Looking for a DUI lawyer is like looking for a new smartphone: there are loads of choices and options, with most of them claiming to be the best. I have been kind of “pushed” by my staff to write this article and explain why you should hire me for a Detroit-area DUI case. Over the last number of years, I have put together this blog and a website that provides more useful information than you can find just about everywhere else combined. It has become a resource for the public, and a research tool for lawyers, as well. After a recent call from some lawyer asking for clarification about the alcohol screening test (the written test that everyone is required to take as part of the DUI court process), my staff told me that while it’s nice that I’m so helpful, I need to make clear that I am the real expert about these things. To be perfectly candid, they shook their heads at the idea that someone was paying some other lawyer (rather than me) to handle an OWI charge, and this attorney was researching the diagnostic process involved in substance abuse screening on my blog, and then asking me questions how the testing is done in a certain local court. Given that I’m more inclined to explain something than brag about it, this article is a somewhat awkward departure from my usual approach. Still, I want to make clear that if you are facing an drinking and driving charge in any Detroit-area (Oakland, Macomb or Wayne County) district or circuit court, I can help you in ways that no other lawyer can, and produce the very best (meaning most lenient) outcome possible in your case.
Some lawyers, like cell phones, are marketed based on low cost. A cheap phone with actual pushbutton keys is severely limiting, and a cut-rate lawyer is just about as bad an idea, especially in the context of a DUI. A smartphone with a virtual keyboard is a minimum requirement in today’s world, and will affect just about everything you do with that phone, every single day. In that same way, understanding the screening processes used in the court system to look for evidence of an existing alcohol problem (and most often finding that there is at least an increased risk of that) is critical to avoiding unnecessary and negative consequences in your DUI case. The simple reality here is that, as a group, people who are facing or have had a DUI in the past have a statistically much higher rate of alcohol problems than the population at large (meaning people who’ve never had a DUI). If you’re dealing with an OWI charge, you can’t help but to walk right into this, and it is the reason for an ever-present “alcohol bias” in the court system. Protecting the client from this trap requires a lot more than simple trial skills or understanding how a breathalyzer machine works.
This is my specialty, and it is important to every single DUI case that winds up in court. I have completed a formal post-graduate (as opposed to undergraduate) program of addiction studies, and I fundamentally and comprehensively understand the development, diagnosis, and treatment of alcohol problems, and how people do (and don’t) recover from them. In terms of actually making things better in a DUI case, I can help both those who do NOT and those who do have a problem with drinking. This clinical knowledge provides a decisive advantage in every drinking and driving case because every person going through the court system must, by law, be assessed to determine whether he or she has, or is at risk to develop a drinking problem. In the real world, very few people (at least those who aren’t my clients) emerge from this screening without a finding that at least some preventive alcohol education is warranted. These are typically either multi-session evening, or, worse yet, overnight (3 or 4 day, often weekend) programs that you have to pay for and attend. You won’t particularly be enjoying your stay at the Rehab Inn, and if you don’t have a drinking problem, you’ll like it even less if you discover it could have otherwise been avoided…
Given that inherent “alcohol bias” in the court system, my clinical training helps me protect those clients who don’t have a problem with drinking from being perceived as having, or, as is most common, being seen as having an increased risk to develop one. It means I can prevent these people from being ordered into unnecessary classes, counseling and/or treatment. By contrast, in the cases of those people whose relationship to alcohol has become problematic, my clinical background enables me to make sure they don’t get sent off for the “wrong” kind of help, and to work with them so that we can find the kind of counseling that is a good fit. In that regard, AA is a wonderful program, and some (a decided minority) of people do thrive in it. The truth, however, is that it is not the right program for most people. Unfortunately, it happens to be the “default” thing that everyone knows about, and therefore one of the most widely used rehabilitative tools in the court system. Clinically speaking, few things are more counter-productive than forcing someone into a program that isn’t a good fit, like requiring them to spend several evenings every week attending meetings they hate. I’ll make sure that, to the extent possible, you don’t get forced into classes or treatment that isn’t right for you. If it turns out that you do want, need or are otherwise required to get “help,” we’ll make sure we find a good match.
This working knowledge is great to have, but what makes it better, in my case, is that I apply it in the same courts day-in and day-out. Because I concentrate my DUI practice in the Tri-County area, I know how things work in every local court. I know what will fly, and what won’t, in every courtroom. I liken this specificity in my DUI practice to someone who is a woodworker: Imagine one person who specializes in fine jewelry boxes, and another who builds just about anything made out of wood, including boxes, decks, picnic tables, sheds, shelves and pretty much everything else. Both are “woodworkers,” but the better jewelry box is far more likely to come from the shop of the person who concentrates in them, rather than the one who tries to do it all. This is why I don’t try and sell my services as “statewide,” or even anywhere beyond the Greater-Detroit area.
