The end result of almost every Michigan DUI case that goes into the court system (and doesn’t get thrown out) almost alway includes a term of probation. As Michigan DUI lawyers, dealing with probation is an everyday part of our jobs. Most people have a general understanding of probation (“if you don’t screw up, then everything will be okay”), but there’s a lot more to it than that. If you’re facing a drunk driving charge, then you should know what’s likely in store for you. In this 2-part article, we’ll examine how probation works in Michigan DUI cases.

Test-2-297x300Let’s begin with this simple fact: It is overwhelmingly likely that anyone convicted of a Michigan OWI (DUI) offense will be placed on some kind of probation. Contrary to the marketing hype found on some legal websites, the real truth is that more than 98% of all DUI charges brought in Michigan do NOT get dismissed or tossed out of court. Of course, the goal in every case is to get it “knocked out,” but that outcome is the exception, not the rule. In the real world, it boils down to this: If you’re facing a drunk driving charge, then you’re pretty much facing a term of probation, as well.

To put this in perspective, some readers may be old enough to remember hearing about someone convicted of drunk driving who got nothing more than a fine. That may have been possible many years ago, when people could still smoke on airplanes and there were video rental stores in every neighborhood, but a lot has changed since then. The days of only having to pay a fine and costs for a DUI charge are long gone, and everyone who goes though the process is going to have to do something more, although it doesn’t have to be anything that’s truly awful.

As Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we use our experience and skill to actually make things better for our clients and produce the best possible outcome for them, whether we’re defending a criminal or DUI charge, or getting someone’s license back. As of this writing, I have published well over 1200 articles examining how things work in criminal, DUI and driver’s license restoration cases, and have explained as much about the legal process as I can. One thing I have not covered yet, however, is the very real element of luck, because it affects every case, and just about everything else we do in life, as well.

vectorstock_20630412-300x300Like so many of my other articles, this one was inspired by a real life case involving a client arrested for DUI in about the toughest jurisdiction here in the Greater-Detroit area. I often write about the importance of location in criminal and DUI cases, because it does directly impact how a case will play out, but the underlying truth is that what really makes one location easier or tougher than another are the prosecutors and Judges who work there. Certain courts are just “tougher” than others, but that tends to follow a kind of general continuum, with the more lenient courts being clustered around each other, and vice-versa.

Another key point I make is that DUI cases are always accidents of geography. Nobody plans to go out and get arrested for drunk driving, and therefore nobody plans their route with any notion of not driving through the toughest jurisdictions and, instead, staying within those that are known to be more “forgiving” in case they get pulled over. And if that’s not enough, add in that there are some multi-Judge courts where the differences between those Judges – meaning specifically how “tough” any one of them is compared to the other(s) – can be very pronounced.

If you’re currently facing a Michigan DUI charge, there is a decent chance that you’ve had your blood taken following arrest. It’s also quite possible that either you also provided a breath test sample, or, in some cases, were just never asked to provide one, and the police went straight for a blood draw, instead. This marks a change from how things used to be done, before Coronavirus arrived. Up until early 2020, if you were arrested for drunk driving, it was very likely that you’d be given a formal breath test at the police or sheriff’s station. Things are different, now, however, and the explosion of blood draws have really slowed the progress of DUI cases into the court system.

popopopo-300x294Until the Coronavirus pandemic hit, about the only time anyone ever had blood taken was if he or she refused to provide a breath test, and the police had to get a warrant for a blood draw. In fact, when someone contacted us and indicated that his or her blood was taken, it pretty much always meant that he or she had refused a breath test. That’s no longer true, and, as of this writing, blood tests are every bit as common, if not MORE common, than breath tests following a DUI arrest, at least here in the Greater-Detroit area, where my team and I concentrate our drinking and driving practice.

One of the most important consequence of this is how it impacts the timing of a DUI case. Blood samples have to be analyzed at a Michigan State Police Crime Lab, and those labs are backed up now more than ever. To be sure, the crime labs have always been busy, but with the recent addition of thousands of blood samples that need to be examined, the backlog has really grown. My team and I deal with this every day, particularly when people call us about a recent DUI arrest. While our first question to any caller is almost always about where the case occurred, our next question usually is, or at least was something like “what were your breath test results?”

The law specifies that, in order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, a person must submit proof that meets the “clear and convincing evidence” legal standard. Every license appeal case is decided by a hearing officer, each of whom is a trained professional tasked with evaluating the evidence submitted, listening to what is said, and then concluding whether or not it meets that standard. This installment will tie in to the previous article about how any notion of “you tell me what I need to say” is almost proof-positive that a person is NOT sober, and in no position to win a license appeal.

