In a recent conversation I had with someone about our law firm, I pointed out that we are more than just a collection of Michigan DUI lawyers. I explained that we’re really a “DUI team.” Beyond the 3 lawyers in our office, both of our legal assistants are heavily involved in the handling of all our cases. In fact, we call on of them our “sobriety court guru” because she manages all the logistics to get some of our 2nd and 3rd offense DUI clients into these programs. This requires all of us to work together. It also requires each of us to have specific knowledge about how all the local courts handle DUI cases.

A DUI team can protect you betterSometimes, we have to transfer a 2nd or even 3rd offense DUI case from one court that doesn’t have a sobriety court program to another court that does. We’ve even transferred cases across county lines. The work required for this can be complicated. Thus, experience with how different courts do things is critically important. Being a DUI “team,” though, involves a lot more than just dealing with sobriety court issues, which are only a small component of the whole DUI universe. Indeed, that term, “DUI universe,” is both accurate and instructive here. DUI cases really can be a whole world unto themselves.

This is in no small part due to the fact that every court is unique. Each has its own way of doing things. As a group, everyone in our office knows all of these idiosyncrasies. We are familiar with the different procedures required to obtain police reports and videos from the local cities. This degree of knowledge is the direct result of working together specifically on DUI cases everyday. Even though we often have different roles in that work, my team and I ultimately all pitch in and work as a team on our DUI cases.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about why a person must be genuinely sober to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal. Sobriety is FIRST thing a person must have, and it’s the key requirement to have any chance of getting back on the road. This is beyond important, because proving that one has quit drinking and has the ability and commitment to remain alcohol and drug-free (including from recreational marijuana) for life is the very foundation upon which every Michigan license appeal case is built. That’s what we’ll examine in this article.

Sobriety is required to win a Michigan license appeal caseThe big problem is that many people overlook how fundamentally important sobriety is to driver’s license restoration cases. Instead, they’ll focus on how much they need a license. Many will point out how long it’s been since they’ve had one, or how long they’ve stayed out of trouble. Those are, of course, important personal considerations. However, in the context of a Michigan license appeal, unless a person is genuinely sober, they don’t matter at all. As one hearing officer states, everybody “needs” a license. Getting it back, though, is a whole different ballgame.

There are very specific rules for wining a Michigan license appeal after a driver’s license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s. Nothing in them references a person’s need to drive, or the hardship caused by not being able to do so. It is understood that it’s hard to get by without a license. That’s intentional. As we just noted, it has nothing to do with being able to win a Michigan license appeal. Instead, the Michigan Secretary of State is directed, by law, to make sure, as best it can, that anyone it puts back on the road isn’t a risk to ever drive drunk again.

What are the DUI driver’s license penalties for 2nd and 3rd offense cases? The explanation is rather straightforward, but almost always gives rise to more questions. Usually, people respond by asking things such as: “What about…” or “Is there a way to…?” The answers often result in a sense of frustration that’s expressed in responses like, “Well, how do they expect me to get to work?” In this article, we’re going to break down 2nd and 3rd offense DUI penalties in simple terms.

License penalties in DUI casesTo begin, the reader should understand that, in Michigan, if a person is convicted of a 2nd DUI within 7 years, or a 3rd DUI within 10 years , he or she is categorized as a “habitual alcohol offender.” There are 2 important consequences that follow from a conviction for either a 2nd offense DUI within 7 years, or 3rd offense DUI within 10 years: First, the person’s driver’s license gets revoked. Second, he or she is legally presumed to have an alcohol problem.

When the Michigan Secretary of State revokes a person’s driver’s license for multiple DUI’s, it imposes a lifetime revocation. This is VERY different than the simple suspension of a driver’s license. A revocation means a person’s license is completely taken away, and for good. The lifetime part means that, unless and until he or she files and wins a formal driver’s license restoration appeal, his or her license will be gone – as the term implies – for the rest of his or her life.

Where a person is arrested for a DUI is one of the most important aspects of the case. This is particularly true in the Metropolitan-Detroit area (meaning Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and surrounding counties) where our firm handles criminal and DUI cases. A drunk driving arrest with the very same facts can play out much differently depending on location. Some courts (and Judges) are just plain tougher than others. In fact, there are sometimes significant differences between different Judges in the very same court.

