Articles Posted in DUI

In part 1 of this article, we began a real-world examination of 2nd offense DUI cases in Michigan. Our objective in this piece is to drill down into what a person will experience, and why, as he or she deals with a 2nd offense drunk driving charge. The major thrust of part 1 was to examine and understand that in a 2nd offense case, the real focus of the law, and, by extension, the court system, is on a person’s drinking. By the time someone winds up in court for his or her 2nd DUI, he or she has proven themselves to be a risk to the public after consuming alcohol.

hufgfg2-298x300Years ago, I heard a Judge put it this way, and it has stuck with me ever since: “Society has lost its sense of humor for people like you.” DUI cases are now taken more seriously than ever. The red flag thrown up by every 2nd DUI offender is that he or she is someone who needs to be stopped from driving drunk again. It’s taken as a given that whatever was done to him or her the first time around obviously wasn’t enough. It certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that everything that will happen in a 2nd offense DUI case is going to be “tougher” than what was done in a person’s prior, 1st offense case.

The first tool the courts will use to accomplish that is to separate him or her from drinking altogether. Accordingly, it is standard in almost every DUI case – and certainly in EVERY 2nd offense case – that a “no-drinking” condition of bond will be set and the person will be required to periodically test to prove that he or she is in compliance with it. Beyond that, his or her probation will also require that he or she continue to abstain from alcohol and continue to test, in addition to completing counseling and/or treatment, among other things.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I handle A LOT of 2nd offense cases. This is no doubt due, at least in part, to the volume of accurate and useful information we put up on our blog and website. In this 2-part article, we’re going to continue that mission and look at the reality of a 2nd offense Michigan DUI charge. We’ll skip the scare tactics and all the other BS, and focus, instead, on what a person facing a 2nd offense here, in the Greater-Detroit area (meaning Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and the surrounding counties) will actually have to contend with.

bjhg-300x300The first thing we should NOT do is exaggerate the severity of a 2nd offense DUI charge in Michigan. The reader already knows it’s serious, but – and this is really important – it’s also manageable. If not, we could just limit this whole discussion to, “Wow; you’re screwed.” Instead, we need to look beyond the potential legal penalties and negative consequences and see what it is about 2nd offense cases that makes them a big concern to both the legal system, and the Michigan Secretary of State, who is required, by law, to revoke the driver’s license of anyone convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years.

The problem with most legal websites is that they either focus on fear-based marketing, which attempts to frighten a person into calling the law firm that has just made itself seem as if it can “save” him or her from all potential scary fallout, or otherwise make it seem like they have some special knowledge or skill to get DUI charges dismissed that all the other lawyers somehow lack. Such tactics may be profitable for the attorneys who use them, but they overlook important, fundamental factors that must really be taken into account in order to properly handle a 2nd offense DUI case.

In Michigan, the overwhelming majority of DUI cases are resolved through a plea, and very often, that involves a plea bargain. In this article, we’ll examine plea bargains and why they are such an important part of the DUI court process. Here’s a quick analogy to help explain: Most television sets go from a store to someone’s home through a sale, meaning a person buys it. Sometimes, a person is able to get a really good deal (a “bargain”) on a TV when the price is reduced. In that sense, the price reduction is a special kind of sale, just like a plea bargain is a special kind of plea.

vectorstock_30228921-copy-300x300Anytime a person stands before a Judge in court, and, while under oath, admits to having committed an offense, that’s a plea. Criminal and DUI charges get resolved in 1 of 3 ways: Most, as noted, are disposed through a plea of some sort. Sometimes, a case goes to trial, and the end result of that is the person is either convicted or acquitted of an offense. Once in a while, before any plea deal is reached. and before a trial ever takes place, a case get dismissed for legal reasons, usually because of a successful defense challenge to the evidence or the some issue regarding the law.

A plea bargain is a deal that reduces the original charge against a person to something less serious. In other words, in exchange for the dismissal of a more serious charge, a person will admit to doing something lesser, meaning an offense that carries less potential legal penalties and/or negative consequences. Not to be too simple about it, but we can break it down this way: A plea is the admission of guilt to an offense, while a plea bargain is just that, a bargain as it relates to the severity of the offense for which a person accepts responsibility.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I know what it means to properly fight for our clients. Key here is the word “properly.” If the reader has spent any time online, he or she has already found endless marketing messages about DUI cases. There is no shortage of lawyers who will fight everything to the last penny of your money, and there are also plenty who market themselves as having “affordable” or “reasonable” fees, which can often mean paying a cut rate price to have your case sold out and wrapped up as soon as possible.

lklkjkoi-300x285In this article, we’re going to discuss how to best handle a DUI case. No matter what, success is a DUI case is always best measured by what does NOT happen to you. For anyone facing a DUI charge, having it dismissed completely is always the best outcome. However, when, as in most cases, that can’t happen, then less really is more, in the sense that fewer legal penalties and negative consequences are always better. Those results don’t come about by being sold out, but, on the flip side, merely “fighting” everything, just for the sake of fighting, doesn’t produce any benefits, either.

