Winning Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI cases requires a lawyer to ask a lot questions. Every last detail of a DUI case, including the client’s version of events, along with all of the evidence, must be carefully examined. In driver’s license restoration cases, my team and I need to know a person’s entire history with alcohol, other substances, and all of his or her legal problems. In either setting, before we can even think of suggesting what to do, or how to go about it, we need to discover certain things.
To us, as Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, this is second nature. We pretty much begin every consultation with some questions. In DUI cases, it’s always “where?” In driver’s license restoration cases, the first things we’ll need to know are when a person picked up his or her last DUI, how many they’ve had before that, and the last time he or she consumed any alcohol. No lawyer should ever talk about solutions until he or she first has a firm grasp of the underlying legal problem.
Unfortunately, many do that very thing. In an attempt to “sell” themselves, they’ll talk about results before they have seen any of the evidence (much less all of it,) or otherwise have a clear picture of the client’s situation. A good lawyer can’t provide any answers unless the right questions have been asked first. I was reminded of this while recently watching a spy drama on TV. One of the main characters, a senior CIA agent, asked for an update about an ongoing case from an investigating federal officer under his command. What followed really hit home with me:
When the investigator gave his theory of the case (which was dead wrong), the senior CIA agent pointed out the flaws in his thinking. The boss admonished him for drawing conclusions without having first gathered all the facts. Then, he delivered the best line I’ve heard in a while – “You don’t ask enough questions, and you have too many answers.” As soon as I heard it, I realized that’s exactly what happens when some lawyer starts talking about how to get a DUI case dismissed before he or she has personally and carefully examined all the evidence.
Similarly, a good lawyer cannot talk about winning a license restoration case until he or she has a full accounting of a person’s legal and substance use history. This requires a careful screening, and asking very specific questions of the client. My team and I do this over the phone, as part of our initial consultation. Precisely because we ask the right questions, our firm guarantees to win every driver’s license restoration appeal we take. Through our inquires, we make sure we don’t get stuck with any case unless we know we can make into a winner.
Not all lawyers are like that. Regrettably, there are some lawyers who market themselves by telling (one might say “selling”) people what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. Of course, everyone is attracted to a message that sounds promising. However, often enough, the truth isn’t as pleasant as what one would hope for in a best-case scenario. Given the choice, which of the options below would you pick?
1. Having you DUI charge dismissed outright, or
2. Having your DUI case expertly handled?
Of course, the first option sounds a lot better, but that can only happen when the facts are in the defendant’s favor AND the case is expertly handled. If someone rear-ends a police car while drunk, there is no expertise in the world that’s going to get his or her DUI charge thrown out of court.
The simple fact is that suggesting a likely specific or favorable outcome in any criminal or DUI case is always premature until and unless the lawyer has had an opportunity to carefully examine ALL of the evidence. To talk about outcomes before that really proves the wisdom of the that line that inspired this article – “You don’t ask enough questions, and you have too many answers.”
This cuts both ways, too. It applies equally to anyone who needs legal help. When a person is looking for a good lawyer, he or she needs to ask questions, as well. The catch, here, is that many of the questions the person asks of the lawyer will be answered with more questions from the lawyer. That’s how things are figured out.
A good lawyer will always explain why it is critically important that he or she first obtain and then evaluate the evidence. Any type of predications made before that simply give rise to a never-ending game of “what if?” Plenty of lawyers can twist all of that into a good sales pitch, but it’s of little use to anyone in need of competent legal help.
Ultimately, the search for a truly good lawyer is really a question of “what can you do for me?” As we’ve seen, the answer to that question involves the lawyer asking a whole bunch of his or her own questions. To be clear, what we mean by “questions” here also includes examining the evidence.
Imagine someone asking some DUI lawyer – “What can you do for me?”
Now, suppose that lawyer, without doing any kind of proper inquiry, answered in any of the following ways:
• I can get your charge dismissed
• I can make this go away
• I can keep you out of jail
• I can make sure there aren’t any restrictions on your ability to drive
Those things sound great! However, before any of them can be said honestly, there are certain questions that need to be answered first:
• “I can get your charge dismissed.” For a lawyer to say that, he or she must have already carefully reviewed the evidence and found a flaw with it significant enough to convince a Judge that it’s unreliable and therefore cannot be admitted in court. Of course, the Judge has to agree, as well.
• “I can make this go away.” Again, this kind of response can only be given after a lawyer has carefully examined the case and determined that it is legally unsound. As we noted above, the Judge also has to agree with that analysis. Almost everything about a case can be challenged. None of that matters, however, unless a person is successful in any such challenge. Whatever a lawyer may think, the bottom line is that the only thing that really matters is what the Judge thinks. A lawyer can believe that the evidence is fatally flawed, but if the Judge doesn’t agree, then it’s game over.
• “I can keep you out of jail.” Before a lawyer can say anything like this, he or she has to know a lot, including if the person has any kind of prior record, and what exactly what happened in the current case.
• “I can make sure there aren’t any restrictions on your ability to drive.” Sure – if the whole case goes away. Otherwise, any and everyone convicted of any DUI offense is at least going to have some kind of restrictions, even if only short-term, placed on their ability to drive.
The real takeaway here is that when a person is comparing lawyers (and anyone looking for a good lawyer should do nothing less), he or she needs to beware of those, who, in the words of the TV character quoted above, “don’t ask enough questions, and have too many answers.”
Ultimately, success in a DUI case is best measured by what does not happen to you. The best results are always achieved through good, solid work, and that means paying attention to the fundamentals. When all is said and done, the most fundamental thing a good lawyer can do is ask questions. In that regard, a lawyer should almost always have more questions than answers.
The client, for his or her part, also has to ask questions. As we noted, it’s very easy to be drawn to what you want to hear (“I can make this whole case go away”), but what a person needs to hear can be very different.
Winning driver’s license restoration cases is easy for my team and I because we know what questions to ask in order to ensure that we only take on cases we know we can make into winners. When someone wants to know “What are my chances,” we simply point to our guarantee.
The bottom line here is that a good lawyer should always have more questions than answers. In that context, the most common and honest answer any lawyer can give is “it depends.” In a DUI case (technically, in Michigan it’s called Operating While Intoxicated, or “OWI” for short), everything depends on the evidence. The evidence, of course, depends on how the police obtained it. Both of those things, in turn, depend on the facts of the case.
When comparing lawyers, a person should quickly rule out any one who about whom it can be said, “You don’t ask enough questions, and you have too many answers.”
If you are facing a DUI charge, or looking to get your license back, be a wise consumer and read around. This blog is a great place to start. It is fully searchable and updated weekly with at least 1 new, original article. To date, I have written and published over 690 articles in the driver’s license restoration section, and more than 610 in the DUI section. With a little digging, the reader can probably find the answer to any question he or she could ever have about DUI and/or driver’s license restoration cases.
Don’t take my word for it, though – see for yourself.
When you’ve done enough reading, start checking around. You can learn a lot by speaking with a live person, and that’s exactly what you’ll get when you call our 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, explain things, and even compare notes with anything some other lawyer has told you.
We can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (EST) at 248-986-9700 or 586-465-1980.