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Articles Posted in DUI

In parts 4 and 5 of this article, we continued our analysis of why it’s more important to accurately understand a person’s relationship to alcohol than it is to label it, having shifted our focus from DUI cases to in parts 1, 2, and 3, to Michigan driver’s license appeal cases in parts 4 and 5. Here, in part 6, we’ll finish this examination, pickup up right where we left off, and continue looking at the imprecise but ongoing use of the term “alcoholic” in license restoration cases, and why that’s important.

lkjl-300x263In the world of driver’s license restoration appeals, the idea that a person may be an alcoholic isn’t fixed in any kind of quest for diagnostic specificity, nor is using it an attempt to label someone as having a problem that’s somehow “worse” than it actually is. In a license reinstatement case, the term “alcoholic” is often used in the broadest sense – to describe someone who knows that he or she has come to a point where they simply can’t drink anymore. That a person understands this is crucial in a Michigan driver’s license restoration case.

Remember, to win a license restoration or clearance appeal, a person must prove 2 things, by what the law defines as clear and convincing evidence: First, that his or her alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning they haven’t had a drink in a legally sufficient period of time, and second, that his or her alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” which means he or she has both the ability and commitment to never drink again.

In this 5th part of this series, we’re going to continue our examination, from part 4, of how the specific nature of a person’s relationship to alcohol is more important than any label term (like “alcoholic”), within the context of Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration cases. Here, we’re going to flip things around a bit and see how such labels, however obsolete in the clinical setting, still linger in people’s minds, and how that plays a role in the license appeal process.

bbb-300x278In license restoration cases, my team and I see every stage of alcohol problems, from the very mildest to, those who were that kind of last-gasp drinker, to everyone in-between. As I noted before, nobody goes from being a normal drinker one day to a full-blown, dried-up, last gasp drunk the next. The Michigan Secretary of State knows that a troubled relationship to alcohol builds over time. As a result, its primary concern is where a person is with that, both in terms of their past drinking and whether or not he or she truly believes they can’t ever drink again.

As pointed out in part 3, AA people tend to identify as “alcoholic” more than everyone else, and they do that independent of any formal diagnosis. In other words, an AA member that might otherwise merely be characterized as having a “drinking problem,” more than being any kind of “alcoholic,” is still more likely to simply describe him or herself as alcoholic as opposed to someone  who is not in AA. The reason this matters is because, by accepting that label, the person also accepts that he or she cannot ever safely drink again, and knows that, if they do ever pick up again, it’s nothing less than a relapse.

In parts 1, 2, and 3 of this article, we examined how, within the context of a DUI case, a person’s actual relationship to alcohol matters far more than the label slapped upon it. Starting here, in part 4, and continuing in parts 5, and 6, we’re going to survey this same topic, but within the setting of Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals. We’ll see how old thinking, and the use of terms like “alcoholic” can (and does) clash with modern diagnostic terms although they are still used, and to a certain extent, still useful.

man-turning-down-whisky-nnn-300x267It is key, at the outset, to understand that the primary focus of a license appeal is upon a person’s relationship with alcohol – past, present, and future. Specifically, the Michigan Secretary of State requires that a person prove, by what is called clear and convincing evidence, that his or her alcohol problem is both “under control” and “likely to remain under control.” This basically means that anyone filing a license appeal is automatically presumed to have a drinking problem, and must prove that he or she has really given up alcohol for good.

A lot of people come to us after having lost a ”do-it-yourself” license appeal, or after having hired some lawyer who didn’t concentrate in license restoration cases, and then losing. What we see in many of these cases is that the person had never spoken with anyone who really examined and helped him or her understand the nature of their relationship to alcohol, much less helped him or her understand where that falls on the continuum of drinking problems, from none whatsoever, all the way to out of control.

