Articles Posted in DUI

In the course of every DUI case that goes through the court system, and before ever being sentenced by the Judge, a person must, by law, complete a mandatory written alcohol screening test and meet with a probation officer for an information-gathering interview.  The results of that screening test (it is calculated using a numerical scoring system) and probation interview are used to prepare a sentencing recommendation (this too, is required by law) that is sent to the Judge to be used in deciding exactly what sentence to hand out.  In the real world, this step is THE most important part of a drunk driving case because it directly impacts what will happen to you more than anything else.  Accordingly, being prepared for both the written screening and the probation interview is critical to producing the best outcome possible.  In my DUI practice we’ll spend several hours (at least) in preparation for this, including having a separate appointment and prep session a few days before you go for your interview with the probation officer.  Among the herd of DUI lawyers, I am uniquely qualified to help with this, having studied and worked with alcohol and drug issues for over 2 decades as well as having completed a formal University post-graduate program of addiction studies.  The development, diagnosis, treatment of and recovery from addiction disorders is at the core of everything I do, every single day.

Tester-2-300x265Preparation for the alcohol screening test begins at our very first meeting.  I typically use about an hour at that first appointment to going over (or, as I say, introducing) the questions you’ll be answering because I believe this information is best absorbed by being presented twice; initially at that first meeting, and then again, typically at our second office appointment right before you go in for the meeting with probation.  This whole process of alcohol screening and meeting with probation is variously referred to an assessment, a PSI (for pre-sentence investigation), and/or a screening.  Whatever it’s called, it refers to the procedure and process wherein a person completes the written alcohol screening test (to confuse matters more, the testing instrument itself is sometimes called a “substance abuse assessment”), meets with, provides information to, and is also interviewed by the probation officer.  All of this is used to formulate that written sentencing recommendation given to the Judge.  It is a critical mistake to allow the client to take the screening test and/or walk into that probation meeting without having gone over everything in order to make sure he or she is thoroughly prepared.

Perhaps the biggest and most common miscalculation I see lawyers make is assuming that, when they speak at the sentencing, they can somehow convince the Judge NOT to follow the probation department’s recommendation in some significant way.  It doesn’t work like that; it never has, and it never will.  When you walk into court on the day of sentencing, your lawyer is required to get a copy of the sentencing recommendation from the court clerk and review it with you.  In fact, the Judge will specifically ask if you’ve seen the recommendation, and if there are any errors within it that need to be corrected.  Later, you and your lawyer will be asked for any comments about the recommendation itself.  This is more a formality rather than anything else, because in the real world, pretty much every Judge, in every court, follows the recommendation, if not to the very letter, then damn close to it.  To put it another way, the sentencing recommendation is really the blueprint for what’s going to happen to you, and there is simply no Judge who is going to disregard any substantial part of it.  This means, then, that the best and only real chance you have to influence what’s recommended, and, in turn, to affect what ultimately happens to you, is to be prepped and ready for the screening and the probation interview.  It is a fool’s errand, really, to just show up in court and start arguing against the recommendation as it sits in the Judge’s hands.  That’s no better than pissing in the wind.  Indeed, if you are not carefully readied for the whole PSI process, then you are stumbling blindly through your DUI case without any kind of plan.

