As a Michigan criminal and DUI lawyer, I am contacted all the time by people facing something like a drunk driving, suspended license or possession of marijuana charge and are worried about the upcoming date on their citation.  In this very short article, I merely want to explain what this means and help the reader understand that, for the most part, and despite what it may seem like, the date on your ticket is most often NOT any kind of fixed “court date.”  This is very relevant to those who contact me after something like a DUI arrest. worried about getting an appointment right away and saying something like, “My court date is next Tuesday.”  To be sure, every criminal case begins with a first court date called an arraignment.  I’ve written extensively about that, and would encourage the reader interested in a detailed examination of what that proceeding is all about to read the linked articles.  Here, we’ll look at arraignments in more superficial terms of its position in the larger picture of a criminal or DUI case and how it gets started.

imagesSometimes, a person is brought before a Judge or Magistrate for arraignment while he or she is in custody after an arrest.  This can be done by video or by actually having the person come into a courtroom.  If you’ve already done that, then you can skip this article entirely.  For everyone else, imagine your notice to appear or instruction to otherwise contact the court (this can be on the ticket, on a separate piece of paper, like a bond receipt, or just be something the police tell you as you’re released) in the way you’d think of an email confirmation to register with a website; once you confirm your contact details, then all relevant notifications can be sent to the right place.  Before you wonder what the hell that means, let’s look at one of the most common situations following an OWI arrest: A person is released with a ticket that arises them to appear in court “on or before” a certain date, or to contact the court within so many days.  If the person just picks up the phone and calls the court, many times, the clerk will simply confirm the person’s address and then tell him or her that notice of when to appear will be sent.  That notice can be for something called an arraignment, a pre-trial date, or a combined arraigment/pre-trial; the details don’t matter as much as the fact that all a person needs to do is call the court to find out what to do next, and much of the time, he or she will be told to just wait for something in the mail.

In some cases a person is given a date to appear for an arraignment.  The short explanation of the arraignment is that it is a proceeding in which a person is formally told the exact charge(s) against him or her ( e.g., Operating While Intoxicated), advised of his or her constitutional rights (“You have the right to a lawyer…”), and given conditions of bond (“Do not leave the state without the court’s permission…” etc.).  For those released from lockup without posting any money, a bond amount (usually a few hundred dollars, at most) may be required, as well.  In many courts, depending on the charge, that arraignment can be “waived” by a lawyer so that a person does not need to go.  When a lawyer files the papers to waive an arraignment, a “not guilty” plea will automatically be entered for him or her, and the person and the lawyer will await a notice from the court to show up for what’s called a “pre-trial” date, where discussions about resolving the case are had between the lawyer and the prosecutor.

In my capacity as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I guarantee to win every case I take.  To make that happen, I will only take a case for someone who has honestly quit drinking.  It has never been my goal to compete with any other lawyer on price, or really at any level, beyond striving to be the very best in my field.  I don’t just “do” license clearance and restoration appeals – they are the very focus of my practice.  This goes hand in hand with my deep, 25-plus year interest in the addiction and alcohol issues, so much so that a number of years ago, I went back to the University classroom and completed a post-graduate program of addiction studies so that I might formally sharpen my clinical knowledge and expertise in things like how people recover from problems with alcohol and drugs.  Whatever else, I understand addiction and recovery from every angle – from the inside looking out, the outside looking in, and from the clinical side and the legal side, as well.  In the course of any given month, I appear and conduct (and win) more license appeal hearings before the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) than most lawyers will ever handle in the course of their entire career.

1c0242dI don’t check other lawyer’s prices, but I have been told that my fees are higher than some others.  While I try to keep my fees reasonable, I believe that I am the poster-boy for the idea that you get what you pay for.  And to be clear, there are some lawyers who charge more than I do, although I can honestly say that many times, I’ve been called in to clean up after some of those guys have lost a case, thus proving the idea that while you never get what you don’t pay for, just paying a lot doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best; instead, it just means you paid too much.  When it comes to winning back your driver’s license, you must understand that there is an additional cost to losing beyond the money.  If you lose your appeal, you cannot file another for a full year.  Beyond that, you’ll have to fix all the mistakes that caused you to lose the first time.  At least with me, a client has the certainty of knowing that they’ll only pay me once and they will get back on the road.