In part 2 about the importance of accurately understanding one’s actual relationship to alcohol in a Michigan DUI case, rather than that just labeling it, I noted that it has been repeatedly demonstrated that, as a group, DUI drivers do have a statistically higher rate of drinking problems than the population at large. I then pointed out that this is not forgotten when a person undergoes the mandatory alcohol assessment and probation interview required as part of all DUI cases.

piophiuhb-300x294Remember, precisely because of the higher rate of drinking problems among DUI drivers, compared to the rest of society, everyone walking into court for a DUI is considered part of an “at risk” group, and proper preparation for the mandatory alcohol assessment and probation interview must take that into account. The very fact that a person has gotten a DUI is enough for just about every court, in just about every case, to see the person as at least a little bit risky, and therefore require him or her to at least complete some kind of alcohol education class, classes, or program.

If, as a result of that assessment and interview, a person is thought to be anything more than a minimum risk to either have, or to develop a drinking problem, then he or she will be almost certainly be required to complete some kind of counseling program in addition to, or instead of, a simple alcohol education program. With the kind of tests used by the courts, it is much easier to “score” a person as either having a drinking problem (or not), than it is to conclude he or she has an increased potential for one to develop. That’s where the risk really lies for anyone going through a drunk driving case.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking, within the context of a Michigan DUI case, at the importance of accurately assessing a person’s relationship with alcohol. I noted that getting an accurate picture of someone’s drinking is far more important than attaching any kind of label (like “alcoholic”) to it. We saw that, ultimately, it’s not how much a person drinks that matters, but rather what can happen when he or she does drink. In this second installment, we’ll continue looking at how this actually plays out in DUI cases, particularly in 1st offense DUI cases.

image-asset-300x245As I noted in part 1, there is merit – with caution – in the saying that “anything that causes a problem IS a problem,” particularly when it comes to drinking. If a person who has been drinking more than they should winds up getting a DUI, it usually doesn’t come as much of a surprise. However, it’s important to remember that there are also plenty of people who wind up getting a DUI simply because they made a mistake in judgment one night, and not because they have any kind of underlying drinking problem.

We basically characterized this as the difference between a one-time accident versus a likely consequence of ongoing, troublesome behavior. We then noted that drinking problems almost always begin unnoticed, and that the initial signs are easily overlooked. When things like hangovers start to become more than just a “fluke” occurrence, people are able to easily compensate for them. These “inconveniences,” small at first, are the first real signs of problematic drinking.

As Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we deal with alcohol, drinking, and the consequences caused by it every single day. In this article, I want to examine how a person’s true relationship to alcohol matters far more than any label about it, like the vague concept of an “alcoholic.” We’ll examine this in 6 parts: in this first and then the 2nd and 3rd installments, we’ll look at it in the context of DUI cases, and then, in the 4th,  5th  and 6th parts, within the framework of driver’s license restoration appeals.

lkjoh-272x300As DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, the daily experience we have with alcohol issues is broad and extensive: on the one hand, a DUI case can involve nothing more than an otherwise normal drinker having overindulged on a single occasion. On the other hand, we may have a driver’s license restoration client who has finally gotten sober after a decades of heavy drinking that has resulted in liver damage and multiple DUI’s. As lawyers – and because we neither punish nor treat people – they are usually willing to open up to us more than with just about anyone else. As a result, we have heard and seen it all over the years.

One thing we often hear from DUI clients, especially those who are repeat offenders or who have really high BAC results, is a concern that the court is “going think I’m an alcoholic,” or an outright statement that “I’m not an alcoholic!” In the bigger picture of life, it couldn’t matter less whether a person meets some fuzzy definition of “alcoholic” or not. Instead, what really matters is whether or not his or her drinking has begun to cause problems. As the saying goes, “anything that causes a problem IS a problem.”

In part 1 of this article about the 3 main ways a 1st offense DUI case in the Metro-Detroit area will impact your life, we saw how there will always be some kind of driving restrictions following a conviction, while in part 2, we noted that some kind of probation is almost certain to follow, as well. Here, in this 3rd installment, we’ll turn to final main a 1st offense OWI will affect you: it’s going to cost a lot of money.

