Articles Posted in DUI

In part 1 of this article, we began an examination of the 2 things everyone going through a DUI will be required to do: breath and/or urine testing for drugs and alcohol, and some kind of classes, counseling or treatment. After a brief history lesson, we ended with what I consider the gold standard for DUI lawyers – that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. No matter how else you put it, the job of a DUI lawyer is to protect the client from as many consequences as possible, and that includes testing, which we’ll examine in this segment.

drug-test-for-prescription-drugs-155276569-5b1c0a320e23d90036424b73-300x258To really understand how and why alcohol testing is used as it is today, we have to step back in time, a little more than 20 years ago. Back then, a person facing a DUI here, in the Greater-Detroit area, was usually not specifically ordered to abstain from alcohol (or drugs) while the case was pending, as a condition of bond. Up until the mid-1990’s, nobody had even heard of, much less used, any kind of “testing,” to make sure that a person didn’t drink while waiting for his or her case to be resolved.

If, by some chance, a person was ordered to not drink while the case made its way through court (and for a long time, this was far more the exception, rather than the rule), there was really no way to verify if they were or weren’t, and about the only way a person could get caught violating it is if he or she had some kind of police contact (like an arrest for another case involving alcohol) and/or it was otherwise documented that he or she had been drinking.

This article is to help anyone facing a DUI to understand what he or she will experience going through the court system. To do this, it is most helpful to look back a bit, at how things used to be, in order to fully grasp the process today. Although there is a lot to a DUI in general, there are 2 key, “in your face” things that everyone will have to deal with: First, a “no drinking” order from the court, enforced by alcohol testing (and usually put in place right out of the gate), and second, some kind of alcohol education, counseling, or treatment, generally required as part of probation. I’ve broken this discussion into 4 installments to keep each one short and interesting.

eef8f2dddd46a91a1d1ef7f3de5dd21270794c59-300x300A DUI is scary, but the truth is that things are probably not nearly as bad as the reader may fear. The Tri-County area of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties is a major metropolitan area, with a population of over 3.8 million people, and is home to 47 district courts, with over 110 Judges between them. Although each community that makes up the region has its own “vibe,” they’re all part of the larger metropolis, and things like jail overcrowding and a “big city” mindset means the courts here are more lenient than many distant, rural courts, that have plenty of jail space and fewer offenders.

I’ll repeat this throughout, but the standard we’ll use is that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. When it comes to DUI cases, what is considered “tough” today was unimaginable 20-odd years ago. Moreover, what we’d consider “lenient” today, with a few exceptions, would never have been thought of as especially “lenient” back then. In other words, today’s “normal” is very different from and much more demanding than it used to be. This is really part of a national trend toward getting “tougher” on drunk drivers. While some courts tend to pile it on ore than others, our job is to try and hold the line on that and help prevent our clients from going through anything that can be avoided.

This article will focus on some of the more important considerations following a 1st offense DUI arrest. In this article, we’ll talk about finding a lawyer, the arraignment, staying out of jail, and what happens to your license. One of the most important things to keep in mind is to NOT rush into anything, especially retaining an attorney. Unfortunately, the legal industry tends to send the opposite message, with many lawyers marketing their services (“Call Now!” and “Phones Answered 24 Hours”) as if you should pick a lawyer right away. That’s dead wrong; even hotel room service isn’t open 24 hours.

Now-What-286x300If you have never been in trouble before and are an otherwise a law-abiding, good person, it is normal to experience a lot of stress as a result of getting popped for drunk driving. The good news is that most of the things you likely fear are almost certainly not going to happen to you. I don’t say that to suggest that I have some kind of special, magic formula that is only available to those who hire me, but rather because I want the reader to understand that no matter who you do or don’t hire as your lawyer, certain things (like going to jail) are almost never on menu in a 1st offense DUI case.

You will certainly do better in a DUI case with a good lawyer, but you don’t need any kind of savior, and you should be very skeptical of anyone who makes themselves out as anything like that. This is why you need to take your time and read around. It’s natural for anyone facing a DUI to want answers right away. That’s one of the reasons I have written and published well over 400 DUI articles to date.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, one of the things we frequently have to deal with are people who (understandably) “compare” their DUI to someone else’s. Often, we’ll hear things like “My friend got a DUI and he…” or “This person at work got a DUI and she…” This is usually followed by an explanation of what a great break or deal the other person got, or how bad things turned out for him or her. Of course, part and parcel of this is that people usually get a lot of things wrong as they explain another person’s drunk driving case.

