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Articles Posted in DUI

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I answer a lot of questions how to get out of a DUI charge. It’s perfectly normal that just about every person arrested for drunk driving hopes there’s some way to get the whole matter dismissed. Indeed, would be abnormal to NOT think that way. I have addressed the notion of getting out of a DUI on both my site, and within other articles on this blog. In this piece, however, I want to shift the focus from getting out of a DUI to getting through it.

Panic2-300x287The hard, statistical truth is that in Michigan, more than 9 out of 10 people arrested for drunk driving are NOT going to have their cases thrown out of court, or otherwise dismissed. Therefore, since more than 90% of all the people who do get arrested for a DUI will have to go through the court system, it only makes sense to focus on how to do that in such a way as to wind up with the least amount of negative consequences and penalties possible. I often say this, but it’s an absolute truth that is worth repeating: Success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you.

This is important, because “success” goes well beyond merely staying out of jail. Avoiding jail is always the first priority in every DUI case, but not getting locked up is only the beginning. With very few exceptions, anyone facing a 1st offense DUI isn’t really looking at jail in the first place, so not being subjected to something that wasn’t going to happen anyway isn’t any kind of “success.” Instead, a person needs to avoid all the other things that can (and will be) be thrown at him or her instead of incarceration.

As a law firm that concentrates in Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI cases, my team and I have a rather unique skill set that give us a better understanding of how an OWI charge (and especially in 2nd and 3rd offense DUI’s) can and/or will affect a person’s driver’s license. Indeed, precisely because of our knowledge and daily experience with driver’s license law, we are often specially able a develop an effective strategy to help “save” the license for a client who might otherwise lose it in a DUI case.

vectorstock_21799652-300x300Of course, this really works both ways: our experience as DUI lawyers is also very helpful to us in our handling of driver’s license restoration cases, as well. I have always described our practice as looking like a Q-tip – with DUI cases on one side, driver’s license restoration cases on the other, and the “stick” in the middle joining them together being alcohol. While some of the specific laws governing DUI cases and driver’s license restoration appeals are distinct, the 2 legal areas are also very much inter-related, and experience with each one  provides a distinct advantage when dealing with the other.

To be sure, there is a lot that goes into properly handling a DUI case. Some of these things are more obvious, like knowing how to properly analyze and challenge evidence, utilizing the right legal strategy to produce the best case outcome, and understanding the development, diagnosis and treatment of alcohol problems. Less obvious is how a working knowledge of driver’s license restoration law should be part of the legal strategy in any DUI case, and how this can all come full circle, so that what’s done (and not done) in the matter can be helpful to person’s driver’s license situation.

As Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we spend the majority of our working lives handling OWI and license reinstatement cases for people. As attorneys, it’s our job to wrestle with the nuances of the law, and deal with the countless technical things that can make or break a case. Most often, that means helping a client fix some kind of mistake or mistakes they’ve made on this journey called life. The point of this article is to help someone get through that kind of rough patch and not make things worse, or otherwise more complicated than they need to be.

vectorstock_28536718-copy-300x226This can sometimes be a problem when it comes to the intrinsically connected areas of Michigan DUI law and driver’s license restoration and clearance cases, because both involve situations where people are emotionally invested. Every person arrested for a DUI is understandably concerned about what will happen to him or her, and everyone who has lost their license for multiple DUI’s really wants to get it back as soon as possible, because it’s hard to get along without one.

The internet is full of misleading and outright wrong information about the law, and that can stress a person out as he or she tries to sort through it. Despite that, and human nature being what it is, some people can’t resist plowing through website after website, and getting themselves more confused than when they started. Others read just enough to wind up thinking they they’ve actually learned something, when, in fact, all they’ve done is become misinformed, thereby proving the old adage that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we completely understand the stress felt by people who suddenly find themselves facing a drunk driving charge. Nobody plans to get arrested for a DUI, so the whole situation always comes as a rather unpleasant surprise to everyone who does. Unfortunately, one thing my team and I also encounter is that because they feel so overwhelmed, many people will make rash decisions too soon (especially when it comes to hiring a lawyer), rather than taking the time to go about the whole DUI thing the right way.

vectorstock_921557-300x290Of course, some people do try to be “logical” about how to best handle their DUI, and will take the time to do some research before jumping into anything. Others, however, can’t stop fretting over their situation, and act more reflexively. These rash actions can include deciding which lawyer to hire, but may also involve things like a person deciding to enroll in some kind of alcohol counseling, or starting to attend AA. If there’s one key lesson to be taken from this article, it’s that everyone facing a DUI should take their time and think things through before making any important decisions.

