June 2011 Archives

June 27, 2011

DUI - Staying out of Jail in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - Part 2

In part 1 of this article, we began examining the probability of avoiding jail in 1st and 2nd Offense DUI cases. We saw that with the exception of 1 Judge in the 48th District Court in Bloomfield Hills, a 1st Offender can safely assume that they are NOT going to face any Jail time.

We next looked at 2nd Offense cases, and saw that, while Jail can usually be avoided in Macomb and Wayne Counties, things change if the case is pending in an Oakland County Court, and we also noted that, generally speaking, the farther north one goes, the worse things get.

jail2.jpgIn this second part, we'll pick up by looking at 3rd Offense cases, and we'll wrap up by looking at certain general principles that apply in all cases, be they 1st, 2nd or 3rd Offenses.

To begin, we should bear in mind that 3rd Offense (Felony) cases are an entirely different species from their 1st and 2nd Offense Misdemeanor relatives. Of course, part of that difference is that while 1st and 2nd Offense cases are Misdemeanors, meaning punishable only by a Sentence of either 93 days or 1 year in the County Jail, respectively, a 3rd Offense is a Felony that can carry a Prison Sentence of up to 5 years.

Before anyone starts fearing being carted off to Jackson Prison to start a new career in License Plate Manufacturing, it should be noted that a Prison Sentence is usually reserved for people with far more than 2 or 3 prior DUI's. The law does, however, require a person convicted of a 3rd Offense to serve at least 30 days in Jail. That's not negotiable.

The good news, if you can call it that, is that in Macomb County, a person who has only 2 prior DUI's , and who is facing a "true" 3rd Offense (meaning it is only the 3rd time they've ever been charged with a DUI) can, if things are handled correctly, avoid a Felony conviction altogether. In other words, a "true" 3rd Offense, if things are done right, can be reduced to a 2nd Offense Misdemeanor (and can, possibly, also avoid a Jail Sentence). This is not an option in Oakland County, and is seldom, if ever done in Wayne County. This is almost entirely a Macomb County deal.

Continue reading "DUI - Staying out of Jail in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - Part 2" »

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June 24, 2011

DUI - Staying out of Jail in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - Part 1

Amongst the various articles within the Drunk Driving section of this blog, I have addressed the issue of avoiding Jail in 1st Offense DUI cases, 2nd Offense cases, and 3rd Offense cases, albeit separately. It has been politely suggested to me that not everyone wants to engage in the kind of time consuming, in-depth research that I find so interesting, and that some would prefer a single, more overview-type article about staying out of Jail in DUI cases covering all 3 levels of the Offense. This 2-part article will be my best attempt to do that.

At the risk of being both repetitive and overbearing, it is, I think, worth pointing out that my experience as a DUI Lawyer spans more than 20 years. I don't handle Divorce cases (never have), Don't do Wills (never have), and don't sue anybody. The bread and butter of what I do is DUI and Driver's License Restoration (which itself arises from multiple DUI's). Accordingly, what I am about to describe below is the product of tremendous experience handling DUI cases. It's not merely a part of what I do; it is the very foundation of what I do, day-in and day-out.

Jail Cuffs 1.jpgThat said, in more recent years I have been able to restrict my DUI practice to the Tri-County area around Detroit. My Website's name, macombduidefense.com, should be a clue to that. I handle DUI cases in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. Once in a while, I'll take a case in Lapeer or St. Clair County, or even Livingston County, but I do not and will not go beyond these areas. As a result, some, or even much of what I say may not apply to cases pending in other Counties.

After being hired, the first thing any good DUI Lawyer is going to examine is whether there is some way to beat the charge, or have some of the evidence (usually from the Stop, the Field Sobriety Tests, or the Chemical Testing, meaning Breath or Blood) "thrown out."

Even if a challenge to the evidence may not result in an outright dismissal of the charge, it can possibly aid the Lawyer in getting the case knocked down to a non-alcohol traffic charge. To be truthful, this examination is (and should be) undertaken in every case, but finding such "problems" with the evidence is far more the exception, rather than the rule.