Colored-pencils-pencils-22186659-1600-1200-300x255Although it essentially goes without saying, I’ll say it anyway: no 2 DUI cases are alike. It is, however, human nature to look for help and understanding in the similar experiences of others. We all do this, no matter what the problem. Personally, I’ve hopped online a million times and googled some problem I was having, looking for answers for everything from replacing a kitchen faucet hose to dealing with shoulder pain while bench pressing. Replacing the kitchen faucet hose is pretty much the same in all cases, assuming you have the right model. Having shoulder pain, however, just like getting a DUI, is different for every person.

To be sure, it is possible to learn some things about your situation by listening to the experience of others, but differences between any 2 cases can be anywhere from relatively minor to absolutely huge. This makes sense when you think about it, because even if 2 people are arrested at the same intersection, by the same police officer, and their cases will be heard by the same Judge, there are about a million things that can make them different enough to render either useless as the basis for measuring the likely outcome of the other.

It’s a good thing to be a novice when it comes to facing criminal charges. As very experienced criminal lawyers, my team and I are lucky to spend most of our time with clients who are relatively inexperienced with the criminal justice system. A good person who finds themselves in a bad situation will do well with a lawyer who understands that all of this is new to him or her, and who can make things understandable for what is hoped will be a one-time (or last) trip through the criminal court process.

1_3TBatnV_zBfnXh5MzlcN4g-300x210Although we do handle a lot of 2nd and 3rd offense DUI cases, and even though they’ve been through the system before, those clients aren’t any kind of “criminals” in any real sense of the word. My team and I specifically concentrate our practice on the kinds of charges that don’t attract career criminals. DUI drivers may be facing a criminal charge, but repeat offenses in this field are much more about a troubled relationship to alcohol than anything else. Thus, even for people who have prior DUI convictions, the whole experience of getting arrested again for a subsequent DUI is unnerving, and still seems like a whole “new” experience.

It is, of course, normal for someone who suddenly finds him or herself having to hire a defense lawyer to have every intention to make the whole thing a one-shot deal. This is similar to needing a root canal, where a person is glad to find professional help, but hopes to never need the person’s services again. We get that a lot, and that’s a good thing. People with no, or relatively minor prior criminal records will usually fare better. Who you are (and who you are not) as a person matters in criminal and DUI cases, and the lawyer’s job is to use that to your fullest advantage

Once a person’s drinking has gotten to the point of being a problem, he or she faces a simple choice; either quit, or keep going and run into even more problems. Unfortunately, many people who do stop, at least for a while, struggle with the misapprehension that they can somehow, someday, manage to drink again. This misplaced belief is a defining point of addiction, and it stands in direct contradiction to the reality that once you have a problem, you can simply never pick up again. This article will focus on that conundrum, and is really relevant to anyone looking for information about driver’s license restoration, DUI, or other kinds of criminal charges.

AAA-277x300The inspiration for this article came from a client of mine for whom I won a driver’s license restoration case, and who just hired me for a new, 3rd offense DUI charge. Although I won’t use his name, I’m quite sure he is the kind of person who would want me to use the details of his story as a warning  to help anyone who has supposedly quit drinking to NOT pick up again. My client had been alcohol-free for 10 years after his last DUI, had won back his restricted, and then full driver’s license, and, in the blink of an eye, picked up a single drink that quickly led him down the slippery slope until he got arrested for driving drunk – again.

As DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I spend almost every minute of every workday dealing with the fallout from people drinking. Nobody comes to our office looking to patent some multi-million dollar invention because they got drunk one night and then came up with some great idea. Instead, people contact us because they’ve gotten into trouble, and are facing something like an OWI charge or, having lost their driver’s license as the result of multiple DUI’s, now want to get it back.

The worst part about a 2nd offense DUI is that it is a second offense. This is not meant sarcastically, nor is meant to just restate the obvious. In this article, I want to help the reader understand more than just the legal implications of a 2nd offense OWI charge. Most of my articles are of the “what you can expect” variety, examining things from an inside-looking-out perspective. In this piece, we’re going to flip things around and take an outside-looking-in view in order to see how the person facing the DUI is perceived by the courts.

2725367-EUSUUKES-6-225x300This is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that perception matters, and, as the saying goes, perception shapes reality. For all the analysis that we could get into, the bottom line is that under the law, and within the court system, anyone facing a 2nd offense DUI charge is presumed to have a problem with drinking. I point this out here so that any reader who wants to stop and explain that he or she is somehow different, or some kind of exception to that, will hold that thought and let me explain. Whatever else, it doesn’t matter what you think, or what I think; what will happen to you is based entirely on what the Judge thinks.

