“Everyone needs a license,” admits a hearing officer from the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS). As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I know that all too well. My office is contacted every day by people who have lost their licenses after multiple DUI’s and pour their hearts out, explaining how difficult it is to get by without the ability to drive. In some cases, a person has a great employment opportunity that requires being able to drive; in others, a license is needed just to keep a job. Needing a license, however, has just about nothing to do with whether or not you can win yours back. In this short article, I want to explain how you actually do win back your license, and make clear that needing it is NOT a consideration at any point in the legal process of winning a license reinstatement appeal.

waldhitch 1.3.jpgLet’s back up from the point of restoring a driver’s license to the point of losing it. Perhaps one of the most common questions I am asked when handling DUI cases, particularly 2nd offense and 3rd offense cases, is if there is some way the person can get a license for work. This question always follows my having explained in detail, and usually numerous times, that a 2nd or 3rd offense will result in a license revocation and that there is no “workaround.” People will often begin their questions with something like, “How do they expect me to…?” I get it. Everyone gets it. You need a license, and you can probably even demonstrate a pressing need for one, but it doesn’t matter. Anyone whose license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s has probably already asked these questions and learned that needing a license was a non-issue back then. It still is. Before you can ever win your license back, you have to be legally eligible to file a license restoration appeal, and that doesn’t happen until the mandatory period of revocation passes: 1 year for 2 DUI’s within 7 years and 5 years for 3 DUI’s within 10 years.

Even when you’re legally eligible to begin the appeal process, needing a license doesn’t really have anything to do with your ability to win it back. When you become legally eligible to proceed, you must also prove that you are sober, as well. From the Secretary of State’s point of view, putting anyone back behind the wheel who presents as any kind of risk to ever drink again is unacceptable. There is a very important distinction here, because the Secretary of State (SOS) is not interested in any talk about just not drinking and driving again. Instead, its threshold inquiry focuses on whether a person is any kind of risk to ever drink at all. It is a basic assumption that anyone who is seen as a risk to ever drink again is likewise seen as a risk to drink and drive again. Thus, the only people who have any kind of chance to get back on the road legally are those who can prove, by the legal standard of “clear and convincing evidence,” that they are a safe bet to remain completely alcohol free for life. In other words, you have to prove your sobriety, and that’s where I come in…
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As a Michigan DUI lawyer with a local, Detroit area practice (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties), I am in front of some Judge or other almost every day, and often in front of several Judges in any one day. I hear a lot. I’ve heard just about every spin a DUI lawyer can make for his or her client, and I’ve heard countless observations by innumerable Judges. No one is perfect, but most Judges get it right most of the time. Still, my job to “protect” my clients from as much of the consequence as possible from a DUI charge when we’re in front of any judge. I have also come to believe that, simply because I can, it is my job to really help my clients outside of the courtroom, as well. In some cases, this means helping a person understand (or work with an understanding) that his or her relationship to alcohol has become problematic. This is why I undertook and completed the coursework in a post-graduate program of addiction studies. As much as most Judges get it right most of the time, I also sometimes hear well-meaning Judges get it wrong, or read well-intentioned, if not misguided probation assessments and recommendations that lack a fundamental understanding of the confluence of variables that give rise to drinking problems, how such troubled drinking is and/or should be diagnosed, and the panorama of viable education and treatment options available to genuinely help someone.

3KYo0Tf - Imgur.pngIn my day to day court appearances, I will often hear something that I think is right on the money. This blog article will not be my usual informational installment, but rather about one such thing that I really thought profound. I hope the fact that I think it’s important enough to publish will encourage the reader to spend the few minutes necessary to finish it. The day before I started writing this article, I was in the courtroom of Bloomfield Hills’ 48th district court Judge Kimberly Small when, during my client’s sentencing, the Judge said something that really struck me as a simple, yet deeply meaningful observation. It was nothing that I can use to sell my services as a DUI lawyer, but rather something that cut right to the core of what drunk driving is all about and why the laws and public opinion are getting tougher. Indeed, one may see it as somewhat contrary to my own financial interests to write an article about the Judge’s insight, but in the spirit of trying to say something good and useful, I could not ignore how fortunate I am to have this platform from which to share it. Later, on that same day, the news carried separate reports of 2 Oakland County Sheriff’s deputies who got drunk and rear-ended a 70 year-old woman in Pontiac, sending her to the hospital, while another drunk driver smashed into a Detroit Police car. Circumstances and timing came together in a way to make this article very germane.

