Articles Posted in DUI

As Michigan criminal, driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyers, we answer a lot of questions. Interestingly, when someone begins a question by saying something like “this is probably a dumb question, but…”, it usually isn’t. However, as much my team and I are helpful, polite, and respectful, there is one really dumb question we get asked from time-to-time – “Do I need a lawyer for this?” The answer is yes, but this question deserves a thorough answer. In this 2-part article, I want to take a serious look at why a person should have a lawyer for a criminal, driver’s license restoration, or DUI case.

RHF_DTTAH_Clogo_DEC14-272x300Let me clear up the easy stuff first: you may be able to do an okay job handling your own speeding ticket, or some other kind of civil infraction. However, if you’re thinking about dealing with any kind of misdemeanor (or felony) charge on your own, you could be making a serious mistake. Notice that I’m not saying you will ruin your life or wind up in jail. Those things probably won’t happen. But what if, down the road, you run into problems because of your record, or find out some consequence(s) from your case could have been avoided with a legal maneuver you didn’t even know about because you decided to “play lawyer.”

The universal maxim “you don’t know what you don’t know” really applies to everyone who tries to “play” lawyer (or doctor, electrician, etc.). There’s an old saying that, “The lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” It holds even more true for non-lawyers who try to represent themselves. You’ll notice that anytime a lawyer gets in trouble, the first thing he or she will do is hire a good lawyer. Even the best courtroom attorneys will hire an outsider lawyer if they find themselves facing criminal charges (or being sued).

In our roles as Michigan DUI lawyers, we’ve heard it all, and there are some specific things we hear rather often. It’s probably an occupational hazard, but one thing that’s brought up frequently by clients and potential clients is a comparison of their DUI case to some other person’s. Indeed, it’s more common than not for us to be asked about what a client should expect, based upon what he or she believes happened to someone else.  Even though I examined this topic very recently, the issue comes up so much in our practice that it’s worth revisiting.

ApplesOranges-2-300x237In this article, I want to briefly make clear that despite similarities, no 2 cases are alike, and that trying to gauge what is likely to happen in your case based upon what did, or supposedly did happen to someone else can often lead to either unfounded fear (when that “someone else” got hammered by the Judge) or unreasonable expectations (when that other person got lucky). It’s never a good idea to base one’s forecast on another person’s experience.

As much as we could go on about this, the reality is that it is just human nature to look at what happened to someone else in a similar situation to get a feel for what to expect yourself. We all do this to some extent or other, despite understanding the pitfalls of such comparisons, and even though we’re well aware that, especially when it comes to legal or medical issues, no 2 cases are alike.

In part 1 of this article, we opened by acknowledging that the whole reason a person hires a lawyer in for a criminal or DUI charge is to produce the best (meaning most lenient) outcome possible. We began by examining the first of the 3 most significant considerations that a person should evaluate as he or she looks for representation: the lawyer’s personality. I noted that our discussion should be helpful to anyone looking for a lawyer for a Michigan criminal or DUI case. Here, in part 2 we’ll look at the second and third considerations, the lawyer’s experience, and the location of the case. We’ll see how those 2 things interconnect, as well.

6a00d8341c03bb53ef01156fb06321970c-600wi-1-300x300The second consideration is the important role of the lawyer’s experience. This really cannot be overstated. In my office, we concentrate in DUI and certain criminal cases in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties. Because we focus our practice on criminal charges like indecent exposure, driving on a suspended license, and embezzlement, we have handled them, quite literally, more times than we could count. There does come a point when, after having done so many of the same kinds of cases, you actually have “seen it all.”

The value of experience seems pretty self-evident, but the way a lawyer can use it isn’t always so obvious. For example, I have been part of some rather creative plea bargain deals in one place, only to find that in another place, they’ve never heard of doing it that way. In some of those cases, I have successfully persuaded a prosecutor or Judge to try something new, in large part because I have seen it done elsewhere and been able to persuasively explain that it worked.

