Articles Posted in DUI

It is an established fact that DUI drivers, as a group, have a statistically higher incidence of drinking problems than the population at large. In this article, I want to take a kind of private look at how this may apply to you, the reader. I want to concentrate on how and why a person facing an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) charge may look inward and question whether his or her relationship to alcohol has become risky or troublesome. In my role as Detroit-area (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County) DUI lawyer, I have written a lot about how an important part of my job is to protect my clients from being perceived as having a drinking problem they don’t, or having one more serious than is actually the case. These are valid concerns because there is a very real built-in “alcohol bias” in the court system. None of this, however, is the least bit helpful to anyone who knows, suspects, or even just wonders if his or her drinking has become problematic. Because of my clinical background and training, I can help explore this subject far more thoroughly than if I was just another lawyer.

drinking-problem-orange-county-alcohol-treatment-center-a-mission-for-michael-300x247At its simplest, there are 3 kinds of drinkers in the world: 1.), those that don’t think they have a problem, 2.), those who wonder if they do, and, 3.), those who know they do. It goes without saying that most people who drink do NOT have a problem with it, so the vast majority of those who don’t think they have any kind of problem are correct. Denial, however, is an early marker in every case of troublesome drinking, so this means that some of the people who don’t think they have a problem actually do. How to unravel that denial can become the work of a lifetime, and to date, no one has found a way to help someone with their drinking who isn’t otherwise “ready,” so we’ll leave that topic behind and focus, instead, on those who wonder if, or already know, that their drinking has become a problem.

Because of my specific educational background (beyond law school, I completed a post-graduate program of addiction studies) and the DUI focus of my practice (I handle a ton of drunk driving cases), I work with plenty of clients who either know that they need help or are otherwise at least open to talking to someone about their drinking. You might think that would make my job easier, because it would seem like I could just skip the work involved in protecting them from being treated by the court as if they do have a problem, but that’s not the case. In fact, over-diagnosis, both in terms of finding problems that aren’t there, and assessing alcohol problems as having problems more serious than they really are, is widespread both within the clinical world, and even more a problem in the court system. Part of the problem within the court system is that the assessment of a person’s drinking (i.e., the diagnosing) is done by a probation officer, and not an actual clinician. Although it is more convenient for the courts to do it this way, having a probation officer (PO) screen a DUI driver for an alcohol problem is decidedly non-clinical. As crazy as it sounds, this isn’t much different than if the PO was expected to screen someone for depression or some other mental health disorder. In the context of any DUI case of mine, I am thankful that I have the clinical knowledge to make sure my client doesn’t get ordered into any unnecessary treatment, or otherwise forced into some kind of “help” that isn’t a good fit for him or her. That said, let’s circle back to looking at your relationship to alcohol.

Of all the things that make a lawyer truly exceptional in the courtroom, there is a kind of elusive something, kind of like a “magic sauce,” that makes a certain food stand out from all the rest. In this article, I want to look at some of the ingredients that go into making a DUI lawyer exceptional, and not just another member of the larger herd. As a Michigan DUI lawyer, I spend part of just about every workday in court dealing with OWI charges. I know that my abilities are top-shelf. I talk for a living, and what does and does not happen to my clients depends very much on the words I choose, and how I arrange and speak them. For a lawyer, this is a lot different than reading documents and drafting contracts. It goes without saying that a litigator should be well-spoken, but in any profession, no matter what kind of skill or talent may be required, there is a certain level of “average” within it that’s far above everyone else. The average professional baseball player catches and throws much better than the rest of us, but even in the major leagues, some players are just superior to others. Detroit Tiger’s pitcher Justin Verlander, for example, still manages to throw a ball better than just about every other player in the pro ranks, and that makes him exceptional.

