November 2012 Archives

November 30, 2012

DUI in Oakland County

If you're facing a DUI charge in any of the District Courts of Oakland County (Berkley, Bloomfield Hills, Clarkston, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Novi, Oak Park, Plymouth (covering Northville), Rochester, Royal Oak, Southfield, Troy or Pontiac), or are facing a 3rd Offense Felony DUI charge in Oakland County, you need a DUI Lawyer who can make things better for you. That begins with hiring a Lawyer who is thoroughly familiar with the Court where your case is pending. "Thoroughly," in that sense, means being a "regular" there. It means knowing how things work in that Court based on accumulated experience.

I've been handling DUI cases for over 22 years. In the last decade or so, I've really concentrated my DUI Practice, meaning I have restricted the Courts in which I practice, to Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. This kind of "specialization" allows me to explain to my Client what will happen and what won't happen in their case. I know how each Court differs from another, and how the various Judges are alike, as well as how they are different. That translates to knowing exactly how to do things, and, by the same token, knowing what not to do. Whatever else, pitching an argument to a Judge who has a standing position against what you're your requesting is not only a losing proposition, it has the potential to make things worse. On the other hand, NOT asking a Judge for a break that he or she would actually consider is a total waste - and a painful amateur mistake.

Oakland 1.2.pngDUI cases
are, more than anything else, accidents of geography. A person can be pulled over in front of their own house, or hundreds of miles from home. I've always had a few cases going where my Client has gotten lost, and winds up being pulled over in a jurisdiction totally out of the way from where they were drinking, and from where they live. One wrong turn on I-696 and a person can spend 20 minutes driving the wrong way.

However it happens, each and every week, a whole lot of people get busted for a DUI in some city in Oakland County. Beyond just looking for a "DUI Lawyer," it's a good idea to look for a Lawyer from the Tri-County area, and one who consistently and regularly practices in the Court in which your case will be heard. To put it another way, it's probably not a good idea for your Lawyer to be meeting the Judge for the first time as he or she walks in on your case.

The Courts of Oakland County are very different from those in Macomb and Wayne Counties, especially when it comes to charges of OWI (Operation While Intoxicated) and High BAC, the actual names for what we commonly call "DUI." In fact, if you're facing a DUI and you haven't already heard or read that Oakland County is "tougher," then you haven't checked around very much. What really, then, does "tougher" mean?

Beyond just being noticeably less forgiving and lenient in DUI cases, Oakland County has long led the way in the implementation of technological advances, and has long been more "progressive" in its approach to DUI cases. "Progressive," in that sense means "rehabilitative." Oakland County Courts were regularly requiring breath or urine testing as a condition of Bond (or release from Jail) in DUI cases long before many of the Courts in Macomb and Wayne Counties had even tried it.

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November 26, 2012

Michigan Clearance for Former Resident with Revoked License

Those who have moved out of state, but who had their Michigan Driver's License Revoked due to multiple DUI's discover soon enough that they cannot obtain a Driver's License in their new state until they "clear up" the outstanding Michigan Revocation. In the past, some people were able to get a License in another state at first, but then learned, at the time they tried to renew it, that the Michigan "hold" prevents them from doing so. I can fix that, Guaranteed.

In the last several years, I have observed a substantial growth in the number of out-of-state cases that I handle. About 1/2 of the License Appeals I handle are for out-of-state Clients seeking a Clearance of the Michigan "hold" or Revocation on their Driving Record. This is no doubt attributable to the fall of Michigan's economy, as people have left for better employment opportunities. Just this week, I received this following email from a former Michigander now living and working out-of-state:

Subject: Thank you thank you thank you

MI Seal 2.1.pngJeff and Ann ,

I will always remember you for helping me on this journey. If you didn't get the notification letter , we won back my driving privileges. I know you were confident but I wasn't gonna believe until I saw it. I will always be grateful.

So what's the next step? Hopefully I can do this from Arkansas.

Again, thank you so much , you are my heroes.

