If you’re facing a DUI in Michigan, you want the finest legal representation you can get. Many people think that the biggest obstacle that lies between them and the best DUI lawyers is only financial. It’s true you’ll never get top-shelf legal help for bargain basement prices. However, way too many lawyers charge high fees for nothing more than average services. Paying a lot is no guarantee of anything more than being out a lot of money. Ultimately, what a person needs is the best lawyer for his or her case, and how to go about finding that is what we’ll explore in this article.
This will NOT be some thinly disguised “hire us” promotional piece. Instead, we’re going to look at some general principles that apply across the board – and across the state of Michigan. I point that out because our firm concentrates its DUI practice in the Metro-Detroit area, meaning the courts of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and the surrounding counties. Although we’re in business to earn a living, we also realize that part of being the “best” lawyer for someone is to be the best fit for his or her needs, and location is an important part of that.
As a starting point, nobody should ever hire a lawyer or law firm that is arrogant or otherwise with whom it’s difficult to communicate. There has to be a certain kind “connection,” and this a means a lot more than just being told what one wants to hear. The world is full of poor saps who were suckered out of their money by being sold a bill of goods. It’s always easy to deliver encouragement and make things sound promising – and even better if you get paid to do that. The best DUI lawyers, however, explain things honestly, even if what they have to say is not all good news.
Of course, everyone’s first hope is that his or her DUI case (the actual legal term in Michigan for drunk driving is “Operating While Intoxicated,” or “OWI” for short) can be dismissed outright. It’s understandable why people are drawn to the kind of marketing message that makes it sound like that can happen. However, here’s where it’s critical to remember the age-old advice that, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Plenty of DUI cases DO get knocked out of court. When that occurs, though, it’s always because the lawyer worked hard and found a problem with the evidence, and then successfully challenged it.
Beating a DUI charge is never the result of some special legal “trick” or anything like that.
The simple truth is that good work leads to good results. There is no magic or special maneuver that any one DUI attorney has but others don’t. Some lawyers want to make it seem that way, but that’s just not how things work in the real world. The very finest legal work is always a direct consequence of attention to detail, concentration in the fundamentals, and a determination to beat the case. Those are the traits that define the best DUI lawyers – and really anyone with success in any field.
When the evidence is solid, then the lawyer must do what is necessary to produce the best result legally possible under the circumstances and facts as they exist.
To be sure, experience matters – a lot. To that end, there is a huge difference between a lawyer who “does” DUI cases, and a lawyer or firm that concentrates in them. Some lawyers may handle a few DUI cases in a month. Others might handle a few in a week. A firm like ours often handles several in the same day. Over the course of just 5 short years, that’s the difference between my team and I having having handled 1000 or more DUI cases, versus someone else having handled less than 50 of them.
The good news is that for anyone here, in the Metro-Detroit area (meaning Wayne, Oakland, Macomb or the surrounding counties), there are more than a few lawyers with plenty of DUI experience (remember, I said this wasn’t going to be some thinly disguised “hire us” piece).
Unfortunately, for those in less populated areas, the options are more limited. The only advice I have for anyone with fewer choices is to be a savvy consumer and check around the area local to your case in order to find the best lawyer for your case.
Reviews matter – BUT – there is literally a whole industry devoted to procuring (and selling) positive online reviews for anyone with a website. I have received dozens of emails from companies offering packages for positive Google and other reviews. I have never even given it a second thought, because I consider that an outright fraud.
One thing I can say is that we have never asked anyone to write a review for us (something our web company is telling us we have to start doing), and that every review we have is unsolicited.
The point I’m making isn’t that reviews should be ignored. On the contrary, they are important in today’s world. However, the reader should take EVERYTHING he or she finds online, including every word in this piece, with the proverbial “grain of salt.” Moreover, while reviews are great, anyone facing a DUI should also be looking for – and finding – helpful information.
Here’s a real-world example of how things shouldn’t work. Our firm was recently hired by someone who, in our early email conversations, sent the following to me:
“…so far, the only other lawyer I’ve had a chance to talk to just kept telling me he’s the best & knows everyone & I should Google him. The conversation was all about his reputation and really nothing about my case. I definitely will not be hiring him. “
The best DUI lawyers rely upon the information they provide about drunk driving cases, not just self-promotion. Nobody wants to hire the wrong lawyer, but all the reviews and self-praise in the world will tell you nothing about your situation, or how to get the best outcome in your case
That brings up another key point: If you really want to understand your predicament, you’re going to have to talk with someone. There are probably lawyers who would love to keep it short and get hired via text, but there is simply NO WAY to exchange enough information with a lawyer via text (or even just email) for him or her to really get a complete picture of the prospective client’s case. Every person facing a DUI needs information, and most would like some answers to their questions, as well.