3-218x300In the courtroom, most lawyers are pretty well-spoken, at least compared to the population at large. That should hardly be a surprise. While there are a few “mumblers” here and there, most lawyers who earn their living in court are drawn to litigation precisely because they have an aptitude for extemporaneous speaking and thinking on their feet. What elevates the best, however, is that they are just plain better. Within any profession, from carpenter, plumber, dentist to cardiac surgeon, the median level of skill is miles above that of the layperson, but the very best within any such profession always stand out from the rest. Being articulate, however, is not enough, by itself, for a DUI lawyer to be exceptional. Every exceptional courtroom lawyer is articulate, but not every articulate lawyer is exceptional in the courtroom. Being exceptional, at least as a litigation attorney, comes down to a mixture of things, kind of like a recipe (a pinch of this, a dash of that; hence the “magic sauce” reference) that defies precise measurement.

Beyond outstanding speaking abilities, the exceptional lawyer has to have an instinct to “read” a situation – particularly the Judge – and change direction seamlessly. I picked this up real early in my career. At first, I was surprised by how many lawyers didn’t know better, but I have since learned that most lack that instinct to “read the room,” so to speak, and then turn on a dime. No matter how good an argument, if the Judge isn’t buying it, the best and only thing you can do is cut your losses and try something else. When a Judge isn’t being persuaded, continuing to drone on and on isn’t going to change his or her mind. At best, you lose an opportunity to switch to a winning approach, while at worst, it’s going to push the Judge’s patience beyond its limits and you completely lose him or her, anyway. A lawyer may successfully argue to the Judge, but never with him or her. This is where that instinct comes in, and the exceptional lawyer just “knows” how its going. There are some lawyers who are great at making objections and arguing legal procedure, and those learned skills can be invaluable during a trial, but when you’re standing before the Judge to be sentenced for a DUI in the real world, you need a lawyer who can make things better for you, and a critical part of that is being able to intuit the situation and make adjustments on the fly.

Because I am both a DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyer, it is automatic for me to focus on the license consequences in every drunk driving case I handle. In truth, what can and will happen to someone’s ability to drive should be a primary consideration in every DUI case, but unfortunately, it’s not, and that’s often due to the limitations of the lawyer him or herself. A few days ago, a conversation with a potential new license restoration client reminded me that this important facet of drinking and driving cases is not really understood by lawyers who don’t also concentrate in license issues. Rather than turn this article into a never-ending list of examples, we’ll keep it brief by skipping the specifics and looking at why these considerations need to be front and center in every Michigan OWI case.

when-you-know-better-you-do-better-200x300A conviction for any Michigan DUI (Operating While Intoxicated) charge carries some kind of license penalty (technically referred to as a license sanction). One of the biggest misconceptions I encounter is the mistaken belief that the court or Judge has anything to do with this. License penalties are set by law, and they are imposed by the Secretary of State, not the court. This means that if a person is convicted of 1st offense OWI, his or her license will be suspended for 6 months, he or she will be unable to drive at all for the first 30 days (this is called a “hard suspension”) and will then be on a restricted license for the next 5 months. Fortunately, most first offenders can avoid the hard suspension through a good plea bargain and usually only wind up with a restricted license for 90 days. The larger point here, though, is that the court has nothing to do with what happens to the license, and the Judge cannot modify the sanction in any way. The only way to have an impact on the license sanction is through the plea bargain itself.

License sanctions are fixed, and, as the saying goes, set in stone: if you are convicted of offense “A,” then you MUST get sanction “B”; if you are convicted of offense “C,” then you MUST get sanction “D,” and so on. The sanction for any given offense cannot be negotiated or modified in any way. Most lawyers understand this much, but there is a lot more to protecting the client’s interests than just knowing the matrix of offenses and corresponding penalties. This, unfortunately, is where some lawyers wade into waters a bit ott deep without realizing it. There are things that can be done in handling the DUI case itself to either avoid a longer suspension or an outright revocation of one’s driver’s license beyond merely shooting for the best plea deal possible. On top of that – and this is really important – the lawyer must be able to look down the road and think in the long term, as well. The things that do and do not happen in the current case can and often do have a huge impact on getting your license back later. This is easy to overlook in the moment, but is one of those things that will most certainly come back to “bite” you in the you-know-what later. The problem is that unless your lawyer devotes a substantial portion of his or her practice to driver’s license restoration appeals, he or she won’t have a clue what these things are, much less what to do about them. This is one of the ways I can protect you better than anyone.