First, I need to be clear on my perspective. I do believe that, however unfortunate it may be, a DUI can and does just sometimes “happen.” In most cases, driving drunk is an episode of bad judgment exercised by good people. In fact, even the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) agrees with the rather well established principle that the typical person will begin to suffer some impairment of his or her judgment with a BAC level of 0.3% to .06%, putting .04% and .05% squarely in middle of that range. Remember, .08 is the limit for drunk driving in every state (although Michigan also has a lower but undefined level for the lesser charge of “impaired” driving). Thus, a person’s better judgment is not any kind of better at all when he or she isn’t even halfway legally drunk. This is important for several reasons: First, impaired judgment is impaired judgment. It means your decision making skills are lessened. Thus, a person who decidedly set out to only have a few drinks can easily lose sight of that and just “go with the flow” and drink way more than intended. Second, and often overlooked, the self-regulation mechanism in certain people is just way more affected by alcohol than others. In other words, after just 2 drinks, one person may still remain focused on not over-indulging while another person’s ability to do that may be severely compromised (i.e., impaired).
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In my day-to-day role as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, a very important part of what I do takes place at the first meeting with a new client. Normally, this meeting is scheduled for 3 hours, the primary goal of which is to make sure my client leaves the office fully prepared to go and get his or her substance abuse evaluation completed. This specific preparation is so critical that I spend much of those 3 hours with every new client, filling out my own form, called a “substance abuse evaluation checklist.” I thereafter pack off the client with the checklist and various other documents (including a marked up copy of his or her driving record) to the evaluator. By sending my client out so completely prepared, and with documentary backup, I make sure the evaluation will come back accurate and complete. It’s this attention to detail that allows me to provide a guarantee to win every license appeal case I take.

Thumbnail image for checklist 1.4.jpgThe inspiration for this article comes from a recent license reinstatement case I handled and (of course) won. During the hearing, my client was asked about his attendance at AA, because his evaluation indicated that he had gone for a couple of stints in years past. To my surprise, he answered that he still attends meetings from time to time. Normally, this is a good thing, but the hearing officer looked at the evaluation, which did not list any current AA attendance, and then fired off a few questions about his interview with the evaluator, including this one: “What else didn’t you tell her?” All is well that ends well, and although he had been a bit unclear with the evaluator about his occasional drop-ins to AA, the fact that my client left out a good thing (12 step support) produced and outcome much different than if the hearing officer would have discovered that something negative had been omitted from or glossed over in his evaluation.

My substance abuse evaluation checklist is, as much as anything, a compendium of and protection from all the ways one can lose a license appeal case. It pretty much provides a line-by-line detailed backup, or redundancy, for everything that must be listed on evaluation form published and required by the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS). A person will have to tell the evaluator all about his or her AA attendance, and that’s part of what we go over when I prep him or her. In the case at issue here, my client explained that since he didn’t go with any regularity, he didn’t want to make it seem to the evaluator that he frequented AA meetings on any kind of schedule. He should have been clear(er) about that, and not saying anything was a mistake. While I cannot explain the miscommunication here, it is important to note that my checklist method leaves no room for a critical omission of the kind information one would consider negative, or that could otherwise derail a case. As it turns out, this was the first time I had represented this particular out-of-state client, although he did have different lawyers for each of his 2 prior unsuccessful appeals. I ‘d like to believe that with my help, the third time was the charm.
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Let’s begin part 2 of this article by taking account of what was covered in part 1: We have every DUI driver required, by law, to undergo an alcohol assessment. You can call it a screening or a substance abuse evaluation or whatever, but it’s all the same thing. This “screening” is done against a backdrop where it is understood that DUI defendants, as a group, present with a higher incidence of alcohol problems than the population at large. Instead of having a substance abuse counselor administer the assessment in a DUI case, the court has it done by a probation officer. Because probation officers are not practicing clinicians, they cannot use the higher-level screening instruments, or otherwise ask the probative kinds of questions that one would expect from a real substance abuse counselor. Instead, they rely upon less clinically sound screening instruments that use a “scoring key” to determine what level of alcohol problem a person supposedly has, or may develop. Using that score and whatever other information he or she feels is important, the probation officer is responsible for submitting a written recommendation that tells the Judge the sentence that you should get, and you can count on your actual sentence closely following that recommendation. If that doesn’t sound ideal, then you’re getting the point. But we’re not done yet; it gets worse.

