A 1st Offense DUI in is a very frightening thing to face. For most people, it represents their first (and hopefully only) Arrest. Being taken to Jail, and then released the next day, only to have go retrieve their car, and then try and find a Lawyer, brings with it a rush of unpleasant emotions. There really is no way to make those feelings disappear, but as a Michigan DUI Lawyer, I can certainly help make them better.
For over 22 years, I have helped good people move past this bad situation. I provide a level of services very different than those Lawyers pandering for Clients on a “low bidder” basis. Precisely because I don’t run an assembly-line of high volume, low cost cases, I can take the time to address my Client’s personal and emotional concerns about the Drunk Driving charge they’re facing. As a result, they get things made a lot better than someone going the bargain Lawyer route.
And if there’s a point to this whole article, it’s that things are not as bad as they might at first seem. No matter how bleak and uncertain things may look, a person can almost always get through this rather painlessly. If someone facing their first Offense is carefully and properly guided through the DUI process, and even if everything that can go wrong does go wrong, they can still emerge from it virtually unscathed. This is where I come in; this is my world.
It is my job, in a DUI case, to look for defects in the evidence that can potentially result in a dismissal of the charges. DUI cases don’t dismiss themselves. Statistically speaking, most DUI cases don’t get “knocked out” just because an astute Lawyer goes on the hunt for a problem with the evidence, or how it was gathered. Imagine a person being wheeled into the ER of some hospital with a gunshot wound to their chest, and the Doctor saying to their spouse, “Wow, this is unfortunate; about 85 to 90% of all people with a wound like that don’t survive. Do you really want me to go through all the work of trying to save this person, anyway?”
Of course! No matter how slim the odds, a Doctor or a Lawyer has to do all in his or her power to produce the best outcome possible
Here’s where DUI’s are different: It is true that a Lawyer will not likely find some fatal defect to the extent that a Judge is going to pound the gavel and yell “Case dismissed!” in majority of cases. Yet by conducting a precisely that kind of microscopic inquiry looking for such defects, other, smaller issues can be found that can be used to the Client’s advantage, such as driving a Plea Bargain to a reduced charge, or to setting up a Sentencing agreement for no Jail in a case where some Jail time might really be a possibility.
If there is one thing to be learned about all DUI Offenses, whether we’re speaking about a 1st Offense, a 2nd Offense, or even a 3rd Offense (Felony), it’s that WHERE a case occurs is probably the single most important determinant of how it plays out. And this is a pretty good thing to keep in mind as one looks for a Lawyer. Any real DUI Lawyer will ask, within the first question or two, where the case occurred. Anyone who does not seem centrally and primarily concerned about that is probably not a full time DUI Lawyer. This has nothing to do with how far the Court is from the Lawyer’s Office, either, but rather has everything to do with how the case will be handled, and the general disposition of that Court and the Judge toward Drunk Driving cases.
In that regard, everyone knows, or soon learns, at least, that Oakland County is the toughest of the 3 Metropolitan Counties in DUI (and most other) cases. Macomb is consistently the best (meaning most lenient), with Wayne County more or less resembling Macomb County in approach, except for a few Courts that “think” more like Oakland the Macomb County when it comes to DUI cases.
Even if a DUI case is rock solid, much can be done to minimize the worst of the potential consequences. While my Legal Fees in a first Offense case aren’t cheap ($2000), anyone who thinks a DUI case is all about just throwing money at a Lawyer to make it all go away is mistaken. In my Office, my first appointment with a new DUI Client takes about 2 hours. Nothing good comes easy. If it did, than you’d never hear about a Hollywood celebrity or Movie or Music Star getting put on Probation for a DUI. Yet you do, in fact, hear about that almost every week. Certainly the endlessly deep pockets of those people would mean they’d just Bond their way out of Jail, write a big check to some team of Lawyers, and then watch the whole matter go away.
But it doesn’t work that way. Unless the charge against you is hopelessly and obviously crippled by Police error and critical defects in the evidence, or how it was gathered or handled, you’re going to have to participate in making things better. This is where I come in and direct things, and make them better. Good work is the key to good fortune. As the song goes, that’s praise taken by winners, but it’s blame not accepted by losers.
While there can be a tremendous amount of stress associated with facing a DUI, a person should leave their Lawyer’s Office feeling much better, and having a very clear picture of what is likely to happen, and what is not. I make it a point to not only reassure my Clients, and explain why some of the concerns they have may be a bit exaggerated, but to also NOT sugarcoat those things that are unpleasant, if not inconvenient truths. It is certainly easier, and more profitable to tell a paying Client what they want to hear, but is the wrong thing to do, as well.
As a DUI Lawyer, and as a person of conscience, I have a moral and professional responsibility to be candid with my Clients. I could write a whole series of articles about this. From time to time, it does trouble me that some operations make a lot of money using “double talk” and making it sound like all one needs to do is hire them, and they’ll get any DUI charge dismissed. The simple truth, however, is that each case is a function of the facts underlying it. I could be the best DUI Lawyer who ever lived, but if you drank enough to be double the legal limit, and then rear-ended a Police car at a red light, your chances of walking on that one are less than your chances of ever walking on the moon.
Yet my impatience with those who put far more into their marketing than their efforts aside, it is imperative that a person keep the whole notion of “frankness” in mind as they look for a Lawyer. Being “frank” is far from being, in any way, defeatist. Yet, as with everything, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
With the right Lawyer, a person facing a 1st Offense DUI can sometimes completely avoid Probation, and can certainly avoid any Jail. “The right Lawyer” might mean different things to different people in certain respects, but not in others.
It should, at a minimum, mean finding someone with whom you’re comfortable. If a Lawyer comes across with too bold or strong a personality, and a person so much as hesitates to ask a question for any reason (“I don’t want to look stupid…”) then that’s a red flag. If the person answering the phone at the Lawyer’s Office can’t even answer some basic questions right off the bat, that’s a red flag, as well. If a Lawyer comes at a bargain price, that’s a huge red flag. You will NEVER get what you don’t pay for. All the stuff about making a close examination of the evidence in the search for a defect in within it is decidedly not part and parcel of the bargain, flat-fee deal offered by any Lawyer who promotes his or her best qualification as being the lowball bidder, rather than being exceptionally good.
Over my career, I’ve seen many Clients charged with a 1st Offense DUI walk into my Office feeling like they were going to be attending their own execution, or that they were about to face the end of the world. I make sure I turn that perception around, and help them see that I can make things turn out a lot better than they thought. I often tell my Clients that while this clearly does NOT mean the Judge is going to lean over the bench and apologize for their inconvenience, and then give them tickets to Disney World for their troubles, it also means that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that, working together, we can get to it without unnecessary delay.
A 1st Offense DUI is frightening. With good work, however, it can turn out a lot better than a person might ever believe.