Looking for a DUI lawyer is like looking for a new smartphone: there are loads of choices and options, with most of them claiming to be the best.  I have been kind of “pushed” by my staff to write this article and explain why you should hire me for a Detroit-area DUI case.  Over the last number of years, I have put together this blog  and a website that provides more useful information than you can find just about everywhere else combined.  It has become a resource for the public, and a research tool for lawyers, as well.  After a recent call from some lawyer asking for clarification about the alcohol screening test (the written test that everyone is required to take as part of the DUI court process), my staff told me that while it’s nice that I’m so helpful, I need to make clear that I am the real expert about these things.  To be perfectly candid, they shook their heads at the idea that someone was paying some other lawyer (rather than me) to handle an OWI charge, and this attorney was researching the diagnostic process involved in substance abuse screening on my blog, and then asking me questions how the testing is done in a certain local court.  Given that I’m more inclined to explain something than brag about it, this article is a somewhat awkward departure from my usual approach.  Still, I want to make clear that if you are facing an drinking and driving charge in any Detroit-area (Oakland, Macomb or Wayne County) district or circuit court, I can help you in ways that no other lawyer can, and produce the very best (meaning most lenient) outcome possible in your case.

3dcd40d8900f2fc65e16bbd092043ff8-second-best-quotes-wise-quotes-300x300Some lawyers, like cell phones, are marketed based on low cost.  A cheap phone with actual pushbutton keys is severely limiting, and a cut-rate lawyer is just about as bad an idea, especially in the context of a DUI.  A smartphone with a virtual keyboard is a minimum requirement in today’s world, and will affect just about everything you do with that phone, every single day.  In that same way, understanding the screening processes used in the court system to look for evidence of an existing alcohol problem (and most often finding that there is at least an increased risk of that) is critical to avoiding unnecessary and negative consequences in your DUI case.  The simple reality here is that, as a group, people who are facing or have had a DUI in the past have a statistically much higher rate of alcohol problems than the population at large (meaning people who’ve never had a DUI).  If you’re dealing with an OWI charge, you can’t help but to walk right into this, and it is the reason for an ever-present “alcohol bias” in the court system.  Protecting the client from this trap requires a lot more than simple trial skills or understanding how a breathalyzer machine works.

This is my specialty, and it is important to every single DUI case that winds up in court.  I have completed a formal post-graduate (as opposed to undergraduate) program of addiction studies, and I fundamentally and comprehensively understand the development, diagnosis, and treatment of alcohol problems, and how people do (and don’t) recover from them.  In terms of actually making things better in a DUI case, I can help both those who do NOT and those who do have a problem with drinking.  This clinical knowledge provides a decisive advantage in every drinking and driving case because every person going through the court system must, by law, be assessed to determine whether he or she has, or is at risk to develop a drinking problem.  In the real world, very few people (at least those who aren’t my clients) emerge from this screening without a finding that at least some preventive alcohol education is warranted.  These are typically either multi-session evening, or, worse yet, overnight (3 or 4 day, often weekend) programs that you have to pay for and attend.  You won’t particularly be enjoying your stay at the Rehab Inn, and if you don’t have a drinking problem, you’ll like it even less if you discover it could have otherwise been avoided…

As a Michigan DUI lawyer, I spend a lot of time calming the fears of people who have been arrested for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI).  Unfortunately, some lawyers, not necessarily because they’re mean or otherwise trying to be intentionally deceptive, default to a strategy of selling their services through what is known as “fear-based marketing.”  After all, anyone with a product or service has to answer the question, “What can you do for me?”  You wouldn’t buy glue if the package said something like, “maybe it will hold, or maybe not.”  Most often, and especially right after the arrest, someone charged with a DUI is most afraid of going to jail.  Selling one’s self as the hero that can save someone from his or her biggest fear seems like a good way to get business, and, because of human nature, it does work well enough in the larger market.  In other words, when people are at their most vulnerable, they’ll buy into it for a sense of peace of mind.