Instead, the best results are always achieved by following a smart defense strategy. It may sound corny, but it’s also true that, as Michigan DUI lawyers, we sometimes have to stand fast and hold our ground, while others, the best outcome is achieved through an intelligent compromise. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that what should be done in any given case, and when to do it, is all dependent on the facts, and not just the facts of the case itself, but also things like where it’s pending, and the parties involved, including the prosecutor and the Judge.

If you’re facing a Michigan DUI charge and looking for a lawyer, the search process can be overwhelming. Every legal website is designed to get your business. Lots of effort goes into presenting an appealing message. What lawyer or law firm in their right mind wouldn’t do that? The next logical step after looking online is actually making contact with a lawyer or law firm, but then, and without exception, your inquiry is always seen as a potential new, paying case. Consequently, when you call any lawyer or law firm, they’re going to treat you as nicely as possible, hoping you hire them.

Comp3-300x287Can you imagine the opposite of that – a law firm being rude to a caller, and/or making it seem like her or she is a bother and his or her business isn’t wanted? We know from our own outgoing phone calls that some law offices seem to forget that whoever answers the phone is also “The Director of First Impressions.” When you’re calling around, anything less than a welcoming reception is a huge red flag, but there’s a lot more than that to comparing lawyers and finding the one that’s right for you. On top of everything else, anyone looking for an attorney needs to quickly become a savvy consumer.

Perhaps the most important lesson I want the reader to take from this article can be boiled down to one simple statement: Don’t be a sucker. Every legal website is online to sell services; ours is no different. Some of these provide a lot of information (of varying degrees of usefulness), while others rely more on reviews and testimonials. Although my personal preference is for information over tributes, neither approach is “right,” or “wrong,” and, even more important, whatever you find on a website is really not enough, by itself, to make a final hiring decision.

One thing my team and I know all too well from our work as Michigan DUI lawyers is that nobody is happy to find themselves facing a drunk driving charge. It certainly isn’t the kind of thing anyone wants to brag about, but for people in certain positions and professions, the quieter it can be kept, the better. For some, a DUI can be something of a double-whammy, bringing to their employer’s attention both the taint of an ongoing criminal case and questions about whether or not the person may have some kind of drinking problem.

C2-298x300This is also a concern for people who hold certain professional licenses, like those in the medical field. Unless a DUI charge is dismissed outright, a conviction will have to be reported to the licensing body, and that will give rise to concerns about both the criminal offense itself as well as the person’s relationship to alcohol. It is almost instinctive for someone in this position to become defensive and deny having any kind problem, if for no other reason than the fear of making things even worse. Having to report a DUI is bad enough, but nobody wants to add a potential drinking problem to the mix.

These are, of course, legitimate and important considerations, but it is also critical that anyone in this kind of DUI predicament NOT let them prevent him or her from also taking an honest look at his or her relationship to alcohol. In other words, while the goal for anyone facing a DUI is to get through it and avoid as many of the legal penalties and other potential negative consequences as possible, that should never stop him or her from at least privately questioning whether the whole thing was really a one-off, or if it may be the result of some kind of troublesome drinking behavior.

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, it’s as good a time as any to stop and take a look at your relationship to alcohol. This isn’t going to be some “hit piece” about drinking, nor is it going to suggest that just because you got a 1st offense DUI you should quit drinking, or go to AA, or even counseling. Instead, what we’re going to do is talk about the idea of self-assessing your drinking behavior, even if you only drink once in a while, to make sure that you’re not overlooking anything.

vectorstock_27464542-300x264The kind of analysis we’re talking about here is only applicable in 1st offense DUI cases. Under Michigan law, anyone convicted of a 2nd or 3rd offense DUI will legally categorized as a habitual alcohol offender, and will, as a consequence, be presumed to have some kind of drinking problem. Beyond those legal implications, and as a practical matter, pretty much the whole world, including everyone in the court system, simply assumes that any repeat DUI offender at least has some kind of risky relationship to alcohol, even if that person rarely drinks.

