Admittedly, the title of this article is misleading, because there is an important point to be made about getting a DUI dismissed. As busy Michigan DUI lawyers, our firm knows there is no easy way to actually make that happen. Unfortunately, too many legal websites try to make it seem like the only thing a person must do to get his or her DUI charge dismissed is hire their firm. This is really a perfect example of the saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
To be sure, there are plenty of situations where it is possible to get a DUI dismissed. My team and I do that whenever it’s legally feasible. What the reader needs to keep in mind is that it’s all well and fine for some lawyer to point out all the things that could be wrong with a DUI case. However, the only thing that matters is what the evidence proves after it has been carefully examined. Something can sound great in theory, but how it works out in practice can be quite different.
The simple fact is that it’s not particularly easy to get a DUI dismissed. When that does happen, it’s always because the lawyer has dug deep, worked hard, and found some flaw in the evidence. Then, he or she must file a motion and hold a hearing to convince the Judge that the case should not be allowed to proceed. Make no mistake, there is no Judge who will dismiss a drunk driving charge unless he or she has no other choice. As the common saying goes, let’s get real….
Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a Judge. You’re acutely aware that the only way to keep your job by winning reelection. You also know that nobody will ever vote against you because you’re known to be tough on drunk drivers. However, if you are ever found to be the Judge who dismissed DUI charges (the proper legal term in Michigan is Operating While Intoxicated, or “OWI” for short) against someone who later injures or kills some innocent person in a DUI accident, that could pretty much be the end of your political career.
Put simply, throwing a DUI out of court is a losing proposition for any Judge. Of course, on top of everything else, if the DUI goes, so does any money that could have been had for it, as well. The bottom line is that, as stated above, the only way a Judge will dismiss a DUI is when he or she has no other legal choice.
Unfortunately, a lot of lawyers ignore this truth and resort to marketing tactics that make it seem like all one has to do to get his or her DUI dismissed is to hand over a retainer fee. Contrary to how some make it seem, there is no magic trick to any of this. There is no DUI lawyer who knows some nuance of the law that everyone else has missed. Instead, the “secret” to getting a DUI dismissed, whenever that’s legally possible, is good old fashioned hard work, concentrated in the fundamentals.
As with everything worth doing, the best results are achieved by paying meticulous attention to those fundamentals. DUI cases stand or fall based upon evidence. The first thing a lawyer must do after being hired is to obtain that evidence, and then carefully review it. This requires a lot more than just “looking things over.” Instead of merely reviewing the evidence to see what jumps out, a DUI lawyer has to dig, and do so with a sense of purpose. The most important things to be analyzed are the facts and the evidence. Only then can the lawyer come up with a good DUI strategy.
As one of my favorite lines goes, “Good work is the key to good fortune; winners take that praise, but losers seldom take that blame.”
Here’s a true story that really clarifies what I mean:
Many years ago, when I was a much younger attorney, I was in the back conference room of a local courthouse where the prosecutors and defense lawyers discussed their cases. At the time, there was a very big, newsworthy local trial that had just wrapped up. The high profile lawyer who had handled that case came into the conference room for one of his other, far more “garden variety” cases. When he walked in, everyone was interested in what he had to say about the high-profile, very important local trial that he had just wrapped up.
One of the prosecutors asked him about his approach to defending cases, and his answer has stuck with me in the decades since. He explained that no matter what the charge and the facts, he would start his work in every case by assuming there was some way to beat it, and that his job was keep looking until he found it. He was very pointed in making the distinction between just “looking” to see if there was something that could be used to beat the charge, versus assuming there was, and that he had to keep digging until he discovered it.
He explained that such a mindset was crucial to ever having a chance to win a criminal case. Of course, he also admitted that the lawyer’s mindset could not change the facts. All the determination in the world won’t enable a lawyer to find something that isn’t there. He was clear that while proceeding with a determination to find a way out of a charge wouldn’t magically create the situation, it would very often help him find other things that could be used to make the final outcome “better.”
That hit me like a ton of bricks, and has guided the way I tackle everything in life. That mindset is exactly how my team and I handle DUI cases. Even though getting a DUI dismissed is far more the exception rather than the rule, we attack every case with the assumption that there IS some way out of the charge, and that we just have to keep digging until it’s found. In point of fact, that does often lead us to find smaller issues in the evidence that might otherwise be easy to overlook, and that we can use to help drive a better result.
Of course, getting a DUI dismissed is always the best outcome for the person charged with it. As we’ve observed, however, that’s not the most common outcome.
Here’s another hard-and-fast truth that the reader can take to the bank: Success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. The fewer legal penalties and negative consequences a person gets for a DUI, the better.
In that way, less is always more.
Any lawyer could write forever about all the things that could be wrong with a DUI case, or that the police have to do correctly in order for a case to survive a legal challenge. It’s easy to make it sound like there are so many things that can go wrong, surely one of them did.
In that same way, a person could write forever about all the things that could go wrong with an airplane while in flight, or that the pilot must do correctly to keep it from crashing. A person reading all that could be scared out of ever flying again. Fortunately, though, those things almost never happen in the airline industry.
That kind of misleading message can get a person to part with his or her money because it can make it seem like some lawyer has a special advantage to getting a DUI dismissed. The fact, however, is there is no “secret sauce.”
Here again we come back to the simple reality that the best results in a DUI case are obtained by hard work, focused on the fundamentals. This is a simple and universal truth. It is certainly how to properly manage a DUI case, and how to get the best results possible.
What’s our grand takeaway here? That there is no “easy” way to get your DUI dismissed. Anyone facing a Michigan DUI charge should know that, and never be suckered in by a marketing message that’s more centered on what you want to hear, rather than what you need to hear. My hope, of course, is that I’ve helped the reader understand this.
The primary task for a DUI lawyer is to carefully examine the evidence and then do what’s necessary to produce the best, as in most lenient outcome possible. If there is any basis to get the DUI dismissed, then that’s job number one. My team and I will never give up on getting the case tossed out until every possible way to make that happen has been exhausted.
However, when a case is strong enough to make its way through the court system, we must then ensure that we avoid as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible. This means, among other things, avoiding jail, protecting the client’s record, and saving his or her ability to drive.
If you’re facing a DUI charge and looking for a lawyer, be a smart consumer and read around. Pay attention to how different lawyers explain the DUI process, and how they spell out their various approaches to it.
This blog is a great place to start. It is fully searchable and updated each week with a new, original article. To-date, I have written and published over 610 articles in the DUI section. With a little effort, the reader can find the answer to almost any DUI-related question he or she could ever have. There is simply no resource like it to be found anywhere, but don’t take my word for it – look for yourself.
When you’ve done enough reading, start calling around and comparing lawyers. Any lawyer worth considering will never discourage you from doing this, nor will they ever try to “hook” you in.
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 anywhere in the Greater-Detroit area (meaning Wayne, Oakland, Macomb or one of the surrounding counties), make sure you give us a ring as you explore your options.
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 248-986-9700 or 586-465-1980.