DUI case - the location is very important in Metro-DetroitWhen it comes to DUI cases, we can place every court into 1 of 3 general categories: tough, lenient, or what I call “middle of the road.” There are more that fall in the middle rather than in either the tough or lenient categories. Within that larger middle group, there is quite a bit of variation. To be clear, this article will not “rank” any of the local courts. After all, any such ranking would ultimately be nothing more than my opinion (even though it would be based on 30-plus years of extensive experience.) Whatever else, that’s the kind of subject best discussed confidentially.

Instead, this article stick to the larger point that, in DUI cases, “where” is a dominant factor. Perhaps the most significant (and disappointing) thing about this is the reality that there is nothing that can be done about it. A DUI case happens where it happens. Nobody plans to go out and get arrested for drunk driving. In a very real way, every DUI is an accident of geography. For as true as that is, however, the simple fact is that, at least for the person facing the charge, some places are better than others.

My team and I handle over 200 Michigan driver’s license appeal matters per year. We speak with a lot of people, and, in doing so, hear a lot of misconceptions about the license appeal process. One of the more common things people say is an objection of sorts. It’s often put like this: “They want me to say I’m an alcoholic!” That’s not exactly true, but it’s not completely wrong, either. In this article, we’re going to look at why this whole subject relevant to anyone who has had their license revoked for multiple DUI’s.

AlcoholicThe Michigan driver’s license appeal process is governed by law. It can get complicated. We’re going to skip over all that and examine this in simple terms. The first thing the reader should understand arises out of the DUI law itself. In Michigan, anyone convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or 3 DUI’s within 10 years, is classified as a “habitual alcohol offender.” There are 2 important consequences of that are especially significant here:

The first, of course, is that a person’s driver’s license gets revoked by the Michigan Secretary of State. Not surprisingly, the reader is likely here for just that reason. The second consequence of being categorized as a “habitual alcohol offender” is that any such person is presumed, by law, to have an alcohol problem. This means it is understood, as a starting point, that anyone who has to file a license appeal after multiple DUI’s has some kind of drinking problem.

Our firm guarantees to win every first time Michigan Driver’s License restoration and clearance appeal case we take. For everything that a lawyer can say about experience and success, having a license restoration guarantee says even more. For anyone filing a license restoration or clearance appeal, the ONLY thing that matters is winning. When all is said and done, you either get your license back (or get a clearance of the Michigan hold on your driving record) – or not. And let’s face it, “or not” is a complete waste of your time and money.

License restoration win guaranteeOur license restoration guarantee is simple and straightforward. There is no “fine print.” If we take your license restoration or clearance appeal case, we guarantee to win it. If not, we will continue to represent you before the Michigan Secretary of State, without further charge, until we do. The only exception happens if a person lies, or otherwise withholds relevant information from us that results in his or her denial. My team and I question every client and potential client thoroughly, so voiding our guarantee would require a lot more than just an innocent oversight on anyone’s part.

There is, however, an important “catch” before our guarantee applies. It’s this: You have to be sober for us to take your case. We ONLY represent people who are genuinely clean and sober. This, of course, means that you must have honestly quit drinking. It also means that you must be abstinent from any and all other substances – including recreational marijuana. A person cannot be “clean and sober” but also use recreational marijuana. This has become a big problem since its legalization in Michigan. One thing my team and I have learned is that a lot of people don’t fully understand just what “sober” really means.

This blog is THE biggest and best source of real-world information about Michigan criminal, DUI and driver’s license restoration cases. In its 13 years online, I have written and published over 1300 articles here. For most of that time, I have put up 2 new articles every week, on Mondays and Fridays. Starting now, and at least for a while, however, that will change. For the time being will only be putting up 1 installment per week. I might even have to skip a week here or there, at least temporarily Here’s why:

Criminal, DUI and driver's license restoration blog schedule changeOur firm is in the midst of readying our new website to go live. My team and I very excited for its upcoming debut. While everything on our current site is legally accurate, the way people consume information has changed over the years. When it first went online, we were in a minority of lawyers to even have a website. Nowadays, people want to be able to find what they’re looking for quickly. Launching our new and improved site will make it easier for people to do just that.