65591088.jpgIf I seem to have been somewhat critical of probation officers in the preceding installment, I’m going to cut them some slack here. Imagine that you suddenly became a probation officer. Every single day, every person with whom you speak has been convicted of a crime. A huge part of your caseload is comprised of drunk drivers. Forgetting even the dismal statistics I cited at the outset of this article, you have to remember that probation officers don’t deal with people merely accused of crimes, they deal exclusively with people who have been convicted of crimes. This kind of experience shapes a person. Add to this that absolutely everyone convicted of a DUI insists that he or she does NOT have a drinking problem, and that a sizable percentage of people who go through a 1st offense DUI, despite their protests to the contrary, wind up in the system for a 2nd offense DUI (and some of them are back for a 3rd or even subsequent offense). I always point out that if anyone sat in the probation officer’s chair for a year, he or she would see the world differently at the end of that 12 months. This goes double for everyone who breezes in claiming to have no issue with alcohol and giving assurances that this will never happen again.

Perhaps now it’s easier to understand why, in a 1st offense DUI case where a person can go to jail for up to 93 days (180 days in a High BAC case), and considering that the probation officer, who is solely responsible for recommending what happens to you, knows that you won’t be going to jail (most likely, he or she didn’t recommend it, anyway), no one in the system worries a bit if you’re ordered to complete some alcohol education or counseling that you really didn’t need in the first place. For all the “punishment” you could get, you are instead required to go to counseling; big deal. I worry about this, however, because I know how the inconvenience (and, in some cases, expense) of this can affect a person and be a drag in his or her life. If you’re a busy professional, and even if the cost of all this is not an issue, being required to go to an outpatient substance abuse program 3 times per week, and having to do AA another 2 times per week, along with breath and/or urine testing IS a big deal, especially when it’s all to treat or prevent a problem that you don’t have
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Coming off of my last 2-part article about alcohol and drug problems, it seems appropriate to follow up with an article that applies to the majority of DUI cases where the person does NOT have any kind of underlying problem with alcohol or drugs, particularly 1st offense charges. This will also be a 2-part installment in order to keep it manageable. The simple reality is that OWI cases just “happen” to otherwise law abiding, upstanding people. These are the folks that I represent, and they are people who never imagined sitting in the back of a police car, and for whom the whole experience of being arrested seems like something from outer space. All of my clients are people with what is commonly called “social capital,” and many of them hold professional licenses. While they may consume alcohol socially, few of them ever engages in reckless or risky drinking behavior. If my last article was an attempt to reach out to the person who is at least beginning to see his or her drinking as problematic, this article is an attempt to reach out to those who know they do not have any such issues. The reason this article is even necessary, though, is because the court system has an inherent bias in favor of finding the drinking problem in everyone who faces a drunk driving charge.

meaning-of-vault-boy-thumbs-up-jpg.jpgThis certainly isn’t the glamorous side of DUI work, but it is the most important part because every single person who goes through a DUI must be screened (this is done by completing a legally required written test) to determine if he or she has, or is seen as being at risk to develop an alcohol problem. The results of this screening are used by the Judge to determine what kind of education, counseling, testing and/or treatment will be ordered. The screening itself is done by the court’s probation department. As I mentioned above (and discussed in detail in the somewhat recent article I linked in the preceding paragraph), the whole court system has a built-in and acknowledged tendency to find that just about every DUI driver is at least at a notably increased risk to develop, even if he or she does not test out as actually having, a problem with alcohol. Keep in mind that in 2014, just less than one-quarter of one percent (.21%, as in point-two-one) of all the people arrested for a DUI in Michigan went to trial and were found “not guilty.” These statistics are about average, except that, without looking, I recall the percentage of “wins” in 2013 was closer to .17 percent. In other words, there is a better than 99.78% chance, no matter how you cut it, that no matter how badly you want to, and no much money you blow trying, you will NOT win at trial. By contrast, and no matter how you crunch the numbers, if you’ve been arrested for a DUI, it is nearly 99% likely that you will, in fact, go through the alcohol screening. In fact, the only way to avoid that is by having your case dismissed, and banking on that is not much of a plan for your DUI case.

