Articles Posted in DUI

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we spend a lot of time explaining legal procedure to our clients. All too often, a discussion about how a DUI works its way through the court system can get really deep, really fast. In truth, it is difficult to even briefly summarize any one facet of the legal process without “getting lost in the weeds,” so to speak. In this article, I simply want to simplify all of that and essentially “list” the steps in a typical DUI case – in proper order – so the reader can at least have an overview, or “roadmap,” of how the various stages follow each other and what to expect.

vectorstock_25754932-300x300First contact: Every Michigan DUI case begins with some kind of police contact. While we tend to mostly think of someone being pulled over by the police, plenty of DUI cases arise when they show up at the scene of an accident, when a vehicle has gone off the road (this happens a lot in icy conditions), or even when people fall asleep in the drive-thru line of a fast food restaurant, which is something that’s far more common than one might think. However it happens, the simple fact is that a DUI case does not begin until the police interact with someone who is suspected of driving while over the limit.

Typically, these first interactions involve some conversation, any number of questions, and most often, some kind of field sobriety tests, as well. Although our primary purpose in this piece is to summarize the steps, it is worth noting that the alleged reasons for a person’s first contact with the police and the investigation that follows are often 2 of the most fruitful areas for Michigan DUI lawyers, like us, to challenge and exclude evidence. This is why my team and I almost always immediately requisition and review any available video, including dash-cam video from the police vehicle and any body-cam video, as well.

In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of the options for someone with a current or past DUI to get a restricted Michigan driver’s license. In that first part, saw that the ONLY relief available to someone who has been convicted of multiple DUI’s is to wait until he or she becomes eligible to file a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, submit the required documentation, and then actually win his or her appeal. Here, in the second part, we’ll look at the 3 potential choices for someone who is currently facing a Michigan DUI charge.

oioioioi2-300x267If you are dealing with a pending Michigan DUI case, and depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the charge that followed, there are only 3 potential avenues to get back on the road. It’s important to begin by pointing out that a person will usually not have any real choice in the matter, or “options” to consider, because DUI driver’s license penalties are specified by law, and imposed by the Michigan Secretary of State. As we’ll see, what can and can’t be done depends entirely on the facts of the case.

With the single exception of Sobriety Courts and their ability to override the mandatory revocation of a person’s driver’s license upon conviction for a 2nd DUI within 7 years, or a 3rd DUI within 10 years, the court system has ZERO jurisdiction over the legally required driver’s license sanctions that must be imposed by the Secretary of State. To be clear, Sobriety Court is the only possible workaround in pending 2nd and 3rd offense DUI cases, and even then, it’s only an option IF a person is accepted and admitted into one of these programs.

As full-time Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, people are always asking us about the possibility of getting some kind of restricted license. These questions often come from people who are about to lose their driving privileges as the result of a recent DUI, as well as people who have been without a license for some time due to 2 or more prior DUI convictions. In this article, I want to examine what can and cannot be done to get a restricted driver’s license in Michigan. Because there is quite a bit to all this, we’ll divide our discussion into 2 parts, but we’ll still keep things manageable.

vectorstock_15405212-300x300To make this easy, we’e going to have to break things down into a few categories. For example, it’s quite likely nobody facing a current 1st offense Michigan DUI charge that may result in the temporary suspension of his or her driver’s license wants to read through all of the far more involved legal issues confronting someone who has already had his or her license revoked as the result of multiple DUI convictions. Similarly, I doubt anyone who has already had his or her license revoked for 2 or more DUI’s really cares about much more than when and how he or she can win back at least some driving privileges.

For all the complexity underlying driver’s license issues, there are really only 4 legal “avenues” available for anyone whose license has been affected as the result of 1 or more DUI’s. As it turns out, there are 3 potential options for someone with an open, pending DUI case, and only 1 option for anyone who has already lost his or her license after multiple DUI convictions. Accordingly, we’ll start out by looking at what can be done for those whose license has been previously been revoked as the result of 2 or more DUI’s, and then afterward, we’ll examine the options for those who are currently facing a DUI charge.

In a recent article I wrote about the standard “no drinking” requirement for everyone on bond and waiting for his or her DUI case to wrap up, or on probation as part of his or her sentence for a DUI case. I pointed out that an important part of our jobs, as Michigan DUI lawyers, is to make sure the court understands the client’s individual circumstances. I then noted that, on the flip side, we must also ensure our client understands that, with regard to some aspects of DUI cases, a person’s particular situation doesn’t matter, that things just are the way they are simply “because,” and that the no drinking condition of bond and probation is one of them.

okholiholih-1-300x269The inspiration for this article came from our senior assistant, who, after a long day on the phones, observed that no matter how clearly things are explained to some people about court procedures in DUI cases, they always have a “yeah, but…” excuse for why something that’s standard for everybody else shouldn’t apply to them. We laughed for a moment as we boiled down the phrase “yeah, but” to “yabut,”and then noted how it’s exactly that kind of thinking gets people into trouble, or in the case of someone already facing a Michigan DUI charge, even more trouble.