In the drunk driving world, it has long been established that, as a group, DUI offenders have a higher incidence of drinking problems that the population at large.  As a Michigan DUI lawyer, an important part of my job is to protect my clients from being perceived as having a problem that isn’t there, particularly in light of the court system’s inherent “alcohol bias” that looks for (and all too often finds) one.  The fact remains, however, that the percentage of DUI drivers who present with a troubled relationship to alcohol is higher than average.  In other words, for plenty of people facing a DUI, their drinking has become problematic.  Many people in this situation don’t know what to do, or are struggling with the very idea that something is wrong.  It is not uncommon for a person to have a feeling in his or her heart of hearts – a “gut feeling” – that something isn’t quite right, but the first instinct is to promise one’s self to get hold of it, and to fix it somehow.  In this blog article I want to keep a simple focus on the concept of coming to realize that your relationship to drinking is precarious after a drinking and driving arrest.  We’ll skip the drama, all the “how to” advice on getting help and everything else, and just look at how one begins to open up enough to start thinking about this.  For my part, I bring a special skill set to this discussion beyond merely being a DUI lawyer.  Academically, I have completed a post-graduate program of addiction studies, so I am well aware of all the modern research and theories regarding the diagnosis and treatment of alcohol problems.  I also know that, while I understand the clinical side of things, I am NOT a clinician, so I won’t try and play therapist.  My role, in that sense, is to listen and help “counsel” my clients, and see that they are directed to the right kind of help, whatever that may be (and is often NOT what any court has in mind)., a client sent this wonderful email message to me:  On another note, I thought long and hard about the conversation that I had with you in your office in January. I had to do some major introspection and be brutally honest with myself about what occurred that put me in this situation.  It is not something that I am going sweep under the rug when this case is over. I have attended weekly AA meetings at my local church and it has been very helpful. (I have attended ten meetings and I have the signed document from the meetings to verify.) I am going to AA for my own needs and I plan on continuing to do so regardless of what the court might order me to do. I wanted you to know. Your insight was a big part of my coming to that decision. You are truly are a counselor in the best sense of the word.”  For everything I do as a lawyer, this is the very finest kind of return or reward I can get.  There is no money nor any praise that can equal the feeling of knowing that you’ve been really able to help someone pierce the darkness and see a little hope.  It’s this kind of “light bulb” moment is a person’s life that I want to talk about in this article.

There’s an old saying that “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”  In my line of work, I hear from all kinds of amateur lawyers who’ve spent endless hours on the internet doing their own legal research and somehow think they have the whole legal system figured out.  If there’s one thing I know about counseling and treatment for troublesome drinking, it’s that everyone is different, and while something like AA may be the best fit for one person, it can the exact opposite for another.  Similarly, one person my thrive in group therapy, while the very thought of that may terrify someone else.  There are people who do well with something called “bibliotherapy” (don’t worry, “biblio” means book, not bible), which means learning about recovery from one’s own reading.  My role is to help the client who is contemplating his or her relationship to alcohol, or who has already concluded that it has become problematic, to understand that there is a whole universe of recovery options out there.  In terms of first things first, it’s not about picking the right one as much as it is about ruling out those that hold no appeal.  It is the job of the therapist to apply, handle and monitor things from there.

The other day, I was in a local Oakland County court for a DUI case and found myself in the company of a bunch of rather well-know, top-shelf lawyers, several of whom were also there to handle drunk driving charges, as well.  I looked around and noticed that the most of the people in the courtroom did not look like the crowd that would be be using court-appointed or bargain priced lawyers.  Although the usual socio-economic cross section of people showing up to deal with a drinking and driving charge usually runs the gamut from low to high-income, this was definitely a more well-heeled crowd.  As I thought about the somewhat unusual experience of seeing so many good lawyers in one courtroom at the same time, I realized that this particular group of DUI driver’s had the means to hire “up” and find some relief in knowing that they’d be taken care of in the best possible way.  Busy people with a lot to lose need an attorney they can trust to take care of everything and produce the best possible outcome.  This should really be the goal of everyone facing a drinking and driving case, and is certainly the expectation of anyone stepping up to hire a blue-chip DUI lawyer.

