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Stay out of Jail, save your Record, and avoid Difficult Probation.

One of the most important issues that I face as a Michigan criminal and DUI lawyer is a person’s prior record.  It is absolutely critical to how things work out in just about every case.  Curiously, it is a subject that has largely been overlooked on lawyer’s websites, mine included.  In this article, I want to take a look at how a person’s prior record can affect the outcome of his or her case, and how this applies across the board, from serious things like 3rd offense (felony) DUI all the way to a simple traffic ticket, and everything in-between, including 1st and 2nd offense drunk driving cases, as well.  This is not a pretty topic, because the simple truth is that it’s not good for a lawyer’s business to be writing things that can make a case seem tougher as opposed to all the things that can make it better, but your record is a necessary topic to discuss, and any lawyer worth a nickel is going to have to address it at some point with his or her client.  I think it’s about time to drag it out into the light and give it a good once-over.

criminal-clipart-criminal-clipart-1-281x300In some cases, the importance of a prior criminal record (or lack thereof) is obvious; for example, in DUI cases, because a person with a prior conviction within 7 years will be charged with a “2nd offense.”  In DUI cases, there is no getting around a case being a 2nd offense or 3rd offense, whereas a person arrested for something like possession of marijuana may be charged and ultimately treated like a 1st time offender, even if he or she has a prior record for the very same thing.  Worse yet, there seems to be little or no logic as to why, beyond just being “lucky,” in a manner of speaking.  In other situations, a person may have a prior record for a completely unrelated offense, or even multiple offenses; those convictions may be recent, old, or a even a combination thereof.  It goes without saying that having NO record at all is better than having any kind of record, but given that a prior scrape or two with the law isn’t that uncommon, lots of very good people have some missteps in their past.  That said, I’m sure the reader understands that the fewer of those on record, the better.  This should make sense without the need for any kind of further explanation.

This can get weird, however, because in the real world, a prior record can be a big deal in some cases, and not matter much, or even at all, in others.  I have, for example, represented someone with a rather bad record charged with his or her 1st DUI and have been able to easily reduce the drunk driving charge because the person doesn’t have any prior drinking and driving convictions.  By contrast, there are some really tough jurisdictions (thankfully most of which are NOT in the Detroit-area) where a single, unrelated and old conviction can be a stumbling block to a plea bargain in a new and completely unrelated case.  With these somewhat extreme and opposite situations serving as bookends, let’s turn now to how things most often play out in the real world.

No one is really prepared for a DUI, so when it happens, it is natural for a person to want to know what to expect.  Of course, the most pressing questions fall into the “what is going to happen to me?” and “am I going to jail?” category, but another rather common question asked of me is “how many times do you think I’ll have to go to court?”  In this article, I want to answer that question, at least as it applies to OWI cases in the Detroit-area (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties).  Our primary focus will be on what a person facing a 1st offense DUI (this includes High BAC cases, as well) can expect, but we’ll also examine, albeit briefly, the likely number of court appearances for 2nd and 3rd (felony) offenses, as well.  It is important to note at the outset that where a case is pending has a lot to do with this, as does the strategy used in the case, but our focus here will be more on how many times you have to show up, rather than the reasons why.

1300654103_calendar-man-smallMost of the time in the real world, and for most people reading this, the concern about how many court appearances you’ll have to attend arises in a 1st offense DUI case.  The reason I say this is that almost everyone facing a 2nd or subsequent offense probably realize that there is a pretty strong “it depends” component to all of this.  Keep in mind that that there is no set number of times a person must go to court for a drinking and driving case, although it is pretty much written in stone that a person will have at least 2 court dates in any case.  The exception comes if a person who lives out-of-state picks up a DUI here in Michigan.  In such cases, I am usually able to arrange things so that the person can come back and get everything done in one day.  For everyone else, you can start with the idea that you will have at least 2 court dates – “at least” being an important, minimum qualifier.

