Articles Posted in DUI

This article is going to examine what happens to your driver’s license as the result any 1st offense Michigan DUI conviction. Here, we’ll be focusing specifically on 1st offense cases, and we’ll look at what happens among the various and different first offense charges. Unlike many of the longer, 2-part articles found on this blog, we’ll keep this piece to one installment for simplicity’s sake. Although this subject can get complex, we’re going to boil it down to something simple and easy to understand.

Tow2-300x290License penalties for DUI convictions are set by law, and there is a whole, broad scheme of what happens as the result of every kind of DUI conviction. If that’s not enough, there is another entire panorama of other license sanctions that can, and sometimes must be imposed in addition to and on top of any DUI license penalty. Each one of these runs on its own line, like parallel but separate tracks, except when they cross, and then one takes priority over the other. The “why” and “how” of all of this can get confusing, but with a little patience, it can be untangled, as we’re about to do now.

First, let’s reiterate that our target subject is 1st offense DUI cases. For as much as there is to DUI license sanctions in general, by limiting our inquiry only to 1st offenses and skipping over 2nd and 3rd offense cases, we will cut out more half of the confusion. Toward the end of this installment, we’ll look at how another, fairly common relevant license sanction interacts with DUI license penalties, but will forego any analysis of those issues for now in order to keep things straightforward.

In our roles as Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I answer a lot of questions, and we ask a lot, as well. One of the most important we always have is about a person’s BAC (bodily alcohol content) results. It is, without exception, one of the first things we ask any potential client with whom we speak, and is usually the very first thing that every prosecutor or Judge wants to know about anyone facing a DUI charge. As a general rule, a person’s BAC result will have a greater impact on his or her case – at every stage – than any other single factor.

vectorstock_697621-285x300This goes well beyond the difference between a regular DUI charge (technically, the offense is called “OWI,” or “Operating While Intoxicated,” the actual legal term in Michigan for what everyone just refers to as “DUI”), and the more serious “super-drunk” or “High BAC” charge of Operating While Intoxicated with a BAC of .17 or more. Ever since the introduction of chemical testing, a person’s BAC result has been viewed as the measure of how drunk he or she was at the time of his or her arrest. Of course, a lower BAC result is always better, because, no matter what, it just never looks good to have been really, really drunk.

In the real world, things just tend to get “worse” the higher a person’s BAC result measures. For those who deal with DUI cases all the time, a BAC result communicates as much information about a person’s level of intoxication as a temperature forecast does to someone on vacation who wants to know if it will be a good day to go to the beach. Knowing it’s going to be 66 (or 86) degrees tomorrow is as telling to a hopeful beachgoer as the knowledge that a person’s breath or blood test result was .10 (or .22) when he or she was arrested is to the anyone involved in his or her DUI case.

In our roles as Michigan DUI lawyers, we have seen just about every reason a person has been pulled over by or otherwise encountered the police prior to a drunk driving arrest. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to learn that cell-phone call-ins and tips have grown to play a significant role in DUI enforcement. Sometimes, people don’t know how the police came upon them, only for us to discover, after we obtain the police report and any relevant video, that another driver provided a cell-phone “tip” about someone (them) driving erratically, and possibly being drunk.

cop2-266x300To call the law completely “settled” regarding cell-phone tips may be a bit of an overstatement, but as it stands now, there is little doubt that the police can pull someone over based upon such information if it is otherwise sufficiently reliable. This piece won’t examine the subtle nuances of the law, as any discussion of the technical legalities goes well beyond its scope. It is a critical for a DUI lawyer to carefully examine all the evidence, and to make sure that, when a client gets pulled over, whether because the police observed something or as the result of a cell-phone tip, there was a sufficient legal basis and that analysis must always be done in each and every case.

Above and beyond the legal implications of a DUI arrest following a cell-phone tip, there is also a practical consideration, at least from a societal (and, of course, the court’s) perspective, because it can be fairly said that anyone drunk enough to catch the attention of other drivers and motivate them to call the police was probably pretty drunk. Even if it turns out that a person wasn’t drunk, but was all over the road because he or she was distracted by texting, then it’s not a bad thing for him or her to get pulled over for being a dangerous driver. In the context of a DUI case, though, the idea that someone was obviously unable to drive in a normal manner is a complicating factor.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I fight hard for our clients in order to get the best outcome in every case we take. Fighting for a client is what a lawyer is paid to do, but in many ways, the idea of what it means to “fight” has lost its real meaning. The goal of any fight should be to win in some way, and not just fight for the sake of fighting (and getting paid for it). Unfortunately, there are too many legal marketing messages that try to make it sound like the more one fights, the more successful he or she can be, and that anything else is not enough. That’s misguided.

vectorstock_18709896-300x300If by “fighting,” someone means NOT rolling over and NOT being spineless, then that’s correct. Unfortunately, for as many lawyers as there are who will charge endless fees to fight everything they can, there are plenty of others who are very much the opposite, and will plead out just about every case they get. Such lawyers “sell out” their clients just as much as the “fight everything” operations fleece theirs. When you think about it logically, it’s obvious that neither choice, by itself, is the right one, and that the best approach is a kind of compromise, falling somewhere in the middle.

