quickest) choice.