Articles Posted in 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.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I answer a lot of questions how to get out of a DUI charge. It’s perfectly normal that just about every person arrested for drunk driving hopes there’s some way to get the whole matter dismissed. Indeed, would be abnormal to NOT think that way. I have addressed the notion of getting out of a DUI on both my site, and within other articles on this blog. In this piece, however, I want to shift the focus from getting out of a DUI to getting through it.

Panic2-300x287The hard, statistical truth is that in Michigan, more than 9 out of 10 people arrested for drunk driving are NOT going to have their cases thrown out of court, or otherwise dismissed. Therefore, since more than 90% of all the people who do get arrested for a DUI will have to go through the court system, it only makes sense to focus on how to do that in such a way as to wind up with the least amount of negative consequences and penalties possible. I often say this, but it’s an absolute truth that is worth repeating: Success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you.

This is important, because “success” goes well beyond merely staying out of jail. Avoiding jail is always the first priority in every DUI case, but not getting locked up is only the beginning. With very few exceptions, anyone facing a 1st offense DUI isn’t really looking at jail in the first place, so not being subjected to something that wasn’t going to happen anyway isn’t any kind of “success.” Instead, a person needs to avoid all the other things that can (and will be) be thrown at him or her instead of incarceration.

As a law firm that concentrates in Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI cases, my team and I have a rather unique skill set that give us a better understanding of how an OWI charge (and especially in 2nd and 3rd offense DUI’s) can and/or will affect a person’s driver’s license. Indeed, precisely because of our knowledge and daily experience with driver’s license law, we are often specially able a develop an effective strategy to help “save” the license for a client who might otherwise lose it in a DUI case.

vectorstock_21799652-300x300Of course, this really works both ways: our experience as DUI lawyers is also very helpful to us in our handling of driver’s license restoration cases, as well. I have always described our practice as looking like a Q-tip – with DUI cases on one side, driver’s license restoration cases on the other, and the “stick” in the middle joining them together being alcohol. While some of the specific laws governing DUI cases and driver’s license restoration appeals are distinct, the 2 legal areas are also very much inter-related, and experience with each one  provides a distinct advantage when dealing with the other.

To be sure, there is a lot that goes into properly handling a DUI case. Some of these things are more obvious, like knowing how to appropriately analyze and challenge evidence, utilizing the right legal strategy to produce the best case outcome, and understanding the development, diagnosis and treatment of alcohol problems. Less obvious is how a working knowledge of driver’s license restoration law should be part of the legal strategy in any DUI case, and how this can all come full circle, so that what’s done (and not done) in the matter can be helpful to person’s driver’s license situation.

As Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we spend the majority of our working lives handling OWI and license reinstatement cases for people. As attorneys, it’s our job to wrestle with the nuances of the law, and deal with the countless technical things that can make or break a case. Most often, that means helping a client fix some kind of mistake or mistakes they’ve made on this journey called life. The point of this article is to help someone get through that kind of rough patch and not make things worse, or otherwise more complicated than they need to be.

vectorstock_28536718-copy-300x226This can sometimes be a problem when it comes to the intrinsically connected areas of Michigan DUI law and driver’s license restoration and clearance cases, because both involve situations where people are emotionally invested. Every person arrested for a DUI is understandably concerned about what will happen to him or her, and everyone who has lost their license for multiple DUI’s really wants to get it back as soon as possible, because it’s hard to get along without one.

The internet is full of inaccurate, misleading and even outright wrong information about the law, and that can stress a person out as he or she tries to sort through it. Despite that, and human nature being what it is, some people can’t resist plowing through website after website, and getting themselves more confused than when they started. Others read just enough to wind up thinking they they’ve actually learned something, when, in fact, all they’ve done is become misinformed, thereby proving the old adage that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we completely understand the stress felt by people who suddenly find themselves facing a drunk driving charge. Nobody plans to get arrested for a DUI, so the whole situation always comes as a rather unpleasant surprise to everyone who does. Unfortunately, one thing my team and I also encounter is that because they feel so overwhelmed, many people will make rash decisions too soon (especially when it comes to hiring a lawyer), rather than taking the time to go about the whole DUI thing the right way.

vectorstock_921557-300x290Of course, some people do try to be “logical” about how to best handle their DUI, and will take the time to do some research before jumping into anything. Others, however, can’t stop fretting over their situation, and act more reflexively. These rash actions can include deciding which lawyer to hire, but may also involve things like a person deciding to enroll in some kind of alcohol counseling, or starting to attend AA. If there’s one key lesson to be taken from this article, it’s that everyone facing a DUI should take their time and think things through before making any important decisions.

It’s natural that some people may feel a need to take action quickly following a DUI arrest, but that still doesn’t make it a good idea. The first thing a person should do after getting home and settling in a bit is to look for real information. To be clear, “real information” does NOT mean websites that focus on the all the scary-sounding risks and potential penalties that are theoretically possible in a DUI case. That’s fear-based marketing, and it should be ignored completely.

In part 1 of this article, we began discussing how to make a 1st offense DUI a true “one and done.” As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I want to do everything we can to make sure that our clients never wind up in the same situation again. This, of course, is the court system’s goal, as well. As lawyers fulfilling our role as “Attorneys and Counselors at Law,” we have the advantage of more personal interaction with each person. Instead of having limited time with them, like the courts, we can have a heart-to-heart talk with each client to help him or her do a bit of self-analysis.

Arret-2-300x293There’s a lot more to all of this than just talk, though. It’s really easy for a lawyer or law firm to use slogans like “caring” and “personal service,” but in practice, we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk (or, in this case, walk the talk). Because the foundation of our practice is DUI and driver’s license restoration cases, our clients’ relationships to alcohol is at the center of everything we do. For example, the goal of a driver’s license restoration case is to win back the license for someone who has lost it because of multiple DUI’s, and that requires proving that he or she is genuinely sober.

Accordingly, our firm is a recovery-oriented practice. We have to be. Although the overwhelming majority of our 1st offense DUI clients do not have a problem with alcohol, we want to make sure they understand how serious things become in a 2nd offense case, and that they never wind up arrested for drunk driving again. This can be challenging, because most of our clients aren’t reckless people, or the kind who otherwise party so much that getting that a 1st offense DUI seemed seemed likely in the first place, rather than something completely out-of-character.

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