As DUI lawyers, we know that, in order to assess a potential client’s situation and answer his or her questions, we’re going to need to ask some questions of our own, as well. These include, but are not limited to:
- Where were you arrested?
- What happened?
- Were you pulled over?
- If so, for what?
- If you weren’t pulled over, then what was the reason for the police contact?
- Did you do any field sobriety tests?
- If you did, which of them do you recall?
- How do you think you did?
- Did you take a PBT (Preliminary Breath Test) at the side of the road?
- If so, do you know your result?
- Did you take a breath or blood test at the Police Station?
- Were you taken somewhere else for that test?
- Do the police say you consented to or refused that test?
[NOTE: You can tell by looking at your paper license: If you have a “Michigan Temporary Driving Permit,” then there is no allegation you refused. If you were given what’s entitled “Officer’s Report of Refusal to Submit to Chemical Test,” then it is alleged that you DID refuse. In that case, you MUST take action within 14 days to avoid having your driver’s license be automatically suspended for a year.]
- Do you have any kind of prior record?
- What do you do for a living, and do you have any kind of occupational or professional license?
Our firm does all of its initial consultations by phone. It’s 2023 now, and convenience is important. There are undoubtedly some who might argue that texting is even more convenient, but as I noted, texting (or even just emailing) cannot compare to the real-time back-and-forth of an actual conversation. Whatever else, convenience alone can’t supersede doing things right.
Even if our firm could “sign up” more clients via text, we know what it takes to properly screen someone and determine if we’re a good fit for them. The simple fact is that some people have unreasonable expectations. We’ve recently had a person contact us for a 2nd offense DUI and make clear that the only outcome he’d accept was a quick and complete dismissal of the charge.
How could anyone even think of promising that without having reviewed the evidence in his case first? We politely declined representation knowing that whatever lawyer does take his case is going to have a tough time managing him – and his expectations.
When someone calls our office, either there is a connection – or not. I’ve always believed that the person who answers a call is “The Director of First Impressions.” If he or she is not helpful, then that tells you everything you need to know about the rest of the operation. No matter who you speak with, you should never finish a call without having had your concerns addressed and your questions answered, and knowing that you are welcome to call back.
The best DUI lawyers will always help reduce your stress, not add to it.
That’s brings up another point: Personally, I always hesitant to contact any business that offers a free consultation, or fill out any form online to get a “quote” because I know I’ll probably be hounded thereafter.
We don’t do that. Instead, we actively advise everyone to call around, compare lawyers, and feel free to call us back, even if to compare notes with anything some other lawyer has told him or her. Once we speak with someone, we leave them alone. We make sure they know they can call us back, but we never hound anyone.
Unfortunately, some lawyers buy into the “hook ‘em and book ‘em” philosophy. The idea is to get someone into the office ASAP and then have them fill out some paperwork, ostensibly to “get a little information.” The ultimate goal, of course is to get a signed retainer agreement.
I would hate to be treated that way, and so I will never do that to anyone else.
No matter what anyone says to the contrary, there is absolutely no reason a lawyer can’t do a full consultation over the phone.
At the end of the day, every law firm is in business to make money. Every lawyer wants new clients. In that regard, it’s normal for a law practice to promote itself. The best DUI lawyers, though, won’t rely on telling a potential client how great they are. Instead, they’ll provide a lot of information and encourage him or her to check around and compare.
The best DUI lawyers want to be chosen by the client, rather than having to “hook” him or her.
Even though we’ve covered a lot of ground, we can really boil this discussion down to 3 key points:
• First, price matters. The best DUI lawyers aren’t cheap, but the only thing a high fee guarantees is that you’ll be out a lot of money.
• Second, the best DUI lawyers won’t be overly aggressive in trying to get your business.
• Third, the best DUI lawyers will provide answers and information, and then encourage you to check around.
If you’re facing a DUI charge and looking for an attorney, 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 a great place to start. It is fully searchable, and updated weekly with new, original content. To-date, I have written and published over 600 articles in the DUI section. With a little effort, the reader can probably find the answer to any question he or she could ever have.
Once you’ve done enough reading, start checking around. You can learn a lot by speaking with a live person.
If your case is pending in the Metro-Detroit area, meaning Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, or one of the surrounding counties, make sure you give our firm 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, 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. (EST) at either 248-986-9700, or 586-465-1980.