The purpose for hiring a lawyer to handle a DUI, other criminal charges, or even a probation violation, is to get the best outcome possible. In this article, I want to examine what I believe are 3 of the most important considerations in that regard: the lawyer’s personality, his or her experience, and the location of the case. Our inquiry will be relevant to anyone looking to retain an attorney for a criminal or DUI case in Michigan, even though my team and I specifically handle criminal and DUI cases in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne Counties (and sometimes Lapeer, Livingston, and St. Clair Counties, as well). are, of course, many more things that go into finding the right lawyer for your case than the 3 we’ll go over here. Money is one of them.  Although we won’t be examining the subject of legal fees in this article, price is a big deal for some people.  Without going too deep into it, the simple fact is that is that what a person cannot afford is a limiting factor in the kind of representation he or she can have. The reality is that you’ll need to fork out more money for a better grade of lawyer

As with any kind of goods or services, you have to pay up to step up. Whatever else, you’ll never get top-shelf legal representation for cut-rate prices. In that context, the term “affordable fees” is a term almost exclusively used by lawyers competing for business at the bargain end of the legal spectrum. That said, however, it is important to point out that you can very easily wind up paying way too much for mediocre services, as well. In other words, high fees don’t necessarily equate to high-quality legal help. Paying a lot doesn’t, by itself, mean you’re getting a lot.

In parts 1 and 2 of this article, we looked at testing in a Detroit-area DUI case. In part 3, we began an examination of the role of education, counseling or treatment in drunk driving cases. The term “education” was used to mean something simple, like a class, or a few classes, while “counseling” was defined as a step up from that, with “treatment” being the most involved of all measures, often involving multiple facets, and often including counseling among them. We’ll pick up where we left off, noting that, even though it is required to do so, the court system is ill-equipped to diagnose and treat alcohol problems.

abbabababa-300x230Two of the most important aspects of my job, and that of my team, is, on the one hand, to protect our clients from getting hammered with unnecessary counseling or treatment, while, on the other hand, making sure that any rehabilitative measures that are ordered match the needs of that particular client, at least to the extent possible within the system. Remember, we operate on the principle that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you.

The idea of sending someone for the kind of help that is a good fit for him or her, as opposed to cramming them into something that just isn’t “right,” is a very important aspect of helping people, and is often overlooked, especially by the legal system. As many people as it has helped, AA is not the only program out there. One might think so, however, because many meetings are filled with people there to get their attendance sheets signed after having been forced to go by some Judge or other. That’s no good.

In parts 1 and 2 of this article, we looked at the role of testing in a Tri-County area DUI case. Here, in part 3, we’re going to start exploring alcohol education, counseling, and testing, because at least one of these things is almost certain in every 1st offense DUI case, while either counseling or treatment is required in every 2nd and 3rd offense case. We’ll use the same standard – that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you.

AdobeStock_157909746-1024x683-300x261It was Benjamin Franklin gave us the sage advice that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Sometimes, however, it seems the courts take that a bit too far. Like alcohol testing, the idea that it’s better to be safe rather than sorry is a given in DUI cases, meaning that, as a preventative measure, a person will have to complete some kind of education, counseling or treatment for almost every 1st offense DUI case, while counseling and/or treatment is a legal requirement for anyone convicted of a 2nd or 3rd offense.

The educational/rehabilitative part of the DUI process is so important and universal that it was one of the motivating factors for me to formalize my education in this area, and complete a post-graduate program of addiction studies. I firmly believe that this is one of the most “influenceable” features of DUI cases, and is, without a doubt, where lawyer with my special background can help a client the most, making sure he or she doesn’t get hammered with unnecessary (or the wrong kind of) counseling or treatment. Remember, in the context of a DUI, less is always more.

In part 1 of this article, we began an examination of the 2 things everyone going through a DUI will be required to do: breath and/or urine testing for drugs and alcohol, and some kind of classes, counseling or treatment. After a brief history lesson, we ended with what I consider the gold standard for DUI lawyers – that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. No matter how else you put it, the job of a DUI lawyer is to protect the client from as many consequences as possible, and that includes testing, which we’ll examine in this segment.

drug-test-for-prescription-drugs-155276569-5b1c0a320e23d90036424b73-300x258To really understand how and why alcohol testing is used as it is today, we have to step back in time, a little more than 20 years ago. Back then, a person facing a DUI here, in the Greater-Detroit area, was usually not specifically ordered to abstain from alcohol (or drugs) while the case was pending, as a condition of bond. Up until the mid-1990’s, nobody had even heard of, much less used, any kind of “testing,” to make sure that a person didn’t drink while waiting for his or her case to be resolved.

