As busy Michigan DUI lawyers, one of the first questions we ask people who contact us about their pending OWI charge is “where?” It is hard to overstate the importance of location in a DUI case, especially here, in what we define as the “Metro-Detroit” (or “Greater Detroit”) area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Livingston, St. Clair, and Washtenaw Counties. In this article, we’ll look at the reality that a DUI case pending in one court can turn out very different than if it is brought in another.

vectorstock_10807625-300x300Most people know the first rules of real estate: location, location, and location. Even within the same religious denomination, for example, one church can have a very different “feel” than another, simply because of the personality of the pastor or priest in charge. Location can be a key factor in things that otherwise “seem” to be the same: Different people might prefer one store over another, even though it’s the same retailer, or think the guacamole is better at one location of a restaurant chain than another. If you think about it for a moment, the reason for that has a lot to do with who is in charge and runs things.

In restaurants, it’s the manager who’s responsible for the food, even if indirectly. If a manager hires Talented Tina, puts her charge of making the guacamole, and it’s consistently excellent, then he or she gets the credit. However, if that manager leaves the guacamole-making to whoever is least busy, then he or she gets the blame when it sucks. Manager “A” may consider having consistently good guacamole important, whereas Manager “B” might not give it a second thought. In that same way, the importance of “who’s in charge” also applies in the court system, as well.

As busy Michigan DUI lawyers, we know that absolutely everyone going through a drunk driving case is going to have to answer some direct questions about his or her drinking. Those questions are standard in every DUI case, and asked as part of a larger court screening process that tries to determine whether the person has, or is at risk to develop, a drinking problem. In this article, I want to shift the focus from the official inquiry about a person’s drinking to a private and more personal conversation about the reader’s relationship to alcohol.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2021/05/Drinkerdude1.2-300x300.jpgIt’s likely (although unfortunate) that a lot of people are going to blow off this write-up, but my hope is to speak sincerely to those who do take the time to read it. As much as I want to use my written words to begin a conversation of sorts, what I’m really trying to do here is allow someone to open up to themselves WITHOUT fear of judgment, and without having to answer to anyone else. If you have ever wondered about your drinking, even for a moment, then let’s take the time to look over a few things that may be helpful in evaluating whether your relationship to alcohol has become troublesome.

Before we start, let me explain a little bit about myself: I have been a DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyer for more than 30 years, and in that capacity, how people use alcohol is central to everything my team and I do, all day, every day. Because of that, and after about 20 years as a practicing lawyer, I returned to the University campus for a formal, post-graduate program of addiction studies. This provided me with a broad and comprehensive understanding of the development, diagnosis and treatment of alcohol and substance abuse problems, as well as the many ways people recover from them.

As Michigan DUI lawyers who concentrate in DUI and driver’s license restoration cases, my team and I have to pay close attention to details. Of course, there can be big and obvious differences between various kinds of cases, but often enough, what matter most in a DUI or driver’s license restoration case comes down to something very small. The idea for this article came from this line used several times in a great book I just finished, called “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig: “Never underestimate the big importance of small things.”

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2021/05/Important-1.2-300x265.jpgUnlike most of my other articles that tend to examine some particular aspect of either the court or the driver’s license appeal process, this piece will be more of a survey about how little things, like a few seconds one way or another, and even a person’s attitude, can dramatically affect a DUI or driver’s license restoration case. Although the idea that small things can have big importance applies to just about every possible situation in life, it really hits home in drunk driving and driver’s license appeal cases, where it can make all the difference to the outcome.

For example, a person cannot be charged with a 2nd offense DUI unless he or she has a prior conviction for another DUI within 7 years from the date of his or her arrest for the subsequent charge. My team and I have literally had cases involving a person being arrested just hours past midnight a day after that 7 year window had closed, sparing him or her from being charged as a 2nd offender, and plenty of other cases where the arrest took place a mere day or two inside – or outside – of that 7-year window. Thus, never underestimate the big importance of small things.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we interact with clients, courts, and prosecutors regarding DUI charges every single day. The moment a person is arrested for a DUI, he or she has a “case.” From that point on, everybody talks about the pending charge in terms of it being a case. While that’s technically correct, speaking that way almost has the effect of removing the person from the equation. The reality is that a DUI charge only has meaning when we consider the person facing it. In this article, I want to make sure we keep the focus on the “U” (you) in a DUI case.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2021/05/You-1.2-300x267.jpgFor all the legal and technical elements that go into a DUI charge, the bottom line is that every DUI case is, in fact, about a person. The idea of focusing on the you (U) in a DUI is a very real thing. Sure, a DUI case is made up of evidence and facts, but those things only exist because a person first made them all happen. At times, it can seem like the court system almost treats a DUI charge like it’s separate from the person facing it. However, the legal consequences of a DUI are real, and will affect the person who got it, not to mention his or her family, and even others, as well.