Mike G

For as much as I write, I probably couldn't say it better no matter how hard I tried. Being a Lawyer and a writer, however, I'll try anyway...

When they are turned away from the DMV (the equivalent of Michigan's Secretary of State) in their new state, many of these unhappy campers return home to their computers and immediately begin trying to find out what to do. Some of the people that call me want to do it right the first time, and get back on the road, while others have tried it on their own, lost and have found me either through the Driver's License Restoration articles on this blog, or on my website.

Whether they cannot get a License at all, or simply cannot renew a previous License, a the same procedure needs to followed: The person must obtain a "Clearance" from the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) in order to be able to obtain, or renew a License in another state. The "Clearance" process is the same procedure that a Michigan resident undertakes to Restore Michigan License that has been Revoked, except that for those who still live here, it is called a "License Restoration."

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November 23, 2012

The Real Focus of a Michigan DUI Case - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, we observed that, in reality, most DUI cases don't get thrown out of Court by a Judge. We then saw how important a role "alcohol," meaning a person's relationship with it, plays in the course of any DUI case that's not summarily tossed out of Court by the Judge. We concluded and underscored this by pointing out the fundamental role of "testing" for alcohol while a person's Drunk Driving case is pending in Court, and the key role "testing" plays in any Probationary Sentence.

In this second installment, we'll continue our examination of the role of "alcohol" in a DUI case, and look at how my specialized knowledge of the onset, diagnosis, and treatment of an alcohol problem gives me unique advantage to help make things materially better for my DUI Clients.

Breathtester 1.2.jpgMany Judges in the Tri-County area will handle hundreds, if not more than a thousand DUI cases in a given year, yet most of those same Judges will only dismiss a few, if any during the course of their entire careers on the Bench. As we noted in the first part of this article, if a DUI case is solid enough to not get dismissed, then in a very real way, we can say that as it winds its way through the Court system it's all about the alcohol. If you're reading this, and you are on Bond, and required to "test" for alcohol, there's your proof.

This should not come a surprise. The Law requires anyone convicted of a DUI to undergo a mandatory alcohol assessment test before the Judge can Sentence him or her. A person must be screened to determine if they either have an alcohol problem, or the potential (or predisposition) for an alcohol problem. This "screening" is done in the form of a written test. The person's answers are scored, and the final score is compared to a scoring key, and a written Recommendation is made to the Judge as to what level of classes, counseling, education or rehabilitation they need.

There is a lot more to this, of course. In fact there's so much to it that not only is the development, diagnosis and treatment of an alcohol problem a keen field of interest of mine, I am actually involved in the formal University, graduate-level study of this very subject. If you are going to make a living in an area of the Law where the diagnosis and treatment of an alcohol problem is front and center stage, it makes sense to have credentials, education and experience in this field, as well.

Understanding how an alcohol problem is diagnosed, and the specific criteria used to make such a diagnosis, however, will remain centrally relevant throughout the rest of the case. As we'll see shortly, "over-diagnosis" of an alcohol problem, or the possibility that a person can or will develop one, is a huge problem with far-reaching, expensive consequences to someone dealing with a DUI charge. Being able to point out to the Judge when that happens, and being able to protect my Client from getting stuck in classes he or she doesn't need is critical to producing better results in DUI cases.

Continue reading "The Real Focus of a Michigan DUI Case - Part 2" »

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November 19, 2012

The Real Focus of a Michigan DUI Case - Part 1

Many of my blog articles in any given week are the result of something that happened in the preceding few weeks. Recently, I had an experience while handling a DUI case in a local, Detroit-area Court that reminded me to always keep my eye on the "bigger picture." This article will focus on that "bigger picture" in a DUI case pending in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County. Sometimes, we can lose sight of that bigger picture as we get caught up in all the details of something. Sometimes, in a DUI case, we can lose sight of the fact that the "bigger picture" is about alcohol.