As I briefly addressed in the “no drinking” article referenced above (and linked below), there is always someone who will want to explain why he or she should be allowed to drink, despite the Judge’s order that he or she refrain from any consumption of alcohol while on bond and awaiting the resolution of his or her case, or on while on probation after that has happened. This is the textbook example of what we mean when we talk about someone to whom the rules and requirements have been explained, and whose first response is “yeah, but.…”

In our work as Michigan DUI lawyers, one of the most common things we’re asked about is how a DUI can or will affect a person’s job, or professional license status. Of course, everyone’s first concern following a drunk driving arrest is staying out of jail, closely followed by not losing the ability to drive, but in the real world, employment considerations absolutely round out the “Big 3” of DUI worries. While there is no single, simple answer to how a DUI can or will affect someone’s livelihood, the good news is that, by and large – it won’t. are, of course, exceptions. Not to be funny about it, but if there weren’t, I could have ended this article with nothing more than the paragraph above. We’ll start with the broadest generalizations first, and work down from there: With few exceptions, a DUI will not cause someone to lose his or her job. In terms of professional licensing, I have never had, nor have I ever even heard of anyone losing their occupational license for a single DUI. That said, anyone who picks up a DUI and who already has or is planning to obtain a professional license in certain fields may have to undergo more scrutiny about what happened than someone in other occupations.

Most jobs in the United States fall within what is called “at will” employment status, meaning that a person can be fired, at any time, for any reason, as long as that reason isn’t any kind of unlawful discrimination. There is a lot to the whole concept of unlawful discrimination, all of which goes beyond the scope of this piece, so we’ll have to leave it at that, and simply understand that a person can’t be fired for reasons like age, race, sex, religious affiliation, et cetera. The larger point is that, absent any such illegal reason, a boss can simply decide to fire a person because he or she doesn’t like them, wants to cut down on payroll, or just feels like it. Nothing else is needed.

In our capacity as Michigan DUI lawyers, we know that none of our DUI clients is any kind “criminal,” but we also know that each has been charged with what is, after all, a criminal offense. This distinction is more than academic, or some play on words, because the reality is that a DUI case often drags an otherwise law-abiding person squarely into the midst of the criminal court process. The bewilderment and frustration many people feel about this is often expressed in statements like, “I feel like I’m some kind of criminal.”

Bad-2-1-300x253In the real world, people from all walks of life wind up facing DUI charges. Our firm is a premium DUI practice, so none of our clients resemble anything like someone would picture when thinking of the word “criminal.” That said, it’s also true that plenty of real criminals do get in trouble for drunk driving, just like everyone else. In that sense, DUI charges are like speeding tickets, in that no person, or class or group of people are exempt from them, with the sole exception of people who simply don’t drive.

For what it’s worth, a “real” criminal would consider a DUI charge more of an inconvenience rather than anything else, whereas that otherwise law-abiding person may very well freak out over it. For us, as Michigan DUI attorneys, this, in and of itself, can be reassuring. We don’t work with hardened criminals, nor do we want to. Decades ago, I chose to NOT handle things like rape and murder charges, and, to be honest about it, I simply don’t have any inclination to work with people accused of those or any other such serious crimes.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we answer a lot of questions about what a person can expect as he or she goes through the court process following a drunk driving arrest. There are various things that can be avoided completely, some that fall into the “maybe” category, and others that are all but certain. In this article, I want to talk about the certain requirement that anyone on bond, awaiting the resolution of his or her DUI case, or on probation, after it has been wrapped up, will be absolutely prohibited from consuming alcohol by the court.

vectorstock_21731757-226x300It might help to begin our discussion with the humbling and universally applicable reminder that, “Yes, you are special and unique – just like everyone else.” This really has particular application in the DUI world, because an important part of the role my team and I have to fulfill is very much like being a diplomat, shuttling between our client, where we are mindful of his or her individual circumstances, and the court system, which winds up, at least to some extent, treating everyone the same. Our job is to make sure the court doesn’t lose sight of our client’s individuality, and to make sure the client understands that, at certain points, you’re going to be treated like everyone else, regardless of your particular situation.