ItsAllTakenCareOf-2As individuals go, there are some who are very much “detail people.”  I am certainly one, and I certainly attract a lot of them to my practice by doing things like publishing this blog with 2 new articles each week.  I get into and discuss details to the very ends of reasonableness.  There are some things that are just too much to explain and too legalistic or technical for the layman to really grasp, so I don’t venture that far in my various analysis.  For a real-life example of what I mean, as I write this, my own vehicle is at the dealership undergoing a warranty repair for an oil leak of some kind discovered when I brought it in for an oil change.  The service manager took me into the garage to show me the how things looked while my vehicle was up on the hoist, and the mechanic gave me a general explanation of what went wrong and the needed repair, but he didn’t explain which part they were going to remove first, how they were going to clean and repair the various parts, and then how the new part or parts would be installed and everything put back together.  That’s just too much information, and it goes way over my  head.  I trust the dealership to know what to do, and I go to them because I want to turn my vehicle over to someone who can just take care of everything for me.  I appreciate the security of knowing that I’m in good hands.  So, in the same way, should anyone who puts in the effort to find and hire a top-shelf DUI lawyer.

Exactly where to draw the line with that really depends on the client.  Given my personality, and in my role as a DUI lawyer, I cannot help but also be an explainer.  I’ve never been the kind who just takes someone’s money and then says “here’s the deal.”  Instead, I like to have an informed client who understand exactly what we’re doing along the way.  In fact, plenty of people retain me over the phone (it’s kind of easy to get to “know” me through all of my writings) and I make it a point to get them into my office as soon as feasible so we can go over the details of their case.  Some people, however, need a lot more of my time and have a lot more questions than others, and that’s okay, because I really am the right guy for that.  I have been incredibly successful at this long enough to be able to indulge those whom might test another lawyer’s patience to the limit while also making sure that even the most unconcerned person gets a full understanding of what we’re doing.  That requires a fair balance of diplomacy and strength because it basically means, on the one hand, telling someone who is asking ridiculous questions that enough is enough, while on the other hand, getting and holding the attention of the person who figures that his or her required participation ends by handing me money.  And it’s not that I feel “special” for this, because when you think about it, these are essential, if not really minimum qualifications of a good lawyer.

Recently, I published an article about how location matters in drunk driving (OWI) cases.  Because I generally limit my DUI practice to the Tri-County area, I am in front of the same Judges in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties all the time.  In this short piece, I want to take a look at drinking and driving cases in the various Wayne County courts, and the 4 things you should know about them.  To be clear, a driving over the legal limit charge is a violation of state law, or a corresponding local ordinance (this means that it’s the same thing), so it’s not like a DUI in one place is any more or less of a crime than it is in another, but make no mistake, location is probably the most important single aspect of how a drinking and driving case will ultimately work out.  Still, as a DUI lawyer, the first question I ask anyone when the subject of a DUI comes up is, “Where?”

detroit-county-map-1First, none of the district courts in Wayne County, from Harper Woods in the northeast to Plymouth/Canton in the Northwest, Woodhaven in the southeast to Romulus in the southwest, and points in-between, like Westland, Livonia, Wyandotte, Dearborn, are especially difficult places.  The Judges in all these courts are genuinely decent people, and that makes them welcoming to a DUI lawyer like me.  In the northern suburbs, you’ll often hear conspiratorial whispers about this or that Judge being especially “tough,” but fortunately, none of that is really true for any of the Wayne County district courts.  That’s not to say that these Judges are in any sense “easy” on DUI cases, but it does mean that there are no horror stories about the Judge from Hell to contend with here, either.

One of the best things about the Judges in the various Wayne County district courts is that they are generally “down to earth.”  I certainly always feel at home in these courts, although perhaps I just identify well with the prevailing mentality here, having myself been born and raised in Wayne County, on Detroit’s east side.  More important than how I feel, though, is how things work out for the client, and I can honestly say that I have seen some of the best “judging” take place within the various courts in Wayne County.  It’s a big county, and there are definitely different “vibes” depending on the location.  The Grosse Pointes (City, Farms, Park, Shores and Woods), for example, are very different than the Downriver area, and both are as different to places like Dearborn and Dearborn Heights as they all are to Western Wayne County.  Still, there is, fortunately, a cohesive “decentness” about all of these courts that means if you wind up facing a DUI anywhere within Wayne County, you’re doing pretty good, all things considered.