As a Michigan DUI Lawyer, I spend a lot of my time examining evidence in Drunk Driving cases. This can range from visiting the scene of a DUI Arrest to watching the video of a DUI Traffic Stop, the Field Sobriety Tests and the "booking" video of a person being brought into the Police Station to be processed and take a Chemical Breath Test. No matter how "solid" a case may look, or feel, I have to examine it from every angle, and leave no stone unturned in my quest to find a problem with the evidence, or some other factor that will allow me to have the case dismissed, or knocked out somehow. Even when I don't find some "fatal" flaw with the evidence, I usually find something that I can use to drive a much better deal for my Client.

BlowTest 1.2.jpgIt goes without saying that you won't find something unless you look for it. Examining the evidence in a DUI case is a lot like digging for gold, in the sense that it takes a LOT of digging to find any gold. Statistically, it's not a very high percentage of DUI cases that wind up getting dismissed outright. Everyone has heard horror stories about how tough this or that Judge in the Detroit area is on DUI Drivers. By contrast, how many stories have you heard about a particular Judge known for throwing DUI charges out of Court? Can you imagine the political fallout for being the Judge who dismisses ANY appreciable number of DUI cases? Remember the recent election, and the ads accusing various Judges and candidates of being "easy" on some rapist, or other criminal?

Realistically, there is almost NO political downside to being the Judge who is too tough on Drunk Drivers. The opposite, however, is not true.

The point I'm driving at is that while I work hard to find a way to beat a DUI charge, it certainly does not happen in the majority of cases. And for all the wonderful sales pitches a person facing a DUI charge will hear as a potential customer of legal services, the simple fact is that most DUI charges are not thrown out, period. In fact, according the Michigan Secretary of State:

In 2010, 41,883 alcohol and drug-related driving arrests were made. Male drivers were three times as likely as female drivers to be arrested for impaired driving, with 31,021 men arrested compared to 10,862 women. There were 41,887 persons convicted of operating under the influence of liquor or other impaired driving offenses. Some of these convictions include arrests made in prior years.
Beyond all of the technical and legal considerations we toss around as we look for a defect in the evidence of a DUI charge, we sometimes overlook that those very rules and technicalities are in place to prevent an innocent person from being convicted of a crime they did not commit. At least in theory, the whole point of critically examining and challenging the evidence is to make sure a person who did not have too much to drink doesn't get convicted of a Drinking and Driving Offense.

Continue reading "The Real Focus of a Michigan DUI Case - Part 1" »

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November 16, 2012

The Costs of a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal

This article will address the "costs" of a Michigan License Restoration or Clearance Appeal from 2 different points of view: Yours and mine. Not a day goes by without my Office being called by someone interested in hiring me for a License Appeal and asking how much I charge. My Fee is $3600 for a License Restoration, beginning with $1200 down, and I Guarantee to win any case I file. It used to frustrate me to no end when this question was asked because I am the ONLY Lawyer I know of who lists his prices all over his website AND offers a Guaranteed win.

I often wondered how anyone could miss this. I have my "Fees" conspicuously linked all over the place. Then I came to understand that, precisely because I am the ONLY Lawyer who discloses his Fees, no one expects to see them on a website, or discussed in an article. For my part, I am turned off by anyone offering a product or service that is afraid to list the cost up front. I could list a million reasons why I feel that way, but the point is, I don't waste my time with anyone who can't provide me with at least some general cost or price information right out of the gate.

Cashola 2.1.jpgBecause I win about 98% of my License Restoration cases the first time around, and back that up with a Guarantee, I don't have to, nor do I "compete" with anyone for business. While my whole approach to License Appeals is different, here are 3 ways where I really stand apart from the pack:

  1. I require you to have quit drinking before I'll take your case.

  2. I strategically control every bit of the evidence that's submitted in your case

  3. Once I take your case, I Guarantee I'll win it.
I'm not out here selling some kind of "attempt" or "best efforts" to get a License back. Instead, I offer a very unique service that comes with a Guarantee. No one else does that. If you hire me, you'll only pay me one time, and you'll win your License back, Guaranteed. Accordingly, I have no interest in charging less, more, or "price matching" with anyone, or otherwise adjusting my Fee. I charge what I charge, and that's that.