In other words, there is almost never any reason to fight everything, nor is there usually any reason to NOT at least fight some things. The notion that one is better served by challenging everything about a DUI charge is so completely wrong it’s hard to know where to begin to explain why. One thing everyone can relate to is cost, but in the context of a DUI case, we’re also talking about the cost of an opportunity. As much as it’s wrong for any lawyer to run headlong into a case merely looking for a plea as a way out, it’s also wrong to be hard-headed and un into the case and squander a chance to produce a better result, just for the sake of fighting.

In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of probation in Michigan DUI cases. We noted that, as a general rule, every person convicted of an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated, the legal term for what everyone just calls “DUI”) offense is going to placed on some kind of probation. Statistically, more than 98% of all DUI cases that make it court in Michigan DO NOT get dismissed, so this means if you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s pretty much a given that you are going to wind up on probation. Exactly what kind of probation, however, can – and will – vary from case to case.

HW3-300x280We closed out the previous installment by discussing the critical importance of the mandatory alcohol screening, something that is part of the larger PSI (Pre-Sentence Investigation) process. The end result of the PSI is a sentencing recommendation, written by the probation officer, and sent to the Judge, advising him or her exactly what kind of sentence to impose. This matters because, in the real world, every Judge follows this recommendation VERY closely, if not to the very letter. In that sense the recommendation is really a blueprint for what’s going to happen.

To be sure, there are some recommended terms of probation that can be modified IF the Judge can be convinced that there is a better option. This, of course, means that it’s the lawyer’s job to find those options, and then successfully persuade the Judge to go along with any proposed modifications. However, there are also some parts of any DUI probation recommendation that are almost universally standard, imposed in every case, and basically non-modifiable. For example, one of the first conditions of probation is so basic, it doesn’t even have to be said: Stay out of trouble.

The end result of almost every Michigan DUI case that goes into the court system (and doesn’t get thrown out) almost alway includes a term of probation. As Michigan DUI lawyers, dealing with probation is an everyday part of our jobs. Most people have a general understanding of probation (“if you don’t screw up, then everything will be okay”), but there’s a lot more to it than that. If you’re facing a drunk driving charge, then you should know what’s likely in store for you. In this 2-part article, we’ll examine how probation works in Michigan DUI cases.

Test-2-297x300Let’s begin with this simple fact: It is overwhelmingly likely that anyone convicted of a Michigan OWI (DUI) offense will be placed on some kind of probation. Contrary to the marketing hype found on some legal websites, the real truth is that more than 98% of all DUI charges brought in Michigan do NOT get dismissed or tossed out of court. Of course, the goal in every case is to get it “knocked out,” but that outcome is the exception, not the rule. In the real world, it boils down to this: If you’re facing a drunk driving charge, then you’re pretty much facing a term of probation, as well.

To put this in perspective, some readers may be old enough to remember hearing about someone convicted of drunk driving who got nothing more than a fine. That may have been possible many years ago, when people could still smoke on airplanes and there were video rental stores in every neighborhood, but a lot has changed since then. The days of only having to pay a fine and costs for a DUI charge are long gone, and everyone who goes though the process is going to have to do something more, although it doesn’t have to be anything that’s truly awful.

As Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we use our experience and skill to actually make things better for our clients and produce the best possible outcome for them, whether we’re defending a criminal or DUI charge, or getting someone’s license back. As of this writing, I have published well over 1200 articles examining how things work in criminal, DUI and driver’s license restoration cases, and have explained as much about the legal process as I can. One thing I have not covered yet, however, is the very real element of luck, because it affects every case, and just about everything else we do in life, as well.

vectorstock_20630412-300x300Like so many of my other articles, this one was inspired by a real life case involving a client arrested for DUI in about the toughest jurisdiction here in the Greater-Detroit area. I often write about the importance of location in criminal and DUI cases, because it does directly impact how a case will play out, but the underlying truth is that what really makes one location easier or tougher than another are the prosecutors and Judges who work there. Certain courts are just “tougher” than others, but that tends to follow a kind of general continuum, with the more lenient courts being clustered around each other, and vice-versa.