I hate to sound old and get into all those “back in the day” stories, but, truth be told, up until a number of years ago, a DUI lawyer like me could simply waive a person’s arraignment in a 1st offense DUI case in just about every local, Detroit-area court.  This means a person could skip the first court date.  Let me explain what an arraignment means first, and then I’ll explain why it’s still possible in most, but not all cases, to waive it.  An arraignment is a preliminary proceeding (the first thing that happens in any criminal case) wherein a person goes to court to be told of the exact charge against him or her, and have a bond set.  The reason it was (and still is, in most places) so easy to “waive” is that you’d kind of have to be a block-head to be arrested for drunk driving, held overnight in jail, then let go, but somehow NOT know you’re being charged with a DUI.  As to bond, most people are let out of jail after posting a few hundred bucks, anyway, although plenty of people are let go without having to pay a dime.  Even if a person was let out of jail for no money, once they’ve hired a lawyer and he or she files papers with the court, it kind of goes without saying that they’ve been told all about the DUI they’re being charged with, and the fact that they’ve hired a lawyer is as good assurance as any that they’re going to show up to court and not skip out.  There is really no reason to drag them into court to tell them they’re being charged with a drunk driving offense…

A big part of being a Michigan DUI lawyer is representing people who have never been in trouble before.  A drunk driving charge is a criminal charge, but the kind of client for whom I handle a DUI is hardly any kind of “criminal.”  Most of my DUI clients are people who have never been arrested before, and therefore never imagined being transported to a police station in handcuffs and spending a night in jail.  Then it happens.  If you’re reading this, chances are you, at least someone you care about, has recently been through a DUI arrest.  If it’s you, then you know it sucks.  If it’s your spouse, partner, sibling, child or someone important to you, you’re probably sharing in the misery.  Let me begin with the good news; Assuming you didn’t hurt anyone, and with the exception of just one Judge in the Greater-Detroit area, there is almost certainly no more jail in your future for a 1st offense DUI.  I say this upfront because I hate how some lawyers pander to people’s fears.  You know the type; they’re everywhere, reminding you of all the ways that a drunk driving charge can ruin your life while selling their services to save you from certain doom.  To be sure, a DUI is serious business, but in more than 26 years, I’ve represented people from every walk of life – from surgeons to sergeants, nurses to nannies, teachers to techies, engineers to bakers – and NOT ONE of my 1st offense drinking and driving clients has ever lost a job, or otherwise been “ruined.”

article-2255011-16B27161000005DC-30_634x603-300x285I wish I could say it was all thanks to me, but the honest truth is that, as scary as all of this can seem, the legal system itself is not designed to destroy anyone’s life over a DUI.  Sure, there is punishment and there are sanctions; the idea is to make it hurt enough so that you won’t let it happen again.  For the most part, that works, at least for my typical client, who is a professional with a lot to lose.  Often enough, a client will present to me with concerns about his or her occupational or professional licensure (everyone presents with concerns about his or driver’s license).  These are all manageable issues, and I mean manageable in the sense that, if handled properly, there will be no interruption or suspension of one’s ability to keep his or her job, or practice in a licensed field.  Still, I understand that there is a kind of persisting mortification that a person experiences after being released from his or her overnight in jail, and the point I want to make here is that while such feelings are normal, they are also, fortunately, misplaced.  The worst is already over.

And therein, really, lies the mystery and the truth.  While a DUI can be a threat to your future, most of the worst consequences aren’t even on the menu in a 1st offense case.  Proper and timely defensive action can protect you from most of the other potential fallout, as well.  The mystery here is the sense of unknown surrounding what will happen – “Am I going to go to jail?” – (no), while the truth is that bundle other consequences that you are at a very real risk to experience.  This is where all that “proper and timely defensive action” comes into play.  And to be clear, “timely” does NOT mean hurry up and hire a lawyer.  On the contrary, you should take your time and get to know the lawyers you’re considering by reading their articles and websites.  There is NEVER a reason to hurry up and hire a lawyer, and the only reason any lawyer would suggest you “act now” or “call today” is so that you won’t continue to look around, explore your options, and find someone else.  Believe me, there is simply no good reason to ever NOT put in the time to really do your homework when it comes to hiring a lawyer.