We'll meet for 3 hours in my Office before you ever take the first step in your case, and I will guide you by the hand EVERY step of the way. It takes a lot of time and effort to win a License back. Anyone who has tried before already knows this. Nothing good comes easy, and, as with all things, success is nailed in the preparation. I know exactly what it takes to win your License back, and I will do just that.

Continue reading "The Costs of a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal" »

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November 12, 2012

Michigan Driver's License Restoration - Clearance for an Expired out of State License

About one-half of the License Appeals I file as a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer are for people who no longer live in Michigan. I have established a rather efficient system for scheduling my out of state Clients to come and see me first, for about 3 hours, in order to begin the License Appeal process by preparing to undergo their Substance Abuse Evaluation completed, and then to go directly from my Office to a local Clinic a few blocks away in order to have it completed.

This is a convenient and Guaranteed way for someone whose License has been Revoked for multiple DUI's and who is Sober, but no longer lives in Michigan, to obtain a Clearance of the Michigan "hold" upon their Driving Record that prevents them from obtaining or renewing a License in another state. While the Michigan Secretary of State allows people who have moved out of state to file an "Appeal by mail," called an Administrative Review, the hard facts are discouraging: only 1 out of 4 succeed. In 2010, the last year for which statistics are available, 74% of all Administrative Reviews mailed into the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) were Denied.

Expired 2.1.jpgOn the other hand, if a person really has quit drinking, I Guarantee that I will win their case the first time around. Even if the odds for winning an "Appeal by Mail" jumped up to 50-50, once you start doing the math about the real costs of losing and having to wait another year (or longer, in cases where an Appeal is really botched) to try again, a Guaranteed win the first time around is a lot less expensive, in terms of inconvenience, real money and stress.

That said, a growing segment of my Clientele are people who have, or did have, at least for while, a Driver's License issued by another state that cannot be renewed upon expiration. I have found that these Clients are least likely to take the 1 out of 4 odds of an "Appeal by mail." They want the ability to continue driving, or, if their License has already expired, they need to be able to renew it as soon as possible. I am often told that, beyond my obvious passion for License Restorations (as evidenced by the sheer number of articles I have written on the subject), it is my first-time win Guarantee that prompts people to hire me. Whatever else, the bottom line is that if a person has put their alcohol use behind them, I can get them back on the road.

Many people who ultimately do hire me have previously tried the "do-it-yourself" License Appeal route, whether they live in Michigan or not. For the most part, most of those who have tried, or will consider trying an Administrative Review, are people who have not had a valid License of any kind since Michigan issued its Revocation. In many cases, they have been without a License and have not driven for quite a while. Except for those who take their chances and drive without a License, most of these people have managed to put together some kind of "transportation network" or system so that they can get around. Sure, it's probably not their first choice, but the point I'm making is that once anyone gets their License back, they get used to the independence a Driver's License brings real fast.

It's only natural that once a person regains the ability to drive again, even for a while, it hurts even more to lose it a second time, when their License expires, and cannot be renewed because of a Michigan "hold." I'm sure that in many cases, the support network of rides they once had has long faded into a memory, and the thought of becoming a professional passenger all over again is thoroughly distasteful. Yet this is exactly the fate that awaits anyone who doesn't act quickly.

Continue reading "Michigan Driver's License Restoration - Clearance for an Expired out of State License " »

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November 9, 2012

Michigan Driver's License Restoration Letters of Support

In order to win a Michigan Driver's License Restoration or out-of-state Clearance case, a person must submit both a current Substance Abuse Evaluation and 3 to 6 Letters of Support. This article will examine the importance of these Letters, and how and why they play such a critical role in the whole License Appeal process.

