In our roles as Michigan DUI lawyers, we handle the entire range of drunk driving charges, from 1st and 2nd offense misdemeanors all the way to 3rd offense, felony cases. Although everyone “knows,” as a matter of instinct, that a 2nd offense is more serious than a 1st offense, and that, in turn, a 3rd offense is more serious than a 2nd offense, it’s important to understand why this is true. In this article, and without using any fear tactics, I want to look at 2nd and 3rd offense DUI charges in a way that will help anyone facing either of them to better appreciate his or her situation.

mnmnmnmnmnmn-266x300In Michigan, what we commonly call “DUI” is legally known as “OWI,” short for “Operating While Intoxicated.” It is a criminal traffic offense, meaning that it is both a criminal offense, and a traffic offense. Consequently, a DUI conviction will go onto both a person’s criminal record and his or her driving record. Despite a number of recent changes to he state’s expungement law, a conviction for a 2nd or 3rd offense DUI charge will go on (and stay on) both a person’s criminal and driving records, and neither of them can ever be set aside. This stands in stark contrast to the recently legislated ability to remove a 1st offense OWI conviction, under certain conditions, from a person’s criminal record.

Everyone understands that criminal and traffic offenses can range from relatively minor to extremely serious. For example, a ticket for speeding 5 mph over the limit is qualitatively different than one for 30 mph over the limit, just like a misdemeanor charge of disorderly person is a world apart from a felony murder charge. One key thing about Michigan DUI charges – unless they involve death or an injury to another – is that the level of severity is basically measured by whether or not a person has any prior OWI convictions, and, if so, how many.

In a recent article, I pointed out that even after being advised about the law and how things work in Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration cases, many people will try to explain why they should be on the receiving end of some kind of special exception, often responding by saying, “yeah, but…” I noted that, in our office, that phenomenon has become known as “yabut,” which is our homemade term used to describe somebody who, like when facing a DUI charge, wonders if there is some way for him or her to get out of what everyone else has to do.

crxrxrxrx-300x277In the context of license restoration appeals, some “yabut” people just need help to understand that the rules regarding driver’s license appeals don’t have any flexibility to provide an exception based upon their individual circumstances. Most of them will ultimately accept what they’re told, even if somewhat begrudgingly. There is a rougher side, to this, however, and it’s something that, as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we hear from some people, who, even after being told how the law works, impatiently respond by saying, “That’s bull$hit!”

One thing my team and I have learned over the years is that the people who are so hell-bent on having things their own way are almost never candidates with any real chance win a license appeal case in the first place. The key requirement to win a license appeal is proving one’s sobriety, and sober people have a certain calm and humility about them that can’t be missed. By contrast, the kind of attitude that compels a person to bark out something like “this is bull$hit” to someone trying to explain things to them is very much the opposite of how sober people think and act.

A Michigan DUI case is comprised of 3 distinct phases, and each of them will feel very different to anyone going through the process. Every case begins with the investigative and arrest phase, and then moves on to the court phase, and finally, the post-court (probation) phase. As Michigan DUI lawyers, most of what we do takes place in the court phase, but the point I want to make in this article is that the focus there needs to first be directed backwards, at the investigative and arrest phase, and what happened there, and then directed forward, through the post-court (probation) phase, to make sure that, when all is said and done, the client has the easiest time possible.

ytrytytrytr2-300x264This may sound logical, but in a DUI case, it’s important to remember that everything done at the court phase has to take into account how and why the client got there in the first place, and what can be done to avoid and/or minimize all the consequences that will follow. Because the lawyer wasn’t there at the time of the arrest, that only makes it all the more important for him or her to thoroughly investigate all the circumstances surrounding it. When a DUI charge lands on a lawyer’s desk, he or she needs to start digging and question everything about it.

Even in a case where the traffic stop and/or initial police contact is legally solid, the police may have made some mistake(s) or other in the the way the evidence was gathered (like how the field sobriety tests were conducted, for example) that can be strategically used to drive a better outcome. Any problems with the traffic stop, or what followed, can only be found if a lawyer is diligent and makes it a point to thoroughly explore the investigative and arrest phase of a case.