As a Michigan criminal and DUI lawyer, I am contacted all the time by people facing something like a drunk driving, suspended license or possession of marijuana charge and are worried about the upcoming date on their citation.  In this very short article, I merely want to explain what this means and help the reader understand that, for the most part, and despite what it may seem like, the date on your ticket is most often NOT any kind of fixed “court date.”  This is very relevant to those who contact me after something like a DUI arrest. worried about getting an appointment right away and saying something like, “My court date is next Tuesday.”  To be sure, every criminal case begins with a first court date called an arraignment.  I’ve written extensively about that, and would encourage the reader interested in a detailed examination of what that proceeding is all about to read the linked articles.  Here, we’ll look at arraignments in more superficial terms of its position in the larger picture of a criminal or DUI case and how it gets started.

imagesSometimes, a person is brought before a Judge or Magistrate for arraignment while he or she is in custody after an arrest.  This can be done by video or by actually having the person come into a courtroom.  If you’ve already done that, then you can skip this article entirely.  For everyone else, imagine your notice to appear or instruction to otherwise contact the court (this can be on the ticket, on a separate piece of paper, like a bond receipt, or just be something the police tell you as you’re released) in the way you’d think of an email confirmation to register with a website; once you confirm your contact details, then all relevant notifications can be sent to the right place.  Before you wonder what the hell that means, let’s look at one of the most common situations following an OWI arrest: A person is released with a ticket that arises them to appear in court “on or before” a certain date, or to contact the court within so many days.  If the person just picks up the phone and calls the court, many times, the clerk will simply confirm the person’s address and then tell him or her that notice of when to appear will be sent.  That notice can be for something called an arraignment, a pre-trial date, or a combined arraigment/pre-trial; the details don’t matter as much as the fact that all a person needs to do is call the court to find out what to do next, and much of the time, he or she will be told to just wait for something in the mail.

In some cases a person is given a date to appear for an arraignment.  The short explanation of the arraignment is that it is a proceeding in which a person is formally told the exact charge(s) against him or her ( e.g., Operating While Intoxicated), advised of his or her constitutional rights (“You have the right to a lawyer…”), and given conditions of bond (“Do not leave the state without the court’s permission…” etc.).  For those released from lockup without posting any money, a bond amount (usually a few hundred dollars, at most) may be required, as well.  In many courts, depending on the charge, that arraignment can be “waived” by a lawyer so that a person does not need to go.  When a lawyer files the papers to waive an arraignment, a “not guilty” plea will automatically be entered for him or her, and the person and the lawyer will await a notice from the court to show up for what’s called a “pre-trial” date, where discussions about resolving the case are had between the lawyer and the prosecutor.

Of all the things I do in my criminal practice, none is more acutely serious, yet nearly as un-technical or less legalistic than handling probation violations.  There are really 5 things you should know if you’re facing a PV (also called a VOP for “violation of probation” in some courts, and a “show cause” in others).  We’ll set them out below and then look at each, in turn:

WCsTCWT41. Your lawyer is your most important asset Now is the time to hire the best-spoken attorney you can get.  Sure, you can go cheap, but how much good will the money you saved do you when you’re sitting in jail?  You don’t always get what you pay for, but you’ll almost never get what you don’t pay for.

2.  Facts matter.  What happened, and what did not happen, and the why of it all is important, especially if it helps your cause.  You need to make sure your lawyer takes the time to understand everything relevant about your alleged violation in order to make things better for you.

It has been a while since I’ve addressed how the location of a DUI case directly impacts the way things will turn out, but I find myself explaining this so often that I think it’s about time to look at it again.  This will be a VERY short article because it’s more about this simple, single point, rather than anything else, but its importance in terms of what happens to you cannot be overstated.  In the Detroit area, and that means primarily the Tri-County area of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb, the “where” of a DUI charge is absolutely critical.  Someone facing a DUI in one court could wind up on reporting probation with all kinds of classes and counseling and testing whereas, in a different court and under the same case facts, he or she could simply be required to do nothing more than pay a fine.  The location factor is so dominant that whenever my staff approaches me about a new DUI client or inquiry, my very first question is “where?”