On my website and in an earlier article on this blog, I noted that in order to actually get all the essential information that's supposed to go into the Letters of Support in them, I take a very active role in editing and revising each and every one. The Letters of Support play a "structural" role in the sense that, if they don't hold up, the whole License Appeal collapses with them. Whereas the Substance Abuse Evaluation is like the foundation upon which a successful Michigan License Restoration Appeal is built, the Letters of Support are the equivalent of its walls.

Red Letter 1.2.jpgA colleague of mine once put it best when he said that the problem with most Letters of Support, even if you provide the Client with binder full of samples to have their writers follow, is that they all turn out to be "good guy" letters. In practice, a "good guy" letter isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Being a good person brings no evidentiary value to a Michigan Driver's License Appeal.

And for what it's really worth, "sample Letters" aren't of much use, anyway. While they can help guide a writer with some general ideas, such generalities invariably omit the specifics of a person's Recovery story that is unique to them, and useful to their case. To complicate things further, while the Support Letters should overview a person's "Recovery Story," that synopsis should be kept short, and be concise. The letters should be just the right length. The question then becomes "what's the right length?" The answer is simple; it depends.

This is where my role becomes important. The relationship of the writer to the person who is the subject of the letter is generally key to the length of the letter. A Support Letter that begins by saying something like "My name is Jane Doe, and I am John Doe's mother. I have known John all of his life..." can surely go into more detail, and therefore be longer, than one that begins by indicating "I am Joe Blow, and I have know John Doe as a co-worker and friend for about the last year...." With that in mind, I will review the letter in both the context of the relationship of the Letter writer to my Client, and what useful information the Letter contains in order to decide its appropriate length.

It goes without saying that's it's easier to shorten a letter than it is to add length to it, so I'd rather review a draft letter that's longer, and has stuff for me to edit out, than one which is too short, and needs some more "meat." Yet the "editing out" of information involves a lot more than just cutting out irrelevant or redundant material. Often, in an attempt to be helpful, a letter writer will editorialize well beyond the scope of objective observation. While their intentions in doing so are good, the writers invariably cause more harm than anything else.

Continue reading "Michigan Driver's License Restoration Letters of Support" »

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November 5, 2012

How Michigan Embezzlment Charges are Investigated

Embezzlement cases have always been a large part of my Criminal Practice. Having handled countless Embezzlement charges in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties, I've grown to like them. I have written a number of Embezzlement articles on this blog, and have given the subject a concise overview on my website. Instead of rehashing the whole process of being contacted by a Police Detective (or Loss Prevention person from a company) and how to assert your right to not incriminate yourself, all the way to how these cases are usually resolved, this article will focus more on why the investigation into an allegation of embezzlement is usually quite different in character from the investigation into any other alleged Criminal Offense.

In the first instance, there is almost never a situation where the Police discover "Embezzlement" without there having first been a report from an outside source. Other kinds of Criminal charges, such as DUI, or Possession of Controlled Substances, or even Indecent Exposure, are discovered, or "happened upon" by the Police as part of their routine patrols. That doesn't happen with Embezzlement.

Inestigate 1.2.jpgMost often, an employer suspects Embezzlement by an employee after the discovery of something "strange." Here is where the scenarios can be all over the map. In some cases, a little "skimming" may have gone unnoticed for years and years. In other cases, a suspected monetary shortfall is questioned, and irregularities turn up. Embezzlement charges can involve things from unauthorized charges on an employee charge card or expense account, to the distribution of funds through bogus checks, sales commissions paid, or merchandise obtained from "fake" sales, as well as just about anything else you can imagine where merchandise, money or "value" has been diverted from the employer.

Whatever else, Embezzlement charges arise because something "irregular" is noticed. I've seen cases where the person in a particular position has been out sick, or transferred to another duty, and the new person covering their old position, in trying to figure out how to do things, has discovered that things don't quite add up. Sometime, a business, while conducting an audit, finds the "blackjack math." However it is found out, someone, somewhere, spots some detail that doesn't seem right, and that becomes the spark that leads to a further inquiry.

