Dealing with a 1st Offense DUI (OWI) Case in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County – Part 2

In the part 1 of this article, we began our examination of what a person facing a DUI will be experiencing form the point of being released from Jail right up through the point of going to Court. We’ll pick up from there, covering what happens at Sentencing and the inevitable consequence any DUI Driver will face, as well as what can be done to get the least amount of consequences possible.

Obviously, the 1st goal is to stay out of Jail. That’s usually not a problem, with the only exception being, in some cases, the 48th District Court in Bloomfield Hills. Beyond that however, there can be a million things a person is ordered to do, and not do, and limiting those things is the whole goal of preparing someone for the PSI and the legally required alcohol screening test. I have noted before that almost everyone facing any criminal Charge, DUI included, will say that they’ll do anything to stay out of Jail. I have no doubt each and everyone one of them means that, at the time they say it. Then, later, as the case concludes, and once their Lawyer has worked it our where they don’t go to Jail, they are left to deal with the Judge’s order to do this and that, and not do other things.

Macomb Sherrif2.jpgIt doesn’t take long for a person placed on Probation to start NOT liking all the “do this and do that” stuff, and to resent the “don’t do” these things part of the deal. It’s about that time they’ll utter the most famous words said in so many Criminal cases, yet never in the Courtroom itself: “This is bull$***!

And I can understand that feeling. That’s why doing so well BEFORE a person gets Sentenced by the Judge is so important. Thus, preparing for the PSI is what produces results in DUI cases that aren’t dismissed on some technicality. The goal of all that time spent preparing the Client for the PSI and the alcohol assessment is to avoid as many of those “This is bull$***!” consequences as possible.

There are, however, certain consequences that occur in every 1st Offense DUI case. Almost everyone dealing with this charge, whether they ultimately Plead Guilty to OWI or the less severe Impaired Driving Charge, will attend something called a VIP, or Vicitm Impact Panel. This is put on my MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). Some people will also be required to attend something like an Alcohol Awareness Class. This is far less likely in Macomb County, and most of Wayne County than it is in Oakland County.

Beyond the things a person will be ordered to do, there are certain things a person will be Ordered NOT to do. First and foremost, anyone dealing with a DUI will be Ordered to NOT consume any alcohol, nor use any drugs without a prescription. Depending on the Court (and County), there may be some, or even a lot of testing to make sure they don’t. Again, Oakland County backs these Orders up with more testing than do the Courts in Macomb or Wayne Counties.

Likewise, a person cannot pick up any more Criminal Charges while on Probation. That seems pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people tend to have bad luck follow bad luck, and wind up with some other charge during a Probationary period. This often becomes an issue when a person drives beyond the very limited terms of their Restricted License. It may suck, but there’s no provision in that License to take the kids to school, or go grocery shopping, and a routine Traffic Stop during one of those errands will result in a new Criminal Charge, and thus a Violation of Probation.

That Restricted License is a consequence that every DUI Driver will have to deal with. Once that Driver’s insurance company finds about the DUI, (and records the Points for it), a person can expect their insurance rates to go up. Way up.

A conviction (or Plea) for an OWI will result in the Driver’s License being Suspended for 6 months. The first 30 days is what’s called a “hard Suspension,” meaning the person cannot drive AT ALL. Thereafter, the person will have a Restricted License for the remaining 5 months.

An Impaired Driving still requires License sanctions, but instead of 1 month with no driving and 5 months on a Restricted License, the person will simply have their License Restricted for 90 days. Thus, the OWI penalties are a bit more than twice as bad as those for Impaired Driving.

At the end of the Restricted License Period, the Driver must go to a Secretary of State Branch Office and pay a $125 Reinstatement Fee in order to have their Licnese valid again. This means they will not only have full driving privileges, but also a new picture License, as well.

The Costs associated with a DUI are pretty substantial. Court Fines and Costs vary from Court to Court. A simple Impaired Driving can cost a person well over $1000 in Fines and Court Costs. Add a monthly Probation oversight fee, and a person may drop nearly $2000 in the Court alone. Other Courts may assess a far smaller Fine and impose much less in Costs, and not require any kind of Probation. This can mean that person facing the same charge in one Court can drop nearly $2000, while someone facing a similar charge in another Court only a few miles away will only spend about $600. It may not seem fair, but it is what it is, and the best a person can hope for is to wind up in the less expensive Court rather than one that’s more expensive.

Likewise, as I noted earlier, the State will assess a Driver Responsibility Fee. An OWI requires $1000 to be paid to the State for 2 years, while the less sever Impaired Charge will cost $500 for each of those 2 years.

Once the Court case has concluded, a person can re-plate their car. Even if the car they were driving belonged to someone else, they’ll have to go through this.

For the person sitting at their computer the day after picking up a DUI, this is pretty much an overview of what they’ll be dealing with. These are not so much legal consequences or considerations as they are practicalities. These are things that will happen.

The extent, if any, that those things can be avoided, or consequences minimized, is the subject of some of my other Blog articles, and anyone facing a DUI would be well served to read them, as well. Between this article and the others I have written on this subject, a person should have a pretty good idea of how things work.

Of course, the reader shouldn’t just take my word for it. Anyone facing a DUI should compile as much information as possible about how these cases work. Use that search engine and read. There is a lot more information that can be found beyond just having some Lawyer list the potential dangers and penalties of a DUI case, tell the reader how qualified they are to handle such a case, promise to be tough and aggressive, and then prompt the reader to “call now!”

In that regard, though, there is one caution that I think is worth mentioning. After 20 years of handling DUI cases (and being rather good at it, I think), I know the parameters within which these cases will be resolved. And while this may be the reader’s first contact with this subject, and after having handled literally thousands of them, I can honestly say that the old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” holds as much weight here as it does anywhere else.

Anyone facing a DUI would love nothing more than an opportunity to turn back the hands of time and undo their lapse in judgment. That can’t be done. But whatever unfortunate situation a person finds themselves in, NOT spending the time to learn about their options in making the best of it would be nothing short of another, regrettable lapse in judgment.

Strangely enough, even though the Laws are designed to make this an expensive, burdensome nightmare that a person would dread to repeat, and even though the consequences for a 2nd Offense are substantially more severe than for a 1st, not to mention significantly more expensive, a good number of people find themselves in that predicament. And while dealing with a 2nd Offense DUI is the subject of other Blog articles I have written, anyone facing a 1st Offense would benefit from reading them to see how much worse things can get.