For everything that has been and can be written about Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals (and there is a lot), all of it can be reduced to one word: Sobriety.  Sobriety is not only the key to winning your license back, it is the foundation (the real meat and potatoes) of the license appeal process; it is the first and a necessary requirement to beginning that process and, very often, the motivator for those who are truly inspired to improve their lives.  To put that another way, while it is understood that everybody “needs” a license, when people get sober, their lives get better; they do things like get married, have kids, and get better jobs.  As their responsibilities in the world rise (a direct result of not drinking anymore), they not only need a license, but want one to ride the wave of their life getting better.  In that sense, sobriety is the cause for life getting better, and that, in turn, becomes the cause for the need to get back on the road.

ad42367d5c022a9c3e2ccfa3bf9879e2-300x300In my numerous writings about the license appeal process, I am very clear that I will only take cases for people who are genuinely sober.  That’s not just some standard that I set.  The whole license restoration system is really focused on that single point; people who have honestly quit drinking for good are no risk to drink and drive again.  Anyone who is seen as a risk to pick up a drink again is also seen as an unacceptable risk to drink and drive again.  The Michigan Secretary of State has drawn a line in the sand, and it separates non-drinkers from everyone else.  I could have just as easily said “drinkers from non-drinkers,” but that’s the kind of wordplay some people try to use as they argue that they don’t really “drink” very much, and, as such, aren’t really “drinkers” anymore.  They’ll insist that they can manage to enjoy the occasional glass of wine with dinner or such, once in a while, without risk.  The Michigan license reinstatement rules and the court cases interpreting them (and, most importantly, the hearing officers who apply all that to real life cases and make the real-world decisions about who wins and who loses) don’t allow for any of that.  No one in the state system buys the “once in a while” thing about drinking, and the rules specifically forbid anyone who still drinks, however infrequently, from winning their license back. The only people who will even be considered for re-licensure are those who can prove that they have completely given up drinking, and who really mean to stay sober for life.

That last part is important, because plenty of people will figure out enough about the license restoration process to know that the only chance to win back the ability to drive is to convince the state that they won’t drink again.  If it was just as easy as saying so, I’d almost be out of a job, and all anyone would have to do is keep a straight face and tell the hearing officer that they’ve quit drinking for good.  The whole point of the appeal process is to make people prove that they are genuinely sober, and for the AHS hearing officers to sniff out those who are just saying it from those who really mean it. What’s more, since the overriding concern is to make sure that no one who is seen as a risk to ever drink again wins his or her case, it is understood that plenty of genuinely sober people will get denied.  This is just the price for setting the bar so high.  The idea here is that even if a person who has honestly quit drinking gets denied a time or two, they’ll eventually get the right help to be able to prove their sobriety.  And that’s where I come in…

In the previous license restoration article on this blog, I tackled 2 myths about winning a Michigan driver’s license appeal case; the notion that you can’t win your license back the first time you try (I do, and I guarantee it!) and the idea that how much you “need” a license matters.  In this article, I want to dispel 2 more common misconceptions about Michigan license reinstatement cases: 1.) That you need to be in AA to win your license back (you don’t; less than half of my clients are in AA, and I guarantee to win every case I take), and 2.), that, if you’re a Michigan resident, you can avoid getting a restricted license and/or an ignition interlock for the first year (you can’t).  The inspiration for these articles really comes from my experience in answering questions about these topics so many times over the years.  To make sure we start off accurately, let me be clear: First, you don’t need to be in AA to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, and second, if you live in Michigan, the ONLY kind of license you’ll win back is a restricted license, for one year, that also requires you to drive using an ignition interlock device.