It’s natural that some people may feel a need to take action quickly following a DUI arrest, but that still doesn’t make it a good idea. The first thing a person should do after getting home and settling in a bit is to look for real information. To be clear, “real information” does NOT mean websites that focus on the all the scary-sounding risks and potential penalties that are theoretically possible in a DUI case. That’s fear-based marketing, and it should be ignored completely.

In part 1 of this article, we began discussing how to make a 1st offense DUI a true “one and done.” As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I want to do everything we can to make sure that our clients never wind up in the same situation again. This, of course, is the court system’s goal, as well. As lawyers fulfilling our role as “Attorneys and Counselors at Law,” we have the advantage of more personal interaction with each person. Instead of having limited time with them, like the courts, we can have a heart-to-heart talk with each client to help him or her do a bit of self-analysis.

Arret-2-300x293There’s a lot more to all of this than just talk, though. It’s really easy for a lawyer or law firm to use slogans like “caring” and “personal service,” but in practice, we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk (or, in this case, walk the talk). Because the foundation of our practice is DUI and driver’s license restoration cases, our clients’ relationships to alcohol is at the center of everything we do. For example, the goal of a driver’s license restoration case is to win back the license for someone who has lost it because of multiple DUI’s, and that requires proving that he or she is genuinely sober.

Accordingly, our firm is a recovery-oriented practice. We have to be. Although the overwhelming majority of our 1st offense DUI clients do not have a problem with alcohol, we want to make sure they understand how serious things become in a 2nd offense case, and that they never wind up arrested for drunk driving again. This can be challenging, because most of our clients aren’t reckless people, or the kind who otherwise party so much that getting that a 1st offense DUI seemed seemed likely in the first place, rather than something completely out-of-character.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we genuinely understand the emotional toil that facing a DUI can take on a person. Over the span of 30 years, and throughout thousands of cases, I have listened to the concerns and worries people have as they go through the DUI process. None of our clients ever imagined themselves in this situation, and many of them are a bit freaked out about having been arrested for drunk driving, and worried even more about having to go to court to deal with a criminal charge that carries a potential jail sentence.

Arrest2-300x290It’s important to begin by pointing out that jail is highly unlikely in a 1st offense DUI case, so if that’s your big worry, then take a deep breath right now and relax. Consequently, it’s really a waste of time to go looking for some lawyer who positions him or her self to “save” you from getting locked up when that’s not really on the menu in the first place. Moreover, any lawyer who would knowingly let a person fear incarceration when it’s so improbable is either dangerously inexperienced, or dangerously dishonest. Either way, that kind of lawyer should be avoided like the plague.

In a somewhat recent, 4-part article, I explored the relevance of a phrase often used by our senior assistant, that a DUI is about your drinking, not your driving, and examined why, in drunk driving cases, the courts are more concerned about a person’s relationship to alcohol than anything else. I wanted to make clear there that the court’s goal is to ensure that anyone who gets a 1st DUI never gets another. In this piece, I want to change the perspective to our point of view, as DUI attorneys, and share some insights to help anyone going through a DUI make it a true “one and done.”

As full-time Michigan DUI lawyers, we are regularly contacted by people facing 2nd offense DUI charges. In a recent article, I noted that sobriety court is an option that should be considered by anyone in that situation. One of the main points I made there was in order to be a candidate for sobriety court, a person has to really believe that, at least to some extent, his or her drinking has become a problem. Michigan law, for its part, automatically concludes that all 2nd offenders have some kind of issue with drinking, and that will be the focus of this piece.

vectorstock_24438343-295x300The inspiration for this article came from an email we received some time ago. I’ve waited a solid year before reprinting it in order for the case to resolve. It is reprinted below, exactly as it was received, except that I have redacted any potentially personally identifying information. The email highlights a real divide my team and I encounter among 2nd offenders: Some people come forward, either knowing, or at least open to the idea that drinking has caused them too much trouble, while others don’t even give their use of alcohol a second thought, and just consider themselves unlucky for picking up their 2nd DUI.

