As a Michigan, Tri-County (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb) area DUI Lawyer, I speak with all kinds of people about drunk driving cases. In this piece, I want to talk about some of the regrets I hear from people who hired the wrong DUI lawyer and payed a lot of money only to say they were “taken.” I want to keep this article short, so in it, I will exchange some of my usual diplomacy for directness and candor. To begin, you must understand that merely paying a lot of money doesn’t necessarily get you the best, nor even a good lawyer. It just means you’re out a chunk of cash. In addition, one of the biggest sucker jobs going gets people to line up and fork over wads of money in the mistaken belief that paying top dollar will somehow make your whole DUI case go away. Here’s a simple, ironclad fact that no lawyer can dispute, no matter how rosy a picture he or she paints otherwise: any chance to get your case “knocked out” of court is due entirely to the facts exist within it. No one you hire can change those facts, and by the time you ever even think of calling a lawyer, they have, for the most part, already been cast in stone. What you need, instead of fear-based or feel-good marketing slogans, is a competent, honest and thorough examination of the facts by an experienced lawyer who can make the very best of them.
There is a whole industry of lawyers who make a lot of money by peddling the idea that if you just hire them, everything can be made to disappear because they have some kind of secret, or special magnifying glass that will find the things wrong with your case that no one else can. The truth, however, is that the actual numbers don’t back that up at all. In a certain way, many DUI lawyers market themselves in the same way as dietary supplements. There is one radio ad, in particular, that I think is genius marketing, if not total BS. It’s for some magic weight loss pill, and at one point, it’s advised that if you’re losing too much weight, you should simply cut your dose in half. Now, if this stuff worked even 2% as good as that all sounded, I’d certainly remember the name, and you’d know it, too. As cheesy a marketing strategy as that sounds to my ears, though, plenty enough people are paying out lots of money for it, because this ad has been running for quite some time. The reason is simple; people buy into what they want to hear, and in the world of DUI cases, nothing sounds better than making it all go away.
Except it doesn’t work like that. Can you guess what the overall success rate is for beating a Michigan DUI at trial? It was .15% in 2015, down from .21% in 2104. You read that right: point-one-five percent and point-two-one percent, respectively. That means less than one-quarter of one percent of all people arrested for an alcohol-related traffic offense were acquitted if they fought the case at trial. These are the verified, official numbers required by law to be gathered by the Michigan State Police as part of its Annual Drunk Driving Audit that tracks every alcohol-related traffic arrest in the state. These dim figures go way beyond some kind of “results not typical” disclaimer you see in the fine print of get rich quick ads, but even more worrying, I have never seen this information talked about on any other lawyer’s website. No one really wants to get into this because it’s not good for business, particularly if that business relies on emotional, rather than well-informed, decisions. In the real world, those decisions become the the biggest source of regret for the trusting DUI client too focused on buying his or her way into what they want to hear and not enough on the realities of all this.