As Michigan DUI lawyers, we spend a lot of time explaining legal procedure to our clients. All too often, a discussion about how a DUI works its way through the court system can get really deep, really fast. In truth, it is difficult to even briefly summarize any one facet of the legal process without “getting lost in the weeds,” so to speak. In this article, I simply want to simplify all of that and essentially “list” the steps in a typical DUI case – in proper order – so the reader can at least have an overview, or “roadmap,” of how the various stages follow each other and what to expect.

vectorstock_25754932-300x300First contact: Every Michigan DUI case begins with some kind of police contact. While we tend to mostly think of someone being pulled over by the police, plenty of DUI cases arise when they show up at the scene of an accident, when a vehicle has gone off the road (this happens a lot in icy conditions), or even when people fall asleep in the drive-thru line of a fast food restaurant, which is something that’s far more common than one might think. However it happens, the simple fact is that a DUI case does not begin until the police interact with someone who is suspected of driving while over the limit.

Typically, these first interactions involve some conversation, any number of questions, and most often, some kind of field sobriety tests, as well. Although our primary purpose in this piece is to summarize the steps, it is worth noting that the alleged reasons for a person’s first contact with the police and the investigation that follows are often 2 of the most fruitful areas for Michigan DUI lawyers, like us, to challenge and exclude evidence. This is why my team and I almost always immediately requisition and review any available video, including dash-cam video from the police vehicle and any body-cam video, as well.

It’s a simple fact that just about everyone who has lost his or her driver’s license needs it back. As full-time Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, it often falls to us to explain to someone whose driving privileges have been revoked as the result of multiple DUI’s that needing a license has absolutely nothing to do with actually being able to win it back. The Michigan Secretary of State has established very specific criteria that must be met in order to grant a license appeal, but a person’s need to drive, no matter how pressing, is NOT one of them.

p098u-piu-poi--274x300It would be difficult for me to make clear how many times per day our office is contacted by people looking to get their license back. After all, that’s what we do, right? Understandably (but also unfortunately), a lot of people skip right over asking about the legal requirements to win a license restoration or clearance appeal, and instead start telling us how much they need to drive, and try to “make their case” by pointing out that their DUI’s happened many years ago, and/or that they haven’t been in trouble for a long time. Although those things are emotionally compelling, within the context of a license appeal case, they don’t matter one single bit.

Precisely because our firm concentrates in driver’s license restoration and clearance cases, we have to keep our focus on what it takes to actually win. In that sense, it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of the fact that people who DON’T work in our field do not understand, and, really, don’t have any reason to understand, that needing to drive is completely irrelevant to being able to win a Michigan driver’s license reinstatement case. Indeed, if a person meets the state’s established criteria, then he or she can win his or her license back even though he or she may have no actual need to drive at all.

In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of the options for someone with a current or past DUI to get a restricted Michigan driver’s license. In that first part, saw that the ONLY relief available to someone who has been convicted of multiple DUI’s is to wait until he or she becomes eligible to file a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, submit the required documentation, and then actually win his or her appeal. Here, in the second part, we’ll look at the 3 potential choices for someone who is currently facing a Michigan DUI charge.

oioioioi2-300x267If you are dealing with a pending Michigan DUI case, and depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the charge that followed, there are only 3 potential avenues to get back on the road. It’s important to begin by pointing out that a person will usually not have any real choice in the matter, or “options” to consider, because DUI driver’s license penalties are specified by law, and imposed by the Michigan Secretary of State. As we’ll see, what can and can’t be done depends entirely on the facts of the case.

With the single exception of Sobriety Courts and their ability to override the mandatory revocation of a person’s driver’s license upon conviction for a 2nd DUI within 7 years, or a 3rd DUI within 10 years, the court system has ZERO jurisdiction over the legally required driver’s license sanctions that must be imposed by the Secretary of State. To be clear, Sobriety Court is the only possible workaround in pending 2nd and 3rd offense DUI cases, and even then, it’s only an option IF a person is accepted and admitted into one of these programs.

