Articles Posted in DUI

If you need a lawyer for either a criminal or DUI charge, or you need legal representation to get your driver’s license back, then you should be looking for an answer to these questions: “Why should I hire you?” and “What can you do for me?” A person should always have clear answers to those questions. If not, it means he or she plowed ahead without having made an informed choice.

MSJ2-300x267Unfortunately, this happens more than the reader might imagine. In the criminal and DUI world, this is particularly true when people act out of fear. Too many will sign on with the first lawyer who calls them back after-hours, or over the weekend. In license appeal cases, this often happens when a person chooses a lawyer based primarily on price. Neither of those is the right way to secure quality representation. In fact, they reinforce the notions that a good hiring decision should be explainable by answering the questions posed above.

Of course, while the answers to those questions needs to be clear, they also have to make sense. They must be tempered by reality. Anyone facing a criminal or DUI charge would love to hear that some lawyer has the special and unique ability to make his or her problems go away. However, that’s not how things work in the real world. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop some law offices from tying to sell themselves that way. Accordingly, the first order of business for anyone who is a potential consumer of legal services is to first filter through the marketing hype.

What does it mean to be a real Michigan DUI lawyer? Recently, our office spoke to a man who was looking to get his driver’s license back. He had been directed to do so by the lawyer that was handling his still-pending, 3rd offense DUI case. As a full-time Michigan DUI law firm, we not only field inquiries about “normal” DUI cases and license appeals, we also get some really bizarre requests, as well. As we explored this caller’s situation, we couldn’t help but cringe at the thought that he had actually paid some lawyer for the advice and representation that prompted him to contact us.

<img src="DUI law book.jpg" alt="DUI lawyer law book. ">To be clear, we don’t know who lawyer is (other than having been identified as “he”), but whatever else, if what his client told us is even remotely true, it is the worst DUI legal strategy we’ve ever encountered. There are countless legal reasons that would prevent a person who has already lost his or her license for multiple DUI convictions from winning a license restoration appeal while he or she is facing a new, 3rd offense DUI charge.

Any Michigan DUI lawyer handling such a case should know that trying a license appeal would be a complete non-starter. And this brings us to the point – that you, as a potential customer of legal services, need to follow the age old advice of “buyer beware.” There is a significant difference between a dedicated Michigan DUI lawyer and some general practice attorney who will “take” a DUI case.

In our roles as Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I handle a lot of High BAC (super drunk) cases. Chances are, anyone reading this article has either been arrested for, or is looking for information on behalf of someone who was cited for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) with a BAC of .17 or greater. Most people only learn about this enhanced DUI charge when they have to deal with it. In this article, we’re going to look at what High BAC offenses are all about, and also examine why they’re usually not as bad as they often seem at first.

DG4-292x300Even if the evidence in the evidence is strong in a High BAC (super drunk) case, my team and I can often negotiate a plea bargain down to a lesser offense for our client. This will allow a him or her to avoid a conviction and potential penalties for the more serious offense by taking a deal and pleading guilty to something less severe. Of course, the first order of business in every DUI case is to try and find a way out of the matter completely, but when that can’t happen (and to be fair, such outcomes are far more the exception, rather than the rule), a plea bargain that avoids a super drunk conviction is always a good thing.

Although the full history of Michigan’s DUI laws is long, and complicated, the short version is that ever since 2003, the bodily alcohol content (BAC) limit in Michigan for drunk driving has been .08 (it had previously been .10). The super drunk (High BAC) law was enacted later, in 2010, to provide additional and more significant penalties, as well as increased “protections” to the public by way of license restrictions in those cases in which a person get caught driving with a bodily alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit.

If you are facing a Michigan DUI charge, the most important thing to you is getting out of it as painlessly as possible. When you go online, you get inundated by the endless legal marketing of lawyers fighting for your attention. To be sure, some of what you encounter may be enlightening, and even helpful, but when all is said and done, getting the best result in your DUI case is the only thing that matters. As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I live by the motto that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. Let’s explore what that really means…

<img src="win.jpg" alt="Get the best results in your DUI case. ">Everyone begins their lawyer search looking to find the “best” representation possible. Some people, understandably, have only a limited financial ability, but as I often point out, while a person will never get top quality legal help at bargain prices, it is also true that many lawyers charge way too much for nothing more than just average services. In reality, there’s a far greater risk of overpaying for mediocre legal help, rather than anything else. As with many other things in life, cost (meaning price), does NOT equal value. In DUI cases, only results equal value.

