Articles Posted in DUI

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.

As Michigan DUI attorneys, my team and I answer a lot of questions from people who have been arrested for drunk driving. In this article, I want to provide answers to 4 of the most common, important, and widely applicable things we get asked. Before we get there, however, I want to make clear that answering questions is a fundamental part of what we do, and that asking questions is exactly what anyone looking for a lawyer should be doing. This is all part of the consultation process, and if done correctly, will help both the potential client and the lawyer figure out if they’re a good fit for each other.

vectorstock_21510773-300x300That said, the first thing a person should be looking for is a lawyer who will provide him or her with honest answers. In the world of DUI cases, it’s what you need to hear, rather than just what you want to hear, that’s most important. Of course it is basic human nature to gravitate toward things that sound “better,” but anyone facing a DUI needs to quickly become a more sophisticated consumer and really check around before he or she hands over their money to some lawyer who makes it sound like he or she has some kind of magic key to make everything just “go away.”

Moreover, any lawyer with enough confidence in him or her self (and worth hiring in the first place) should encourage a person to check around and compare Michigan DUI attorneys. I have listed 4 questions below that represent a sample of things we get asked all the time. There are other questions that regularly come up, but my goal here was to pick a handful that are among the most frequently asked, important, and that are also relevant to the broadest audience. To be sure, everyone has questions, but my goal was to discuss a few that generally applied to everyone facing a DUI.

As busy Michigan DUI lawyers, one of the first questions we ask people who contact us about their pending OWI charge is “where?” It is hard to overstate the importance of location in a DUI case, especially here, in what we define as the “Metro-Detroit” (or “Greater Detroit”) area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Livingston, St. Clair, and Washtenaw Counties. In this article, we’ll look at the reality that a DUI case pending in one court can turn out very different than if it is brought in another.

vectorstock_10807625-300x300Most people know the first rules of real estate: location, location, and location. Even within the same religious denomination, for example, one church can have a very different “feel” than another, simply because of the personality of the pastor or priest in charge. Location can be a key factor in things that otherwise “seem” to be the same: Different people might prefer one store over another, even though it’s the same retailer, or think the guacamole is better at one location of a restaurant chain than another. If you think about it for a moment, the reason for that has a lot to do with who is in charge and runs things.

In restaurants, it’s the manager who’s responsible for the food, even if indirectly. If a manager hires Talented Tina, puts her charge of making the guacamole, and it’s consistently excellent, then he or she gets the credit. However, if that manager leaves the guacamole-making to whoever is least busy, then he or she gets the blame when it sucks. Manager “A” may consider having consistently good guacamole important, whereas Manager “B” might not give it a second thought. In that same way, the importance of “who’s in charge” also applies in the court system, as well.

As busy Michigan DUI lawyers, we know that absolutely everyone going through a drunk driving case is going to have to answer some direct questions about his or her drinking. Those questions are standard in every DUI case, and asked as part of a larger court screening process that tries to determine whether the person has, or is at risk to develop, a drinking problem. In this article, I want to shift the focus from the official inquiry about a person’s drinking to a private and more personal conversation about the reader’s relationship to alcohol.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2021/05/Drinkerdude1.2-300x300.jpgIt’s likely (although unfortunate) that a lot of people are going to blow off this write-up, but my hope is to speak sincerely to those who do take the time to read it. As much as I want to use my written words to begin a conversation of sorts, what I’m really trying to do here is allow someone to open up to themselves WITHOUT fear of judgment, and without having to answer to anyone else. If you have ever wondered about your drinking, even for a moment, then let’s take the time to look over a few things that may be helpful in evaluating whether your relationship to alcohol has become troublesome.

Before we start, let me explain a little bit about myself: I have been a DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyer for more than 30 years, and in that capacity, how people use alcohol is central to everything my team and I do, all day, every day. Because of that, and after about 20 years as a practicing lawyer, I returned to the University campus for a formal, post-graduate program of addiction studies. This provided me with a broad and comprehensive understanding of the development, diagnosis and treatment of alcohol and substance abuse problems, as well as the many ways people recover from them.