In 1st offense cases, though, the question is far more one of risk, and measuring that risk. There is a solid reason for this, as numerous studies have shown that people who get just a single DUI in their lifetime have a statistically higher rate of drinking problems than the population at large. In other words, as a group, drivers who have never had a DUI have few drinking problems than drivers who have had a DUI. This is important for a number of reasons, some of which we’ll examine below.

If you’re facing a Michigan DUI charge, beyond just worrying about what’s going to happen, you no doubt have a lot of other feelings, as well, including anger about the whole situation. Although someone may wonder if it’s wrong to think this way (it’s not), many people do feel things like “This doesn’t seem fair,” and “I don’t deserve this.” Whatever else, feelings are facts, and in this article, we’re going to look at why feelings are important, and how some of them can have either a positive or negative impact on the outcome of your DUI case.

Scale2-300x288It’s normal for a person to get mad about being caught up in a DUI. This this can include anger at one’s self, but also with the police, and the whole legal system, as well. When an otherwise law-abiding person gets put in handcuffs, placed in the back a police car, and then taken to jail, it’s humiliating. Suddenly, someone who would never hurt anyone or steal a penny feels like he or she is being treated like a common criminal. It’s only natural to think something like, “instead of arresting me, maybe the police should have been out looking for burglars or rapists or car thieves or whatever…”

Although a DUI is a criminal offense, the overwhelming majority of people arrested for drunk driving are NOT criminals in any real sense of the word. Here, we need to understand the normalcy of all these feelings, but also realize that, while they’re okay to discuss within the confines of the attorney-client relationship, or among family and friends, expressing them to anyone in the court system can adversely affect the outcome of your case. There are numerous truths in life that, for various reasons, we just can’t complain about publicly.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, an important part of what team and I do everyday is address the concerns people have following a drunk driving arrest. Everyone with whom we speak is understandably worried about what will happen to them. Some people become extremely nervous, and it certainly doesn’t help that so many lawyer’s websites hype things up by using fear-based marketing to hawk their services. In this article, we’re going to flip that around, because some people are inclined to overthink their DUI and panic unnecessarily.

vectorstock_36314541-copy-300x300Let’s begin with a conclusion, and work from there: A DUI is nothing to laugh at, but it’s also NOT the end of your world, either. When handled properly, a 1st offense DUI charge can be made into more of an expense, and an inconvenience, rather than anything else. Of course, the court wants to make sure it’s a memorable inconvenience, but the real intention of the law is really to teach someone a lesson to not drive drunk again without ruining his or her life. As DUI lawyers, my team and I believe we have a moral obligation to make this clear and calm people’s fears, rather than play on them.

Of course, it can be profitable for some attorneys when people get all freaked out about a DUI charge and rush to hire a lawyer, in the much the same way that it’s good for business when people have furnace problems in the middle of winter and need a heating and cooling (HVAC) professional. However, the kind professional you need should never capitalize upon or exploit your fear. That’s taking advantage of someone, and it’s morally wrong at every level. In the context of a Michigan DUI case, the good news is most of the fear a person has about what’s going to happen is misplaced, because things will work out.

Dealing with a DUI charge can seem all-consuming. There is a legal process that must be followed, and for a while, it can feel as if it’s taken over your life. As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I accompany our clients through every step of this whole journey, so we know how draining it can be. In this article, I want to highlight the good news – that this situation doesn’t last forever, and that, no matter how strong the case against you may be, with some intelligent planning, you can put it behind you, and not let it define you. That may sound “cheesy,” but, fortunately, it’s also true.

Who6-287x300From the moment a person is pulled over, or has that first police contact, everything they deal with thereafter seems to be DUI-related. It’s almost like he or she has become the filler in a Michigan DUI burrito, and are all “wrapped up” in it. We’ll get into more specifics later, but for anyone facing a 1st offense DUI charge, this is likely to last at least 15 months, from point of his or her arrest until every the very last day of his or her probation. During that time, a person can experience a whole range of feelings, including anger, resentment (“I don’t deserve this!”) all the way to simple fatigue, and wonder if life will ever get back to normal.

For the most part, it will. Of course, a better defense strategy can make that happen sooner, and more completely. At the end of the day, though, assuming your DUI is the result of a simple lapse in judgment and isn’t a symptom of a deeper problem, you should pretty much be able to move past it completely unharmed. This is not some “hire me” lawyer sales-pitch, either, because the way to do this begins with you, and requires adjusting your mindset. The best lawyer in the world can help, but unless you are willing to do your part, his or her efforts won’t amount to very much.

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