The simple reality here is that if you’re facing a DUI, and unless it does get tossed out of court, you will be required to complete the legally required alcohol assessment test. We’ll talk more about the test itself later in this article. For now, however, you must realize that if your plan for “handling” your DUI was to go to trial and be acquitted, that leaves you rather unprepared for the assessment itself, even ignoring the whole alcohol bias thing. And, by the way, what I call the “alcohol bias” is acknowledged by experts (clinical researchers) and in their language is called “overdiagnosis.” It is accepted, as a matter of fact, that over-diagnosis is a very real and pervasive phenomenon in the court system. It may be easier to understand by flipping it around and asking if you’ve ever heard of a case where a court has “missed” an alcohol problem? They may catch problems that aren’t there, but they aren’t missing any real ones in the process. So what does this mean for someone facing a DUI?
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In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of drinking (and drug use; the lessons here apply equally) and that uneasy feeling some people get when they get caught up in something like a DUI or criminal charge and they realize that something about their partying behavior (like facing a drinking and driving charge) just isn’t working out the way they want. Many of my clients are people who have found the true joy of getting clean and sober and are now moving ahead toward a driver’s license restoration. On the flip side, many of my clients are people who are a million miles from having any kind of problem and just make a mistake in judgment and get a drunk driving. Others may indulge in the occasional joint and simply get caught being in possession of marijuana. Still plenty of people that I see are dealing with the consequences of alcohol (or drug) use that has gotten out of hand. While I hope a lot of people find something of use in this article, my deepest hope is to extend a hand to the person who is just beginning to open up to the idea that his or her relationship to alcohol or drugs is problematic. We don’t need to describe or label it in anymore detail than that; this is for those who simply have a feeling that something just isn’t right. In this second part, we’re picking up with the idea that quitting doesn’t really have any downside. There is no “missing out” on the fun (and how much fun has it been lately, anyway) but rather about things getting better. A lot better.

wine_glass_3169919b.jpgHere’s the real kicker: When a person quits drinking for good, always, and without exception, his or her life improves. On the one hand, life itself gets way better, while on the other, the storm of never ending (and self made) problems just comes to an abrupt end. As much as someone may wonder how they’ll ever have fun again without alcohol, everyone who has ever gotten sober shakes their head in regret that they didn’t do it sooner. How much fun is drinking right now? How much fun has it been recently? Is it really the grand prize of all prizes to work all week just so you can piss away an entire weekend getting wasted? Is getting drunk on Friday night really the best reward you deserve in life? When people get sober, they get genuinely happy. They look at the people in the bars at night and feel sorry for them. They’re out doing whatever, and they feel a sense of pity for those to whom another night getting toasted is their life’s goal. Sober people know they’re not missing out on anything (by contrast, they know the folks wasting their nights getting hammered are the ones really missing out), and, to a person, they all wish they would have figured this out sooner.

This is the one time in your life when you should act quickly. The biggest waste of your precious little time on this planet is to think too much about this before you act. You can easily get stuck in the paralysis of analysis, where you think about everything, but do nothing. Pick up the phone and reach out for help. Remember my questions: How much fun is drinking right now? How much fun has it been recently? Now, consider this question: What do you think is going to change, and when, that will make drinking fun and safe again? I’ll help you cheat by giving you the answer: Nothing. Not now, not later, not ever. It’s time to grow up and take control over your life. You’ll be incredibly glad that you did. You’ll get back more than you even know you lost, and you’ll move ahead like you never thought possible. Can you think of any way that not drinking will harm you? How many ways has it helped you, lately? It comes back to the fact that those uncomfortable feelings you’re having are “right.” That’s your gut; now is the time to trust it…
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As a Michigan criminal, DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyer who spends almost all of his time on cases directly connected to problems caused by alcohol and drugs, I have wanted to write this article about coming to grips with those problems for a long time. I suppose I have, separately, and in little pieces throughout the nearly 700 articles I have published thus far, but this is really my first attempt to put it all together at once. To keep things manageable, I’ll break this piece into 2 installments. My goal here is to reach out to the person whose drinking or drug use has become an “issue” in a criminal or DUI case (or even outside of that context) and who has the unsettled feeling that something just isn’t quite right. Sometimes, these “issues” become pressing and a person begin to think about all of this after an arrest and arraignment for something like a drinking and driving offense, when he or she is suddenly ordered, by a Judge, to refrain from drinking (and drug use) and is being tested to ensure compliance. The first reaction is often a kind of discomfort because you really don’t know if you can stop drinking (you may tell yourself something like it’s not that you can’t, but rather than you don’t want to), and it’s always accompanied by a kind of anger that you’re being “forced” to not drink, and besides, who the hell is someone else to tell you that you have a problem, or treat you like you have one? This kind of inner turmoil is a big clue that something is amiss.