This means that the vast majority of DUI Arrests will hold up, and the person will have to deal with a DUI charge as a DUI charge. Still, it doesn't hurt to "dot the I's and cross the T's" and make sure that case is solid.

Continue reading "DUI - Staying out of Jail in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - Part 1" »

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June 20, 2011

Michigan License Restoration - Are You Ready to Win?

My Practice as a Driver's License Restoration Lawyer brings in many calls from people who want to get back on the road. In the last 2 years or so, I have won 168 out of the 170 License Appeals I have filed, giving me a win rate of 98.4%. I guarantee that I will win any Appeal I accept the first time, or the next is free.

One question that has come up quite a bit lately, from a number of callers, is whether or not I will accept their case. They want to know if I think they meet the "standards" I have set to take an Appeal. This is interesting, and a bit ironic, because, as it turns out, almost none of the people who ask this question have anything to worry about.

Making the Cut1.jpgRecently, I have gone to some lengths to point out, in my various blog articles about Driver's License Restoration, that I am only interested in representing people who are really and truly Sober.

I have likewise made clear that anyone who tells me that they can or will say whatever I want them to, but still believes they can have a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer every once in awhile, no matter what anyone says, can forget about having me handle their case. I'm not interested. I want to win Licenses back for people who have really made the commitment to not drink again.

What's ironic is that those who have made that commitment seem to be those who tend to ready many, if not all of my License Restoration articles. As a result, they know I have that "Sobriety" threshold for accepting new cases. These people, as it turns out, are almost always the ones who have made that commitment to ongoing sobriety. It seems that those who have the most concern about whether I'll take their case or not have the least to be concerned about.

Other people perhaps scan the titles of my more than 70 License Restoration articles, read a little bit here and there, and conclude, from the sheer number of my writings on this topic, that I know my stuff (and I do), and therefore, I am the guy they should hire. By not reading enough of what I have written, however, they have missed something important.

Continue reading "Michigan License Restoration - Are You Ready to Win?" »

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June 17, 2011

Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer - Why Should You Hire Me?

Within the numerous articles in the Driver's License Restoration section of this blog, I have attempted to answer many of the questions I am asked about this subject, explain the process in detail, and micro-analyze some of the more important parts of that process. This rather long article will be a bit different in that, while it is an attempt to answer a question I am sometimes asked, it will answer questions about me, and why anyone looking to retain a Driver's License Restoration Lawyer should hire me.

This question typically comes up as people ask why they should pay $3000 for my services when there are other Lawyers who will "do" a License Restoration case for less. Of course, there are also Lawyers who charge more than I do, but this article isn't about them.

Driving again2.jpgThis is a fair and honest question, and it deserves an equally honest answer.

To begin, it is important to note that for all the endorsements I am about ready to heap upon myself, I back them up with a guarantee that I will win any License Appeal that I accept, or the next Hearing is free. Given that, in the last 2 years or so, I have won 168 out of the 170 License Appeals I have filed (that's a win rate of about 98.4%), I have every reason to back up my words.

I start with this because every Lawyer out there boasts about having "experience." Experience is great, but it needs to be winning experience to be worth anything. A boxer with a 36-39 record has the same experience as one with a 73-2 record, but wouldn't you rather bet your money on the guy with the 73-2 record?

Next, I think it is important to assess the Lawyer's experience and understanding of the License Restoration process. Anyone can write a web page or two and give some generalizations about their "experience" and the License Restoration process, but if you're about to invest your money in a License Appeal knowing that, if you lose, you cannot Appeal again for another whole year, then you need to make sure that any Lawyer you're considering will get you back on the road the first time. All the money saved in going "low bidder" will only be a huge regret if you get stuck bumming rides for the next 12 months.

Continue reading "Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer - Why Should You Hire Me?" »

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June 13, 2011

Drunk Driving in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - the DUI Charge, Drinking, and Counseling

One of the most common questions I am asked as a DUI Lawyer is whether or not someone facing a DUI should get involved in some kind of Counseling. In a prior article, I examined some general rules about when a person should consider getting into counseling, when they absolutely ought to, and when it is really unnecessary. In that article, I examined Counseling and Treatment from a legally strategic point of view, with no reference to the actual needs of the Client. This (long) article will focus on the needs of a DUI Client relative to a potential drinking problem, and how those actual needs can sometimes seem to be at odds with the best legal strategy.