The quality of service from my office is on a whole different level than what I suspect anyone else provides.  In general, I think a lot of the hype around “better service” is a bunch of BS.  When I order something online, I’m concerned about service only to the extent that the right product (meaning one that matches the description I relied upon in placing it) is sent to me quickly and correctly.  I don’t care if my order is processed by a robot, some guy in a tank top and shorts, or some guy in a tuxedo and white gloves.  License restoration cases, however, are different.   My first meeting with a new client takes about 3 hours (often, a bit more) in my office.  And let me be perfectly candid: I’m a really nice guy and consider my practice an opportunity to help people, but I’m still in business to make money, so I don’t keep these appointments long just so we can talk baseball, or anything like that.  In that same way, as far as my guarantee goes, I don’t make my money having to re-do a case a second time; I make my money winning them the first time, meaning I’m as invested in a successful outcome as my client.  I am thorough in a way that takes time.  There are no shortcuts to lasting success.

Of all the things I do in my criminal practice, none is more acutely serious, yet nearly as un-technical or less legalistic than handling probation violations.  There are really 5 things you should know if you’re facing a PV (also called a VOP for “violation of probation” in some courts, and a “show cause” in others).  We’ll set them out below and then look at each, in turn:

WCsTCWT41. Your lawyer is your most important asset Now is the time to hire the best-spoken attorney you can get.  Sure, you can go cheap, but how much good will the money you saved do you when you’re sitting in jail?  You don’t always get what you pay for, but you’ll almost never get what you don’t pay for.

2.  Facts matter.  What happened, and what did not happen, and the why of it all is important, especially if it helps your cause.  You need to make sure your lawyer takes the time to understand everything relevant about your alleged violation in order to make things better for you.

It has been a while since I’ve addressed how the location of a DUI case directly impacts the way things will turn out, but I find myself explaining this so often that I think it’s about time to look at it again.  This will be a VERY short article because it’s more about this simple, single point, rather than anything else, but its importance in terms of what happens to you cannot be overstated.  In the Detroit area, and that means primarily the Tri-County area of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb, the “where” of a DUI charge is absolutely critical.  Someone facing a DUI in one court could wind up on reporting probation with all kinds of classes and counseling and testing whereas, in a different court and under the same case facts, he or she could simply be required to do nothing more than pay a fine.  The location factor is so dominant that whenever my staff approaches me about a new DUI client or inquiry, my very first question is “where?”

32location2810aDrunk driving gets a lot of attention in the media, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that consequences are getting harsher, and not easier.  This applies everywhere.  Yet even within that larger trend, it has always been the case that certain jurisdictions are more forgiving than others in drinking and driving cases.  In the broadest sense, Oakland County is considered “tougher” than either Macomb or Wayne, and you won’t find a single practicing lawyer who disagrees with that.  Certainly a few of the very toughest courts are located in Oakland County, but just a few days before this article was written, I was in an Oakland County court where my client was sentenced to a very short term of probation that was much less demanding than one could ever expect almost anywhere in either Wayne or Macomb County, so there is no hard and fast rule to any of this.  Beyond this purposefully general observation, I’m not about to publish any kind of “rankings” about who’s tougher than who, and will save those discussions for the safer confines of the attorney-client relationship.  Instead, we’ll stick to the larger point that in DUI cases, just like in real estate, the 3 most important things are location, location, and location.

I characterize DUI cases as “accidents of geography” because no one ever plans on getting arrested for drunk driving in the first place, so no one plans their route to make sure that if they do get pulled over, it’s somewhere better, rather that worse.  Instead, when a DUI happens, it just happens, wherever and whenever.  Even so, I know that even I breathe a sigh of relief when I hear my client’s case is location I know to be “easier.”  And let me be perfectly clear so that any Judge reading this understands; the idea of tougher versus more lenient, or one court somehow being “better” than another has nothing to do with judicial ability or integrity.  Instead, it is natural and understandable for a DUI lawyer to view things from the perspective of his or her client, and unless you’re some kind of masochist, it’s just human nature to want less consequences, rather than more.  I’m sure every single Judge out there thinks his or her way of handling these cases is the best (in much the same way that every Mexican restaurant owner probably thinks his or her salsa is the best), but the simple fact is that to anyone going through a DUI, less is ALWAYS more, and therefore always more preferable.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at ignition interlock violation hearings.  This is a 2-part article, and is 1 of 3 loosely related Michigan driver’s license restoration subjects: The first article examined the standard of proof required to win a license appeal, while the second focused on the Michigan Secretary of State hearing officers who decide these cases (by applying the standard of proof), and this third article, which looks at ignition interlock violations and analyzes how the different standard of proof used here and the hearing officers are essential components of these cases.  In part 1, we examined the standard of proof required to win a violation hearing, and then talked about submitting evidence to overcome the standing presumption that, when violated, you either missed or failed a retest, had 3 startup failures within a monitoring period, or somehow did something to tamper with or otherwise circumvent the interlock unit. We’ll pick up here, in this 2nd part, I will survey how all of this plays out in the real world in each of those situations.