Imagine you were driving across the country and your vehicle broke down on some lonely highway in the middle of the desert. You would, of course, grab your phone and try to find help. Imagine, while you were doing that, a van pulled up with the name “Pete the Plumber” on the side. Next a guy hopped out, introduced himself as “Pete,” looked under you hood, and said he could fix 100% your problem right then and there, He then proceeded to do just that. You wouldn’t care that it was “Pete the Plumber” and not “Mike the Mechanic” who got you back on the road because you got the best result!

If you’re facing a 2nd or 3rd offense DUI charge in Michigan, then you may have at least heard or seen the term “sobriety court.” In this article, we’re going to do a very brief overview of Michigan sobriety court programs and what they’re all about. At the most basic level, they are intensive treatment programs, run in certain courts, by specially designated Judges. The very term “sobriety court” reflects the underlying goal of these programs, which is to help someone charged with a repeat offense DUI quit drinking and get sober.

dude-300x272Michigan launched its sobriety court program as part of a 2011 initiative. At the time, the program was authorized for 3 years, in a handful of courts, but it worked so well that it has since been been made permanent and expanded all over the state. Although they are all authorized under one law, each program is unique to the court that runs it, meaning there are differences from one place to another. Some are of longer duration than others, and even though they are all “intense,” each has its own set of requirements, with some being more demanding than others.

In fact, sobriety courts have proven themselves to be a great tool for people who want the help they offer. Here, I must admit that when the sobriety court idea was first announced, I was skeptical. As a Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyer, I spend pretty much all day, every day, dealing with alcohol-related driving issues. Although I thought the intention behind the idea was good, I wondered if these programs could produce any meaningful results. It’s not like I was “against” sobriety courts, but rather I just feared that that they’d come up short.

In part 5 of this article about 3rd offense DUI cases in Michigan, we wrapped up our examination of a person’s relationship to alcohol. There, we reiterated 2 key takeaways for anyone facing a 3rd offense DUI charge: First, the law (along with everyone in the court system, and just about everyone else in the world) simply concludes that the person has a drinking problem. Second, even if the person facing the charge thinks differently, this is the most important time to for him or her to just shut up and not argue the point, because that will only make things worse.

Jail-3-300x282Instead, anyone facing a repeat offense DUI, meaning anyone facing his or her 2nd offense, much less dealing with drunk driving charges for a 3rd (or even subsequent) time, needs to at least get out of his or her own way and stop trying to win a losing argument. Although it really is beyond dispute that anyone who has racked up 3 or more DUI’s has a troubled relationship to alcohol, the simple fact is that he or she can’t be forced to believe that unless and until he or she is ready. For some, this realization comes as the result of his or her last DUI, while for others, it never happens.

One concern that everyone shares, regardless of what they thing of their relationship to alcohol, is about getting locked up. Not surprisingly, the biggest fear anyone facing a DUI charge has is going to jail. Remember, there is nothing higher in Michigan than a 3rd offense, so for plenty of folks, a 3rd offense charge actually comes after more than 2 prior offenses. In the context of a true 3rd offense DUI case (meaning one in which the person only has 2 prior DUI convictions), the good news is that jail is NOT a certainty. This all needs to be explained a bit…

In part 4 of this article about 3rd offense DUI cases in Michigan, we briefly looked at the role of evidence. In particular, we saw how a lawyer can make things worse by not looking at the big picture before plowing forward and trying to fight a DUI charge without an intelligent plan. We then noted that anyone charged with a 3rd offense drunk driving is going to be perceived as having a drinking problem, and even if he or she disagrees with that, this is the time to shut up and not argue that point, because that will only make the person’s situation worse.

vectorstock_1875776-297x300Years ago, because the work of our firm is concentrated specifically in DUI and driver’s license restoration cases (which are a direct result of having racked up multiple DUI’s), I realized how beneficial it would be for me to expand my understanding of alcohol and addiction problems. Although my team and I spend all day, every day, working with alcohol and drug-related issues, I wanted to learn the clinical side of things, as well and recognized the value of being able to see the whole picture, and not limit my knowledge only to the things at issue in DUI and driver’s license restoration cases.

