What’s the most important thing to do if you get a DUI? The simple answer is this: Do your homework. You should read around and spend the time necessary to really compare and evaluate different lawyers and their various approaches to DUI cases. If you’re going to put your future in the hands of some attorney, you should invest the relatively small amount of time necessary to make sure you hire the right person for your case. Before we examine this further, here’s a video I did about what to do after a DUI:
In fact, the very notion of your case makes a good starting point for our discussion. Every DUI case is different and unique, and for a lot of reasons. This goes beyond the underlying facts of the case, and extends to things like its location, as well. We’ll get into this more later on, but even here, within Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, it is always true that if the same DUI case was brought in one city, rather than another, things could play out very differently, simply because of its location.
There are, of course, endless other things that make each OWI case unique, and differentiate one from another. One area that’s often overlooked, probably because it’s easy to do so, is the personality of the person facing the charge. Who you are as a person matters. DUI clients come in all varieties, from the young to the old, men and women, tall and short, and the really freaked-out and nervous kind – those who have a lot of questions, all the way to the busy person who has few questions and just wants things “handled” without any drama, and everyone in-between.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the kind of person who is more interested in things being” handled” than he or she is in details won’t “click” with the kind of lawyer who is into really explaining things, anymore than a person with a lot of questions won’t “click” as well with a lawyer who is the “strong, silent type.”
As a wise old man once told me (yes, this actually did happen), “that’s what makes prize fights and horse races, and why the paint store sells different colors.”
In the case of our practice, my team and I are the explaining kind of people, and anyone who calls our office will soon find out that we’re very friendly, and that we’re “talkers.” It is simply not in our nature to try and pull off the stuffy, ultra-formal thing, so any potential client looking for that kind of approach won’t find it when calling us.
No matter what, your attorney is going to be your spokesperson when dealing with the prosecutor and the Judge, so if you don’t feel a real connection with any given lawyer or law firm, it’s unlikely those ultra-important parties will, either. Therefore, at least to a certain extent, a person should also trust his or her “gut” feelings about any particular lawyer or law firm.
There’s a lot more to this than just “good vibes,” however. Years ago, before the internet, the only way to find a lawyer was to call around, schedule several office consultations, and then haul out to them in order to do some comparison shopping between lawyers.
It might seem to be counter-intuitive for me to suggest anyone looking for a lawyer should “shop around” rather than to simply “call us,” but it’s not. The ultimate goal should always be for the client to find the right lawyer, and the lawyer to take on a client with whom he or she can work well together.
It’s now 2020, and every lawyer has a website, so a lot of that “comparison shopping” can be done just be reading around online. Lawyers either put up enough useful information online or not. If not, then I’d strongly suggest skipping to the next, because there are plenty to consider.
Also, and rather unfortunately, some lawyers still use the whole idea of a “free consultation” as an opportunity to bring someone into the office and, in their minds, hopefully close the deal and get retained. Usually, the online presence of such operations is short on analysis, and consists mostly of self-promotion and inducements to “Call Now!”
As I just said, when you encounter stuff like that, skip to the next.
Other lawyers, like our firm, prefer to make as much information available as possible online.
When a lawyer or firm takes the time to maintain a robust website and/or blog, you can usually get a very good idea of what they’re like by reading what they’ve put up. That’s great for anyone looking around, but, it’s also helpful for the practice, as well. It certainly is for us. Let me explain:
No matter how you cut it, everyone is in business to make a living. Rent and wages don’t get paid by NOT getting retained.
Over the course of the last 11-plus years, I have written and published 2 new articles each week on this blog. Within the more than 1100 articles I have published so far, and more than 450 of them about DUI cases, specifically, I have addressed every facet of Michigan’s OWI process and answered hundreds of questions before they even have to be asked.
I even have a Youtube channel that is growing.
This allows potential clients to screen us first, without having the inevitable pressure that comes with being dragged in for an office appointment, or even having to call. In our case, having a blog like this helps potential clients get to know us, and makes at least some of that suggested “comparison shopping” a lot more convenient.
We not only explain the DUI process and our approach to it on both this blog and our website, but also publish our fees, as well.
Whatever else, if anyone emails us and asks, “How much do you charge…?”, I know that he or she hasn’t spent much time poking around on either our site or blog.
Those who do check our fee structure don’t have to waste any time deciding if they like us, or not, only to then have to ask if they can afford us, or not. A person can identify where we fit on the price scale just by looking.
Price is one thing, but there is also the larger subject of a lawyer or law firm’s “approach” to DUI cases that I have hinted at already.
The more a lawyer or law firm puts out about that, the easier it is for a client to find it. We won’t go very far into this here, because to date, and even after having published more than 450 DUI-specific articles, I still haven’t covered every possible nuance of drinking and driving cases, and I doubt that could be completely done even in 4500 articles, but I sure have covered a lot.
That said, within those articles, I do tend to circle back to certain aspects of how we handle cases that I think are important, like the necessity of thoroughly preparing our clients for the alcohol assessment test that is mandatory in all DUI cases.
This is a written test, the answers to which are numerically scored. Comparing a person’s final “tally” to a scoring key, it is then determined whether he or she likely has, or is at risk to develop, a drinking problem. Whatever anyone may think about how this is done, the bottom line is that this written screening test essentially results in a diagnosis used to determine what kind of education, counseling, and/or treatment he or she will be required to complete by the court.
This is all part of a larger process, called a Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) that is carried out by a probation officer. The probation officer must look at all the facts involved in the case, conduct and interview with and get background information on the person facing the charge, score his or her alcohol screening test, and then, using all of that, make a formal written recommendation to the Judge advising what the person’s sentence should be.
In the real world, every Judge, in every court, follows this recommendation VERY closely, so a key focus of our practice is making sure our clients do as well as possible on the alcohol screening test and throughout the rest of the PSI process. In the real world, lenient recommendations result in lenient sentences, so we direct our efforts to preparing our clients to make sure we get just that.
This is key to our “approach,” and becomes obvious to anyone who spends a little time on this blog, or on our site.
Other lawyers focus on different aspects of the DUI process. While some of those things have merit, not all of them do, and if I was in the market for a DUI attorney, I would be able to rule out a some lawyers just by determining that their approach didn’t seem to hold any potential benefit for me.
Of course, to each his or her own, and that’s really my point: a person can only come to know this by doing his or her homework and looking around.
Thus, and as I close almost every article, if you’re looking for a DUI lawyer, be a good consumer, do your homework, and read around. Read how lawyers explain the DUI process, and how they explain their approach to it. When you’ve done enough of that, start checking around.
You can learn a lot by calling a law office. All of our consultations are free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call. My team and I are very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions and explain things.
We can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at either 248-986-9700 or 586-465-1980.