32location2810aDrunk driving gets a lot of attention in the media, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that consequences are getting harsher, and not easier.  This applies everywhere.  Yet even within that larger trend, it has always been the case that certain jurisdictions are more forgiving than others in drinking and driving cases.  In the broadest sense, Oakland County is considered “tougher” than either Macomb or Wayne, and you won’t find a single practicing lawyer who disagrees with that.  Certainly a few of the very toughest courts are located in Oakland County, but just a few days before this article was written, I was in an Oakland County court where my client was sentenced to a very short term of probation that was much less demanding than one could ever expect almost anywhere in either Wayne or Macomb County, so there is no hard and fast rule to any of this.  Beyond this purposefully general observation, I’m not about to publish any kind of “rankings” about who’s tougher than who, and will save those discussions for the safer confines of the attorney-client relationship.  Instead, we’ll stick to the larger point that in DUI cases, just like in real estate, the 3 most important things are location, location, and location.

I characterize DUI cases as “accidents of geography” because no one ever plans on getting arrested for drunk driving in the first place, so no one plans their route to make sure that if they do get pulled over, it’s somewhere better, rather that worse.  Instead, when a DUI happens, it just happens, wherever and whenever.  Even so, I know that even I breathe a sigh of relief when I hear my client’s case is location I know to be “easier.”  And let me be perfectly clear so that any Judge reading this understands; the idea of tougher versus more lenient, or one court somehow being “better” than another has nothing to do with judicial ability or integrity.  Instead, it is natural and understandable for a DUI lawyer to view things from the perspective of his or her client, and unless you’re some kind of masochist, it’s just human nature to want less consequences, rather than more.  I’m sure every single Judge out there thinks his or her way of handling these cases is the best (in much the same way that every Mexican restaurant owner probably thinks his or her salsa is the best), but the simple fact is that to anyone going through a DUI, less is ALWAYS more, and therefore always more preferable.

It’s hard to say this without sounding conceited, but I’ll try anyway: as a Michigan DUI lawyer, I am rather successful, both in terms of the excellent results I produce for my clients and the busy nature of my practice.  Probably more than anything else, I am most proud of being an honest lawyer, because it takes conscious effort to do that.  It would be much easier (and a hell of a lot more profitable) to be a lawyer who simply tells people what they want to hear.  In the context of a Michigan DUI case, it goes without saying that everyone wants to “beat” the charge against them, or otherwise have it “knocked out” of court.  Every person charged with OWI hopes that the evidence in his or her case is somehow flawed in a way that can get the case dismissed.  In theory, there are millions things that could be wrong with the evidence, but in the real world, those flaws don’t occur often enough to make getting your DUI charge thrown out of court anything but the exception to the rule.  Likewise, there are millions of theoretical reasons why an airplane could just fall out of the sky, but (thankfully), that’s also the exception, and not the rule.  As much as the airline industry works hard to makes sure that things go right, the police do the same thing when with dealing with a suspected DUI driver, as well.  To a pilot, most flights are routine.  To a police officer, arresting drunk drivers is routine, and, what’s more, he or she will probably never encounter a DUI case so complex as to leave him or her unsure of how to handle it.  The main goal in any criminal and DUI case is for the lawyer to make things better; to make them turn out the best they can for the client.  However, focusing solely on getting a DUI charge dismissed outright ignores the whole gamut of other important efforts that should, holistically speaking, be undertaken to produce the best actual results possible in any given case.