Over time, the people have moved from using desktops to laptops, and now, to mobile devices. When our current site launched, the iPhone was a novelty. In the intervening years, mobile devices have become the norm. Today, over 75% of our online visitors use a phone or tablet to get to us. We need this update to improve the user’s experience. Our site needs to be easier to navigate, and the content needs to be broken down into much smaller chunks.

A regular part of being Michigan criminal and DUI lawyers is handling probation violations. Although it all means the same thing, the actual term used for this proceeding varies from court to court. In the Metro-Detroit area (Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and the surrounding counties), it is most often called a probation violation, or “PV.” Some courts use the term “VOP” (violation of probation). Yet others call it a “show cause,” requiring one to appear and “show cause” to the court why he or she shouldn’t be violated.

A probation violation means not complying with the probation orderWhatever the label, if you’re alleged to have violated probation, you need help to get past it and stay out of jail. A probation violation occurs in 1 of 2 ways. The first is that a person does something he or she has been ordered NOT to do. The second occurs when he or she does NOT do something he or she was ordered to do. That sounds straightforward, but it misses a lot of what actually happens to people in real life. Many probation violations occur because a person simply doesn’t comply with the Judge’s orders. However, there are plenty of exceptions to that, as well.

It is a simple fact that some PV’s are unintentional. Others are just plain wrong. Breath and/or urine test results can be inaccurate. Urine samples can get mixed up. Sometimes, as the saying goes, “$hit happens.” Unfortunately, in the context of a probation violation, that “$hit” can be rather deep. We always have to remember that just being on probation is, in and of itself, a break. Probation is always an opportunity to prove one’s self while staying out of jail. It is the alternative to jail. In that sense, a person has to do everything possible to remain in compliance.

In part 1 of this article about the arraignment, we identified 5 important functions. First, we saw that the arraignment is the first step in a criminal case. Second, the person is formally notified of the charges or charges against him or her, and the maximum legal penalty that can be imposed for each. Third, he or she will enter a plea (it should always be “not guilty”). Fourth, bond (bail), and bond conditions are set. Fifth, some courts allow the arraignment to be waived in certain misdemeanor cases, but that cannot happen in a felony case.

The arraignment before a JudgeHere, in part 2, we’ll dig a little deeper into the practical side of this. As just noted, the arraignment can be “waived” in some misdemeanor cases. This means a person won’t have to go to court for it. Waiving the arraignment requires that the lawyer file certain papers. As we also noted, the arraignment cannot be waived in felony cases. This also applies to any misdemeanor charge for which the court chooses to require attendance. A district court can simply elect to forbid the waiver of the arraignment in any or all misdemeanor cases, as it sees fit.

One of the scariest parts about having to show up for an arraignment occurs when the person is advised of the maximum possible penalty that can be imposed for his or her charge(s). Imagine, for example, that a person is caught with a small amount cocaine for personal use. He or she is brought to court and advised that the maximum penalty that can imposed for possession is up to 4 years in the state prison. That will cause many to have a “sinking feeling” in the pit of their stomachs.

In this 2-part article, we’re going to examine and explain the arraignment in Michigan criminal and DUI cases. In this first part, we’ll look more at the legal purpose of an arraignment. In the second part, we’ll dig a bit deeper into it’s function and process in the Metro-Detroit area. For my team and I, “Metro-Detroit” means the various courts located in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and the surrounding counties.That matters because, as we’ll see, the actual process can be quite different from one court to another.

The arraignment in a criminal caseThe arraignment has a long history. It has been around pretty much as long as criminal charges have been made against people in court. Black’s Law Dictionary, the most highly regarding source for legal definitions, concisely describes the arraignment as “the initial step in a criminal prosecution, whereby the defendant is brought before the court to hear the charges and to enter a plea.” While that’s historically true, it also leaves out a LOT of important and practical considerations.

To be sure, the primary purpose of an arraignment is to advise a person of the charge or charges being made against him or her. It also informs the person of the maximum legal penalty that can be imposed for each. However, in many misdemeanor cases, at least in Michigan, the arraignment can be “waived” so that one does not need to show up in court for it. More on that later. I point this out now, however, to make clear that criminal procedure has evolved a lot over the last several centuries.

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