To do that, I went back, in-person, to the University classroom and completed a formal post-graduate program of addiction studies (before I got my law degree, I earned my undergraduate degree in psychology, so this really was an extension of that). Although some what I heard confirmed things I already knew through our firm’s work, the program really broadened my grasp of how alcohol and substance abuse problems develop, and how they are diagnosed and treated, as well as the many ways people can and do recover from them.

In part 3 of this article about 3rd offense DUI cases in Michigan, we wrapped up our overview of the court process. We looked at both the similarities and procedural differences between a felony, 3rd offense DUI, and 1st and 2nd offense cases, keying in on the fact that the vast majority of all DUI cases are resolved during the pre-trial stage. We repeated the gold standard – that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. Finally, we noted that, above and beyond anything else, a DUI case turns on the evidence, and that it must therefore be properly managed.’s begin here by looking more closely at managing the evidence. In a recent article, I wrote about the risk of a lawyer in a DUI case trying to use a limited portion of police video in legal proceedings when the larger recording clearly shows a person bumbling around intoxicated. When a person is making a legal challenge to some part of the evidence from a DUI arrest, and a Judge or hearing officer is being asked to rule on a point of law while the video shows both that the person was driving AND was obviously under the influence, it’s all but impossible to “un-see” that.

In other words, while a lawyer can “fight” just about every bit of evidence in a case, there has to be an intelligent defense and management strategy to those efforts. In reality, if a person who has been convicted of 2 prior DUI’s goes to court to challenge some part of the evidence and uses the kind of video described above, it’s going to be a very difficult task to get some Judge to bend over backwards and be happy to dismiss a 3rd offense DUI charge made against a repeat offense drunk driver who was obviously driving drunk – yet again.

In part 2 of this article, we looked at the early court phases of a Michigan 3rd offense DUI case. We noted that in most instances (there are exceptions, like when a person is injured in an accident) things begin with arrest, and that the formal court process starts at the arraignment stage. We saw that the 2 main purposes of arraignment in a 3rd offense drunk driving case are to set the bond amount, and the bond conditions, which will always include an order to refrain from the use of alcohol, and to impose a testing schedule to ensure that the person complies. noted that the arraignment is followed by the scheduling of a probable cause conference (PCC), along with a preliminary exam (PE). The end result of the PCC is either a plea bargain, a decision to actually hold the preliminary examination, or, in most cases, the choice to waive it and have the matter bound over, meaning sent “up” to the circuit court for further proceedings. Unless a case is pled out or dismissed in the district court, the next step thereafter is what’s called a circuit court arraignment, which is largely a repeat of the district court arraignment. Although the circuit Judge can, they usually don’t make any changes to the bond at this stage.

After the circuit court arraignment, the case will then be scheduled for a pre-trial. In essence, a pre-trail is any meeting after the arraignment, but before a trial, between the prosecutor and the defense lawyer to discuss the case. There are usually several (and sometimes, a lot) of pre-trials. This is where the key issues of the case are discussed, and plea and sentence bargains negotiated. In the real world, the vast majority of DUI cases, including 3rd offense DUI cases, are resolved through negotiations at the pre-trial stage.

In part 1 of this article about 3rd offense DUI charges in Michigan, we began by acknowledging the central importance of the evidence, and then, after reviewing the actual OWI law, boiled the relevant parts down into plain English. From there, we briefly looked at the potential driver’s license penalties. Here, in this 2nd part, we’ll see that, while the court process for 3rd offense DUI cases is similar to both 1st and 2nd offense cases, there are some significant differences, as well, beginning at the very first step – the arraignment:

Judge-2-300x293ARRAIGNMENT. At some point, either before, or after a person’s release from jail (after often happens when there has been a blood draw), he or she will be arraigned by either a Judge or a Magistrate. At an arraignment, a person is informed of the exact charge or charges against him or her, the maximum legal penalty that can be imposed for each, and is then apprised of his or her constitutional right, including the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer By far, the most important purposes of this first hearing is for a bond to be set, and the conditions of that bond to be established.

As far as the money part of bond is concerned, if a person has already posted some to get out of jail, most courts will consider that amount adequate, and let it stand. Usually, the biggest issue to be resolved at arraignment for a 3rd offense DUI are the conditions of bond. For example, it is a standard condition in all 1st and 2nd offense cases that a person completely abstain from the use of alcohol and all other intoxicants (including recreational marijuana), and that he or she provide regular breath and/or urine tests to prove compliance with the court’s “no drinking” order.

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