violation-of-rulesLet’s walk through those 3 common violations in turn.  As I pointed out before, if you miss or fail a rolling retest, the least likely explanation is that you actually did provide a sample and passed with triple zeros (.000), but that the machine simply reported otherwise.  Even if you missed the test because you were rescuing a baby from that proverbial burning building, chances are that the interlock machine is right when it indicates that you missed the required test.  The same holds true for a test that is positive for alcohol.  There are a million explanations about how or why that test result could be errant because you were not drinking, but the chance that you actually provided a sample that incorrectly detected some kind of alcohol is almost nil.  It could be that you spilled hand sanitizer on the handset, or any of those million other reasons, but the point is that it is almost certain that the machine did not somehow detect alcohol that simply wasn’t there.  Something made it register alcohol, as innocent as the cause may be.

The burden of proof you carry is to come forward and explain to the the how and why of it.  If you missed a test, then you are expected to show that you went to the police station and obtained a PBT or otherwise took an EtG test, or thereafter, within a few minutes somehow verifiably provided a negative sample.  If you don’t have those things, then you have to provide an explanation that counts as evidence to counterbalance the presumption that you missed the test or otherwise failed it because you had consumed alcohol.  Think of the scales as going from -10 to +10, with 0 being even.  In a missed retest situation, the scale that says you missed (presumably because you were drinking) sits at about a +4, meaning that the other scale, the one in your favor, sits at about a -4.  You need to add +5 to it to get it back to midpoint and then tipped in your favor.

This is the third article in a loosely-related series about the Michigan driver’s license restoration process.  It is a bit longer than the previous 2 installments, and will therefore be divided into 2 parts.  In the first article, we began by examining the standard of proof required to win a restoration or clearance appeal, and then, in the second article, followed up by surveying the role the hearing officer plays in the license reinstatement process, and how he or she must apply the standard of proof to the evidence presented to decide whether someone wins or not.  Here, we’ll conclude by looking at ignition interlock violations brought by the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) after someone has won back his or her license.  The sheer number of these violations has grown so much in recent years that I probably have at least 1 or 2 on my schedule every week.  The reason I have included this topic in this trilogy is that being familiar with both the standard of proof that’s applied in deciding violation cases (which is different from the standard of proof used to decide whether to grant a license or not in the first place), and the hearing officer who decides it are critically important components to success.  As with each of the previous articles, this one stands on it’s own, but really comes to life when read in combination with the others.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2017/03/violation-promo-3.0.jpgThere is no diplomatic way to put this other than to just candidly say that ignition interlock violations suck royally.  By the time you officially learn you have one, it comes in a notice from the Secretary of State informing you that, in a few days, your license will be revoked all over again, and the only thing you can do about it is to file an request within 14 days for a hearing to challenge the re-revocation (technically called a “reinstatement of original action”) or your license will stay revoked.  There is no way to head off a violation or the upcoming revocation once the notice arrives in the mail, meaning that you will be unable to drive for a while no matter what you do.  Here, it is necessary to understand the different burden of proof used in violation cases and how the hearing officer applies it.  While it goes without saying that anyone being violated is not happy, it does no good to be angry with the hearing officer, because it is not him or her who “violates” anyone.  Instead, the the hearing officers are assigned, at random, to decide violation cases within the framework of the AHS rules by applying the relevant standard of evidence.

