In part 1 of this article I took up the subject of how a whole new crop of “internet DUI lawyers” is putting up a growing number of over-the-top websites targeting Michigan DUI cases. I lamented that amongst all the flash and video and slick production, the realities of a DUI charge in the Detroit area, meaning Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties, is becoming obscured. I set out to peel back all the hype and return to an honest examination of what happens in the real world. As we saw, the truth, overlooked by all the slick marketers, is that of the 52,770 DUI and alcohol-related arrests that, by official records, took place in the State of Michigan in 2012, only 41 cases went to trial and won by a verdict of “not guilty.”
It is against this backdrop that I stand as an honest Michigan DUI lawyer. I produce the best results legally possible in the cases I handle. I don’t, however, get caught up in the tide of using hyped up phrases and adjectives to market myself as the most “aggressive” or “tough” lawyer out there, like that matters, anyway. The plain truth is that results matter, and the best results are achieved through a combination of education, experience, hard work and skill. I know that people of solid intelligence will take the time to read beyond all those sales pitches and do their homework. Even so, it bothers me that some individuals get sold by the packaging, instead of the product inside.
Since the dawn of time, people have always paid big money to hear what they want to hear, and buy into hopes and dreams. How many rich Amway (or other successful multilevel marketing) people do you know? How many people, even celebrities, have had facial surgery to try and look younger, only to wind up looking like a cat, with eyes rolling up the sides of their head while their skin looks way too tight. That looks better? I’ll bet the surgeon didn’t tell comedian Joan Rivers she’d look more like she was about to say, “meow” than she would wind up looking younger.
Being a real DUI lawyer has kind of gotten lost in all of this hype of DUI marketing. I don’t want to be too judgmental here, but I can tell you that from my own, very experienced perspective, after more than 23 years of doing this – experience matters, and matters more than anything else. For example, in the last several years, I’ve enrolled in a post-graduate program of addiction studies at a local University. This has added significantly to my ability to help many of my DUI clients from being seen by the court as having a drinking problem they don’t. For those who present with an issue, or an apparent issue, I can use my clinical understanding to help them beyond the scope of just minimizing the negative legal consequences of a DUI charge. Yet bringing over 2 decades of working in the DUI field to the classroom was invaluable to me. It wouldn’t have been the same if I had undertaken this program of study 12 or 15 years ago. But I’ll bet some webmaster could make it sound very different.
That’s a really long-winded and nice way of saying experience matters, and a lot of experience matters a lot. All the video and graphics and glitz of an interactive website cannot substitute one bit for the knowledge your lawyer either does, or does not have. Mine comes from almost a quarter century working in the courtrooms of the Detroit area. Remember, self-descriptions of skill and ability anything more than that; self-descriptions. I can tell you all day long how tough, aggressive, or experienced I am, but have you ever spent a week with me? Do you really have any clue which lawyer truly has the most experience, or who is hard-headed and keeps engaging in self-defeating behaviors with Judges and prosecutors?
A physician friend of mine once told me that when your doctor gives you a referral to a surgeon, he or she doesn’t really have any idea how good that surgeon is (or is not). Your doctor has never been next to that surgeon during an operation, and doesn’t know if that surgeon is so good that he or she can do a 3 hour job in 2 hours, or otherwise needs 3 hours to do what everyone else gets done in 2 hours. The only thing your doctor knows is that the surgeon is someone who “does” the kind of surgery you need. In the same way, I know who “does” divorce, but really, I have no basis to evaluate if anyone I know is really good, or just okay. Or sucks, even, unless I was to get complaints about him or her. I’m never in court with divorce lawyers. Is there any reason to think it’s different with a DUI lawyer? And more important, how do you find out who’s right for you?
You read. Read what any lawyer has written beyond the mere platitudes of proclaiming one’s self to be the best, or the most aggressive, of the toughest. I have more than 150 DUI articles on this blog, most of which go into a level of detail that’s unmatched anywhere. Read with an eye toward peeling back the self-aggrandizement and the self-promotion and look for real analysis of DUI cases in Michigan. Ask yourself if what your reading is helpful and provides real and useful information about your situation or if it just sounds like a sales pitch.
Of course, I’d suggest running away as fast as you can from any operation that focuses on all the possible penalties you face from a DUI charge. You can find all that out on your own, and since we’ve established that you’re not realistically facing most of them anyway (particularly jail in a 1st offense case) blowing that kind of hot air is nothing less (or more) than a worn our scare tactic. Instead, look for intelligent discussion of what happens in a DUI case. What happens in court? As you read an article, or a website section, does the voice of the lawyer who wrote it seem like one that’s interested in doing all of the talking, or does it sound like one that would invite your questions and encourage dialogue? If you take the view that your first going to eliminate the “hypesters,” you can certainly and quickly shrink the field of potential candidate to whom you will entrust your hard-earned money to go out and defend you and make things better for you.
I have broken down every step of the DUI process in my numerous articles, from the initial reason for the traffic stop, the field sobriety tests, the breath test at the police station, getting out of jail, posting bond being arraigned (and getting bond conditions like testing), looking for a lawyer, going to court for a pre-trial, examining and challenging the evidence, working out a plea bargain, saving your driver’s license, preparing for the mandatory alcohol assessment and probation (PSI) interview, earning a favorable sentencing recommendation, all the way to producing a better outcome, like avoiding and/or limiting classes and counseling, if not probation altogether. If you can think of a question about Michigan DUI, I’ve got an article that addresses it. My website is much more concise, but between these two resources, I provide more real-world, useful information than you can find just about everywhere else combined. Still, you need to invest the time, do your research (it’s always better to be an informed consumer), and find that out for yourself.
Ultimately, you will have to pick up the phone and call. The person who answers your call at any lawyer’s office is the director of first impressions. If you get voicemail, well, that tells you something. If you get what is clearly an answering service, that tells you something, as well, and nothing good, I’m afraid. If the person answering your call isn’t friendly, or helpful, then all you can do is hope that things will get better as your call is transferred down the line, and that’s not likely…
Whatever else, if you’re facing a DUI charge in the Detroit area (anywhere in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County), make sure you check out my blog and my website, an call my office to see how I can help; you’ll be glad you did.