MYTH-FACT-300x240Years ago, it was hard to win a license appeal without being in AA.  This is no longer the case, and, as I noted, the majority of clients for whom I win license reinstatements are not in it.  I’ve written rather extensively about this in the past, so I won’t repeat the analysis here beyond pointing out that having been in AA, even briefly, is helpful, but not necessary to win your license back.  Many of my license appeal clients have been to at least a few meetings, but even if you’ve never gone, it won’t hurt your chances to win a license restoration or clearance appeal.  Treatment protocols have changed (I’d like to think evolved) over the years, and now, even a lot of IOP (Intensive Outpatient) programs don’t require AA attendance anymore.

There are 2 kinds of relief you can win if you file a license appeal with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), the body that decides these cases: If you have moved out of Michigan and are a resident of another state, you get what’s called a clearance, which is a removal of the Michigan hold (revocation) on your driving record.  This allows you to get a license in another state.  If you not claimed residency in another state (meaning you still remain a Michigan resident), then you can only win a restricted license and must drive, for at least the first year, with an ignition interlock installed on whatever vehicle you’re using.  You do not need to own a vehicle, but whatever you drive must have an interlock unit.  We’ll get to this later, as well.  Let’s turn first to misconceptions about AA and license restoration appeals…

In this article, I want to clarify 2 common misconceptions about winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration case:  1.) The idea that you can’t (or that it is nearly impossible) to win the first time you try, and 2.) That “needing” a license has anything to do actually winning it back.  As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I’ve heard just about every wrong idea about license appeals that’s out there.  One of the more ironic things I’ve heard from those of my clients who attend AA (less than 1/2 of them do; it’s not necessary) is that they’ve heard other people say, at meetings, that you really can’t win your license back the first time from the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), the body that decides these cases.  That’s dead wrong.  I not only do it all the time, but I guarantee it.  The likely reason for this misinformation is that the people spreading it have either tried to do their own license appeal (the doomed “do-it-yourself” appeal) or they hired a lawyer who does not concentrate in license restoration cases.  No matter how you cut it, they lost because the case was not properly handled.

myths_cropped-300x262The second issue we’ll take up is that how much you really need a license has nothing to do your ability to actually win it back.  “Needing” a license isn’t enough; in fact, it doesn’t really matter at all.  To win your license back, or, if you now live out-of-state, to win the clearance of a Michigan hold on your driving record, you must be both legally and practically eligible, as well as genuinely sober (more on this later).  While you cannot win without these things, they are all you actually need to win, and I say this without reservation because I put my money where my mouth is with my first time win guarantee.  The real key to winning back the ability to drive is sobriety.  From the state’s point of view, the person who is a safe bet to never drink again is the safest bet to never drink and drive again.

The license restoration process certainly suffers from the “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” phenomenon, and in the real world, it spells defeat for “do-it yourselfers” and less experienced lawyers alike.  License appeal cases have the deceptive quality of looking easy, or at least “do-able,” but the truth is that they are complex, and hard, but not hard in the way that one designs space rockets, but rather hard like rolling a heavy boulder up a steep hill.  As a lawyer, you’ve got to get a few hundred of these cases under your belt to really get a “feel” for them.  Most lawyers will probably never do anywhere near a hundred of these cases in their entire career, so that kind of experience is simply out of reach for them.  When correctly handled, however, there is no reason a license appeal cannot or should not be won the first time around, and however much (or not) a person needs a license to drive is completely irrelevant.  Let’s sort this out a bit…

This article will cover what happens after a blood sample is taken following a Michigan DUI arrest, particularly in the Metro-Detroit area (meaning Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties).  Instead of a long, overly-legal analysis of the scientific protocols required of such tests and the results they produce in a drunk driving case, we’ll keep things short here and focus on what you can expect early on.  We’ll also look at how (and why) Detroit-area drinking and driving cases involving blood tests take longer to make it to court than those involving breath tests given at the police station.  In my practice as a Michigan DUI lawyer, “When will we hear something?” is about the most common question asked of me after a DUI arrest with a blood draw.  For most people who’ve had their blood taken, the days following a drunk driving arrest are quiet.  Sure, you’ve been told that you’ll be contacted, but when?  How?  Will the police come knocking at my door or show up at work?