AAA-219x300The simple truth, however, is that in a 1st offense DUI (at least in any local, Detroit-area court), you’re not going to jail.  It doesn’t matter if your lawyer isn’t any smarter or well-spoken than a braying donkey; jail simply is NOT on the menu.  The only possible exception to this comes from 1 out of the 3 Judges in Bloomfield Hills’ 48th district court, and even then, getting locked up not a guarantee.  If your case is pending anywhere else (or even in front of either of the other 2 Judges in that court), any talk of jail is a complete waste of breath, and paying some lawyer to “avoid” it is a waste of money, as well.  In fact, jail can be avoided in many, if not most 2nd offense DUI cases, and although somewhat off topic here, I’ve also kept countless clients originally charged with 3rd offense (felony) DUI from doing any time, as well.  Since you’re not going in the first place, paying legal fees to stay out of jail in a 1st offense DUI is senseless.

Keeping someone out of jail who is at genuine risk to go is one thing, and undoubtedly the most important thing for that person.  The point I’m making here, however, is that since you’re not at risk to get locked up for a 1st offense DUI (this includes High BAC cases, as well) anyway, why waste your time and money protecting yourself from something that’s not going to happen?  Instead, your focus should be on avoiding as many of the numerous other legal consequences that are possible, likely and even certain, like driver’s license restrictions or suspensions, and an easier, versus a more difficult term of probation.  In other words, you should pay your lawyer to provide you with the best and most lenient outcome possible in your case.

A DUI charge can be overwhelming.  The more you look for information, the more you find, from scary sounding penalties to complicated (and expensive) legal analyses.  It is not wrong to simply want to get through it all and put this mistake in the past.  As much as I might not like to admit it, I am probably guilty, myself, of adding to all the complexity and the seemingly endless stream of information out there about OWI charges in Michigan.  To date, I’ve published over 300 DUI articles, and stand rather proud of my work.  Despite that, however, I think it’s time to try and simplify things from the point of view of the person actually going through a drunk driving case.  In my 26-plus years as a lawyer, I’ve represented every kind of DUI client you could imagine, from the trusting souls who simply ask for you to guide them in the best way possible (thankfully, I come fully equipped with a strong conscience, so I take that request seriously and live by the rule to treat others as I would wish to be treated), those that want to fight every part of everything, at every step along the way, to those people who just want to get on with their lives and who want the whole DUI to go away as quickly and painlessly as possible.  This article will be for that last type.

moving-on-300x279It is in the DNA of every lawyer, or at least it should be, to carefully examine the evidence in each DUI case to make sure it stands up.  To the unscrupulous, it might sound like a jackpot to find someone ready to pay your fee just to get through his or her DUI as quickly as possible.  To any REAL lawyer, though, the very first instinct is, and always should be, to obtain and look over the evidence before anything else.  A GOOD lawyer will always look for a way to beat the case.  Looking for it doesn’t mean you’ll find it, and, in fact, most drunk driving cases are solid enough to not be dismissed outright, but – and you can take this to the bank – you will NEVER find a way to get a case knocked out of court without looking for it first.  In all of the cases where I have found a way out, it was discovered by looking for it.  Most often, it’s not the client who comes in like some pissed-off constitutional expert, fist-banging the table and telling me how the cops got is all wrong who gets his or her case dismissed.  Those types are simple blowhards who make a lot of noise but very little impact.  Instead, it’s generally the more well-mannered person from whom I extract specific information by question and answer where we’ll find that one little nugget that can change everything.  It’s certainly no great revelation that most DUI cases are pretty solid, and certainly solid enough to not be thrown out of court, although that should never be the case for lack of trying.  A thorough review of all the evidence is a necessary and preliminary undertaking in every DUI case, despite the fact that some lawyers milk a lot of money out of their clients by making it seem that such basic, foundational work is something special or is some way more than routine.

