February 2012 Archives

February 27, 2012

Driving on a Suspended (DWLS) or Revoked (DWLR) License in Michigan

As a Criminal Defense Lawyer whose Practice concentrates rather heavily on Driving-related matters, including DUI's, Driver's License Restorations and Suspended License Offenses, I have seen firsthand how an unfortunate choice or two can impact a person's life. This article will focus on the impact, both immediate and long-term, when a person winds up getting caught Driving on a Suspended License (DWLS), or Driving with a Revoked License (DWLR). It will be based upon my experience in those localities to which I limited Practice, meaning all of Macomb and Oakland Counties, and parts of Wayne County.

At first glance, Driving While License Suspended seems like a less serious charge than Driving While License Revoked. After all, a person's License can be Suspended for all kinds of reasons: Chief amongst them are unpaid Tickets, failure to show up in Court, and a DUI or a Drug case. A person's License is usually Revoked, however, for multiple DUI's, or really serious things. It often surprises people to learn that Driving on a Suspended License and Driving While License Revoked violate the very same rule of Law. As a result, the potential punishment for each is identical. Legally speaking, DWLS and DWLR are identical. In fact, in many jurisdictions, the Police will quite correctly write up the Offense as DWLS/DWLR.

DLGreen copy2.1.jpgBeyond all this legal finery, however, lies a subject that turns out to be a little deeper than it at first seems.

Of course, it's pretty safe to say that no one who gets Arrested on a Suspended or Revoked License charge ever really thought it would really happen, or, in the case of those with prior such Offenses, happen again. Everyone who gets behind the wheel and knows their License is not valid knows they're taking a risk, but figures that they'll be extra careful and will get by unnoticed. Then something happens, a Police car gets behind them with lights flashing, and they immediately get that sinking feeling in their stomach.

Over the span of my career, I have heard every reason you can imagine for why a person was driving. Most often, it centers around work. Obviously, if a person is caught driving without a License, a better reason seems to make it more "excusable." No one would say something like "I didn't have a ride to the bar, so I figured I'd drive myself." Instead, "I didn't have a ride to work, and I couldn't find one" seems to make a lot more sense.

And to a large extent, it does.

I have noted in many of my various DUI articles that how well or poorly any case turns out that won't otherwise get dismissed or "knocked out" due to some technical has a lot to do with geography. In other words, a DWLS case in the Macomb County cities of Roseville, New Baltimore or Shelby Township, or the Wayne County cities of Canton, Livonia or Westland will result in a much more lenient Sentence than one in the Oakland County cities of Rochester Hills, Bloomfield Hills or Troy.

Continue reading "Driving on a Suspended (DWLS) or Revoked (DWLR) License in Michigan" »

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February 24, 2012

Michigan Driver's License Restoration before the DAAD (DLAD) and Legal Fees

Within my Practice as a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, I encounter 3 types of people:

  1. Those who want to handle a License Appeal properly, and who are committed to putting in the time and effort and handling the Fees involved,

  2. Those who are searching for a "deal" and are out looking for the low bidder in terms of Fees, and

  3. Those who don't want to hire any Lawyer, preferring instead to try an Appeal without Representation.
All of my Clients fall into the first group. I charge $3000 for a License Appeal case (that price will likely be going up in the not too distant future), beginning with $1000 down at the first meeting with my Client, which typically takes about 3 hours.

moneymobile1.1.jpgSome of my Clients previously fell into the other 2 groups. Then, after trying unsuccessfully to win a License Appeal case, they more or less moved themselves up into that first group.

In this article, we'll explore the issue of Legal Fees in a Driver's License Restoration case. I will share my thoughts on the whole issue of Fees, and the services they should cover.

One thing to note about my entire perspective in License Appeals is that it is founded upon my Guarantee that I will win any License Appeal I accept the first time, or any subsequent Appeal before the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD), until the Client wins and gets back on the road, is free. At its simplest, this means that I make my money winning these cases the first time. Every time I ever have to go back (thankfully, that almost NEVER occurs), my income is cut in half, and my workload doubles. I want my Clients to know that I want to get them back on the road as much as they want to be back on the road.

I charge the Fee I do because I am the best License Restoration Lawyer I know. I win these cases the first time, all the time. In the last several years, I have only lost a mere handful of Appeals. And while I could offer excuses for those exceptions, I do believe that, in the end, the only thing that matters are results. This is why I back up my claims with a Guarantee.