Anyone considering a potential driver’s license restoration or out-of-state clearance appeal will invariably start looking online for information. In our roles as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, one of things that clearly separates my team and I from everyone else is the sheer amount of it that we put up on this blog, and on our website. Within the more than 600 driver’s license restoration articles published to date, I have examined every aspect of the license appeal process, often in granular detail. In this piece, I want to bring all of that full-circle and look at what ties it all together.

llklkllklkllklklklklklkl-1-281x300As anyone will quickly discover, there are numerous steps involved in the driver’s license restoration process: A person can’t win back his or her license without a hearing, and a hearing can’t be scheduled until all of the required documents have been filed, and they can’t be filed until a person has undergone a substance use evaluation and had his or her letters of support written, and none of that can take place until he or she first decides to undertake a license appeal in the first place. While each of those stages are connected, there is also a larger element at work, and understanding how it affects the big picture will help everything make more sense.

Of course, it’s best to start at the beginning: A license appeal becomes necessary when a person has had his or her driving privileges revoked as the result of multiple DUI convictions. Under Michigan law, anyone who racks up 2 DUI’s within 7 years or 3 within 10 years is categorized as a “habitual alcohol offender.” One of the legal consequences is that any such person is legally presumed to have an alcohol problem, and can’t get his or her license back until they file – and then win – a formal driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal.

Anyone facing a DUI charge needs clear and honest information. As Michigan DUI lawyers, our firm defines itself by the way we communicate and provide knowledge. In this article, we’re going to sketch out what can be thought of as a kind of  lawyer’s guide to finding the right representation for a DUI charge. This will not be some kind of thinly disguised “call me” piece, but rather a candid look at how to find a DUI lawyer, even for people who live well outside the geographic area where my team and I practice.

09unloobbb2-270x300With the exception of personal injury cases, there is probably no other area of law where one can find more lawyers competing for business. Here, in the Greater-Detroit area (Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Livingston, St. Clair and Washtenaw Counties), that often leads to attorneys fighting for a piece of the same pie, so to speak, and sometimes gives rise to “fear-based marketing” that characterizes the lawyer or firm as uniquely able to save the reader from all kinds of scary-sounding potential penalties, many (if not most) of which aren’t really likely in the first place. It’s probably very much like that just about everywhere.

To be sure, the simple fact is that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. That’s the gold standard by which every law firm should operate, and certainly the one by which ours does. The reason anyone hires a lawyer in the first place is to either avoid as many of legal penalties and negative potential consequences from a DUI charge as possible and to otherwise minimize any that can’t be escaped outright. The attorney’s job, of course, is to use his or her experience, knowledge and skill in order to accomplish this.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we have to follow the same legal process when handling a license appeal regardless of whether our client is male or female. Yet for as much as a license reinstatement case will be the same for both men and women, there are also differences, and some of them can go all the way back to the underlying DUI cases that caused the revocation of a person’s license in the first place. In this article, we’ll see how and why the experience of winning back one’s driver’s license can be different depending on one’s gender.

vectorstock_22680981-229x300In the previous article, I did a brief overview of how going through a DUI case can be different for a woman versus a man. Just as there, I must first admit here that, in addition to not being any kind of expert on gender issues, and precisely because I’m male, I am obviously not coming at this subject “from the inside.” That said, my 30-plus years of experience as a lawyer and my formal post-graduate education in addiction studies have at least enabled me to be aware of the fact that how people experience things can be different based upon their own unique backgrounds, and that includes things like where they come from, their different life experiences, and, of course, their gender.

Although it may not be that important in the larger scheme of things, I am the only male in our office, so at least everyone else here has that “insider” perspective. No matter what, though, the absolute key to winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal is proving one’s sobriety. Even though this requirement is the same no matter who is appealing, the whole process of getting sober can be different for men versus women. In our roles as Michigan driver’s license restoration, recognizing this fact is important, because in any given case, we have to make sure that, where relevant, it gets pointed out in the appeal process.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we represent plenty of women. Although the actions that give rise to a drunk driving charge generally have nothing to do with gender, it is also true that in some cases, men and women will experience a DUI case differently. Precisely because I am a male, I cannot even pretend to do anything more than acknowledge this reality, and understand that it exists. Even so, the simple fact of recognizing that the experience of going through a DUI can be different for women than for men is important, and is at least a start.

knmnmnmn-300x300The inspiration for this somewhat short article came from a recent discussion with my wife as we talked about the general misery for anyone facing a DUI charge. She wondered aloud if some aspects of the process wouldn’t automatically seem more burdensome to a single mom than a single man without children. From there, we had a back and forth about all the things that could be different, and those we thought could at least “feel” different, regarding the DUI process, just based upon a person’s gender. In a completely un-scientific way, we both came to realize that there is really a lot to all of this.