As full-time Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, people are always asking us about the possibility of getting some kind of restricted license. These questions often come from people who are about to lose their driving privileges as the result of a recent DUI, as well as people who have been without a license for some time due to 2 or more prior DUI convictions. In this article, I want to examine what can and cannot be done to get a restricted driver’s license in Michigan. Because there is quite a bit to all this, we’ll divide our discussion into 2 parts, but we’ll still keep things manageable.

vectorstock_15405212-300x300To make this easy, we’e going to have to break things down into a few categories. For example, it’s quite likely nobody facing a current 1st offense Michigan DUI charge that may result in the temporary suspension of his or her driver’s license wants to read through all of the far more involved legal issues confronting someone who has already had his or her license revoked as the result of multiple DUI convictions. Similarly, I doubt anyone who has already had his or her license revoked for 2 or more DUI’s really cares about much more than when and how he or she can win back at least some driving privileges.

For all the complexity underlying driver’s license issues, there are really only 4 legal “avenues” available for anyone whose license has been affected as the result of 1 or more DUI’s. As it turns out, there are 3 potential options for someone with an open, pending DUI case, and only 1 option for anyone who has already lost his or her license after multiple DUI convictions. Accordingly, we’ll start out by looking at what can be done for those whose license has been previously been revoked as the result of 2 or more DUI’s, and then afterward, we’ll examine the options for those who are currently facing a DUI charge.

In a recent article I wrote about the standard “no drinking” requirement for everyone on bond and waiting for his or her DUI case to wrap up, or on probation as part of his or her sentence for a DUI case. I pointed out that an important part of our jobs, as Michigan DUI lawyers, is to make sure the court understands the client’s individual circumstances. I then noted that, on the flip side, we must also ensure our client understands that, with regard to some aspects of DUI cases, a person’s particular situation doesn’t matter, that things just are the way they are simply “because,” and that the no drinking condition of bond and probation is one of them.

okholiholih-1-300x269The inspiration for this article came from our senior assistant, who, after a long day on the phones, observed that no matter how clearly things are explained to some people about court procedures in DUI cases, they always have a “yeah, but…” excuse for why something that’s standard for everybody else shouldn’t apply to them. We laughed for a moment as we boiled down the phrase “yeah, but” to “yabut,”and then noted how it’s exactly that kind of thinking gets people into trouble, or in the case of someone already facing a Michigan DUI charge, even more trouble.

As I briefly addressed in the “no drinking” article referenced above (and linked below), there is always someone who will want to explain why he or she should be allowed to drink, despite the Judge’s order that he or she refrain from any consumption of alcohol while on bond and awaiting the resolution of his or her case, or on while on probation after that has happened. This is the textbook example of what we mean when we talk about someone to whom the rules and requirements have been explained, and whose first response is “yeah, but.…”

In our work as Michigan DUI lawyers, one of the most common things we’re asked about is how a DUI can or will affect a person’s job, or professional license status. Of course, everyone’s first concern following a drunk driving arrest is staying out of jail, closely followed by not losing the ability to drive, but in the real world, employment considerations absolutely round out the “Big 3” of DUI worries. While there is no single, simple answer to how a DUI can or will affect someone’s livelihood, the good news is that, by and large – it won’t. are, of course, exceptions. Not to be funny about it, but if there weren’t, I could have ended this article with nothing more than the paragraph above. We’ll start with the broadest generalizations first, and work down from there: With few exceptions, a DUI will not cause someone to lose his or her job. In terms of professional licensing, I have never had, nor have I ever even heard of anyone losing their occupational license for a single DUI. That said, anyone who picks up a DUI and who already has or is planning to obtain a professional license in certain fields may have to undergo more scrutiny about what happened than someone in other occupations.

Most jobs in the United States fall within what is called “at will” employment status, meaning that a person can be fired, at any time, for any reason, as long as that reason isn’t any kind of unlawful discrimination. There is a lot to the whole concept of unlawful discrimination, all of which goes beyond the scope of this piece, so we’ll have to leave it at that, and simply understand that a person can’t be fired for reasons like age, race, sex, religious affiliation, et cetera. The larger point is that, absent any such illegal reason, a boss can simply decide to fire a person because he or she doesn’t like them, wants to cut down on payroll, or just feels like it. Nothing else is needed.

In part 1 of this article, we began examining why a person who wins a Michigan driver’s license restoration case with a restricted license and an ignition interlock unit should file for a full license as soon as possible. I noted that beyond there being absolutely no benefit to waiting (it does not make one “look good”), there are significant risks to staying on the interlock, as well. We ended part 1 by noting that any delay in getting a full license seriously invites the possibility of an ignition interlock violation. Here, in part 2, we’ll see how a violation can occur even though a person does nothing wrong.

vectorstock_35425144-300x273This is especially unfortunate if an interlock violation occurs after the time when it could have been avoided had the person gotten his or her full license back already. An ignition interlock violation begins when the Michigan Secretary of State sends a formal notice advising a person of the alleged violation. That notice also informs the person that his or her license will be re-revoked (this is called a “reinstatement of original action”) on a certain date unless he or she files a request for a hearing to contest the violation within 14 days, and then wins.