Once that further inquiry begins, things usually fall together pretty quickly. Over the years, I've received loads of calls from people rather nervous about being contacted by their boss, or some "superior" from their company. As I explore what's going on, I learn that usually, some financial irregularity has been discovered, and the employer has decided to dig deeper into things. Often, the person at the center of it all is hoping to come up with a sufficient explanation to cause the matter to be dropped, but in real life, that never happens. Once an employer finds that the math doesn't add up, they'll keep looking. After all, it's not as if an employer finds out that its bank balance has been inexplicably credited with extra money from some unknown source. Once any normal person catches a whiff that they're being shorted, they'll follow that scent to wherever it leads.

At the point that an employer suspects someone particular of Embezzlement, things can go in many different directions. In a smaller workplace, there is often an immediate confrontation with the suspected employee. In larger companies, the employee may have no idea he or she is being investigated. Companies large enough to have a Loss Prevention Department may set up surveillance of the person, and let them continue to work, unaware that their actions are being closely watched.

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November 2, 2012

Michigan Driver's License Restoration Substance Abuse Evaluation

In some of my previous Driver's License Restoration blog articles, I have conducted a detailed examination of the Substance Abuse Evaluation that must be filed to begin a Michigan Driver's License Restoration or out-of-state Clearance case. I refer each new Client to a local Clinic to have their Evaluation completed. In this article, I want to focus on the fact that almost every "outside" Substance Abuse Evaluation I see is NOT done correctly, and why this is so important. Without exception, it has been my experience that any Evaluation done before I've first met with a new Client first has been unusable.

As a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, it is my job to assemble and double-check the evidence submitted in any License Appeal I handle. The Substance Abuse Evaluation is the single most important piece of evidence in a License Restoration case. In my Practice, I exercise extremely tight control over who does my Evaluations, and how they're done. On top of that, they are checked, checked again, and re-checked before I ever give them the "okay" and send them off to the State.

Evaluation 1.2.jpgMy "quality control" measures begin at the very first meeting with a new Client. That meeting is scheduled before the Client undergoes his or her Substance Abuse Evaluation. It takes about 3 hours, and the whole focus is to prepare the person for their upcoming Evaluation. An important part of those 3 hours is the completion of my own "Substance Abuse Evaluation Checklist," which is a proprietary document I have created based upon decades of experience handling and winning Michigan License Appeals. This "Checklist" is filled out as the Client and I go over the actual Evaluation form, line-by-line, and a copy is sent with them to give to the Evaluator so that no detail is overlooked or otherwise not done correctly as the actual Substance Abuse Evaluation is completed.

There is a good chance that anyone who has previously tried a License Appeal and lost was Denied because of a "questionable/insufficient Substance Abuse Evaluation." A problem with the Evaluation is one of the most common reasons a Michigan License Restoration Appeal case loses. I make sure that doesn't happen, and for all my efforts, I back them up with a Guarantee.

Anyone hiring me for their License Restoration case will be directed to the local Clinic that I use to have my Evaluations completed. Out-of-state Clients will usually schedule their meeting with me the same day as their Evaluation, and then leave from my Office and go directly to meet with the Evaluator. While I strongly encourage my Clients to use this local Clinic, it's probably not for any of the reasons the reader might at first suspect.

This Clinic does a first-rate job on the Evaluations, and I cover any and all contingencies with my "Substance Abuse Evaluation Checklist." They have the highest degree of integrity, and the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) knows that, because this Clinic has never tried to do any kind of "snow job" on an Evaluation. In other words, they produce a clinically accurate document, and not some kind of favorable "report for hire." This is important. Think about it; if they just took their fee to generate a glowing, favorable (meaning b.s.) report, I certainly wouldn't need 3 hours to go over the Evaluation form line by line with a new Client to make sure they do well on it, nor would I need a checklist to send with them to insure that.

Continue reading "Michigan Driver's License Restoration Substance Abuse Evaluation" »

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