While we’re here, let’s talk money.  This is kind of a taboo subject to many lawyers, but not with me; I like to be candid and up front, and I’m suspicious of anyone who’s not, or plays coy, especially about costs.  Among lawyers, there are all kinds of strategies to bring in new money: some use the free consultation thing as an opportunity to get someone into “the client chair” (by contrast, all my consultations are done over phone, right when you call).  Other’s use the ruse of “getting a little information,” and then inquiring about a person’s line of work to gauge how much he or she makes before quoting a fee (mine, on the other hand, are fixed).  Personally, I am repulsed by all of this secretiveness, and publish my fees both on my blog and my website.  If lawyers were cars, then my fees would put me in the BMW/Lincoln/Mercedes range.  I am not cheap, and have zero desire to compete with anyone else based upon price, but I also think that too many lawyers charge fees that are way beyond reasonable for the lack of specific DUI experience they bring to the table.  On this point, you will simply have to sharpen your consumer skills in order to get what’s best for yourself.  Of course, there is nothing to be had from the bargain, or cut-rate lawyer, but paying out really big money often does not buy any level of corresponding skill.  It’s just as easy to be sold out cheaply as it is to get “taken”  by paying too much for unnecessary work.

Generally speaking, it’s better to wind up facing a 1st offense DUI in a Macomb County district court rather than anywhere else.  There are 9 district courts in Macomb: The 37th district court in Warren, the 38th district court in Eastpointe, the 39th district court in Roseville, the 40th district court in St. Clair Shores, the 41-A1 (Sterling) district court in Sterling Heights, the 41-A2 (Shelby) district court in Shelby Township, the 41-B district court in Clinton Township, the 42nd Division 1 district court in Romeo, and the 42nd Division 2 district court in New Baltimore.  As a group, these courts handle the cases for every municipality in Macomb County.  In this article I will examine why, even if you’ve been unlucky enough to be arrested for an OWI charge, it’s at least a bit of good fortune if your case is in a Macomb County district court.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2017/06/AR-161219904.jpgmaxh400maxw667-200x300.jpegEven though what we know as the Metro-Detroit area is comprised of 3 adjacent and closely connected counties, (the “Tri-County area” of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb), each one, at least as far as court systems go, can kind of be like its own separate country, and those broader differences filter down into all of the district courts within their respective borders.  I trust the reader understands that, as a Michigan DUI lawyer who practices exclusively in the Tri-County area, I’m not going to rip any court, nor make any specific and unflattering comparisons between one court and another.  However, I can explain this almost as clearly by outlining a few key factors that show why, at least for the person facing the DUI, having it in one of the district courts mentioned above is real break.  To be sure, there are plenty of times when someone charged with OWI or OWI with a  BAC of .17 or greater (High BAC) will end up with a more lenient outcome from some court in Wayne or even Oakland County, but there are also plenty of times when that won’t be the case.  Thus, one of the defining attributes of the Macomb County district courts is a general consistency to what happens to DUI drivers.

The focus of this article is on what happens to you in a DUI case, and in that sense, you’d have to  be nuts to want ANYTHING other than the most lenient outcome possible.  If I had to go through the DUI process, I’d want my case to be heard by the nicest and most sympathetic Judge out there; I’d hope the case could be dismissed, or, if not, that I’d get the best plea deal possible, and wind up with the least amount of penalties, as well.  Nobody would choose more punishment over less punishment, or having to pay more fines and costs rather than less, right?  Let’s start, then, with some really good news: you aren’t going to jail in a 1st offense OWI in Macomb County.  Even with a High BAC charge, jail isn’t on the menu.  When I meet with a new client and I state this so matter-of-factly, I usually have to repeat myself, and explain it a little because many people get all worked up about getting locked up, even though it’s simply not going to happen.  It’s understandable that everyone’s deepest fear is going to jail, but we can end all that stress right here – you’re not going to jail.  That said, there are plenty of other things that could, might and, indeed, will happen, so our time is better spent looking at them in the context of a 1st offense DUI case brought in a Macomb County district court.