Jack_Sparrow_In_Pirates_of_the_Caribbean-_At_Worlds_End-134x300DUI arrests tend to follow pretty established patterns: most people are arrested after getting pulled over while driving.  These traffic stop situations can include cell-phone tips about suspected drunk drivers, or just an officer observing erratic driving.  When you’ve consumed enough to be over the legal limit, your coordination is compromised.  If not (and worse yet), then you have developed the tolerance of a hardcore drinker.  Sometimes the police come upon a drunk driver after being involved in a traffic accident, while other people actually make it to their destination (and can even already be inside, or at least out of the car) before being nabbed by a police officer.  The simple truth is that the police don’t usually make such crippling mistakes in drunk driving case that very many of them are ripe to be thrown out of court.  And even in those “out of car” situations, it’s rarely the police who screw things up, but rather the situation itself which makes it difficult to  “prove” that the person was actually driving the vehicle while intoxicated.  The point here is that while everyone wants to be the lucky exception whose case is dismissed outright, very few people actually are.  Yet from a business point of view, as a DUI lawyer, the better (and easier) money is had by focusing the client’s attention on all the things that could be wrong with the case, and then charging for a search-party effort to go looking for it.  The most accurate term for that is “fishing expedition,” and circus promoter P.T. Barnum’s observation that “There’s a sucker born every minute” is an on-the-mark, if not somewhat unkind way to describe those lured into handing over their hard-earned money for a chance to cast a line into that pond of broken dreams.

Me?  Well, I always feel exactly opposite Pirates of the Caribbean’s morally dubious Captain Jack Sparrow, who, when told that “there will come a time when you have a chance to do the right thing,” responded, “I love those moments. I like to wave at them as they pass by.”  It’s exactly here that being that honest person becomes costly, because some people, no matter how intelligent they are otherwise, can’t resist the appeal buying directly into what they want to hear, so they’ll ignore the scrupulous lawyer trying to be honest with them and go right to the one who will hard-sell the idea of making the whole case just go away. Being that honest guy means telling people the less appealing truth – that it’s not likely that the Judge, absent a significant police screw up, will throw the case out of court.  It means explaining to someone that although they may say they absolutely cannot have a DUI on their record, none of that  matters a bit to the prosecutor or the court.  Being honest means explaining that everyone, from the arresting officer to the Judge, has heard, ten thousand times over, how a DUI will ruin your life, cost your job, screw up your professional licensure, destroy your marriage, and just about  every other end-of-your-world story you could imagine, and such fears, expressed now, don’t matter because, in the real world, almost none of that happens – ever.  Amongst the thousands of clients I have represented, for example, I’ve never had any doctor, nurse, dentist, lawyer, CPA, or anyone else with a professional license lose his or her job; in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone ever lose a job of any kind because of a DUI, so it’s best to not to let fear cause you to blow a ton of money on the lawyer with the magic wand who says he or she can prevent the  apocalypse that’s not coming anyway.  It’s not that I’m unsympathetic, but I’d rather tell you, up front, that your case is (at least statistically speaking) not likely to be dismissed (and certainly not just because you “can’t have a DUI on your record”).  I have no heart to lie.  Sometimes, however, I wish I did.  It would be so easy to say, “Yes, I understand, and we can’t let that happen.  There are millions of things that could be wrong with your case.  If we can find just one of them to get your charges dismissed, then all of this will go away.  All you need to do is retain me so I can get started.”  And because I don’t work that way – because I’m honest –  there go thousands of dollars that, just like Captain Jack Sparrow, I’ll wave at as they pass by, right into someone else’s pocket.  Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way, and let me explain why…

Among the most common questions I’m asked by someone facing a 1st offense OWI charge is “What happens to my license?”  In my role as a Michigan DUI lawyer, one of my primary functions is to protect my client’s ability to drive.  In this article, I want to examine just that – a person’s ability to drive after a conviction for a 1st offense DUI.  We’ll look all 1st offense cases, including regular OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) and High BAC (OWI with BAC of .17 or More) charges.  To keep this article focused, we’ll skip getting into fees and points and anything other than how a 1st offense drunk driving arrest and a subsequent conviction for a drinking and driving offense impact a person’s driving privileges.