If, by some chance, a person was ordered to not drink while the case made its way through court (and for a long time, this was far more the exception, rather than the rule), there was really no way to verify if they were or weren’t, and about the only way a person could get caught violating it is if he or she had some kind of police contact (like an arrest for another case involving alcohol) and/or it was otherwise documented that he or she had been drinking.

This article is to help anyone facing a DUI to understand what he or she will experience going through the court system. To do this, it is most helpful to look back a bit, at how things used to be, in order to fully grasp the process today. Although there is a lot to a DUI in general, there are 2 key, “in your face” things that everyone will have to deal with: First, a “no drinking” order from the court, enforced by alcohol testing (and usually put in place right out of the gate), and second, some kind of alcohol education, counseling, or treatment, generally required as part of probation. I’ve broken this discussion into 4 installments to keep each one short and interesting.

eef8f2dddd46a91a1d1ef7f3de5dd21270794c59-300x300A DUI is scary, but the truth is that things are probably not nearly as bad as the reader may fear. The Tri-County area of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties is a major metropolitan area, with a population of over 3.8 million people, and is home to 47 district courts, with over 110 Judges between them. Although each community that makes up the region has its own “vibe,” they’re all part of the larger metropolis, and things like jail overcrowding and a “big city” mindset means the courts here are more lenient than many distant, rural courts, that have plenty of jail space and fewer offenders.

I’ll repeat this throughout, but the standard we’ll use is that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. When it comes to DUI cases, what is considered “tough” today was unimaginable 20-odd years ago. Moreover, what we’d consider “lenient” today, with a few exceptions, would never have been thought of as especially “lenient” back then. In other words, today’s “normal” is very different from and much more demanding than it used to be. This is really part of a national trend toward getting “tougher” on drunk drivers. While some courts tend to pile it on ore than others, our job is to try and hold the line on that and help prevent our clients from going through anything that can be avoided.

This article will focus on some of the more important considerations following a 1st offense DUI arrest. In this article, we’ll talk about finding a lawyer, the arraignment, staying out of jail, and what happens to your license. One of the most important things to keep in mind is to NOT rush into anything, especially retaining an attorney. Unfortunately, the legal industry tends to send the opposite message, with many lawyers marketing their services (“Call Now!” and “Phones Answered 24 Hours”) as if you should pick a lawyer right away. That’s dead wrong; even hotel room service isn’t open 24 hours.

Now-What-286x300If you have never been in trouble before and are an otherwise a law-abiding, good person, it is normal to experience a lot of stress as a result of getting popped for drunk driving. The good news is that most of the things you likely fear are almost certainly not going to happen to you. I don’t say that to suggest that I have some kind of special, magic formula that is only available to those who hire me, but rather because I want the reader to understand that no matter who you do or don’t hire as your lawyer, certain things (like going to jail) are almost never on menu in a 1st offense DUI case.

You will certainly do better in a DUI case with a good lawyer, but you don’t need any kind of savior, and you should be very skeptical of anyone who makes themselves out as anything like that. This is why you need to take your time and read around. It’s natural for anyone facing a DUI to want answers right away. That’s one of the reasons I have written and published well over 400 DUI articles to date.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, one of the things we frequently have to deal with are people who (understandably) “compare” their DUI to someone else’s. Often, we’ll hear things like “My friend got a DUI and he…” or “This person at work got a DUI and she…” This is usually followed by an explanation of what a great break or deal the other person got, or how bad things turned out for him or her. Of course, part and parcel of this is that people usually get a lot of things wrong as they explain another person’s drunk driving case.

Colored-pencils-pencils-22186659-1600-1200-300x255Although it essentially goes without saying, I’ll say it anyway: no 2 DUI cases are alike. It is, however, human nature to look for help and understanding in the similar experiences of others. We all do this, no matter what the problem. Personally, I’ve hopped online a million times and googled some problem I was having, looking for answers for everything from replacing a kitchen faucet hose to dealing with shoulder pain while bench pressing. Replacing the kitchen faucet hose is pretty much the same in all cases, assuming you have the right model. Having shoulder pain, however, just like getting a DUI, is different for every person.

To be sure, it is possible to learn some things about your situation by listening to the experience of others, but differences between any 2 cases can be anywhere from relatively minor to absolutely huge. This makes sense when you think about it, because even if 2 people are arrested at the same intersection, by the same police officer, and their cases will be heard by the same Judge, there are about a million things that can make them different enough to render either useless as the basis for measuring the likely outcome of the other.