A DUI charge can be overwhelming. The more you look for information, the more you find, from scary sounding penalties to complicated (and expensive) legal analyses. It is not wrong to simply want to get through it all and put this mistake in the past. As much as I might not like to admit it, I am probably guilty, myself, of adding to all the complexity and the seemingly endless stream of information out there about OWI charges in Michigan. To date, I’ve published over 300 DUI articles, and stand rather proud of my work. Despite that, however, I think it’s time to try and simplify things from the point of view of the person actually going through a drunk driving case. In my 26-plus years as a lawyer, I’ve represented every kind of DUI client you could imagine, from the trusting souls who simply ask for you to guide them in the best way possible (thankfully, I come fully equipped with a strong conscience, so I take that request seriously and live by the rule to treat others as I would wish to be treated), those that want to fight every part of everything, at every step along the way, to those people who just want to get on with their lives and who want the whole DUI to go away as quickly and painlessly as possible. This article will be for that last type.
It is in the DNA of every lawyer, or at least it should be, to carefully examine the evidence in each DUI case to make sure it stands up. To the unscrupulous, it might sound like a jackpot to find someone ready to pay your fee just to get through his or her DUI as quickly as possible. To any REAL lawyer, though, the very first instinct is, and always should be, to obtain and look over the evidence before anything else. A GOOD lawyer will always look for a way to beat the case. Looking for it doesn’t mean you’ll find it, and, in fact, most drunk driving cases are solid enough to not be dismissed outright, but – and you can take this to the bank – you will NEVER find a way to get a case knocked out of court without looking for it first. In all of the cases where I have found a way out, it was discovered by looking for it. Most often, it’s not the client who comes in like some pissed-off constitutional expert, fist-banging the table and telling me how the cops got is all wrong who gets his or her case dismissed. Those types are simple blowhards who make a lot of noise but very little impact. Instead, it’s generally the more well-mannered person from whom I extract specific information by question and answer where we’ll find that one little nugget that can change everything. It’s certainly no great revelation that most DUI cases are pretty solid, and certainly solid enough to not be thrown out of court, although that should never be the case for lack of trying. A thorough review of all the evidence is a necessary and preliminary undertaking in every DUI case, despite the fact that some lawyers milk a lot of money out of their clients by making it seem that such basic, foundational work is something special or is some way more than routine.
While we’re here, let’s talk money. This is kind of a taboo subject to many lawyers, but not with me; I like to be candid and up front, and I’m suspicious of anyone who’s not, or plays coy, especially about costs. Among lawyers, there are all kinds of strategies to bring in new money: some use the free consultation thing as an opportunity to get someone into “the client chair” (by contrast, all my consultations are done over phone, right when you call). Other’s use the ruse of “getting a little information,” and then inquiring about a person’s line of work to gauge how much he or she makes before quoting a fee (mine, on the other hand, are fixed). Personally, I am repulsed by all of this secretiveness, and publish my fees both on my blog and my website. If lawyers were cars, then my fees would put me in the BMW/Lincoln/Mercedes range. I am not cheap, and have zero desire to compete with anyone else based upon price, but I also think that too many lawyers charge fees that are way beyond reasonable for the lack of specific DUI experience they bring to the table. On this point, you will simply have to sharpen your consumer skills in order to get what’s best for yourself. Of course, there is nothing to be had from the bargain, or cut-rate lawyer, but paying out really big money often does not buy any level of corresponding skill. It’s just as easy to be sold out cheaply as it is to get “taken” by paying too much for unnecessary work.