ChicoImportant here, and as I noted in the previous article on this blog about plea bargains in DUI cases, most people charged with a 1st offense will ultimately NOT be convicted of the charge originally made against them, at least amongst my clients.  This means that most of the men and women I represent who’ve been arrested for OWI or even High BAC will wind up getting some kind of a deal to lessen the offense, and thereby lessen the impact on their ability to drive.  Perhaps the biggest mistake a person will make is to go look up the charge on their paperwork and then start freaking out over the corresponding driver’s license sanction.  Since the outcome is very likely to change from that original charge, any actual restriction of your driving privileges won’t be nearly as bad as the penalties you first discover.

Another area of frequent misunderstanding is the status of a person’s ability to drive immediately after a DUI arrest.  The police are supposed to confiscate and destroy a person’s physical driver’s license upon arrest for drunk driving.  In return, they give a person a temporary, paper license.  This can take 1 of 2 forms:  A “Michigan Temporary Driving Permit,” or an “Officer’s Report of Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test.”  While there is a difference between these 2 forms, both of them allow a person to drive without any additional restriction whatsoever.  In other words, if you have one of these in your wallet, it allows you to drive in the exact same way you could before your arrest.  The “refusal” form is given to any person who refuses a breath test at the police station, and means his or her license will suspended for a year, unless he or she wins what’s called an “Implied Consent” appeal.  An implied consent suspension is completely independent of anything that happens to a person’s license as a result of the DUI case.  Anyone given the “Officer’s Report of Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test” must appeal to the Michigan Secretary of State (as directed on the back of the form) within 14 days or the suspension will kick in automatically.  This is a subject in its own right and falls outside the scope of this article, so we’ll leave it at that for now.  The bottom line is that when you leave the police station, you have all the same rights and privileges to drive that you had before your arrest.  What, if anything, will happen to those privileges comes later.  Let’s turn to how that works…

As a Michigan DUI lawyer, I handle some aspect of drunk driving cases on a daily basis.  I am in a local court for drinking and driving charges just about every day, as well.  Within the DUI section of this blog, I regularly post articles about some aspect of the DUI process, and often write about “making things better.”  I have tried to be specific by explaining how that means making the outcome of an OWI case more lenient, and avoiding negative consequences for my client.  To a certain extent, those consequences are avoided or minimized by working out a plea bargain, which means getting the original charge reduced (some people say, albeit redundantly, “reduced down”).  As I see it, this is an expected part of the deal when you hire a DUI lawyer like me.  I’m always somewhat puzzled when a new client seems surprised at my reassurance that we should have no problem negotiating away the more serious charge he or she is facing in exchange for something less serious.  In this short article, I want to do a quick overview of the last 7 DUI cases I’ve taken care of in court, because the plea deal in each of them materially improved the outcome for my clients.

plea-bargainsThe first thing a lawyer should do after bring hired for a DUI is to gather and examine the evidence, and look for a way to beat or “knock out” the case.  Absent a compelling reason otherwise, I usually obtain the dash-cam video from the police car, as well as the video from the police-station, where the breath test took place.  Even if the evidence clearly shows that the person was drunk and the police followed the proper procedures, there is reassurance in just knowing that.  In the real world, the number of DUI cases that get dropped is always the exception, rather than the rule.  Most drunk driving cases simply don’t get thrown out of court.  Statistically speaking, if you’ve been arrested for a DUI, it is far more likely that your case will go through the system rather than get dismissed because the evidence is faulty.  This makes getting the best plea bargain possible important to what will happen to you.

Looking over the couple of weeks before this article was written, I was able to obtain a good, solid plea bargain in the last 7 cases I handled.  I’m using 7 because it is a good sample without being repetitious.  I should remind the reader here, as I do in many other places, that in order to bring about the kind of results I do, I generally limit my DUI practice to Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties (the Detroit-area).  It is because I know exactly how things work in any given court that I am able to more successfully navigate within its system.  It’s just a simple truth that you’re better when you’re familiar with things.  Before we get to the results I produced, here’s a chart of Michigan penalties for 1st, 2nd and 3rd offense drunk driving cases: