Articles Posted in DUI

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.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we know how a drunk driving arrest can affect a person. Most clients are very concerned about their DUI charge, while, on the other hand, there are others who seem to almost blow the whole thing off with little thought. For some, however, the whole experience is significant enough to force a reexamination of their goals and priorities – and their drinking habits, as well. When a person has to go through something as major as a DUI, it certainly presents an opportunity to reassess his or her life.

vectorstock_36736340-300x300This may sound like a bunch of “touchy-feely” sales-person nonsense, but it’s not, at least for those people inclined to think about the big picture. Of course, everyone’s primary concern is about what is going to happen to them, and making sure they stay out of jail. While that’s understandable, the simple fact is that jail can be completely avoided in the overwhelming majority of 1st offense DUI cases, and in most 2nd offense cases, as well. Once a person realizes this, he or she can then concentrate on those things that will or may happen, and how the DUI will ultimately affect his or her life.

Among the next biggest worries, beyond getting locked up, are how a DUI will impact a person’s ability to drive, and whether or not it will have any employment consequences. It’s right here that we run head-first into the real point of this article, because merely focusing on those questions alone really side-steps any analysis of how and why a person got drunk and drove in the first place. This is not to say that a single DUI has to be anything more than a one-off, or an out-of-character incident for a person, but everyone should at least pause and do a little self-analysis to make sure that IS true.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we know that experience matters. Useful experience, however, is not just about having handled thousands of cases, but also about observing all the things that can (and sometimes do) happen down the road, so to speak. Experience is worth a lot more when it has built up over time, and becomes part of what, in this piece, we’ll call “the long view.” Having a deep well of practical experience that has grown from years into multiple decades is truly priceless, and involves a lot more than just learning every possible legal DUI strategy.

Attys3-300x273Having handled separate DUI cases for some of the very same, repeat clients over the span of 30-plus years while learning and observing their life stories has created an archive of connections and understanding that can only come from such a long investment of time. To be sure, 10 years is nothing to sneeze at, but to be able to look back over a period of more than 3 decades and see how how a DUI (or multiple DUI’s) happened, and then how that did (and did not) affect a person’s life, provides an incredible depth of perspective unmatched by anything less.

This is the kind of experience that helps my team and I look out for the future interests of a client that might not even show up on the radar at the time his or her case is pending. Of course, it’s basic human nature for someone to worry about his or her immediate circumstances. The first consideration for just about everyone coming off of a DUI arrest is staying out of jail, followed closely by concerns about his or her driver’s license and job. When a person knows they’re not going to jail, not going to lose the ability to drive, and not going to lose their employment, then they finally relax a bit and stop freaking out.

Anyone who spends online time looking for information about a DUI charge will soon find that most legal websites hammer home the idea that it’s serious – as if he or she didn’t already know that. This kind of approach is called “fear-based marketing,” and it something that, as Michigan DUI lawyers, our firm scrupulously avoids. Instead, what I often try to do is make sure the reader understands that while a DUI is certainly nothing to be taken lightly, what will realistically happen in the vast majority of cases is not NEARLY as bad as he or she probably fears.

vectorstock_22349165-300x300Apparently, there is a lot money to be made by scaring someone facing a DUI with all the maximum, worst-case potential legal penalties that can be imposed, and then positioning one’s self as being uniquely able to save him or her from them, or otherwise able to get the whole case dismissed outright, as if it’s that easy. If scaring people didn’t work, then so many of the online legal operations wouldn’t do it. As consumers, we are constantly exposed to all kinds of BS sales tactics, like ads for money-making schemes, miracle weight-loss programs, and an endless stream of medications that promise miraculous results.

The last thing anyone facing a DUI charge needs is that kind of stuff. Everyone knows that, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” but there is a flip side to that as well, at least in the way fear-based marketing is used in the DUI world, because a recent change in Michigan’s expungement law will soon allow for the removal of a single, 1st offense drunk driving conviction from a person’s criminal record. This, of course, directly undermines the fear-based messaging that a DUI conviction can  all but ruin a person’s life.

In our roles as Michigan DUI lawyers, we handle a lot of 3rd offense OWI cases. It’s a given that a felony DUI charge is serious, but it doesn’t have to be anything like the end of a person’s world, especially if it’s handled skillfully. As I often point out, success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you, and that’s particularly true when facing a 3rd offense charge. In fact, when properly handled, a 3rd offense DUI can be worked out a lot better than the reader might think, and many, if not most, of the scary sounding potential consequences can be avoided.

SHOjoijoioihoih-300x276Obviously, the first goal in any DUI case is to find some way to get out of it, but drunk driving charges don’t dismiss themselves. Instead, a lawyer has to work every angle to discover something that can be leveraged to either get the charges knocked out of court, or used to in order to force a better outcome. That’s not a bunch of meaningless talk, either, at least when real effort is actually put into a case. As one of my favorite lyrics observes, “Good work is the key to good fortune; winners take that praise – losers seldom take that blame.”

That sentiment is completely applicable when it comes to handling DUI cases, and even more so in a 3rd offense situation. Experience teaches that when a Michigan DUI lawyer examines the evidence in a case and looks for something to challenge, there are certain places where he or she is more likely to find it than others: The traffic stop has always been one of the best areas for that. The day before I began this article, the Michigan Court of Appeals published an opinion holding a DUI traffic stop unlawful, and that case really shows the value of a lawyer’s good work, and what “proper handling” can do.

In the world of Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration cases, this blog is the biggest ongoing resource to be found anywhere. Recently, while trying to do some online legal research, I discovered that a lot of the articles I put up here get “borrowed,” and a sort of cannibalized version of many of them can be found in other places. For as much “borrowing” as has been done from my articles, I know that nobody is going to copy any part of this article covering some largely and otherwise ignored truths about DUI and driver’s license restoration cases.

vectorstock_23731855-300x254It is said that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” so I’m kind of flattered, in a sense, that other lawyers use my blog posts for their ideas. However, I do put a lot of effort into the analysis that goes into some of these installments, and I wonder if I should be mad at the fact that most of the copy-cat versions that I ran across edited much of that out, and thereby really amount to little more than “cheap knock-off” versions, or whether I’d be even madder if someone did try to pass off my analysis and reasoning as his or her own.

To be sure, nobody can claim any kind of copyright or proprietary interest in legal strategy, but it is kind of mind-blowing to find one’s own ideas put on another person’s blog, or site, as if it’s that person’s original thought. For example, I have put up quite a few articles that were “numbered,” in the sense that they would have titles like, “4 things to look out for….” or “The top 3 things…” and then get into an enumerated discussion of that topic. Imagine my surprise to find quite a few reconstituted versions of those pieces on other blogs and sites.

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