HOs-2-300x291The inspiration for this piece, like so many others, came from our senior assistant, after another busy day at the office. As we got ready to close up shop one recent afternoon, she remarked that some people mistakenly think they can BS the hearing officers, and that’s because these folks don’t have a clue about the skill those hearing officers bring to their jobs. Unless someone does license appeals for a living, they simply can’t grasp the absolutely central role of the hearing officer, and the depth of experience they have listening to people testify. In the context of a license appeal, that can be a fatal mistake.

It’s critical to understand that, in addition to the key role the hearing officer plays in all of this, he or she does so pursuant to very specific rules, and very clear instructions spelled out in the law. This is huge, but also largely overlooked, and is no doubt one of the reasons that so many license appeals (and especially those of the “do-it-yourself” variety) wind up getting denied. By contrast, our firm GUARANTEES to win every restoration and clearance appeal case we take (more on that later), precisely because we understand the subtleties of the law and rules, and the role of the hearing officer in applying them.

In order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, a person has to say certain things, and as far as that goes, not say other things. As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, our ears are basically “tuned” to pick up on certain buzzwords that clearly communicate to us that a person either has – or has not – given up drinking and embraced a sober lifestyle, 2 things that are key to winning a license appeal. The hearing officers who decide these cases also listen for these things, and are highly skilled at distinguishing genuine and real sobriety from anything less.

vectorstock_1613620-300x293They should be, given that they hear driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals all day, every day. Of course, given that this is also what my team and I do all day, every day, we know exactly what things will cause the hearing officers to respond favorably, and what will have the opposite effect. In our many conversations with callers each day, it’s not that uncommon for a person to say something to us like, “You just tell me what to say, and I can do it,” or “I can say whatever you need me to.” That’s a huge red flag for us, and an almost certain (and unwitting) assurance that the speaker is NOT sober.

That’s also about the fastest way to make sure that our firm won’t take a case. While sobriety is a key requirement to win a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case, so is honesty. When someone tells us that they’ll repeat anything we instruct them to say, it means that, beyond not being sober, he or she is also willing to BS, and even do so under oath. We don’t want any part of that: We win our cases fair and square by being honest and truthful. We play by the rules, and guarantee to win every case we take precisely because we don’t cut any corners.

Our goal, as Michigan criminal, driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyers, is to produce the best results possible in every case we take while being fair and honest. We are a premium service law firm, and therefore don’t compete with any other lawyers or law firms on price. However, we are the ONLY law firm that actually lists its prices, and also the only one that talks about money, as I’m going to do here. Frankly, I cannot understand why the subject of cost is treated like some big secret, especially because it’s such an important part of hiring a lawyer. are 2 important things about money and legal services worth noting, and they’re like opposite sides of the same coin: First – you will never get what you don’t pay for when you hire a lawyer. Experienced, skilled and talented lawyers will never compete to be the most “affordable.” The better class of anything is never cheap. Second, it is an unfortunate fact that too many attorneys charge far more than their representation is worth. It’s much easier to wind up paying too much for an average, mediocre lawyer than to get any kind of “deal” for top-notch legal services.

Our firm hasn’t raised prices for almost 2 years (since November 19, 2019, to be exact), but recent cost increases have left us with no other choice. The Coronavirus pandemic has caused just about everything to go up in price, and the expense of that has reached our door, as well. In addition, we’ve added staff to our team, so our overhead costs have grown, and we had to offset some of that by increasing our fees. In this article, I want to explain why it had to be done, and to talk about legal fees in the context of criminal, driver’s license restoration and DUI cases.

Anyone who finds him or herself facing a Michigan DUI charge will almost certainly go online and start looking for information. As the reader either knows, or will soon find out, there is an entire universe of DUI “stuff” to be found on the web. Unfortunately, many legal websites, while notoriously long on self-praise and testimonials, are often either pitifully short on useful information, or else they get into stuff so confusing and technical that nobody can fully understand it. Still, for everything that one can find, what REALLY matters most in a DUI case is what actually happens to you.

00002-300x261The gold standard is really this: Success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. In the real world, everyone’s first concern following a drunk driving arrest is not going to jail, followed closely by not losing their job, and not losing their driver’s license. Obviously, there are no rewards for getting a DUI – only potential negative consequences. In that sense, less is definitely more. Nobody is happy about to find themselves facing a DUI charge, and what they worry about most is not getting hammered with all kinds of legal penalties.