If a person does nothing and fails to contest the violation (and win the hearing), then his or her license will remain revoked, and the only way to for him or her to get it back is to wait until he or she becomes eligible to start the whole license appeal process all over again, right from square one. What’s more, any such person is going to not only be expected to “explain” whatever led to his or her violation in the first place, but will also be asked why they didn’t do that earlier, right when the violation occurred. Although it doesn’t give rise to any kind of legal presumption, failing to contest a violation is seen (understandably) as a kind of surrender.

One of the highlights of our jobs, as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, is the first communication we have with a client after he or she has been notified that they’ve won their license back. Our firm guarantees to win every license restoration and clearance appeal case we take, so for us, this is something that we get to do all the time, but sharing this moment never gets old, and it’s always nice to be part of someone’s well-deserved celebration.

vectorstock_34452724-300x300One of the more important things we tell our clients during that post-victory conversation is to make sure they follow through with getting their full license back as soon as possible. This article will focus on why doing that is so important, and will look at some of the problems that often occur when a person waits longer than necessary to get his or her full license. To be clear, this only applies to Michigan residents who win a restoration of their Michigan driver’s license. Non-residents are only eligible to win a clearance of the Michigan hold on their driving record so that they can get a license in their new state.

In an article published a few months ago, I explained that well over 99% of all Michigan residents who win a restoration case will have to start out on a restricted license, and with an ignition interlock. In the real world (or at least in Michigan), when a person who has lost his or her license for multiple DUI’s does manage to win it back, he or she will almost certainly have to drive under restrictions and with an ignition interlock unit for a full year. After 12 months, he or she can, and as the point of this article will make clear, absolutely should then file for a “full” license.

One of the 2 main things every person must prove in order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case is that his or her alcohol problem is “under control.” As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I regularly have to explain to people that “under control” means a person is not drinking at all , and not that he or she is somehow trying to limit or manage their drinking. In this article, we’ll examine what the term “under control” really means as interpreted and used by the Michigan Secretary of State in license appeal cases.

No-3-300x259To really get a grasp on this, a person must first understand the way the law works. This part of things is actually not as complicated as it might seem, and is really quite easy to follow. In Michigan, if a person winds up having been convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or 3 DUI’s within 10 years, he or she will be legally categorized as a “habitual alcohol offender.” One of the consequences of this categorization is that the person’s driver’s license will be revoked because he or she is considered too risky to be allowed on the road.

Here’s why that happens: Another consequence of being designated a “habitual alcohol offender” after racking up multiple DUI’s, a person will also be presumed, by law, to have some sort of alcohol problem. This is where people often get confused or frustrated, because they misunderstand this, and feel like the state is, in a manner of speaking, pointing a finger at them and saying “you’re an alcoholic.” That’s not the case, so stay with me while I explain this in a way that will clear things up.

In our capacity as Michigan DUI lawyers, we know that none of our DUI clients is any kind “criminal,” but we also know that each has been charged with what is, after all, a criminal offense. This distinction is more than academic, or some play on words, because the reality is that a DUI case often drags an otherwise law-abiding person squarely into the midst of the criminal court process. The bewilderment and frustration many people feel about this is often expressed in statements like, “I feel like I’m some kind of criminal.”

Bad-2-1-300x253In the real world, people from all walks of life wind up facing DUI charges. Our firm is a premium DUI practice, so none of our clients resemble anything like someone would picture when thinking of the word “criminal.” That said, it’s also true that plenty of real criminals do get in trouble for drunk driving, just like everyone else. In that sense, DUI charges are like speeding tickets, in that no person, or class or group of people are exempt from them, with the sole exception of people who simply don’t drive.

For what it’s worth, a “real” criminal would consider a DUI charge more of an inconvenience rather than anything else, whereas that otherwise law-abiding person may very well freak out over it. For us, as Michigan DUI attorneys, this, in and of itself, can be reassuring. We don’t work with hardened criminals, nor do we want to. Decades ago, I chose to NOT handle things like rape and murder charges, and, to be honest about it, I simply don’t have any inclination to work with people accused of those or any other such serious crimes.

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