Continue reading "Michigan Driver's License Restoration before the DAAD (DLAD) and Legal Fees" »

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February 20, 2012

Michigan License Appeals and Clearances for Out-of-State Residents - the Residency Issue

As a Driver's License Restoration Lawyer with a busy Practice, about half, and maybe even more of my License Appeal cases involve Representing Clients who now live outside of Michigan. I've had Clients from just over the border in Ohio, to all corners of the US, lots from Florida, and some from as far away as Japan.

This article will be about how the different Michigan Secretary of Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) Hearing Officers in Livonia, where I have all my cases heard, require proof (or not) of such out-of state residency, and why such proof is so important. Unlike just about every other article in this section, and on this blog, this one will be reasonably short. Our subject today is important, yet refreshingly simple.

FLDRL1.1.jpgThe reason this is important in the first place has to do with the very fundamental difference between a License Appeal for someone who still lives in Michigan, and someone who does not. Michigan residents are ONLY eligible to win a Restricted License. In other words, the ONLY thing a Michigan resident can win in A Driver's License Restoration Appeal is a Restricted Driver's License that requires the installation of an ignition interlock (breathalyzer) system on their car for at least 1 year. There is no option to win a "full" License, and no way around the ignition interlock. These requirements are set in stone.

Non-residents are not eligible for ANY kind of Michigan License. Think about it for a moment, if a person lives in Florida, for example, and is a resident there, how can Michigan, or any state (except Florida), for that matter, give them any kind of Driver's License? It would be no different if a person wanted a Concealed Weapons Permit. They have to obtain that in the state in which they live. A Florida resident could not come to Michigan and apply for and be granted a CCW (actually, such a permit, at least in Michigan, is called a "CPL," meaning Concealed Pistol License), or vice-versa.

Instead, anyone who is a non-resident with multiple DUI's (sometimes, these can be spread across different states) and a Michigan "hold" upon their Driving Record learns they cannot obtain, or, in other cases, cannot renew an out-of-state Driver's License because of that Michigan "hold." In order to obtain the Driver's License in another State, they need to "clear" Michigan's hold. "Clear" is a very important word here.

That's because a non-resident with a Michigan hold on their Driving Record will apply for what is called a "Clearance." Quite logically, this means that the relief they seek from the DAAD is a Clearance (or voiding out) of the Michigan hold on their Driving Record.

Continue reading "Michigan License Appeals and Clearances for Out-of-State Residents - the Residency Issue" »

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February 17, 2012

Detroit-Area Ciminal and DUI Cases - Finidng a Lawyer and Dealing with Disappointment

Within the numerous articles of this blog, I have tried to write about real issues and provide real insight into the kinds of cases and concerns that real people encounter in the real world. In a manner of speaking, I try to "keep it real." Humorous word use aside, it has always been my goal to write about those things that are relevant in readers' lives. On top of that, having just finished a 7-part, very detailed series about the Steps in a Detroit-Area DUI case, I was looking for a subject that would allow me to write a shorter article.

Inspiration hit when I was speaking with Ann, my Senior Assistant. As we were going over the morning's emails and phone calls, she rather causally observed that we had received our usual load of emails that express the writer's interest in hiring my Representation, yet conclude with the sender asking me to call them, as well as the usual number of inquiries from people who have unresolved issues left behind from a case for which I was NOT their Lawyer. Most of the time, the person indicates that their former Lawyer didn't do or explain something well enough, and other times, the person admits having tried to "play Lawyer" by representing themselves.

SadFace.2.jpgThis article will address why I NEVER get involved with another Lawyer's work, especially after the fact, and why I almost NEVER take on any post-Sentencing or Appellate-type work. I will also explain why I think almost anyone who takes the time to email me, then asks for me to call them, is a "time waster."

First, the "time wasters." While there are numerous situations in which a person might drop me an email inquiring about something or other, particularly in the context of Driver's License Restoration cases, anyone serious about moving forward in a case will note my business hours and call my Office. It is simply far more convenient for a person to call my Office during regular business hours than it is for my Office to try and manage a call to someone during the hours they provide. Thus, instead of a person providing a phone number and indicating that are available between certain hours, it just makes more sense for them to call my Office during those times.

Add to this that, over the years, we have found that those same emails very often result in our leaving a message anyway. Look, if you're serious about wanting to talk to us, then call. Why ask us to call you? I don't email my Dentist's Office after hours and ask them to call me to set up and appointment. I just call and make one.

Lately, when people leave such emails, we'll simply respond by telling them that we're open M-F, from 8:30 to 5, and can be reached at 586-228-6523.

