As Michigan DUI lawyers, we would love to be able to deliver nothing but good news to people who contact us about a pending OWI charge, but that’s just not how things work in the real world. This article will be a warning to anyone facing a DUI who starts looking around for information and then gets sucked in by some legal marketing message telling them too much of what they want to hear, instead of listening to what they need to hear. As the old saying goes, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Our office could make a lot of money if, instead of being honest, we made everything sound rosy and then sold an overly optimistic bill of goods to those who call us, but we’d never do that. Instead, we follow the Golden Rule to “treat others as you would wish to be treated.” In previous articles, I have tried to be more delicate about this, but the real point of this piece is that if you are a potential consumer of legal services for a DUI case, you need to understand that you’re going to be inundated with BS from legal websites looking to get your money.
Of course, our firm is every bit as much in business to make money as every other, but, returning to that Golden Rule, we want to attract good karma by taking care of people who need help the in the same way we’d hope to be taken care of when we need help. That means skipping the BS and telling the truth. This is rather the opposite of listing all the things that could be wrong with a drunk driving case, and then implying that the only thing that stands between the person facing the charge and some lawyer who can get the whole case dismissed is just paying his or her retainer.
Of course, every DUI lawyer should leave no stone unturned in evaluating all the evidence to see if the police screwed things up badly enough to get a charge knocked out, but those things are usually the exception, and not the rule.
Don’t just take my word for it, though; in a recent 2-part article, I examined the Michigan’s Annual Drunk Driving Audit, which is required by law and is conducted by the State Police. The audit tracks every step in every DUI case, from arrest through final disposition.
The statistics are consistent from year-to-year, and one of the more important things they reveal is that almost 93% of all people arrested for a DUI aren’t going to get completely out of it.
Of course, everyone wants to be part of that lucky 7% of people whose cases do get knocked out somehow.
If I was facing a DUI, I sure would.
At the end of the day, though, this means that more than 9 out of every 10 people arrested for a DUI aren’t going to be so fortunate. This is because, no matter what we want or hope for, facts are facts.
Over 250 years ago, American founding father and second President John Adams said it best: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Today, that essentially translates to “It is what it is.”
As I noted before, and whatever the facts may (or may not) be in any given case, a lawyer should do everything possible to get his or her client out of the case to be part of that lucky 7%, and my team and I always do.
We get as many cases dismissed as anyone else, but no matter what, the simple fact is that less than 1 out of 10 people charged with a DUI are going to have their cases thrown out of court.
Given this simple and consistent reality, why do so many lawyers waste so much space blabbing about something that will not happen for more than 9 out of 10 people facing a DUI?
If more than 92% of all OWI cases are going to go all the way through the court system, why would a lawyer dedicate so much of his or her marketing message to what will affect less than 8% of all cases statewide?
The answer is that because people like hearing what they want to hear, a lot of them will line up to buy into that – certainly more than enough to make it profitable for the lawyers who sell themselves that way.
For decades, advertisements have come and gone for various fitness crazes, exercise gadgets, diet and weight loss programs, and get rich quick schemes (most of which now focus on flipping houses with little or none of your own money).
Have you ever met anyone who got and stayed fit using the Abdominzer, the Shakeweight, Tae bo? Do you know anyone who got thin through Jenny Craig, the South Beach Diet? How many people have you personally seen make a fortune (or even squeak out a living) buying into some “money making” scheme the heard about through a TV ad?
You probably don’t have to think hard about that.
However, the never-ending presence of these ads and infomercials proves that people will gladly fork over their money to buy into what the want to hear, and for a shot at getting fit, getting thin, or getting rich.
For as honest as I am, I also have to admit that I’ve had my moments when I wondered why I don’t just jump on that profitable, “tell ‘em what they want to hear” DUI bandwagon.
As the old saying goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
But then another old saying reminds me to always “do the right thing.”
I’m not claiming to be some world-class writer, but I have written every article on this blog for nearly 12 years. With nearly 1200 articles to my credit, I know how to communicate in writing.
It has always been my mission to convey helpful information in a conversational style. There is no other lawyer or law firm in this field that puts out anything even close to the quantity and quality of information that can be found here.
In that regard, it certainly wouldn’t take a lot for me to shift my focus from doing that to selling the proverbial bill of goods that basically tells someone facing a DUI and looking for a lawyer exactly what they want to hear.
Yeah, I could cash in….
Between my website and this platform, I could write some very compelling stuff that would have people lined up around the block wanting to hire us.