XaoaoaoaIt’s probably best to tackle this by first observing that, for everything I could or will say about a DUI and money, “it is what it is,” and that means expensive. Anyone trying to save money on a DUI is pretty much wasting his or her time. About the only expense a person can reduce is how much they spend on a lawyer, but that generally provides diminishing returns. In other words, whether you can afford it or not, this is going to be costly.

About a decade ago, there was a state-sponsored ad campaign in Michigan warning that a DUI would cost about $10,000. Adjusted for inflation, that still pretty much holds true today, as well. To be sure, there are places, even locally, where the fines and court costs for a DUI will be less, and other places where they will be significantly more, but however you cut it, a 1st offense DUI is not cheap.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at the 3 main ways a 1st offense DUI in Michigan will affect your life. While most people’s greatest fear is going to jail, we noted that’s highly unlikely to happen, but that there are still plenty of other potential legal consequences to avoid or minimize. As I pointed out, unless a case is completely thrown out of court, there are 3 main things that will happen to everyone as the result of a DUI, and we then covered the first of them: driving restrictions.

33-1-300x240Here, in this second part, we’ll look at the 2nd main way a DUI will affect your life: probation. Before we get to that, however, let me be repeat something: everybody wants to have their case dismissed or tossed out of court, and every lawyer should do everything possible to make that happen. However, the simple truth is that most cases DO NOT just “go away” because the police do not routinely make the kind of catastrophic mistakes that cause Judges to routinely dismiss them.

In the real world, a Judge will only exclude evidence or dismiss a DUI case because he or she has to, and that only happens if a lawyer has carefully examined everything and found some significant problem that leaves the Judge no choice. DUI cases that get dismissed are the exception, not the rule. Some lawyers make it sound like the only thing standing between a person and the dismissal of his or her charges is paying the attorney’s retainer, but that’s not how it works.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we spend a major part of every workday closely involved with people going through drunk driving charges. Over the years, we have been asked every question imaginable, and walked our clients through every step of the DUI process a million times over. Because we handle OWI cases all day, every day, we have, quite literally, seen it all. This article will be about the 3 biggest ways a 1st offense DUI case will impact your life.

9th-November-2-e1576682949314-1-300x244Let me begin by making clear that this is not any kind of scare-tactic piece. The reality is that jail can be avoided in almost every 1st offense DUI case here in the Greater-Detroit area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and surrounding counties. Moreover, no matter how things may look right now, they aren’t nearly as bad as you probably fear. In truth, a 1st offense DUI can is far more of an expense and inconvenience rather than the end of your world, and this even applies to those who hold some kind of professional license.

The intention behind Michigan’s DUI laws, especially as it relates to 1st offense cases, is not to ruin a person’s life or career, but rather to make a the whole experience so unpleasant that he or she will take the steps necessary to make sure it never happens again. There are numerous potential consequences that go with an OWI charge, but we’re going to focus on the 3 that are all but certain, unless a case gets completely tossed out of court.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at the 3 questions anyone should consider as he or she looks for a lawyer for a Michigan criminal, DUI or driver’s license restoration case. After we went over a few preliminary considerations like not getting the “hard sell” from some lawyer’s office, we began examining the first of 3 sub-questions from the larger inquiry, “why should I hire you?” and saw why it’s important to find a lawyer whose practice concentrates in the same field as a person’s case.


Having covered those things, we can turn to the second sub-question anyone looking for a lawyer should have about an attorney or law firm: How available do make useful information relevant to my specific concerns?

I’ve already mentioned this blog as a resource, and while I am proud of it (and think it’s the best out there by far!), there is lots of other information out there, as well. Find it, and see what other lawyers have written and then put up about your kind of case. Reading articles is about the easiest and most anonymous way to at least get some preliminary information about a situation, but a person must also make sure that the information provided is both accurate and reliable.

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