Nobody is “for” drunk driving, but it’s a fact that, in life, everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes, a DUI just happens. The way to prevent a repeat DUI episode is to make sure the person who did it on one occasion understands how not to let it happen again. This is were the you (U) in DUI cases can get lost, because the court system has limited options for dealing with the individual needs of the many people who go through the DUI process. It’s not a stretch to say that DUI offenders are very often subjected to a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

In part 1 of this article, we began an overview of the potentially dire consequence of lying (or mischaracterizing something) to a hearing officer in the context of a Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal hearing. Over the course of my 30-plus years as a license appeal lawyer, my team and I have seen and heard just about everything. For all of that, however, there is one directive we give to our clients that never changes: tell the truth. In this 2nd part, we’re going to look at how admitting to something “unhelpful” in a license hearing is a lot better than ever being found to have lied.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2021/04/avaBSG1.-300x300.jpgAll the legal issues aside, the reality is that pretty much everyone “needs” a license, and most people who have it revoked for multiple DUI’s will try, at some point or another, to get it back. Some people will just plow ahead without a clue about how to do a license appeal, only to find out that accuracy, consistency and honesty are critical to winning. A lack of accuracy or consistency is bad enough, but if it comes as the result of someone outright lying, or otherwise trying to “BS” the hearing officer, not only will the person’s current appeal be denied, the label “liar” will remain attached to and follow him or her to any subsequent appeals, as well.

That can be a long-term deal-breaker. For as much as my team and I have “heard it all,” we ultimately get to decide which cases we are going to accept. Because we guarantee to win every license restoration and clearance appeal case we take, we will only undertake representation for people who are honest about having quit drinking, lest we get stuck with some case that is doomed to fail. The hearing officers, by contrast, don’t have that luxury, and have to sit through endless cases for people who don’t understand or really care about the license appeal rules, and only know that they “need” to be able to drive again.

In our roles as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I have sat through thousands of license appeal hearings. Although we have certainly learned many things from our extensive experience, one lesson really stands out: A person should never try to BS a hearing officer. In this 2-part article, we’ll examine why, and how, a lie (or even a “mischaracterization,” to put in nicely) will not only kill a pending license appeal, but can also haunt someone and negatively affect any future license appeals he or she may file later on.

ava3Original-300x300Speaking as a driver’s license reinstatement attorney, I would much rather find myself representing a client who admitted to something that derailed his or her current appeal rather than a client who lied about it. This applies even if the person could somehow get away with being untruthful at that moment and win. Although it’s just plain wrong to lie, I’m not going to moralize here; instead, we’ll proceed on the basis that “things come out in the wash.” As it turns out, that old saying has a way of becoming reality in license appeal cases more than in any other setting I’ve ever seen.

One of the problems with lying in general is that a person has to keep track of his or her fibs. In a license appeal, the hearing officer listens critically and skeptically to everything a person says, and is on an active lookout for any inconsistencies. Moreover, anyone who files and wins the restoration of his or her Michigan driver’s license will have to come back at some point down the road for a second hearing to “upgrade” his or her initial restricted license with an ignition interlock to a “full,” unrestricted license without the interlock.

As busy Michigan DUI lawyers, there are certain things that we see so often that it’s hard for us to NOT take them for granted. In this article, I want to cover 3 of the most common things: First, that once someone pulled over is asked to step out of the vehicle to take field sobriety tests, he or she is almost certainly going to be arrested for DUI, second, that a person will never sweet-talk or argue their way out of a DUI arrest, and, third, that anyone who refuses to take a breath or blood test after being arrested for a DUI will have his or her driver’s license suspended.

Fat-3-265x300The inspiration for this article came on a recent evening while my wife and I were driving home from visiting our daughter. As we passed a large, well-lit gas station on Woodward Avenue, we saw that a car had been stopped near the pumps by 2 police cars with flashing emergency lights. The driver was standing outside and being watched by 2 officers as he was performing some field sobriety tests. “He’s getting arrested,” I said to my wife. She then asked how I knew that based upon what we saw, so I explained to her that by the time someone is asked to step out of his or her vehicle for field sobriety tests, it’s almost always foregone conclusion that he or she is going to jail.

