Michigan DUI Cases – Avoiding Jail, Penalties, and the Rest of the Story

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I answer a lot of questions. Not surprisingly, many of them are the same: Am I going to jail? Will I lose my license? Will my work find out? These are typically the most pressing concerns people have right after a DUI arrest. However, there is a lot more to a DUI than the “big” worries people have early on. In fact, some of the most important aspects of a DUI case are things that will seldom cross someone’s mind. Those things make up the rest of the story, and that’s what we’ll focus on in this piece.

The big picture of a DUI arrest involves more than just staying out of jail.It is assumed that a good doctor or dentist will alway look out for his or her patient’s long-term interests, even if the patient doesn’t know what those are. A good lawyer will do the same, as well. The key difference, however, is that lawyers will always be asked the “big issue” questions like those mentioned above. Once those have been satisfactorily answered, most people will be content, even if they’re not entirely happy with what they hear. A lazy lawyer can, of course, just leave it there, but that’s entirely unfair to his or her client.

There’s always a story behind every DUI arrest. This is true whether a person was over-served at a bar, overdid it at a ballgame, or concert, or just consumed one too many somewhere else and then got behind the wheel. Thus, when someone calls us all freaked out about jail, and we tell him or her that’s not going to happen, many are happy enough, having heard what they want. The story, however, doesn’t end with that, or even when the court case concludes, either. In fact, it only ends when ALL the consequences of a DUI no longer matter, whenever that may be.

The rest of the story, as we’re using the term here, always plays out over the long term. It can take many years for a person to experience every last consequence, even from a single, 1st offense DUI. For example, imagine that a person winds up with a 1st offense DUI conviction on his record that could have been avoided or reduced in some way. At some later point, even years down the road, it could hinder his or her ability to get a promotion at work, or opportunity for a new job.

These kinds of consequences are rarely the first thing on anyone’s mind following a DUI arrest. Instead, most people worry about jail, losing the ability to drive, and their current employment situation. The sudden reality and stress of the situation often prevents people from thinking past their immediate future. That’s understandable, but it means that even when the client can’t think “long term,” then his or her lawyer must do so.

I’ve always used this analogy (and I ask any medical people to forgive its exaggerated nature):

Imagine Chainsaw Charlie has an accident and almost severs his arm. He’s rushed to the hospital in need of life-saving treatment. Luckily for him, a very capable ER doctor attends to him and saves his life AND his arm. Charlie is grateful to be alive and to have had his injured limb saved, and just assumes that the huge scar he has was inevitable.

Now, what if it turns out that the doctor could have sewn him up in a different way that would really minimized his scar? It should always be the case that anyone in Charlie’s position should know that his physician or her was looking out for ALL of his or her interests. Of course, at first, Charlie just wanted to NOT die, and, once that was handled, to save his arm, if possible.

Here is a real-life example: Some years ago, my wife has MOHS surgery for skin cancer on her forehead. Everyone raved about the doctor who operated on her, saying he was a “true artist.” I was actually in the room with him when he finished his work, and he explained to me, as he stitched her up, what he was doing to minimize her scar. Although much of it went over my head, I was grateful that he cared enough about how she would look down the road.

Once it healed, her “spot” all but disappeared. You’d need a magnifying glass to find it now, all because that wonderful doctor cared enough not just to remove the skin cancer, but also think about “the rest of the story” which, in this case, was to minimize the scar from my wife’s surgery.

When a person is thinking about a recent DUI arrest, he or she cannot help but worry about the most immediate and obvious concerns. It’s not his or her obligation to think of every possible consequence that could occur down the road.

But it is absolutely the lawyer’s job to do that as part of the overall strategy to produce the best result possible for his or her client.

From a marketing perspective, there isn’t a whole lot to be gained from talking about things that may or may not happen years after a DUI arrest has disappeared in the rearview mirror. Instead, most lawyers focus on those immediate fears a person will have, like going to jail and losing the ability to drive.

To be sure, those things are very important, but just not the whole story. And for starters, we should note that, technically speaking, there is no such thing as a “DUI” in Michigan. The actual legal term is “Operating While Intoxicated,” or “OWI” for short, but everyone just says “DUI,” so we’ll stick with that, as well.

Consider how dental implants have been marketed on TV lately. Personally, anytime I ever have any dental work done, my first big worry is making sure I don’t have a missing tooth. I’ve had crowns and and a bridge put in, and always been able to leave the dentist’s office with a temporary tooth, rather than a gaping hole in my smile.