As I will explain, examining a 2nd offender’s relationship to alcohol is absolutely crucial to producing the best results possible in his or her DUI case, although it’s all too frequently ignored outright by many legal websites. This goes to another subject I often write about – the idea that people can often be swayed by what they want to hear, rather than listening to what they need to hear. Although some people who wind up facing a 2nd offense DUI may not be very interested in looking at their drinking, they’ll soon enough learn that’s exactly what the court is going to do.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we deal with a lot of 2nd offense and 3rd offense DUI cases. In our conversations with clients facing those charges, my team and I always explore any options they may have for admission into a sobriety court. The key goal of this article is to provide a short and sweet overview of sobriety courts. Because this subject is rather deep, however, it was no small task to boil things down into a single installment, as I’ve done here.

Help2-300x280Although each one is unique, a “sobriety court” is a regular court that has an officially sanctioned treatment program component for alcohol and/or substance abuse disorders. Although similar to an “adult treatment court” or a “drug court,” a sobriety court is a special kind of program designated by the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) to not only offer counseling, treatment, and support, but also confers upon a Judge the power to override the Michigan Secretary of State’s mandatory revocation of a person’s driver’s license and grant a restricted license.

The primary aim of a sobriety court is to offer a wide range of otherwise expensive counseling and treatment options at little to no cost to someone who wants help with his or her relationship to alcohol (and/or drugs). The idea behind this is that anyone who is racking up multiple DUI offenses has some kind of problem, and anyone who is willing to do something about it should be offered assistance, rather than punishment. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that a sincere desire for help is a prerequisite for admission into a sobriety court program.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, one of the most common questions we’re asked by someone facing a 1st offense DUI is something like, “What’s going to happen to my license?” In this article, I want to answer that clearly and simply. The good news  is that although a conviction for any 1st DUI offense (OWI, High BAC, or Impaired Driving) will result in some kind of restriction to a person’s ability to drive, none of those charges will result in a permanent loss of license.

2-300x280To begin, we need to define what constitutes a “1st offense” DUI charge. In Michigan, an alcohol-related driving offense is considered a 1st offense if the date of the arrest for it occurs more than 7 years after the date of any previous DUI or alcohol-related driving conviction, including what’s know as a “Zero Tolerance” (Minor with BAC of .02 to .07) offense. The term “alcohol-related driving offense” means any “DUI-like” charge that involves driving while impaired, intoxicated, or, in the case of Zero Tolerance, having a BAC above .02.

Although it can be rather easy to get tangled up in dates, the legal definition of a 1st offense is actually quite clear: An OWI offense is considered a 1st offense if the person was not convicted of a prior alcohol-related traffic offense within 7 years from the date of his or her arrest for the current offense. The measure is NOT from arrest to arrest, nor from conviction to conviction. Instead, the clock starts running from the date of the conviction for the prior offense, and stops at the date of arrest (not conviction) for the next offense.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we would love to be able to deliver nothing but good news to people who contact us about a pending OWI charge, but that’s just not how things work in the real world. This article will be a warning to anyone facing a DUI who starts looking around for information and then gets sucked in by some legal marketing message telling them too much of what they want to hear, instead of listening to what they need to hear. As the old saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Truth2-300x274Our office could make a lot of money if, instead of being honest, we made everything sound rosy and then sold an overly optimistic bill of goods to those who call us, but we’d never do that. Instead, we follow the Golden Rule to “treat others as you would wish to be treated.” In previous articles, I have tried to be more delicate about this, but the real point of this piece is that if you are a potential consumer of legal services for a DUI case, you need to understand that you’re going to be inundated with BS from legal websites looking to get your money.

Of course, our firm is every bit as much in business to make money as every other, but, returning to that Golden Rule, we want to attract good karma by taking care of people who need help the in the same way we’d hope to be taken care of when we need help. That means skipping the BS and telling the truth. This is rather the opposite of listing all the things that could be wrong with a drunk driving case, and then implying that the only thing that stands between the person facing the charge and some lawyer who can get the whole case dismissed is just paying his or her retainer.

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