This may not be of any direct help for anyone who has already been arrested for a DUI, but perhaps it can help him or her avoid wasting their time wondering if, once they had been pulled over, they could have done or said anything differently to have avoided being taken into custody. In the case of a chemical test refusal, we’ll see why the person should have consented to a breath or blood test following their arrest. For as much as there is to know concerning what can be done about a pending DUI, much of that depends on what did and didn’t happen surrounding the initial police contact and the arrest that followed.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we carefully screen potential clients to make sure that we can win their cases while also ensuring that the information we present is both accurate and honest. Even though my team and I handle over 200 license appeal matters each year (more than any firm I know), we are still just one spoke in a much larger wheel. The Michigan Secretary of State Hearing officers who decide these cases easily handle over more than 7 times as many cases than we do, and in that capacity, they have quite literally “heard it all” many times over.

HO2-275x300Unfortunately, a lot of what is presented in license restoration or clearance appeal hearings is misguided at best, and, at worst, outright BS. Thankfully, our firm does so such thing, but lawyers who don’t concentrate in these cases and people trying to do this on their own don’t really know the driver’s license rules, and are therefore often take what amounts to a “shot in the dark.” Ultimately, driver’ license appeal cases are decided based upon the the law and the evidence presented. This means a person who might otherwise be qualified to win can lose his or her case if the evidence they present doesn’t meet the legally required burden of proof.

That’s a cold reality, but it’s also what a lot of people find out the hard way after having tried some “do-it-yourself” appeal, or otherwise having hired some lawyer whose practice doesn’t specifically focus upon driver’s license restoration cases. Regrettably, the license appeal process gets clogged up with people who simply don’t understand (or don’t care) that genuine sobriety is THE foundational requirement to win. This is the kind of stuff that the hearing officers have to slog through each and every day.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I answer a lot of questions how to get out of a DUI charge. It’s perfectly normal that just about every person arrested for drunk driving hopes there’s some way to get the whole matter dismissed. Indeed, would be abnormal to NOT think that way. I have addressed the notion of getting out of a DUI on both my site, and within other articles on this blog. In this piece, however, I want to shift the focus from getting out of a DUI to getting through it.

Panic2-300x287The hard, statistical truth is that in Michigan, more than 9 out of 10 people arrested for drunk driving are NOT going to have their cases thrown out of court, or otherwise dismissed. Therefore, since more than 90% of all the people who do get arrested for a DUI will have to go through the court system, it only makes sense to focus on how to do that in such a way as to wind up with the least amount of negative consequences and penalties possible. I often say this, but it’s an absolute truth that is worth repeating: Success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you.

This is important, because “success” goes well beyond merely staying out of jail. Avoiding jail is always the first priority in every DUI case, but not getting locked up is only the beginning. With very few exceptions, anyone facing a 1st offense DUI isn’t really looking at jail in the first place, so not being subjected to something that wasn’t going to happen anyway isn’t any kind of “success.” Instead, a person needs to avoid all the other things that can (and will be) be thrown at him or her instead of incarceration.

As a Michigan driver’s license restoration law firm that guarantees to win every restoration and clearance appeal case we take, my team and I have to ask each and every potential client some tough questions as part of our initial screening. Because the key goal of every license appeal is proving that a person has given up alcohol (and drugs) for good, we must ask any potential client some very direct questions about his or her relationship to alcohol, and specifically, when he or she last consumed any.

Q2-300x261Make no mistake, our firm is in business to make money. We get no pleasure from turning away people who are ready to pay our fees. However, our guarantee means that when we take on a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal, we are obligated to stick with it until our client does win, and the last thing we want to do is hitch ourselves to some case that cannot succeed. If we did that, then we’d wind up eating a loss and then getting stuck having to do the whole case all over again the following year – for free.

The simple truth is that we earn our livings winning these cases the first time around. Although we seldom lose a restoration or clearance appeal, on the very few occasions that we haven’t won the first time, we have never hesitated to honor our guarantee. Nevertheless, our whole screening process is designed to make sure we don’t wind up taking on a case that cannot or is otherwise not yet ready to win. This helps prevent us from having to do everything a second time, at our expense, as “warranty work.”

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