DUI-blood-drawThankfully, the answer is “no.”  I’ve never had that happen in any DUI case I’ve handled, but one thing that does occur sometimes is that the police (or the court) do NOT follow through with any kind of notification, and upon inquiry my office learns that a new client has an outstanding warrant for a DUI charge despite having checked his or her phone and mail carefully ever since the arrest.  To be sure, this is not the norm, but it does happen, and when I’m retained in a DUI case where the client has had his or her blood taken, my office promptly notifies the court, and sometimes the appropriate person at the arresting police agency, as well, so that my client won’t miss any notification.

A big part of the problem here is timing.  If you go to the police station and blow into the breathalyzer machine, your BAC results are printed out immediately.  If your blood is taken, it can take weeks (usually, in the Tri-County area, about four weeks, give or take) before the results make it back to the police, who then must forward everything to the prosecutor.  Blood is always sent to the Michigan State Police Crime Lab for analysis.  There is a lot to understand about how the blood must be collected, packaged, sent and tested, but discussion of that falls beyond the issue of timing that we’re examining here.  And for all of the science you can apply to DUI blood tests, none of it really matters a bit until the results come back.  If you’ve been arrested for a Michigan DUI and had your blood taken, a good and general rule of thumb (at least in the Detroit area) is that it takes about a month to get the results.  And while it used to be that blood tests were almost exclusively given in cases where a person refused to take a breath test, more local police agencies are having them done right out of the gate, instead of breath tests.  I’ve had cases in Oakland County where the person was driven right to the hospital from the scene of the arrest, and other cases in Macomb County where someone like an EMT has been at the police station to take blood right away.

Some people seem to be hell-bent on making things more difficult than they have to be.  This can assume several forms in the context of a Michigan driver’s license restoration case.  In my previous driver’s license restoration articles, I have explained that, however much you one may not like the legal process established by the Michigan Secretary of State that must be followed to win a license back, no amount of complaining about it is going to do a bit of good.  Either you follow the process or not, and unless and until you do, you won’t ever get your license back.  In the course of decades winning license cases, I’ve heard every gripe you can imagine, from the (very much mistaken) idea that the license appeal process is all about money (it is certainly not – the state charges no money and therefore makes none for license appeals) to the notion that there is a conspiracy to “keep you in the system.”  There is not a grain of truth to any “theory” about license restoration appeals other than the correct observation that they are hard because they’re designed to be hard.

complainerThe simple point I want to make in this piece is that some people waste a lot of time just looking for things to complain about, and/or that don’t exist; this applies in both life in general and when it comes to license reinstatement cases.  Believe me, no matter how oppressive the “system” feels, there is no one within the entirety of it trying to sabotage your chances of winning your license back.  Instead, there are very specific procedures and rules that must be followed to win a license restoration or clearance cases, and amongst the hearing officers that decide them, some are more flexible than others.  In the real world, some of the people trying to get their license back follow directions and/or rules better than others, and those that don’t are the ones who have the most difficulty; self-created difficulty, as it turns out.  The license appeal rules are strict, and the requirements demanding, but the only alternative to following them is to keep talking – and thereby keep walking.  One of the most common things I hear comes from someone who cannot accept that license appeals require a person to have genuinely quit drinking, and for good.  It is this person, despite multiple DUI convictions, who insists the rules are not fair, that the state is out to ruin his or her life, and that he or she can still have the occasional drink without being any kind risk.  This person is the textbook example of who the rules are designed to keep from ever driving again, and won’t ever get back on the road until he or she “puts the plug in the jug” and gets sober.  Another difficult-to-deal-with type who tends to make everything harder than it has to be is the one who, upon learning that residents of Michigan must drive for the first year using an ignition interlock, get all frustrated and starts complaining about how and why these machines aren’t reliable, how it’s all about money (you hear that a lot), or why this will never work for them.