To the extent possible, I always try to avoid using legalese (which I often describe as “legal mumbo-jumbo”), so my reference to the “relevant standard of evidence” in the last paragraph is rather deliberate.  In the first article, we made clear that to win a license appeal, you must prove your case by what is called “clear and convincing evidence.”  If there is any good news within the context of ignition interlock violation cases, it’s that they are decided using a lower standard of proof, known as “preponderance of the evidence.”  At its simplest, preponderance of the evidence simply means tipping the scales beyond even, in one direction or another.  “Clear and convincing evidence” is a much higher standard than “preponderance of the evidence,” but that alone doesn’t make winning a violation hearing easy.  As we’ll see, when you walk into a violation hearing, it’s not like the imaginary scales of justice are sitting evenly lined up, and all you need to do is add just a little evidence to tip them in your favor.  Instead, because of the allegation that you either failed or missed a rolling retest, had 3 positive-for-alcohol startup failures within a download period, or otherwise did something to tamper or circumvent the interlock unit, the scales are already tipped way against you (to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the allegations) and your job is to tip them back to the even point, and then just a bit more, in your favor.  Let’s see how all this works…

In the context of a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal, the most important person, by far, is the hearing officer that will be presiding over your case.  In the prior article about the standard of proof in license reinstatement cases, we examined how the evidence must stack up, and the criteria the hearing officer uses to measure it.  Since it ultimately is the hearing officer that will decide whether your evidence is “clear and convincing” (or not), it helps to more fully understand his or her function in the whole license appeal process.  In this short article, we’ll return to a subject we have not visited for a while – the role of the hearing officer in license restoration and clearance appeal cases.  Although this article stands on its own, I suggest first reading the prior article about the standard of proof, as this and the next article are intended as a kind of loose series.

imagesMany people who hire me to win their license back have tried to appeal before and lost, either on their own, or with some lawyer who probably said that he or she “does” driver’s license restoration cases.  It is normal for someone who has lost to be upset at the hearing officer who denied the appeal, especially if the person is genuinely sober.  This is where you need to understand the hearing officer’s role as directed by his or her employer, the Michigan Secretary of State Administrative Hearing Section.  Granting or denying an appeal isn’t so much about believing that someone is or isn’t sober, but rather determining if the person has submitted proof that meets the clear and convincing evidence standard.  Here, just like in the previous article, we need to understand the directive of the main rule governing license restoration and clearance cases, because it begins with the following mandate, “The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the following…”  The key here is the “shall not” language, because it is a negative instruction to the hearing officer.  The rule does not say, for example, that the hearing officer “can” or “may,” grant the appeal, but rather that he or she “shall not” approve it unless the person trying to win back his or her license proves certain things by what is defined as “clear and convincing evidence.”

It may seem like we’re repeating things from the previous article, but it is critically important to  understand the wording of the rule, because it requires the hearing officer to to deny an appeal absent “clear and convincing evidence.”  The hearing officer isn’t supposed to vacillate between “yes or no,” but rather just think “no” until your evidence makes him or her conclude “yes.”  And as one-sided as this may sound, the hearing officer is the state’s protection against putting someone who is a risk to ever drink again back behind the wheel.  Never lose sight of the fact that the state would rather incorrectly deny 1000 people who are really sober (but came up short in proving that) than it would ever want to put just one risky drinker back on the road.  The 2 key things that must be proven in a license appeal are that the person’s alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning a person can at least reasonably approximate the point at which he or she stopped drinking, and that the person’s alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that the person is a safe bet to never drink again.  In other words, winning a license appeal is about demonstrating that you quit drinking and have the tools and commitment to never drink again, and it is the hearing officer’s job to approve only people who prove that by clear and convincing evidence.  So who are these people…

To win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal, you have to prove 2 specific things: First, that your alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning that you can fix a sobriety date, and second, that your alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that you are a safe bet to never drink again.  In this article I want to shift the focus from the specific things you have to prove  to how you prove them.  This is called the standard of proof.  Most readers will recognize that, in a criminal case, for example, the standard of proof required to convict someone of a crime is proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  To win a license appeal pending before the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), the body that decides whether you get your license back or not, you must prove your case by what is called “clear and convincing evidence.”  If you read 12 articles about the meaning of “clear and convincing evidence,” you’ll probably get 13 different opinions.  Fortunately, in the context of a license restoration or clearance case, the meaning is pretty straightforward, so this, fortunately, won’t be a long article.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2017/03/legal-scaled-3.0.jpgBefore we analyze the “clear and convincing evidence” standard of proof, it will be helpful to understand how it’s applied by the AHS hearing officers.  This is not putting the cart before the horse; if one was to examine the rubber composition of car tires, for example, it would be most helpful to understand how they are to be used, because snow tires built to last for several years have a very different application than race car tires designed to last a mere 50 to 100 laps around a track.  In the context of a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal, everything is decided under the standard of Rule 13.  We’ll skip all the legal mumbo-jumbo here and go right to the relevant part of what the rule says, and then see what that means in the real world.  Rule 13 begins this way: “The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the following…”  What is significant is that the rule, which really is an instruction to the hearing officer, begins with a NEGATIVE mandate; it tells the hearing officer that he or she “shall not order that a license be issued unless the petitioner (the person trying to win his or her license back) proves (the things required to be proven) by clear and convincing evidence…”