I’ve often wondered about what happens when someone gets implants, because their teeth must first be extracted, and then everything has to heal over before any new teeth can be permanently implanted.

Recently, I’ve seen ads on TV for implants noting that a person will get his or her teeth the same day. I’ve wondered about that, curious if there was more to the story. Being the detail-freak that I am, I have paused those ads to read the fine print that quickly flashes at the bottom of the screen.

Sure enough, it notes that a person will first leave the office with temporary teeth, NOT his or her actual implants. It turns out that what sounded so promising at first really is too good to be true – and it’s right there that we find “the rest of that story.”

One very important thing about our firm is our specific concentration is in DUI and driver’s license restoration appeal cases. In our roles as driver’s license restoration lawyers, we represent people who have been convicted of 2 or more DUI’s (and are now sober). At any rate, part of what we have to do in each case is review a person’s driving record. Unfortunately, we sometimes find that the lawyer who handled a person’s 2nd offense DUI didn’t think “long term” and handled the case in a way wound up actually causing the loss of his or her license.

It goes without saying that everyone’s first concern following a 2nd offense DUI arrest is staying out of jail. The simple truth is that it can often (but not always) be avoided. It’s understandable, therefore, why so many lawyers focus on trying to put our that kind of “fire.” However, that shouldn’t be done at the expense of simply ignoring the fact that, in some cases, a careful strategy to handle the case can PREVENT a person from winding up losing his or her license, as well.

Of course, the immediate, pressing things like staying out of jail are important, and deserve a DUI lawyer’s full attention, but, as I hope I’ve made clear, things like that are not, by themselves, the whole story.

In our DUI practice, my team and I regularly discuss our cases as a group. As part of that, we examine all the ramifications that a DUI may have for each client. Our analysis includes ALL of the things, in terms of legal penalties and negative consequences, that a client can and will face. That includes both the short and the long-term considerations. Each one of us is good at what we do, but by employing a team approach, we get the benefit of everyone’s input.

So what does this mean to anyone who needs a DUI lawyer? It means dig a little deeper as you explore your options. Curated reviews and self-promoting slogans (“We’re number one!”) are fine, but look for real information. As a potential consumer of legal services, look beyond the immediate concerns you have. Of course, staying out of jail is important, and that’s the first priority for any lawyer worth a nickel, but never forget that there is also the rest of the story.

Always remember, there is more to a DUI case than what happens in the short term.

There has been a lot of press about the ability to expunge a DUI from a person’s record. While that’s a good thing, what a lot of people miss is that the DUI can ONLY come off of a person’s criminal record, and NOT his or her driving record.


It is always better to have less on one’s criminal or driving record than more. In that same way, it’s also better to have a less severe conviction go on one’s record rather than a conviction for a more serious offense. However, following a DUI arrest, a person needs to know the rest of the story as it relates to the whole “come off” the record issue.

Nobody knows what prospects await them 7 or 10 years down the line. A chance encounter can be an opportunity for new employment, and absolutely everyone is better off with a cleaner record.

A good lawyer will always think of the long term consequences for his or her client. My team and I certainly do. This does NOT take anything away from the efforts necessary to keep a client from getting locked up, losing his or her license, or running into employment troubles. It just means we keep going until we’ve addressed EVERY consideration that can result from a DUI arrest, including some the client has probably never thought about.

If you’re looking for a lawyer following a DUI arrest, be a savvy consumer and read around. Pay attention to how different lawyers break down the DUI process, and how they explain their various approaches to it.

This blog is, of course, a great place to start. It is fully searchable and updated weekly with new, original content. To-date, I have written and published over 610 articles in the DUI section alone. The reader can fine more useful information here than anywhere, but don’t take my word for it – check for yourself.

When you’ve done enough reading, start calling around. You can learn a lot by speaking with a live person, and that’s exactly what you’ll get when you call our office. If your case is pending in the Metro-Detroit area, meaning anywhere in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb or one of the surrounding counties, make sure you give us a ring, as well.

All of our consultations are free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call. My team and I are very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions and explain things. We never use any pressure to get someone to “sign on.” Instead, we always encourage people to compare lawyers., and to feel free to call us back as many times as they’d like. Accordingly, we’re always read and happy to compare notes with anything some other lawyer has told you.

We can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at either 248-986-9700, or 586-465-1980.

Posted in:

Comments are closed.

Contact Information