Although most people understand and accept the “no drinking” order issued by every court – in every DUI case – even if just because they have to, there are some who have a very hard time with it. Over the course of 30-plus years, I’ve heard every explanation imaginable for why such a restriction should NOT be placed upon a person, either as a condition of bond, or a term of probation. These have ranged from the “need” to share a few cocktails at business dinners and meetings to arguments like, “They’re treating me like I’m an alcoholic,” “Drinking is legal,” “What about my rights?”, and “This isn’t fair!”

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we analyze evidence from drunk driving arrests every single day. One of the bigger misunderstandings people have about DUI cases is that all a lawyer has to do is file challenges to all the evidence in order to “ muddy up the waters” enough to get the prosecutor to surrender. That’s completely wrong. The inspiration for this article came from my senior assistant, who, after a long day on the phones, rather astutely pointed out that “you can challenge everything, but it only makes a difference if you win. We deal in facts, not fantasy.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that observation.

Slim-Fact-300x300The reality is that a lawyer can pretty much challenge almost every bit of evidence, but unless he or she is successful, all that work amounts to nothing more than a waste of time – and the client’s money. To be sure, that can be profitable for the attorney, but beyond jacking up the fees, such fruitless challenges cause the other key parties (namely, the Judge and the prosecutor) to lose patience with a lawyer who either knows, or at least should know better, and also puts the client on a kind of emotional roller-coaster, by getting his or her hopes up, only to ultimately disappoint him or her later on. That’s just plain deceitful.

Of course, challenging faulty or even questionable evidence is not only important, it’s an obligation for a competent Michigan DUI lawyer. My team and I always go to court and fight to exclude any evidence that may reasonably be kept out of the case. Likewise, we know how work with – and work around – the evidence that does exist (and can’t or won’t be tossed out) in order to help produce the very best outcome possible in the case; that’s what being a lawyer is all about. When some lawyer challenges any and everything, however, and just fights for the sake of fighting, or to run up a legal bill, that only serves to piss everyone off.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at the subject of legal fees in Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration cases. I pointed out that there are 2 main reasons why lawyers are so secretive about how much they charge, and we looked at the first of them – the idea that it’s better to establish some kind of relationship with a person before talking money. However successful or not such a tactic may be, I strongly believe that it’s better for a lawyer to be upfront about costs. Thus, our firm is the only practice I know that publishes its fees online.

Moneyguy1-279x300In all candor, I think that’s a shame. As I said before, whatever business advantage or strategy some lawyer may think there is to avoiding the topic of money, absolutely none of that benefits the consumer. Right now, the words “transparent” and “transparency” are popular, and I can think of no place where they are more relevant than letting someone know how much something is going to cost, especially when it comes to hiring a lawyer. This ties into another thing our firm does differently, and that’s suggest that anyone looking for a lawyer take the time to really look around. The fact is that there is simply no downside to being a wise consumer.

This brings us to the second reason fees aren’t disclosed up-front by lawyers, and it really grows out of the first that we discussed in part 1 of this article. Beyond just not wanting to “scare off” a potential client right out of the gate, by talking money, a lot of lawyers are afraid they’ll quote a fee that’s either too high, or, more commonly, below what they’d otherwise be able to get if they dig around a little bit and “feel out” or explore what a potential client is able and willing to pay, and what he or she has been quoted so far. Many years ago, an older lawyer explained the technique to me like this:

Within our roles Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we are frequently asked something like “How much do you charge?” or “How much does this cost?” The subject of fees is always treated like a big secret by most lawyers and law firms – but NOT for us! We are the ONLY firm I know of that publishes our fees online. Having done this for more than 20 years, I simply cannot understand why nobody else lists their fees, or why, for so much of the legal world, prices are simply not disclosed up-front.

Hat2-300x276My team and I truly believe that how much you’re going to have to pay for something should always be clearly stated, and legal fees are no exception to that. There is absolutely NO good reason why a person should have to wonder, or wait to ask, how much a lawyer is going to cost for a particular case. Of course, there are reasons why some lawyers are coy about the whole subject of money, but none of them are good, and only serve them, and not the people paying them. The whole “hush-hush” attitude surrounding what a lawyers charges never benefits the client – ever.

There are 2 primary reasons why lawyers don’t disclose their fees up front: The first reason is a general fear of “scaring off” a potential client in the belief that it’s better to establish a rapport with someone before talking money (and legal fees aren’t cheap). The second reason is more nefarious, and is based on the tactic of “feeling the client out” in order to learn what he or she can (and is willing) to pay, and/or what fees he or she has already been quoted and then figuring out how much to ask for in order to “seal the deal,” so to speak. Thankfully, our firm doesn’t use those gimmicks – or any others, for that matter.

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