wine-690299-min-1080x675.jpgIt’s not that everyone who is unhappy with an order to not drink has a problem with alcohol, but the degree to which someone is frustrated by or resistant to this kind of required, but temporary, abstinence can be telling. In my driver’s license restoration practice, for example, where my clients are sober and usually have been in recovery for a number of years, most will admit to NOT having stopped drinking, even while they were on probation or being tested as a condition of bond. For these people, alcohol admittedly played a disproportionately (and therefore inappropriately) important role in their lives. In other words, drinking was too much of a priority for them. To choose to use alcohol despite being ordered by a court to NOT do so, while simultaneously being under very real threat of going to jail if you do is clearly maladaptive and troubled behavior. For as much as I have seen and learned over my 25-plus years, perhaps the best and simplest way I’ve heard it put is this: “Anything that causes a problem is a problem.” In the real world, no one ever thinks about their drinking or partying until it starts causing problems. At first, those problems are infrequent and usually “fixable.” The thing is, once the problems start, meaning once you have more than something like an isolated, 1st offense DUI that just “happens,” the problems tend to keep coming, and they come more frequently and get more complicated (and expensive).

Precisely because of the way I spend all of my workdays as a lawyer, dealing with legal issues involving alcohol and drugs, I realized how much more I could actually help my clients by advancing and formalizing my understanding of addiction issues. Accordingly, I went back to school at the post-graduate level (a post-graduate program, unlike a regular graduate program, is for people who already hold a graduate degree) and completed the coursework in an addiction studies program. I learned a lot there, all of it from the clinical, rather than the legal side of things. Still, nothing beats good old-fashioned experience. Book learning is great, but I prefer the “real world” over everything else. For all the clinical and technical terms that I added to my vocabulary, I saw that in the addiction field, just like everything else, we tend to talk things to death, and it seems that in the quest to help people, we sometimes talk them right out of seeing what’s right in front of their eyes. In the case of alcohol and addiction issues, for example, the over-use of terms such as “alcoholic,” “alcoholism,” “denial,” “powerlessness” and “surrender” can scare people off and send them running for the hills. Getting help should not sound so demeaning or scary. Let me explain what I mean…
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Michigan ignition interlock violations are a topic so important and so relevant that I feel I have to take it up again, even though I put up an article about them only about a month ago. In this installment, I want to address 2 particular situations: A missed test (called a missed rolling retest) and a positive for alcohol test (particularly when a person has NOT been drinking). It is my hope to help someone avoid a violation in the first place, but the information here will be directly relevant and useful even when that’s too late. In my capacity as a driver’s license restoration lawyer in Michigan, I have seen the number of violation cases explode in the last few years while these issues have grown to be a substantial part of my license appeal practice.

3ddf50_36b0e7cf2f7f451aa3f06db12494ebd2.jpgLet’s dispense with all the foo-foo background stuff and go right to the first thing you should NEVER do with an interlock unit in your car, which is to leave the car running and unattended. If you miss a test once the car is running, that’s called a skipped rolling retest. This is so basic and so important that the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (called the AHS, and until recently known as the DAAD) includes specific instructions about this in the order granting a restricted license under a section called “Notice of Proper Interlock Use.” The problem is that many people don’t read this, or read over it so quickly they forget it, especially once the unit has been installed and they learn the basics of operating it. That’s a big mistake.