The set-up here is that if you present a case with 99 good reasons why you should win, but there is also 1 good reason why you should not, then you’ll lose.  The hearing officer is essentially being told to look for a reason or reasons to NOT grant the appeal.  Imagine the hearing officer being put in charge of inspecting a submarine to make sure it was okay to go underwater.  Would a report of it’s safety seem “clear and convincing” to you if it came back and said that it was 99% waterproof, except that rivet #299 was missing?  Hell no.  You’d wonder how soon until the passengers drown.  In that same way, the idea of “clear and convincing evidence” in a license appeal means that after the case is presented, the hearing officer should be left with no unanswered question.  “Clear,” in this sense, simply means clear, as in no need for further clarification or explanation.   The real takeaway from that rule is that the hearing officer is directed to make sure the case, as presented, is air-tight.

It’s hard to say this without sounding conceited, but I’ll try anyway: as a Michigan DUI lawyer, I am rather successful, both in terms of the excellent results I produce for my clients and the busy nature of my practice.  Probably more than anything else, I am most proud of being an honest lawyer, because it takes conscious effort to do that.  It would be much easier (and a hell of a lot more profitable) to be a lawyer who simply tells people what they want to hear.  In the context of a Michigan DUI case, it goes without saying that everyone wants to “beat” the charge against them, or otherwise have it “knocked out” of court.  Every person charged with OWI hopes that the evidence in his or her case is somehow flawed in a way that can get the case dismissed.  In theory, there are millions things that could be wrong with the evidence, but in the real world, those flaws don’t occur often enough to make getting your DUI charge thrown out of court anything but the exception to the rule.  Likewise, there are millions of theoretical reasons why an airplane could just fall out of the sky, but (thankfully), that’s also the exception, and not the rule.  As much as the airline industry works hard to makes sure that things go right, the police do the same thing when with dealing with a suspected DUI driver, as well.  To a pilot, most flights are routine.  To a police officer, arresting drunk drivers is routine, and, what’s more, he or she will probably never encounter a DUI case so complex as to leave him or her unsure of how to handle it.  The main goal in any criminal and DUI case is for the lawyer to make things better; to make them turn out the best they can for the client.  However, focusing solely on getting a DUI charge dismissed outright ignores the whole gamut of other important efforts that should, holistically speaking, be undertaken to produce the best actual results possible in any given case.

Jack_Sparrow_In_Pirates_of_the_Caribbean-_At_Worlds_End-134x300DUI arrests tend to follow pretty established patterns: most people are arrested after getting pulled over while driving.  These traffic stop situations can include cell-phone tips about suspected drunk drivers, or just an officer observing erratic driving.  When you’ve consumed enough to be over the legal limit, your coordination is compromised.  If not (and worse yet), then you have developed the tolerance of a hardcore drinker.  Sometimes the police come upon a drunk driver after being involved in a traffic accident, while other people actually make it to their destination (and can even already be inside, or at least out of the car) before being nabbed by a police officer.  The simple truth is that the police don’t usually make such crippling mistakes in drunk driving case that very many of them are ripe to be thrown out of court.  And even in those “out of car” situations, it’s rarely the police who screw things up, but rather the situation itself which makes it difficult to  “prove” that the person was actually driving the vehicle while intoxicated.  The point here is that while everyone wants to be the lucky exception whose case is dismissed outright, very few people actually are.  Yet from a business point of view, as a DUI lawyer, the better (and easier) money is had by focusing the client’s attention on all the things that could be wrong with the case, and then charging for a search-party effort to go looking for it.  The most accurate term for that is “fishing expedition,” and circus promoter P.T. Barnum’s observation that “There’s a sucker born every minute” is an on-the-mark, if not somewhat unkind way to describe those lured into handing over their hard-earned money for a chance to cast a line into that pond of broken dreams.