As a busy DUI law firm, my team and I concentrate on handling drunk driving and driver’s license restoration cases. As it turns out, the other 2 lawyers and all the support staff in our practice are female. They weren’t hired with any consideration of their gender, but rather because of their sheer intelligence, experience, and skills. If I spend too much time heaping praise on them, then this would be far more of a promotional piece rather than an informational article, but the bottom line is that I truly believe my associates are brilliant, and they would be the lawyers I’d want representing me if I found myself in a legal jam.

In part 1 of this article, we began examining the important role of the alcohol screening that is mandatory in all Michigan DUI cases. As we noted there, that screening is really a written “test” that is administered as part of a larger process called the “PSI,” short for “Pre-Sentence Investigation.” The whole point of the screening and PSI is for the probation officer assigned to a given case to generate a written report and sentencing recommendation that is sent to the Judge, who will use it as a basis for deciding what kind of consequences, conditions, and penalties to impose.

kjhkjhkjhkjhkjhkjhkjkjhkh-300x280Toward the end of the first part, I pointed out that this is so critical because every Judge, in every court, follows the probation officer’s sentencing recommendation very closely. The simple fact is that no Judge is ever going to depart in any significant way from what his or her probation department has recommended and then order a sentence that is different from what was suggested. In a very real sense, the sentencing recommendation can essentially be looked at as a blueprint for what is going to happen to someone as a result of his or her DUI charge.

As I often point out, the gold standard that my team and I follow, as Michigan DUI lawyers, is that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. Given that the sentence ultimately imposed is a direct result of what is recommended in the PSI, then the goal, of course, should be to procure a more favorable recommendation in the first place. Because of the critical function of the alcohol screening within the PSI process, it is imperative for anyone going through a DUI to perform, meaning “test out,” as well as possible on it.

In a recent article, we looked into why, in Michigan DUI cases, the court system must and will thoroughly examine a person’s drinking habits and history. In this piece, we’re going to really zero in on that and focus in on a critical stage in every OWI case – the Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) and the mandatory alcohol screening that’s part of it. We’ll examine what happens there, and why my team and I, as Michigan DUI lawyers, put so much effort into preparing our clients for it.

nmnmnmnn-300x292The whole point of hiring a lawyer in the first place is to avoid as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible from a drunk driving charge. Thus, and as I often point out, success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. Whatever penalties are or are not imposed, though, will be decided at the sentencing. This is important, because the mandatory alcohol screening and PSI ultimately culminates in a written sentencing recommendation being sent to the Judge advising him or her exactly what to order (and what not to order) as a person’s sentence.

In practice, the alcohol screening is really the single most important factor in determining what that recommendation will be, and, therefore what kind of sentence will follow. This screening, variously referred to by different courts as an “alcohol assessment,” a “substance abuse assessment,” “substance abuse evaluation,” “substance use evaluation”(or just an “assessment” or “evaluation”) always refers to a person completing some kind of alcohol or substance use questionnaire, which, in proper clinical lingo, is actually called a “screening instrument.”

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I concentrate in winning back driving privileges for people who have had their licenses revoked as the result of multiple DUI convictions. No matter what, in any and every license appeal case, the focus is, and always be, upon a person’s drinking; specifically, when he or she last drank, their decision to quit, and his or her resolve to never drink again. In every way possible, license reinstatement cases are all about proving sobriety.

Ivectorstock_8679001-300x300n other words, the whole point of the driver’s license restoration in Michigan process in Michigan boils down to whether or not a person can prove that he or she has given up drinking, and is truly committed to remaining alcohol-free for life. The way the Michigan Secretary of State (and just about everyone else in the world) sees it, anyone whose license has been revoked after racking up multiple DUI’s is too dangerous to be allowed on the road, unless and until he or she can prove they’re not a risk to drive drunk again, and that, in turn, is done by showing themselves to be a safe bet to never drink again.

Underlying the consideration of restoring driving privileges for those who have lost them as the result of 2 or more DUI’s is that the simple proposition that people who do not drink are exactly zero risk to drive while intoxicated. These are the only people who have a chance at winning a license appeal. As we’ll see, the written law is clear that a person must not only prove that he or she has been completely abstinent from alcohol for a “legally sufficient” period of time, but also that he or she has both the ability and the commitment to never drink again.

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