This article will be about the great results I produced in the 4 DUI cases I handled this past week in the Detroit area. On my website and within the numerous DUI articles on this blog, I examine and explain almost every aspect of Michigan DUI cases in careful detail. Here, we’re going to look at what all that analysis, knowledge and strategy actually produces. While I am certainly at the head of the class in terms of exploring how DUI cases work, I haven’t been so good at taking it to the next level and showing off the results. To be perfectly honest about it, while I am supremely confident in my own abilities and certainly proud of what I regularly accomplish, I am somewhat modest and really don’t like to do anything that seems like outright bragging.
Recently, both Ann, my senior assistant, and my web team have told me to do this. It has always seemed to me that the more cerebral reader could figure out from the kinds of articles I write that I produce exceptional results in Detroit-area DUI cases. I’m not nearly as shy about criticizing bargain, cut-rate legal services offered by some lawyers as I am to point to my own achievements. To me, it seems rather obvious that the top tier of DUI lawyers don’t tout their finest attribute as being the cheapest, or otherwise use the same worn-out labels for themselves like “aggressive,” “experienced” or “tough.” Yet I have to admit that I have been behind the curve in posting my real-world results because I hate coming off as boastful. Apparently, I need to do just that, so I’ll oblige. Since I handle so many DUI cases, we’ll look back at the 4 DUI cases I handled in court this past week.
I don’t know how to put this without sounding self-important, so I’ll just be direct: I don’t want to be too specific about the court or parties involved in the cases I’m about to review, because I don’t want to draw too much attention to the kinds of deals I can get, or the outcomes I produce, only to have there be some kind of “law and order” backlash. If I’m going to venture into this territory, then I might as well be upfront about the fact that I expect to produce the very best outcome humanly possible in every case I take. I expect to produce a result better than almost everyone else.
When it comes to protecting my clients from the implications of an alcohol problem that is, or is not present, I can safely say that I am without equal. I am actively and currently involved in the formal study of addiction and alcohol issues at the post-graduate (meaning one already possesses a graduate degree) level. There is no lawyer or Judge who knows more about the onset, development, diagnosis, treatment and recovery (including relapse) from an alcohol problem than I do. This makes me the expert in the courtroom about what does, and, more important in many cases, what does not constitute a drinking problem. Now, on to those cases…
On Tuesday, I began, as always, in a court in the Tri-County (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb) area. My client had been charged with a drunk driving offense called “High BAC,” meaning his breath test result was .17 or higher. In his case, it was higher. I negotiated hard with the prosecutor to reduce the charge not only down to the less-severe “OWI,” but then even farther down to the lighter charge of “impaired driving.” This meant that my client, who needed to keep his driver’s license to get to work, would not suffer any “hard” suspension, meaning any time where he would have no driving privileges altogether.
A “High BAC” conviction requires that your driver’s license be suspended for a full year; the first 45 days of that are “hard,” meaning no driving at all, and then you can operate on a restricted license, only with an a ignition interlock (called by some a “blow and go”) unit installed in your vehicle for the remained 10 and a ½ months.
A conviction for OWI (a simple “drunk driving”) requires that your license be suspended for 6 months, with no driving (the “hard”) suspension for the first 30 days; the remaining 5 months are spent on a restricted license. There is no interlock requirement in an OWI case.
This plea bargain I worked out avoided all of that; my client will not have any hard suspension where he cannot drive.
On Tuesday afternoon, I appeared in a different court for a person facing a 2nd offense OWI charge. As should be done in almost every case, I had obtained the police car video and had reviewed it carefully. In this case, while the officer seemed to have a proper reason to pull my client over, the way he handled the stop thereafter alerted me to objectionable evidentiary issues. I am filing a legal challenge to the evidence, including the field sobriety tests, and expect to have the evidence thrown out of court.
This is an important issue to me, because these very issues can really be a test of a lawyer’s integrity. In the case I’m discussing, I noted that I am filing a legal challenge to the evidence and that I expect to have the evidence thrown out of court. I wouldn’t file a challenge otherwise. Any lawyer can “challenge” the evidence, and, of course, charge for it, but this kind of work should only be undertaken when it is likely to pay off – for the client – and not just the lawyer.
I began Wednesday in another local court where I had 2 DUI cases pending in front of the same Judge. The first case was set for sentencing. A few weeks before, I had negotiated the 2nd offense DUI (OWI) charge in that case down to a 1st offense, but my client’s BAC score was very high (you cannot be charged with a High BAC in anything other than a 1st offense case) and she was worried about getting jammed up with all kinds of difficult probation, classes and counseling. As I always do, I made sure we had a plan to avoid that early on. This is critically important to getting a good result. As information becomes known in any DUI case, it should not only shape the legal strategy, but also the plan of the overall case. My client and I had met and conferred several times during her case and we had developed what turned out to be a winning approach. The end result in her case, which began as a 2nd offense DUI with a BAC of way over .20, was a plea down to a 1st offense, and then a year and half of non-reporting probation, meaning that she never had to meet with or report to a probation officer.
We had selected the right counseling (that usually means something that the person can afford, can handle in terms of time and commitment, and that will fly with the court, as well) and gotten her into it early on. The only thing she had to do, beyond pay fines and costs, was complete her counseling and then stay out of trouble. You couldn’t ask for a better result, but you couldn’t expect one like that, either, unless you executed an intelligent plan to obtain it. We had.
My next case in that same court was another High BAC case. This one, like most (and unlike the very first one described in this article), had been turned over to the state, meaning that the county prosecutor was handling the case. It took some hard bargaining, but I was eventually able to negotiate the original High BAC charge all the way down to an “impaired driving.” Impaired driving is the least serious DUI-type charges. When a person says “DUI,” what he or she usually means is a “standard” drunk driving, which in Michigan is called “OWI” (meaning operating while intoxicated). High BAC is a more serious offense than OWI, which is in turn more serious than impaired driving. In order of seriousness then, impaired driving is at the bottom, and High BAC at the top of all 1st offense charges.
This client is a professional at a major corporation, and any “hard” suspension of his license would have created a lot of difficulty for him, both in terms of his employment and his personal life. We avoided all of that with the plea bargain I eventually produced.
These 4 case actually comprised a short week for me. In a normal week, I’ll handle around 5 or 6 DUI cases in court. While the outcomes in each of the 4 cases from this last week were excellent, that’s exactly what my clients paid for. I don’t compete with the economy lawyer any more than a Cadillac competes with an economy car. I charge an appropriate fee for the level of representation I provide. The reality is, though, that for all the “spin” and slick ways lawyers can talk about what they do for your money, it all does come down to results, and I like to say that in DUI cases, success is measured by what DOESN’T happen to you more than anything else. In the 4 cases of this most recent week, just like every other week in my life, I made sure that as little as possible happened to my clients.