Me?  Well, I always feel exactly opposite Pirates of the Caribbean’s morally dubious Captain Jack Sparrow, who, when told that “there will come a time when you have a chance to do the right thing,” responded, “I love those moments. I like to wave at them as they pass by.”  It’s exactly here that being that honest person becomes costly, because some people, no matter how intelligent they are otherwise, can’t resist the appeal buying directly into what they want to hear, so they’ll ignore the scrupulous lawyer trying to be honest with them and go right to the one who will hard-sell the idea of making the whole case just go away. Being that honest guy means telling people the less appealing truth – that it’s not likely that the Judge, absent a significant police screw up, will throw the case out of court.  It means explaining to someone that although they may say they absolutely cannot have a DUI on their record, none of that  matters a bit to the prosecutor or the court.  Being honest means explaining that everyone, from the arresting officer to the Judge, has heard, ten thousand times over, how a DUI will ruin your life, cost your job, screw up your professional licensure, destroy your marriage, and just about  every other end-of-your-world story you could imagine, and such fears, expressed now, don’t matter because, in the real world, almost none of that happens – ever.  Amongst the thousands of clients I have represented, for example, I’ve never had any doctor, nurse, dentist, lawyer, CPA, or anyone else with a professional license lose his or her job; in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone ever lose a job of any kind because of a DUI, so it’s best to not to let fear cause you to blow a ton of money on the lawyer with the magic wand who says he or she can prevent the  apocalypse that’s not coming anyway.  It’s not that I’m unsympathetic, but I’d rather tell you, up front, that your case is (at least statistically speaking) not likely to be dismissed (and certainly not just because you “can’t have a DUI on your record”).  I have no heart to lie.  Sometimes, however, I wish I did.  It would be so easy to say, “Yes, I understand, and we can’t let that happen.  There are millions of things that could be wrong with your case.  If we can find just one of them to get your charges dismissed, then all of this will go away.  All you need to do is retain me so I can get started.”  And because I don’t work that way – because I’m honest –  there go thousands of dollars that, just like Captain Jack Sparrow, I’ll wave at as they pass by, right into someone else’s pocket.  Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way, and let me explain why…

Among the most common questions I’m asked by someone facing a 1st offense OWI charge is “What happens to my license?”  In my role as a Michigan DUI lawyer, one of my primary functions is to protect my client’s ability to drive.  In this article, I want to examine just that – a person’s ability to drive after a conviction for a 1st offense DUI.  We’ll look all 1st offense cases, including regular OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) and High BAC (OWI with BAC of .17 or More) charges.  To keep this article focused, we’ll skip getting into fees and points and anything other than how a 1st offense drunk driving arrest and a subsequent conviction for a drinking and driving offense impact a person’s driving privileges.

ChicoImportant here, and as I noted in the previous article on this blog about plea bargains in DUI cases, most people charged with a 1st offense will ultimately NOT be convicted of the charge originally made against them, at least amongst my clients.  This means that most of the men and women I represent who’ve been arrested for OWI or even High BAC will wind up getting some kind of a deal to lessen the offense, and thereby lessen the impact on their ability to drive.  Perhaps the biggest mistake a person will make is to go look up the charge on their paperwork and then start freaking out over the corresponding driver’s license sanction.  Since the outcome is very likely to change from that original charge, any actual restriction of your driving privileges won’t be nearly as bad as the penalties you first discover.

Another area of frequent misunderstanding is the status of a person’s ability to drive immediately after a DUI arrest.  The police are supposed to confiscate and destroy a person’s physical driver’s license upon arrest for drunk driving.  In return, they give a person a temporary, paper license.  This can take 1 of 2 forms:  A “Michigan Temporary Driving Permit,” or an “Officer’s Report of Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test.”  While there is a difference between these 2 forms, both of them allow a person to drive without any additional restriction whatsoever.  In other words, if you have one of these in your wallet, it allows you to drive in the exact same way you could before your arrest.  The “refusal” form is given to any person who refuses a breath test at the police station, and means his or her license will suspended for a year, unless he or she wins what’s called an “Implied Consent” appeal.  An implied consent suspension is completely independent of anything that happens to a person’s license as a result of the DUI case.  Anyone given the “Officer’s Report of Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test” must appeal to the Michigan Secretary of State (as directed on the back of the form) within 14 days or the suspension will kick in automatically.  This is a subject in its own right and falls outside the scope of this article, so we’ll leave it at that for now.  The bottom line is that when you leave the police station, you have all the same rights and privileges to drive that you had before your arrest.  What, if anything, will happen to those privileges comes later.  Let’s turn to how that works…