After having met all too many of these people over the years, I can only wonder how much easier their lives would be if they lost the bad attitude and just stopped getting in their own way.  The system is what it is, and if a person can just settle down and follow the process, then winning back a driver’s license is a lot easier.  This is not to say that I think the system is perfect; far from it, in fact, but it is what it is.  The Michigan Secretary of State’s procedures for ignition interlock violations is textbook example of frustrating inefficiency.  We all have to do lots of things we don’t want to do, but that’s life.  Even if you have a driver’s license, you might wind up waiting at a Secretary of State branch office for hours to renew it; who “wants” to do that?  If you’ve ever had to call technical support, then you’ve also done something you didn’t want to do.  Certain, people, however, seem to always have a chip on their shoulder.  They’re always pissed off about something, and that makes everything they do harder.  It also makes them unpleasant to everyone else.  They are, to put it simply, difficult people.

In my roles as a Michigan criminal, driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyer, I have always tried to keep my fees reasonable.  That said, I have never sought to compete with the bargain lawyers, as the level of service that I provide (and which should and does translate into tangible results) is much different from theirs.  For example, I guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration case I take.  Recently, however, health insurance costs have gone way up, essentially becoming the straw that broke the camel’s back in my office, because over the last few years, everything else has gone up, as well.  I’ve held the line on costs until now, but since mine have gone up again, so too, will my fees, although only modestly.  I’m out to cover my increased costs, not build a new vacation home.  While most lawyers don’t go anywhere near publishing their fees or writing anything about them, I do.  That I list my fees in the first place makes me very different from every other lawyer I know; that I’d put up an article announcing and explaining a price increase is yet another way that I’m different, but I wouldn’t do things any other way.  Personally, I won’t do business with any operation that hides its prices or is secretive about costs, and given that one of the current, in-vogue buzzwords is transparency, I think an article about prices is necessary and, well, transparent.

left-feesYou know the old saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch?”  Well, it’s not only true, it is an axiom of commerce.  Nobody gives anything away for free.  There is always a motive.  Even if you stop into a furniture store to fill out a card to enter a raffle for a free couch with a “no purchase necessary” disclaimer, the store figures that the cost of one (and you can count on this, it’s not a top-of-the-line model) couch is more than worth bringing hundreds of people into the showroom and have them walk all the way to the back, past all the other furniture, to enter the contest.  Over time, they will clean up on impulse buys that make the cost of the couch well worth it.  I’m no different.  I’m a nice guy, as honest as can be, and have my own motivation for being transparent, but I’m also perfectly glad to share it.  I figure that, by listing my prices, I can save my staff and I lots of time not having to deal with time-wasters and bargain hunters looking for a cheap lawyer.  In fact, just about anyone who emails and inquires “How much do you charge,” beyond having missed the fees I list on both my blog and website, almost certainly can’t afford the services I provide, either.  Hiring a lawyer, at least for the kinds of work I do, is kind of like hiring a laser eye surgeon to fix your vision, or a plastic surgeon to do some cosmetic work:  You can find bargains, and you can find cheap, but you will NEVER find the best in class using those criteria.  That goes for everything.