In the real world, people sometimes step out of a vehicle for a minute or two; the problem, however, is that in the real world, that minute or two can get away from you and become five or ten. The reason that the state goes through all the trouble of providing these instructions is not so that people will skip reading them and then wind up getting a violation; the whole point is to avoid this colossal outlay of time and money in the first place. This is real simple: DO NOT leave your vehicle unattended, even for a minute. The very week this article was written, I had a violation hearing for a real upstanding guy who had stepped out to brush snow off of his car, then wound up slipping on the ice; he fell down, cut his hand, and ran inside to bandage it. He came out to find he had missed a test by a few seconds. As explainable as his situation was (we won the violation hearing and also won his full, unrestricted driving privileges), he still had to go through the violation first, which meant his license was re-revoked (technically called a “reinstatement of original action”) all over again. Beyond trying to avoid these situations in the fist place, what do you do if your breath test ever comes back positive, or you otherwise miss a retest?
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As a Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyer, just about every part of my job and every case I work with involves someone operating a vehicle. This is so much the case that I wish there was some better way to describe myself, and am currently considering the name or URL “Michigan Center for Driver’s Rights.” Whatever comes of that some day, the reality for me is that just about every day, I am in court dealing with issues that arise from or are directly related to a person driving, including things like possession of marijuana and driving while license suspended or revoked charges. In this article, I want to look at those very common, but very aggravating revoked and suspended license (DWLS/DWLR) charges.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for coplights.jpgDriving while license suspended (DWLS) and driving while license revoked (DWLR) are misdemeanor criminal charges. They can either be 1st offense or 2nd offense charges. Depending on who wrote the ticket or if the matter is a 2nd rather than a 1st offense charge, these can either be “state law” cases, meaning that the charge is brought by county prosecutor, or “city” or “township” cases, meaning that the charge is handled by a local, municipal lawyer. Generally speaking, municipal attorneys have more flexibility in working out better plea deals and can often be more lenient. Most municipal attorneys are private lawyers who have a contract with the city or township to handle its legal work, and part of that work includes handling misdemeanor ordinance violations. This means that he or she may be defending someone for a DWLS or DUI offense on a another day and in a different court. That someone has been hired and taken money from a client to go make things better makes working with that kind of person much easier.

Many people get all worried about the potential jail part of a DWLS charge, but avoiding that is relatively easy in almost every case I handle, including 2nd offense cases. There is far more to worry about in one of these cases, however, than just going to jail. Keeping, getting back, or at least preserving the ability to get back your license is very important and should never be overlooked in the celebration of not getting locked up. It is incredibly easy for a lawyer to handle a DWLS or DWLR case for a client and keep him or her out of jail, yet simultaneously wind up costing the person his or her license, or otherwise take some action that prevents the person from reinstating it sooner, or even straight away. And this is where trouble begins to breed trouble, because the reality is that people need to drive, and will drive, and if you leave someone without a license and they get pulled over again, that just kicks the can down the road by further delaying the time when their license can be reinstated, and then, if they get caught again…. You get the idea, except there comes a point when a person will rack up one too many DWLS or DWLR charges and then wind up in front of a Judge who thinks jail is the only way to stop such behavior. Better to avoid this mess in the fist place, which is why handling these cases involves a lot more than a quick plea deal that merely keeps the client out of jail…
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As a busy Michigan DUI lawyer whose drunk driving practice focuses on Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties, one of the busiest places I go to is the 52-3 district court in Rochester Hills. Beyond cases arising in Rochester and Rochester Hills, his 3-Judge facility handles all the criminal and DUI matters for 9 other municipalities, including Addison Township, Auburn Hills, Lake Angelus, Oakland Township, Orion Township, Oxford Township, Village of Lake Orion, Village of Leonard and the Village of Oxford. When you just skip over the township and village designations, it only makes sense that any court covering thriving places like Auburn Hills, Lake Orion and Rochester handles a lot of drinking and driving cases, and this court certainly does.

52-3-Courthouse-and-Sheriff.jpgThis is a tough court. The reader is almost certainly here because either he or she is facing a DUI, or is looking for relevant DUI information on behalf of someone close. However one gets to this blog, it has been a cornerstone of my writing to try and provide useful information. To start any discussion of Rochester Hills 52-3 district court without first acknowledging that it is widely known as “tough” is to ignore reality to such a degree that anything said thereafter is essentially useless. If you’re facing a DUI charge in this court, you are going to have some work to do. The good news is that this court has no “policy,” or even practice, of sending anyone to jail in 1st offense drinking and driving cases. Moreover, as far as any notion of jail goes, this court is not, by most standards, in any way excessive about it, even in 2nd offense DUI cases.

Probation, however, is a big thing in this court, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a probation department, anywhere, that has a stable of probation officers with nearly as much education as those on staff at the 52-3 district court. And while that means your probation officer will definitely be smarter than the average bear, it also means that you’ll be expected to comply with all conditions of bond and probation as ordered by the Judge, and for what this court doesn’t hand out in terms of jail, it tends to make up with heavy duty probation. Even so, the good news is that amongst the 3 Judges, Julie Nicholson, Lisa Asadorian and Nancy Carniak, there is no “meanness.” None of these Judges has an axe to grind, but merely the very reasonable expectation that DUI drivers don’t become repeat offenders.
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