As Michigan DUI lawyers who concentrate in DUI and driver’s license restoration cases, my team and I have to pay close attention to details. Of course, there can be big and obvious differences between various kinds of cases, but often enough, what matter most in a DUI or driver’s license restoration case comes down to something very small. The idea for this article came from this line used several times in a great book I just finished, called “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig: “Never underestimate the big importance of small things.”

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2021/05/Important-1.2-300x265.jpgUnlike most of my other articles that tend to examine some particular aspect of either the court or the driver’s license appeal process, this piece will be more of a survey about how little things, like a few seconds one way or another, and even a person’s attitude, can dramatically affect a DUI or driver’s license restoration case. Although the idea that small things can have big importance applies to just about every possible situation in life, it really hits home in drunk driving and driver’s license appeal cases, where it can make all the difference to the outcome.

For example, a person cannot be charged with a 2nd offense DUI unless he or she has a prior conviction for another DUI within 7 years from the date of his or her arrest for the subsequent charge. My team and I have literally had cases involving a person being arrested just after midnight the very day that 7 year window had closed, sparing him or her from being charged as a 2nd offender, and plenty of other cases where the arrest took place a mere day or two inside – or outside – of that 7-year window. Thus, never underestimate the big importance of small things.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we interact with clients, courts, and prosecutors regarding DUI charges every single day. The moment a person is arrested for a DUI, he or she has a “case.” From that point on, everybody talks about the pending charge in terms of it being a case. While that’s technically correct, speaking that way almost has the effect of removing the person from the equation. The reality is that a DUI charge only has meaning when we consider the person facing it. In this article, I want to make sure we keep the focus on the “U” (you) in a DUI case.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2021/05/You-1.2-300x267.jpgFor all the legal and technical elements that go into a DUI charge, the bottom line is that every DUI case is, in fact, about a person. The idea of focusing on the you (U) in a DUI is a very real thing. Sure, a DUI case is made up of evidence and facts, but those things only exist because a person first made them all happen. At times, it can seem like the court system almost treats a DUI charge like it’s separate from the person facing it. However, the legal consequences of a DUI are real, and will affect the person who got it, not to mention his or her family, and even others, as well.

Nobody is “for” drunk driving, but it’s a fact that, in life, everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes, a DUI just happens. The way to prevent a repeat DUI episode is to make sure the person who did it on one occasion understands how not to let it happen again. This is were the you (U) in DUI cases can get lost, because the court system has limited options for dealing with the individual needs of the many people who go through the DUI process. It’s not a stretch to say that DUI offenders are very often subjected to a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

As busy Michigan DUI lawyers, there are certain things that we see so often that it’s hard for us to NOT take them for granted. In this article, I want to cover 3 of the most common things: First, that once someone pulled over is asked to step out of the vehicle to take field sobriety tests, he or she is almost certainly going to be arrested for DUI, second, that a person will never sweet-talk or argue their way out of a DUI arrest, and, third, that anyone who refuses to take a breath or blood test after being arrested for a DUI will have his or her driver’s license suspended.

Fat-3-265x300The inspiration for this article came on a recent evening while my wife and I were driving home from visiting our daughter. As we passed a large, well-lit gas station on Woodward Avenue, we saw that a car had been stopped near the pumps by 2 police cars with flashing emergency lights. The driver was standing outside and being watched by 2 officers as he was performing some field sobriety tests. “He’s getting arrested,” I said to my wife. She then asked how I knew that based upon what we saw, so I explained to her that by the time someone is asked to step out of his or her vehicle for field sobriety tests, it’s almost always foregone conclusion that he or she is going to jail.

This may not be of any direct help for anyone who has already been arrested for a DUI, but perhaps it can help him or her avoid wasting their time wondering if, once they had been pulled over, they could have done or said anything differently to have avoided being taken into custody. In the case of a chemical test refusal, we’ll see why the person should have consented to a breath or blood test following their arrest. For as much as there is to know concerning what can be done about a pending DUI, much of that depends on what did and didn’t happen surrounding the initial police contact and the arrest that followed.

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