I have a rather extensive background in alcohol and substance abuse diagnosis and treatment. This field of study has been a specialty of mine for over 20 years. It is this specialized knowledge that has been the basis for my success as a Driver's License Restoration Attorney, a field in which I maintain a win rate so close to 100% that I guarantee I'll win any License Appeal I take. It is not my experience as a License Restoration Lawyer that makes me so knowledgeable about alcohol and substance abuse maters; rather it is my knowledge of those things that makes a better License Restoration Lawyer.

alcoholism1.jpgBased upon my 20-plus years' experience handling DUI and License Restoration cases, I have certainly honed the skills necessary to assess the best legal strategy for a Drunk Driving Client. However, as noted at the outset, the best legal strategy sometimes differs from the best choice to meet the personal needs of the Client. Let's examine the considerations, conflicts and matters of conscience that are part of the mix, and, at times, the dichotomy of being an "Attorney and Counselor at Law."

We sometimes confuse the notion of a "good" Lawyer with someone who is bold and aggressive. Those qualities are, on occasion, necessary when defending someone, but as personality traits they are rather standoffish. Unfortunately, the media too often gives airtime to those Lawyers who are simply brash, confrontational and loud. If there is one lesson I have learned well as a Practicing Lawyer, it is that the most successful people in any field, be it business, sales, politics or even law, are those who win people over by persuasion, and not by intimidation. Being argumentative and loud may attract attention, but it does not attract much else.

I have often likened my job to being a diplomat. In a DUI case, I have to temper my Client's hopes of simply beating the case, and I have to temper the Prosecutor's ambition to convict the person of everything under the sun, and lock them up for it. Except for those lucky occasions when there is a significant enough defect in the evidence to get the case knocked out, I explain the realities of the situation to my Client, and I thereafter persuade the Prosecutor and the Judge to take it easy on the Client, essentially brokering a deal that both sides can live with.

Part of that "diplomatic" role I play is to earn the Client's trust, and to not offend them, or in any way put them off. This means that when I meet someone who clearly has a drinking problem, but is likewise clearly in denial, I don't just bull-rush in and scare them off with a lecture that will only fall on deaf ears, anyway. Instead, I gauge the person's receptiveness to the suggestion that they might want or need to look at themselves from a different perspective, and proceed accordingly.

That sounds straightforward enough, right?

Continue reading "Drunk Driving in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - the DUI Charge, Drinking, and Counseling" »

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June 10, 2011

Getting Better Results in DUI Cases in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - Part 2

In part 1 of this article, we began examining the PSI process and the role of the Alcohol Assessment Test in DUI cases. We'll continue with a more detailed discussion of the Alcohol Assessment Test and the role of the Probation Officer is determining what happens to a person facing a DUI.

People often ask if doing well on an Alcohol Assessment Test is more a matter of common-sense than anything else. To a degree, it is, but there's way more to it than that. From a clinical point of view, a standardized Alcohol Assessment Test looks for and measures 5 traits, or markers, of an alcohol problem. If a person is NOT thoroughly familiar with these 5 "markers," and cannot explain them and their implications in detail, then they are just going though the Assessment blindly. Again, it takes hours to go over this stuff, but the 5 "traits" or "markers" of an alcohol problem are:

  1. Family History of Alcoholism,
  2. Instances of Social Comment,
  3. History of Blackouts,
  4. Instances of Social Conflict, and
  5. Increasing Effects Threshold.

Preparing the Client for the Assessment Test, and how that Test will measure these things, is absolutely paramount to minimizing the consequences they will endure as a result of a DUI.

This means that if a person is not properly prepared for an Alcohol Assessment Test, and they'll go in to Probation and do, at best, an "okay" job on the Alcohol Assessment Test and in the PSI Interview.