My job, as the DUI lawyer, is to positively influence that thinking as much as possible. There is a lot that can and should be done to produce the best outcome possible, but as a starting point, a person must understand that when facing a 2nd offense DUI, it is automatically assumed that something is up with him or her and alcohol. It is also automatically assumed that most people will try and convince everyone otherwise, and that, generally speaking, the more they do that, the deeper a hole they dig for themselves. This is a prime example of where a person should remain silent and let me do the talking.

It’s normal to be anxious following an arrest for a 1st offense DUI. Despite those feelings of stress, if you are facing a Michigan OWI charge, one of the most important things you can do is to not rush into hiring a lawyer. You should always take some time to compare attorneys and get a feel for who says what about your DUI charge. In this article, we’re going to talk about protecting yourself from being sucked in by marketing messages that peddle what you want to hear, instead of being properly guided by what you need to hear.

need-to-hear-orlando-espinosa-2-300x186Without exception, it is never a good idea to hurry up and hire a lawyer for a DUI (or any criminal, case, really) out of convenience, or, worse yet, fear. When it comes to facing a DUI, every person is different; some people go full freak-out, while others approach the situation more methodically. This is one of those situations where a careful approach is always better. Although a DUI is not any kind of laughing matter, in the vast majority of cases, things are NOT as bad as they seem at first.

A large part of the legal industry thrives on fear-based marketing, with many lawyers trying to position themselves as the best choice to save you from the near-certain doom they’ve just described. There is no value to you, as the consumer, in being reminded that a DUI is serious, other than to try and scare you into quick action. For what it’s worth, my office doesn’t work that way. We actually believe in – and do – the opposite. How many other lawyers have you found so far that suggest you take your time, look around, and do some comparison shopping?

I should begin this article with a disclosure: I like the 52-4 District Court in Troy. The first office I opened, back in 1993, was in the city of Troy. One of our 2 offices is in Troy, at Maple and Stevenson. Also, I live in a funny little peninsula of land where the boundaries of the City of Troy literally surround me 2 blocks to my east, 3 blocks to the south, and 4 blocks to my north. Troy has long been a fixture in my life; most of what I first learned, in the real world, about criminal and DUI cases, happened in the 52-4 district court of Troy.

TRoy-2-300x287I’m sure the reader is much more interested in what he or she can expect in Troy, rather than a personal history lesson from me. The 52-4 District Court has jurisdiction over all cases arising in cities of both Clawson and Troy. It’s a very decent court. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the most lenient, 10 being the toughest, and 5 being about average, I’d rate Troy about a 5, meaning that it is about average, leaning neither more toward the “lenient” nor the “tough” side. Whatever else, you won’t get hammered here, nor is anyone likely to ever leave feeling like they got screwed over.

Of course, this is all relative, and my numerical ranking above is based upon my experience in that court, and assumes that a person will comply with the conditions of his or her bond, like testing. As far as DUI’s go, it would be foolish to not acknowledge that society has lost much of its patience for drunk drivers. Drinking and driving laws have been made tougher all the way around. In some courts, that “toughness’ can seem almost mean-spirited, but that’s never the case in Troy. In fact, even when they have to be firm, the Judges here will explain themselves in a way that, even if a person doesn’t agree, at least he or she will feel acknowledged and heard, rather than ignored.

As a Michigan DUI lawyer, I know that an OWI charge must be based on evidence. Whether a case is solid or not depends entirely on the strength of that evidence. Just about every lawyer with a website is going to say something about evidence. Some, more than others, talk a really good game about how they’ll evaluate it, and even challenge it. While that all sounds great, I think it’s time we take a step back and briefly explain what all that really means, or at least should mean.

illustration-magnifying-glass_53876-28516-1-300x240Perhaps the best known component of the evidence that makes up a criminal or DUI case is the police report. In a perfect world, this report would be an accurate, complete, and unbiased account of exactly what happened in any given case. However, it is impossible for an officer on the scene to NOT bring a biased perspective to the table, because the only thing he or she can do, at best, is recall what he or she observed, and observation is always a matter of perspective.

It would be no different, really, if the person arrested for the DUI was required to write a report. It doesn’t matter how honest a person arrested or the police officer may be; both parties are going to recall things a bit differently because of their different perspectives. If this wasn’t universally true, there would be no need for instant replay in football, and you’d never see a blown call in any sport. While the police report is always a key part of the evidence in any case, it is important to note that it is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.