Continue reading "Detroit-Area Ciminal and DUI Cases - Finidng a Lawyer and Dealing with Disappointment" »

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February 13, 2012

DUI, DWI and OWI in Michigan - A Detailed Look at how These Cases are Handled in the Detroit-Area - Part 7

In Part 6 of this series, we reviewed how the Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) Report and Recommendation is completed by the Probation Officer, and how the DUI Driver and his or her Lawyer review the Report and Recommendation in Court, before the actual Sentencing, in order to make sure that the information contained in that Report is accurate.

In this seventh and final installment, we will wrap up our series on the Steps in a Detroit-area (meaning Macomb, Oakland and parts of Wayne County) DUI case by looking at the the 8th and final step in any DUI (or other Criminal case, for that matter), where the Lawyer comments on the Sentencing Recommendation to the Judge at the actual Sentencing Hearing. After this step, the Judge pronounces the Sentence, and the person learns their fate...

7three.jpg8. Commenting on the PSI and Recommendation to the Judge at Sentencing.

As I noted in the previous installment, the PSI Report and Recommendation must be reviewed, in Court, on the day of Sentencing, by both the Defendant and his or her Defense Lawyer before the Sentence can be imposed. It must be reviewed for errors, and then returned to the Court Clerk. Once the case is called, the Judge will ask the Lawyer if he or she has reviewed the Report and Recommendation with their Client. The answer must be "yes, Your Honor." Next, the Judge will ask something like, "are there any additions, corrections or deletions to be made?" Hopefully, the answer to this question will be "no, Your Honor," but this is the time to update and correct anything about the person or their background that is not accurate.

Once the Report has been accepted as accurate, the Judge will then ask the Lawyer if there is anything he or she would like to say about the Sentencing Recommendation, and on behalf of his or her Client. This is where those skills I talked about (okay, admittedly more like "ranted" about) in the previous section become so important.

Leaving the self-serving personal endorsement made in the previous section behind, this is really where the persuasive speaking skills of the Lawyer count the most. You only get one chance to "make your case" to the Judge, and this is it. What kind of conditions a person will walk out of Court having to satisfy, and, indeed, whether they walk out of the Court at all, is decided right here. It is at this moment that anyone who bargain-hunted for a Lawyer will feel the regrettable sting of "you get what you pay for." About the worst thing a person can say about the Lawyer they had is "I could have done that myself," or "My Lawyer didn't do anything for me; he (or she) just stood there!"

Continue reading "DUI, DWI and OWI in Michigan - A Detailed Look at how These Cases are Handled in the Detroit-Area - Part 7" »

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February 10, 2012

DUI, DWI and OWI in Michigan - A Detailed Look at how These Cases are Handled in the Detroit-Area - Part 6

In part 5 of this series about the steps in a DUI case, we undertook a rather in-depth analysis of the alcohol assessment testing process, including how these tests are scored by the Probation Officer who administers them. We saw that there is an almost endless number of such tests, but that the Courts most often use one of only several, each of which is simply "scored" like a high-school math test, and requires no interpretation beyond charting that score on a grid called a "scoring key."

In this sixth part, we will continue with a review of steps 6 and 7 of the PSI process:

6V.gif6. Completion of the Sentencing Recommendation by the Probation Officer
7. Reviewing and correcting the PSI and Recommendation

We will cover the 8th and final step (Commenting on the PSI and Recommendation to the Judge at Sentencing), in the seventh and final installment of this series.

In reviewing steps 6 and 7, will see how that alcohol assessment score is used by the Probation Officer in the larger process of creating the Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) Report and Sentencing Recommendation that will ultimately find its way into the Judge's hands.

6. Completion of the Sentencing Recommendation by the Probation Officer

Having gathered and reviewed the person's background information, conducted a face-to-face interview, and then scored the alcohol assessment test, the next step in the PSI process is now completely in the Probation Officer's hands - writing the Report and Recommendation that will ultimately be read by the Judge and used in deciding what a DUI Driver's Sentence will be.

Those readers who have followed this entire series will recall me pointing out, early on, that in a 1st Offense DUI there will be NO JAIL. This means anyone who hires a Lawyer in a 1st Offense DUI for the primary purpose of staying out of Jail is wasting their money; they aren't going to Jail in the first place. The Sole exception is for any DUI case pending in the 48th District Court in Bloomfield Hills, before Judge Kimberly Small, in which case, even if Jesus were the Lawyer, the person would be going to Jail anyway. Yet I have nothing but respect for Judge Small. I understand her reasoning, even if I don't agree with it, and find her to be a very capable Judge and a courteous, fine and polite person. I just feel sorry for any DUI Driver who winds up in front of her.