The problem, though, is that it wouldn’t be accurate stuff.
I could very easily tell people what they want to hear, and then, when it didn’t work out, find some way to explain why, pocketing their money along the way. Everybody else does…
Unfortunately, that whole golden rule thing gets in the way. My parents gave me a good conscience, and everyone on our team carries the same burden. We consciously strive to “do the right thing.”
A long time ago, I had to refer a civil case (we don’t handle lawsuits) for a good friend to a colleague of mine. When I spoke with my lawyer colleague, I told him that he was my first choice to handle the case because I knew that he was a good and honest man.
He thanked me, and then joked that being so damn honest had cost him a small fortune over the years.
At the time, I laughed, too, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized the truth of his statement.
Here’s another real life story: Some years ago, I was speaking with a prosecutor who had a lawyer relative that had worked for one of the “tell them what they want to hear” DUI operations like I’m writing about in this article.
He told me that his lawyer-relative had to quit the job because he had a “crisis of conscience” (his exact words). This lawyer know that the clients were paying a fortune to buy into the idea that the firm had some “special” skill to get their cases dismissed.
What finally made the lawyer-relative quit was the never-ending dread that he was going to eventually have to explain to more than 9 out of 10 of these clients that their case wasn’t going to be knocked out of court, despite everything they’d been led to believe, and that they had thought they paid for.
Of course, these operations rather conspicuously overload their sites with glowing testimonials, don’t disclose their fees online (we list ours right on the “Fees” section of this blog and our website), and charge a king’s ransom for their services.
As a side note, in our driver’s license restoration practice, we have dealt with countless people who had bought into that whole “we’ll get your case dismissed” marketing ploy and hired one of those operations, only to wind up convicted of their DUI charge anyway. When they’re sitting with us, they shake their heads, regretful that they let themselves get so easily “taken.”
My hope is that the reader will consider all this as a firm admonishment to be a savvy consumer. Look for truth in what you find online It’s there, but you may have to click through a number of sites and read between the lines on others to find it.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that anyone roll over, or hire some lawyer who will just roll over or sell them out. Your character and the character of the lawyer you hire matters.
What I am saying is that if a firm’s marketing message focuses too much on all the things that could be wrong with a DUI case, or all the things the police must get right to make a DUI charge stick (and they usually do, at least in a way that’s considered “good enough” in more than 9 out of 10 cases), and all the possible ways to beat a case, then they’re not concentrating enough on the things a person needs to hear.
Imagine an airline that, for its marketing message, listed all the mechanical things that could go wrong with an airplane that could cause it to crash, and then went on to make it seem that they have some special way to make sure nothing like that happens with the planes in their fleet.
Because it’s a fact that more than 9 out of every 10 DUI cases are NOT going to be thrown out of court, what matters most is producing the best outcome under the facts and circumstances that are present in them.
If all some lawyer does to try and get a case knocked out of court, and then that doesn’t happen, what’s he or she going to do next?
Imagine someone hires the XYZ pest control company to stop squirrels from getting into their basement. The company markets itself as really good at doing just that, listing all the technology they use to keep squirrels out.
Assume next that a squirrel does make it past their defenses and gets in a customer’s basement.
Then what? What good is all that preventive technology once the little bugger has gotten in?
At that point, the intelligent thing to do is to capture the squirrel as quickly as possible and minimize the potential consequences of its “break in.”
In that same way, what people need to hear about a DUI case goes beyond just “beating it.”
Any honest DUI lawyer will do everything possible to get a case knocked out, but, if that doesn’t happen, as it doesn’t more than 9 out of 10 times, then he or she must turn his or her focus on how to produce the best, most lenient outcome possible.
No matter what, success in a DUI case is always best measured by what does NOT happen to you.
We make sure that same measure gets applied to every one of our clients. That’s not as sexy sounding as “hire us and we’ll get your whole case dismissed,” but it’s far more accurate.
At the end of the day, a person facing a DUI should look for what he or she needs to hear, even though it may not sound as appealing as what he or she wants to hear.
If you are facing a DUI and looking for a lawyer, be a good consumer. Do your homework, and read how lawyers explain the DUI process, and how they explain the way their approach to DUI cases.
When you’ve done enough of that, start checking around. You can a lot by talking to a live person.
If your DUI case is pending anywhere in the Metro-Detroit area (meaning anywhere in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Livingston, St. Clair or Washtenaw County), give us a ring.
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, explain things, and even 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.