Another key point I make is that DUI cases are always accidents of geography. Nobody plans to go out and get arrested for drunk driving, and therefore nobody plans their route with any notion of not driving through the toughest jurisdictions and, instead, staying within those that are known to be more “forgiving” in case they get pulled over. And if that’s not enough, add in that there are some multi-Judge courts where the differences between those Judges – meaning specifically how “tough” any one of them is compared to the other(s) – can be very pronounced.

If you’re currently facing a Michigan DUI charge, there is a decent chance that you’ve had your blood taken following arrest. It’s also quite possible that either you also provided a breath test sample, or, in some cases, were just never asked to provide one, and the police went straight for a blood draw, instead. This marks a change from how things used to be done, before Coronavirus arrived. Up until early 2020, if you were arrested for drunk driving, it was very likely that you’d be given a formal breath test at the police or sheriff’s station. Things are different, now, however, and the explosion of blood draws have really slowed the progress of DUI cases into the court system.

popopopo-300x294Until the Coronavirus pandemic hit, about the only time anyone ever had blood taken was if he or she refused to provide a breath test, and the police had to get a warrant for a blood draw. In fact, when someone contacted us and indicated that his or her blood was taken, it pretty much always meant that he or she had refused a breath test. That’s no longer true, and, as of this writing, blood tests are every bit as common, if not MORE common, than breath tests following a DUI arrest, at least here in the Greater-Detroit area, where my team and I concentrate our drinking and driving practice.

One of the most important consequence of this is how it impacts the timing of a DUI case. Blood samples have to be analyzed at a Michigan State Police Crime Lab, and those labs are backed up now more than ever. To be sure, the crime labs have always been busy, but with the recent addition of thousands of blood samples that need to be examined, the backlog has really grown. My team and I deal with this every day, particularly when people call us about a recent DUI arrest. While our first question to any caller is almost always about where the case occurred, our next question usually is, or at least was something like “what were your breath test results?”

Our goal, as Michigan criminal, driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyers, is to produce the best results possible in every case we take while being fair and honest. We are a premium service law firm, and therefore don’t compete with any other lawyers or law firms on price. However, we are the ONLY law firm that actually lists its prices, and also the only one that talks about money, as I’m going to do here. Frankly, I cannot understand why the subject of cost is treated like some big secret, especially because it’s such an important part of hiring a lawyer.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2021/11/2.3-300x270.jpgThere are 2 important things about money and legal services worth noting, and they’re like opposite sides of the same coin: First – you will never get what you don’t pay for when you hire a lawyer. Experienced, skilled and talented lawyers will never compete to be the most “affordable.” The better class of anything is never cheap. Second, it is an unfortunate fact that too many attorneys charge far more than their representation is worth. It’s much easier to wind up paying too much for an average, mediocre lawyer than to get any kind of “deal” for top-notch legal services.

Our firm hasn’t raised prices for almost 2 years (since November 19, 2019, to be exact), but recent cost increases have left us with no other choice. The Coronavirus pandemic has caused just about everything to go up in price, and the expense of that has reached our door, as well. In addition, we’ve added staff to our team, so our overhead costs have grown, and we had to offset some of that by increasing our fees. In this article, I want to explain why it had to be done, and to talk about legal fees in the context of criminal, driver’s license restoration and DUI cases.

Anyone who finds him or herself facing a Michigan DUI charge will almost certainly go online and start looking for information. As the reader either knows, or will soon find out, there is an entire universe of DUI “stuff” to be found on the web. Unfortunately, many legal websites, while notoriously long on self-praise and testimonials, are often either pitifully short on useful information, or else they get into stuff so confusing and technical that nobody can fully understand it. Still, for everything that one can find, what REALLY matters most in a DUI case is what actually happens to you.

00002-300x261The gold standard is really this: Success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. In the real world, everyone’s first concern following a drunk driving arrest is not going to jail, followed closely by not losing their job, and not losing their driver’s license. Obviously, there are no rewards for getting a DUI – only potential negative consequences. In that sense, less is definitely more. Nobody is happy about to find themselves facing a DUI charge, and what they worry about most is not getting hammered with all kinds of legal penalties.

That, of course, is a complete “duh” statement, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s also true. When people begin scouring websites and blogs for DUI information, it’s in the hope that they will find some way to get out of their charge, or at least discover some other good news along those lines. Nobody is immune from the urge to keep reading page after page in the quest to learn something that they think might help their case, and what drives that, of course, is the concern over what is ultimately going to happen to them.

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