Of course, you can overpay for a lawyer, as well.  Anything near a $10,000 DUI, for example (regardless of whether it’s a 1st, 2nd or 3rd  offense) is, in my opinion, grossly excessive – unless it results in all charges being dropped.  Given that only about .17 percent of all DUI and DUI-related arrests result in an acquittal after trial, good luck with that (this, in part, accounts for why I attract a disproportionately high number of 2nd offense DUI cases; those clients are experienced, educated consumers and they identify with my candid and direct approach).  Always remember that when you hire a lawyer, you are paying for someone to go make your situation better.  Anybody can promise the world, make everything sound like it will all get dismissed, assure a great outcome, and then do all kinds of work.  The question becomes what work is actually helpful and/or necessary, and the answer involves making sure your lawyer charges enough to thoroughly examine the evidence first (that’s not going to happen with a cut-rate lawyer), and then challenges it when doing so is appropriate, and likely to improve your case, rather than just doing so in a shotgun approach that is really just “busy work” to justify the fee you’ve paid.  These tactics, while making a person feel like they’ve gotten a lot of work for their money, do tend to backfire with the court and cost a lot goodwill.  Judges know who is out to take people for a ride.  Yet for all of that, however, what am I doing with my prices?

We all make mistakes.  In my practice as a Michigan DUI lawyer, I help people get through drunk driving charges as painlessly as possible.  For all of the confusing, legal and technical mumbo-jumbo that lawyers can throw at this, the bottom line is that people make mistakes, DUI’s happen, and everyone who faces a drinking and driving charge wants to get out of the situation with the fewest possible consequences.  In the previous installment on this blog, I explained that I wind up getting hired for a lot of 2nd offense DUI cases because so many people, after having gone through this process once already, and not feeling that the lawyer from their first case was “all that,” start doing some serious research online and come across the information I put up, essentially confirming its accuracy based upon their prior experience.

keep-calm-because-stuff-happensIn the DUI area of website and on the DUI section of this blog, I try to examine every aspect of drinking and driving cases.  That was an easier task when I first began, but now, having done that from just about every angle possible, I have pretty much covered it all within my articles.  To keep it fresh, I often try and write about subjects that are the things I’m most often asked about because I know that there is someone is probably searching for that very information.  In this article, I want to talk about the reality that getting arrested for a DUI sometimes just “happens.”  Think about it; no one plans on going out and driving drunk, much less getting pulled over while trying to get home.  You can analyze it anyway you want, but the truth is that DUI’s just “happen.”  Of course, some people are inclined to overthink things, and will try to examine a particular DUI incident to find an underlying cause, kind of like an “autopsy” on the event itself.  Sure, sometimes there is more to getting popped than just bad luck or chance, but getting into all that analysis kind of reminds of how some people approach nutrition.  We all know someone who counts carbs or fat grams or whatever; maybe they even sound smart as they explain how much they’re enjoying NOT eating pizza (yeah, right).  To me, that’s a waste of time.  Instead, I think of my dad, who was a mailman, an athlete, and who was always active.  He ate bread and butter and hot dogs and pizza, yet, despite that, was in great shape his whole life.  He did just fine right into his 90’s without all the BS of over-analysis.  You can do the same with a DUI.

If you’re arrested for a drinking and driving offense, the “why” of it doesn’t change anything, either.  Who you are matters more than why you were.  Someone pulled over for weaving and who says that he or she over-celebrated something will be treated the same as someone whose whole family was recently sucked away by a tornado.  And I’d bet that, in neither of those cases, did the person go out with any intention to drive drunk, even if the plan was to go out and get drunk in the first place.  In the real world, there is almost always this thought-gap between the actual partying and then getting home, or getting around.  Driving drunk is almost never intentional; it just happens.  The problem, however, is that if you’re facing a 1st offense DUI, absolutely none of this is a defense, nor can it help you get out of trouble.  So, what do you do?  First, let’s ease your worst fear; if you are facing a 1st offense DUI, you’re not going to go to jail (there is one Judge in the Detroit area who is a possible exception to that, but unless your case is assigned to her, jail is just NOT on the menu).  This means you can stop wasting your time and skip blowing the family fortune on some lawyer whose big pitch and main offering is to keep you out of jail, because you’re not going there anyway.  That’s like a dentist promising to fix a cavity so that you don’t get brain cancer – not going to happen….