Location is important. Beyond the broad and very profound differences between Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties in general, there are also huge differences between the various district courts, even in the same County. Thus, while it may be generally true that Oakland County is “toughest” of the 3 counties, I can think of a few courts there where I’d personally rather face a DUI than some other courts in either Macomb or Wayne County, and that works across the board for all three. A lawyer cannot begin to learn, and thereafter use these subtleties to his or her client’s advantage, however, unless and until he or she appears in all these same courts day-in and day-out, and the only way to do that is by NOT including too many courts in one’s geographic practice area. Knowing the who, what and where of any DUI case is important in deciding how to best proceed in that particular setting. Of course, there’s more money to be had in handling cases everywhere, but just like in the example of our fine jewelry box maker, the choice is between limiting one’s self to be the best at the one thing, or making the most money by taking everything that comes along.
My services are first rate, and I don’t cut any corners to worry about being affordable. Chances are, if you have to ask something like, “How much do you charge?”, then I’m probably not the lawyer for you. I don’t compete on price with anyone else. If my representation was a car, then it would be priced at the Cadillac/Lincoln/Mercedes level, not Chevy/Dodge or Kia. And speaking of money, there’s a lot of it to be had if you’re willing to tell people what they want to hear. This is never-ending puzzle to me. I do not and will not sell my integrity, and if I’m speaking with someone who wants me to confirm that his or her case will turn out a certain way (this usually involves someone who, before the lawyer has seen any evidence, wants to hear that the whole thing will just go away), I won’t bend and agree just to get the case. I’m honest, and honest in a way that undoubtedly costs me money, because I won’t sugar-coat things or otherwise not be completely up front with someone. The last 4 angry words I ever want to hear from someone are, “but you told me…!” Instead, I’ll tell you the truth, and exactly how things will play out. That may not be what you want to hear, but it will always be accurate and honest.
All this stuff about “results” and “best outcome possible” is, of course, based upon a thorough understanding of the law and the science involved in DUI cases. The police can’t pull you over for no reason, and there can be problems with the evidence in your case. These things do needs to be checked out carefully before anything else. There is no “outcome” to worry about in a case that gets dismissed, but that doesn’t happen without putting in the effort to look for (and find) a reason to get it “knocked out.” This is a point where, as a client and a consumer, you have to be careful. The budget lawyers are not paid for, and therefore have no reason to do any of this. On the other hand, it is really easy to get sucked into paying for all kinds of important sounding, but unnecessary legal work. This kind of marketing draw can give rise to an impressive show, the main point of which is distraction from the good money being thrown after bad. Think of a leaky basement wall: you can ignore it, spend $500 to have it filled with epoxy, or you can hire some slick operation to come out, charge $10,000 to excavate all around your house, exposing your entire foundation, only to find that the real fix is still that $500 fill you could have had in the first place.
In the end, it does come down to honesty and integrity. That line about being honest in a way that costs me money actually came from a colleague of mine. I once referred a good friend’s civil case to him, and mentioned to him that he was the first person I thought of because in addition to being a good lawyer, I knew his was unfailingly honest. He thanked me, but joked that his honesty had cost him a fortune over the years. I have followed that lead my whole career, and would rather joke about the money I haven’t made than make the money by being some kind of misleading slickster.
I have the nicest staff you can find, and one of the best things we do is handle all consultations over the phone, right when you call. The “free consultation” is widely viewed as an opportunity to bring someone in the office and sign them up. Not only is that distasteful to me, and certainly nothing I’d want done to me, I am lucky to be busy enough to not have to do that. Short of actually being hired, obtaining the evidence and then starting work on a case, there is little I cannot answer over the phone. My phones are answered during normal business hours, M-F, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. I don’t have office hours on the weekends (that’s when I write these blog articles), and I don’t do the “phones answered 24 hours” thing, either. That gimmick is either handled though an answering service or is the hallmark of an operation too desperate for work and unable to establish set hours.
In the end, though, beyond my friendly disposition and everything else, it is my clinical knowledge that most affects the DUI cases I handle. Every one of my clients has a clear advantage over everyone else going through the court system. If you take 2 virtually identical DUI cases and give one to me, and pass the other off to some other lawyer, my client will just do better. That’s not meant to sound conceited, but rather confident. Why would you ever even think of hiring some lawyer who didn’t think he or she is the best, or at least among the very best? Why should you hire me? Because I know and can do things no other lawyer can, with the end result being the very best outcome in your case. My services are for hire, but, as I noted, my integrity is not for sale.
As much as I know all this to be true, I don’t expect that you will. Do your homework (I am the only lawyer I know who actively encourages everyone to be a good consumer and comparison shop), read blogs and websites, and then call around. My staff and I are here to help, and you can reach my office at 596-465-1980.