Continue reading "DUI, DWI and OWI in Michigan - A Detailed Look at how These Cases are Handled in the Detroit-Area - Part 6" »

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February 6, 2012

DUI, DWI and OWI in Michigan - A Detailed Look at how These Cases are Handled in the Detroit-Area - Part 5

In Part 4 of this article about the steps in a Detroit-area DUI, we began our rather detailed inquiry into the various "steps" of the Pre-Sentence Investigation, or PSI process. We covered the first 3 steps:

1. Setting the Probation appointment
2. The background paperwork
3. The actual Probation interview

5.1.jpgHere, in this fifth part, we will cover steps 4 and 5 of the PSI process:

4. Taking the alcohol assessment test
5. Scoring of the alcohol assessment test by the Probation Officer.

This is an intense subject, and these are serious subjects. Given their importance, we will devote this entire installment to these 2 topics. This will be a long piece, but as I often point out, there are no shortcuts to doing things the right way, and that includes studying and explaining them.

In the final 2 installments of this series, we will cover the remaining steps (6 through 8) of he PSI process:

6. Completion of the Sentencing Recommendation by the Probation Officer
7. Reviewing and correcting the PSI and Recommendation
8. Commenting on the PSI and Recommendation to the Judge at Sentencing

Here, we will resume our scrutiny of the steps of the PSI process by picking up with the alcohol assessment test.

4. Taking the alcohol assessment test.

I want to be emphatic about this: THE ALCOHOL ASSESSMENT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE WHOLE DUI AND PSI PROCESS. What happens at this stage has more impact on the kind of Sentence a person gets for a DUI than all the other stuff combined.

In other words, if you do well here, things will be a lot better, meaning more lenient, than if you don't. And to be clear, these tests are scored numerically. A low score is good, while a higher score spells trouble. Thus, the higher the score, the worse the result. Conversely, the lower the score, the better the result, meaning the less likely a person is to have an alcohol problem, or have the potential to develop one. Therefore, a low score is the ultimate goal when taking an alcohol assessment test.

So how do you get a low score?

Continue reading "DUI, DWI and OWI in Michigan - A Detailed Look at how These Cases are Handled in the Detroit-Area - Part 5" »

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February 3, 2012

DUI, DWI and OWI in Michigan - A Detailed Look at how These Cases are Handled in the Detroit-Area - Part 4

In Part 3 of this series, we undertook a very brief overview of DUI Trials. If the reader detected a theme something like "DUI Trials are very complicated," then I succeeded in delivering my message. The larger point was simply that no one should go to Trial in a DUI case unless they have a rock-solid likelihood of winning, or at least emerging from it appreciably better off than if they had not.

After a DUI (meaning Criminal) Trial, a person is either found Guilty, or Not Guilty. Occasionally, a case results in a "hung jury," meaning no verdict was reached, and the Prosecutor must then decide if they want to re-try the case, meaning do it all over again. Hung juries, while not incredibly rare, are rather uncommon; therefore, we won't waste any of our time discussing that unlikely type of outcome.

Four.1.2.jpgHaving started our discussion at the Arraignment stage in Part 1, through Pre-Trials in Part 2 and Trials in Part 3, we have ended up at the stage where a person facing a DUI (called the "Defendant") will have either pled Guilty to some kind of charge after a Pre-Trial, or have been found Guilty, or not, after a Trial.

The next "legal" step in any Drunk Driving (or other Criminal) case is the Sentencing. This is where the Judge decides what is going to happen to the Defendant, and Orders things like classes, counseling, breath or urine testing, Probation, and, in really bad cases, like 3rd Offense Felony DUI's, Jail.

Obviously, there will be no Sentencing if a person has been found "Not Guilty" after a Trial. In that case, a person simply goes home, and the matter is ended.

In every DUI case, however, where there has been a either Plea, Plea-Bargain, or Sentence-Bargain (or a Verdict of Guilt, if there was a Trial), there is a step BEFORE the actual Sentencing: The PSI, or Pre-Sentence Investigation. A PSI is required by Law. We'll explore it in detail shortly (this subject is rather involved, so we'll use two installments just to cover it), but before we do that, it is important to understand that the Pre-Sentence Investigation, and the legally required alcohol assessment test that is a part of it, will determine, more than anything else, what actually happens to a person at Sentencing. To put it simply, the PSI and its accompanying recommendation is the blueprint, or script, for what kind of Sentence a person will get.

Continue reading "DUI, DWI and OWI in Michigan - A Detailed Look at how These Cases are Handled in the Detroit-Area - Part 4" »

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