As a result, they'll wind up with an Assessment Report and Recommendation that looks far worse than it would have if they had been properly prepared for the Alcohol Assessment and PSI Interview. A typical example would be something like this:

Continue reading "Getting Better Results in DUI Cases in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - Part 2" »

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June 6, 2011

Getting Better Results in DUI Cases in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - Part 1

In previous articles about Drunk Driving, I have pointed out that the most important "step" in a DUI case is the legally required alcohol assessment. Lately, within the context of my DUI Practice, I have handled an increasingly large number of 2nd Offense cases for people who had some other Lawyer represent them in their 1st case. I have repeatedly been told by them that their prior Lawyer never so much as mentioned preparing them for this step (the Alcohol Assessment). Then, when they came across my blog articles describing how important this step is, and how much of what happens at this point affects the outcome of the case, they immediately recognized, from their prior experience, how true this is, and called me.

In previous articles, I have outlined the steps in a DUI case. This article, which will be separated into 2 parts, will focus on one of those steps: The Pre-Sentence Investigation and the Alcohol Assessment Test that is a required part of that.

Interview 2.1.jpgMore than 20 years ago, as a young Lawyer handling DUI cases, I saw that what actually happened to the Client in a DUI case, meaning the results of a person's Sentencing, was almost identical to what was Recommended as a Sentence by the Probation Department.

In a DUI case, after a person has worked out some kind of Plea arrangement, the Court sets 2 dates. The first of those dates is a return date for the Client, and the Client alone, to come back to the Court for an interview with a Probation Officer, who has the job of preparing a written Recommendation for the Judge to be used at Sentencing. The Law requires that such a Recommendation be based upon the person's score on an Alcohol Assessment Test.

This means that a person will show up to the Court's Probation Department, take a written Assessment Test, fill out an information packet which asks about their background (a short life-history), and then meet with a Probation Officer for an interview. This process is called a "PSI," meaning Pre-Sentence Investigation. The result of this whole process is a written Sentencing Recommendation to the Judge indicating what should be Ordered for each particular person facing a DUI.

The second of those dates is the Sentencing itself, where the Judge decides what will be done to the person facing the DUI. And the reality of the situation is that in each and every Court out there, and in each and every case, the Judge will follow that Sentencing Recommendation, if not to the letter, then darn close to it.

Continue reading "Getting Better Results in DUI Cases in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties - Part 1" »

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June 3, 2011

Sobriety as a First Requirement in a Driver's License Appeal

In my Practice as a Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, I am contacted by loads of people who want to legally get back on the road again. Honestly, if I could simply represent everyone who wants to come in and hire me, I'd need to clone myself twice: I'd need two of me to handle the cases, and a third to just handle the business side of things. The basis of my success in this field, however, has to do with making sure I only accept representation on behalf of those who are not only eligible, but also ready to undergo the scrutiny involved in a License Appeal.

That "scrutiny" involves many things, but first, and foremost, it assesses whether or not the person trying either to get their Michigan Driver's License Restored, or obtain a "Clearance" so that they can get an out-of-state License, is really and truly "sober."

no_alcohol3.jpgAt its simplest, my first inquiry of a prospective Client is about their sobriety. Of course, it is necessary that they have not had a drink for at least a year, at the minimum, but I'm equally interested in finding out if their definition of "sobriety" means remaining abstinent. In other words, I need to know that a prospective Client has not only been alcohol-free for the last year or more, but also plans on remaining alcohol-free permanently.

When I am contacted by someone who hints that they're willing to say whatever I want them to say, or otherwise indicates they've had anything to drink in the last year, I know several things right away:

I know that the person is not ready, by a long shot, to begin the License Appeal process.

I also know that they have not read enough of the articles in the Driver's License Restoration section of this blog, wherein I make very clear that I'm only interested in taking up the case for those who have honestly made a commitment to remain sober.

Finally, I know that the person, whatever else, has not "hit bottom," or had enough, or whatever term one uses to describe that point where a person has simply gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired, and knows they have to eliminate alcohol from their lives.

Continue reading "Sobriety as a First Requirement in a Driver's License Appeal" »

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