A big part of being a Michigan DUI lawyer is representing people who have never been in trouble before. A drunk driving charge is a criminal charge, but the kind of client for whom I handle a DUI is hardly any kind of “criminal.” Most of my DUI clients are people who have never been arrested before, and therefore never imagined being transported to a police station in handcuffs and spending a night in jail. Then it happens. If you’re reading this, chances are you, at least someone you care about, has recently been through a DUI arrest. If it’s you, then you know it sucks. If it’s your spouse, partner, sibling, child or someone important to you, you’re probably sharing in the misery. Let me begin with the good news; Assuming you didn’t hurt anyone, and with the exception of just one Judge in the Greater-Detroit area, there is almost certainly no more jail in your future for a 1st offense DUI. I say this upfront because I hate how some lawyers pander to people’s fears. You know the type; they’re everywhere, reminding you of all the ways that a drunk driving charge can ruin your life while selling their services to save you from certain doom. To be sure, a DUI is serious business, but in more than 26 years, I’ve represented people from every walk of life – from surgeons to sergeants, nurses to nannies, teachers to techies, engineers to bakers – and NOT ONE of my 1st offense drinking and driving clients has ever lost a job, or otherwise been “ruined.”
I wish I could say it was all thanks to me, but the honest truth is that, as scary as all of this can seem, the legal system itself is not designed to destroy anyone’s life over a DUI. Sure, there is punishment and there are sanctions; the idea is to make it hurt enough so that you won’t let it happen again. For the most part, that works, at least for my typical client, who is a professional with a lot to lose. Often enough, a client will present to me with concerns about his or her occupational or professional licensure (everyone presents with concerns about his or driver’s license). These are all manageable issues, and I mean manageable in the sense that, if handled properly, there will be no interruption or suspension of one’s ability to keep his or her job, or practice in a licensed field. Still, I understand that there is a kind of persisting mortification that a person experiences after being released from his or her overnight in jail, and the point I want to make here is that while such feelings are normal, they are also, fortunately, misplaced. The worst is already over.
And therein, really, lies the mystery and the truth. While a DUI can be a threat to your future, most of the worst consequences aren’t even on the menu in a 1st offense case. Proper and timely defensive action can protect you from most of the other potential fallout, as well. The mystery here is the sense of unknown surrounding what will happen – “Am I going to go to jail?” – (no), while the truth is that bundle other consequences that you are at a very real risk to experience. This is where all that “proper and timely defensive action” comes into play. And to be clear, “timely” does NOT mean hurry up and hire a lawyer. On the contrary, you should take your time and get to know the lawyers you’re considering by reading their articles and websites. There is NEVER a reason to hurry up and hire a lawyer, and the only reason any lawyer would suggest you “act now” or “call today” is so that you won’t continue to look around, explore your options, and find someone else. Believe me, there is simply no good reason to ever NOT put in the time to really do your homework when it comes to hiring a lawyer.