Within the more than 300 DUI articles I have published on this blog, I have examined just about every aspect, facet, and step of drunk driving charges, and often in painstaking detail.  This article will be an abbreviated look at the steps of the Michigan DUI legal process.  My goal is to put up something short and easy to read.  This is actually somewhat difficult for me, because, as can be seen by the content of my other installments, I’m an explainer.  If you’ve been arrested for a drinking and driving offense anywhere in the Detroit-area (meaning anywhere in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County), you certainly want information, but sometimes – and that’s the reason for this attempt at brevity – it’s better to start with the bigger points and work your way down, to the extent you’re interested, to all the finer details.

S240_F_93677434_xaPPejliipFMA7YQHOAlm19KPIqgPB5CAt it’s most basic, a DUI case has 3 main phases: the arrest, the court proceedings, and the post-court requirements (meaning probation).  The arrest part, as we’ll see, is rather simple, and really doesn’t help explain what’s going to happen (as in what’s coming), because you’ve already been through it.  Next, we’ll look at the court proceedings, and we’ll break that down a bit further by examining, if not in detail, at least in general, what you can expect to take place in your case.  Finally, we’ll talk about post-court requirements, meaning (for most people), what probation is all about.  The focus here will be on short and sweet.

The Arrest.  You already know how this works, or at least worked in your case.  The police have contact with the driver for some reason, either by pulling him or her over for a traffic stop (usually for something like swerving, violating a traffic law, or following up on a cell-phone tip) or by showing to something like a traffic accident.  Although the arrest itself is rather straightforward, what takes place immediately before and leads up to it is keenly important in a DUI case.  The officer’s observations of the driver (bloodshot, glassy eyes, speech that is slurred, difficulty in balancing, etc.) must always be examined by the lawyer, as should the person’s performance on the field sobriety tests.  In the real world, the police report is almost always going to portray the driver as doing rather poorly. This, in turn, makes it important to obtain and review any dash-cam video of the stop, the field sobriety tests, and anything else.  One rather universal rule about handling DUI cases is that the lawyer should thoroughly examine all the evidence, and that means obtaining and watching the police car dash cam video in just about every case.  For all of that, though, the arrest itself ends a ride to jail, followed by your eventual release, usually the next day, and often after having posted some money (technically called an “interim bond”).

As a Michigan DUI lawyer, I deal with drunk driving charges every day.  While just about everyone uses the term “DUI” to describe it, technically speaking, there is no such thing in Michigan.  The legal term here for a drinking and driving offense is “Operating While Intoxicated,” or “OWI.  In this article I want to focus on one of the most important components of Michigan’s drunk driving laws known as “Impaired Driving,” often referred to simply as “Impaired,” or by the initials “OWVI.”  Although still an offense listed in Michigan’s Operating While Intoxicated statute (law), Impaired Driving is the least severe of all drinking and driving offenses and is the sought-after goal and plea bargain in any DUI case that doesn’t otherwise get thrown out of court.  In the real world, “Impaired Driving” essentially translates to “no jail,” and that’s just for starters.  To keep things short (and hopefully interesting), I’ll skip much of the history lesson and get right to what Impaired Driving is all about and why, as far as drunk driving goes, it’s the best (and least serious) of all DUI charges.