That, of course, is a complete “duh” statement, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s also true. When people begin scouring websites and blogs for DUI information, it’s in the hope that they will find some way to get out of their charge, or at least discover some other good news along those lines. Nobody is immune from the urge to keep reading page after page in the quest to learn something that they think might help their case, and what drives that, of course, is the concern over what is ultimately going to happen to them.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we know how a drunk driving arrest can affect a person. Most clients are very concerned about their DUI charge, while, on the other hand, there are others who seem to almost blow the whole thing off with little thought. For some, however, the whole experience is significant enough to force a reexamination of their goals and priorities – and their drinking habits, as well. When a person has to go through something as major as a DUI, it certainly presents an opportunity to reassess his or her life.

vectorstock_36736340-300x300This may sound like a bunch of “touchy-feely” sales-person nonsense, but it’s not, at least for those people inclined to think about the big picture. Of course, everyone’s primary concern is about what is going to happen to them, and making sure they stay out of jail. While that’s understandable, the simple fact is that jail can be completely avoided in the overwhelming majority of 1st offense DUI cases, and in most 2nd offense cases, as well. Once a person realizes this, he or she can then concentrate on those things that will or may happen, and how the DUI will ultimately affect his or her life.

Among the next biggest worries, beyond getting locked up, are how a DUI will impact a person’s ability to drive, and whether or not it will have any employment consequences. It’s right here that we run head-first into the real point of this article, because merely focusing on those questions alone really side-steps any analysis of how and why a person got drunk and drove in the first place. This is not to say that a single DUI has to be anything more than a one-off, or an out-of-character incident for a person, but everyone should at least pause and do a little self-analysis to make sure that IS true.

In our capacities as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we deal with all kinds of cases, from those that are super-easy to others that are really hard. Because we guarantee to win every license restoration and clearance appeal case we take, “hard,” at least for us, still means winnable, but who wouldn’t prefer easy, instead? Like many of my other articles, this piece was inspired by a recent situation in our office that presented an opportunity for use as an example explain some important things about license appeal cases.

vectorstock_35269171-copy-300x289A person called our office from out of state about getting his license back. In this case, because he has a Michigan hold on his driving record but no longer lives here, he would be seeking a “clearance,” meaning a removal of that hold so he could get a license in his new state. After he spoke with Ann, our senior assistant, she related a few interesting details about their conversation: The caller had been sober for over 15 years, had quit drinking immediately after his 4th (and last) DUI, had not driven since then, either, and had also gone to AA early on, up until he felt he had gotten enough out of the program.

She smiled a she prefaced her remarks to me by light-heartedly saying that she wished all cases could be this easy and solid, noting that this fellow was kind of like the “perfect” client. When she said that, I first agreed that he seemed to “check all the boxes,” and then, as I thought about it, realized that very few people every do actually check all the boxes, and that’s okay, because that’s how real life works. However, I also realized that, given how fortunate it was for us to have this kind of rare bird fall into our laps, I could use him as an example of sorts.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we know that experience matters. Useful experience, however, is not just about having handled thousands of cases, but also about observing all the things that can (and sometimes do) happen down the road, so to speak. Experience is worth a lot more when it has built up over time, and becomes part of what, in this piece, we’ll call “the long view.” Having a deep well of practical experience that has grown from years into multiple decades is truly priceless, and involves a lot more than just learning every possible legal DUI strategy.

Attys3-300x273Having handled separate DUI cases for some of the very same, repeat clients over the span of 30-plus years while learning and observing their life stories has created an archive of connections and understanding that can only come from such a long investment of time. To be sure, 10 years is nothing to sneeze at, but to be able to look back over a period of more than 3 decades and see how how a DUI (or multiple DUI’s) happened, and then how that did (and did not) affect a person’s life, provides an incredible depth of perspective unmatched by anything less.

This is the kind of experience that helps my team and I look out for the future interests of a client that might not even show up on the radar at the time his or her case is pending. Of course, it’s basic human nature for someone to worry about his or her immediate circumstances. The first consideration for just about everyone coming off of a DUI arrest is staying out of jail, followed closely by concerns about his or her driver’s license and job. When a person knows they’re not going to jail, not going to lose the ability to drive, and not going to lose their employment, then they finally relax a bit and stop freaking out.

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