deal-300x194In Michigan, as in all 50 states, a driver is considered drunk when his or her BAC is .08 or above.  That unanimity of that national standard will change on December 20, 2018, when the legal limit in Utah will drop from .08 to .05, and this writer predicts it won’t be very long before other states, including Michigan, follow suit.  Here, however, is where we need the short-version history lesson about how things got to where they are now.  Prior to 2003, the legal limit for drunk driving in Michigan (then called “Operating Under the Influence of Liquor,” or “OUIL”) was .10.  At the time, the legal limit for Impaired driving was .07.  In 2003, when Michigan changed it’s DUI laws to become the last of all 50 states to adopt the .08 standard, the offense of Impaired Driving was retained, but the BAC limit of .07 was scrapped.  As it stands now, there is no magic number, or BAC threshold, for Impaired Driving.  Instead, a person is considered to be guilty of Impaired Driving, when, according to the statute, “The person’s ability to operate the motor vehicle is visibly impaired.”

There are several rather important differences between any of the regular OWI offenses (including 1st offense OWI, OWI with a BAC greater than .17 (also known as “High BAC” or “Superdrunk”), OWI 2nd offense, and OWI 3rd (felony) offense), and Impaired Driving.  In terms of what you will actually experience in a 1st offense case (as opposed to a laundry list of technical differences that are more academic than practical), about the biggest advantage to Impaired Driving is that you won’t lose the ability to drive.  A conviction for Impaired Driving requires a person’s license to be restricted for 90 days, whereas a conviction for OWI requires that a person’s license be completely suspended for 30 days with NO DRIVING WHATSOEVER (this  is called a “hard suspension”), followed by 5 months of restrictions.  For someone convicted of High BAC, the license sanctions are even worse:  No driving at all (hard suspension) for 45 days, followed by the next 10 and 1/2 months on a restricted license that only allows the person to operate a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock unit.  Just for driving purposes alone, Impaired Driving is a kind of jackpot.

If you are facing a Michigan DUI charge, the list of things that can happen to you certainly seems long and scary.  In my role as a local, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County DUI lawyer, I have written extensively (this is my 300th DUI article) about how very few of them will ever happen.  In a 1st offense drunk driving case, for example, and with only 1 possible exception out of the 115 district court Judges in the Metro-Detroit, Tri-County area, jail is simply NOT on the menu, meaning it’s just not going to happen.  In this short article, I want to shift the focus away from fear-based marketing and scare tactics found in so many other places, and look, instead, at the 3 things that WILL happen in every drinking and driving case that goes through the court system.

3-300x262First, there will be at least some restriction to your driver’s license.  Even so, let’s start with the good news: if this is a 1st offense charge (that includes an OWI with BAC .17 or more, also known as “High BAC”), you will NOT lose the ability to drive.  If, however, you are convicted a 2nd DUI charge within 7 years, or a 3rd within 10 years, your license will be revoked (meaning taken away for good, and not simply suspended for a time), unless you enter into a sobriety court program.  The majority of DUI cases in the court system are 1st offenses, so if yours is one of them, this means that instead of worrying about losing your license, you should be looking at the restrictions likely to be placed upon it.

In a 1st offense case, what ultimately happens to your license depends on what your lawyer negotiates as part of a plea bargain, NOT on your initial charge.  Thus, someone charged with OWI or High BAC should not worry about the license penalties that go along with the offense listed on their ticket or court notice, but instead on what sanctions follow the final deal ultimately worked out by their lawyer.  Consider this: In a High BAC case, a person will be required to drive using an ignition interlock, and on a restricted license for 10 and 1/2 months after serving a 45-day “hard” suspension where he or she cannot drive at all.  However, I am able to negotiate most of my client’s High BAC charges down to Impaired Driving (OWVI), and the license sanction for that is merely 90 days of a restricted license, allowing the person to drive to, from and during the course of work, for school, medical treatment and such.  The real upshot of the 90-day restriction is that a person just cannot do any pleasure driving for 3 months.  This is much better than the penalties he or she feared when originally charged with High BAC.