Almost every week, I get an email or two from someone who wants to know what’s likely to happen in his or her Michigan DUI case. As a Detroit DUI attorney, I know how things work in all of the local Courts I go to, based upon over 20 years of experience. I don’t handle drunk driving charges outside of Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County, and by limiting my practice in that way, I have increased my relevant experience almost exponentially.
Sometimes, I see a long email waiting to be read. As things work out in the real world, it more often than not it is the case that the more someone writes, the less interested they are in retaining my services. Like so many of my blog articles, this one was inspired by a recent experience. The day before this article was written, I found a long, descriptive email asking my thoughts on how the writer’s DUI case would work out. The writer had hired a Lawyer at the recommendation of a friend, only to find out that the Lawyer wasn’t very familiar with how things are done in the suburban Detroit Court where his case is pending.
Without fail, people will take the time to point out to me those things they think are important, or, they’ll repeat what they’ve heard from their Lawyer, and now believe to be important. I don’t know this guy’s Lawyer from Santa Claus, so what he and I think is important could be miles apart. As I read on, I immediately formed some questions. What about this? What about that? I needed more information to even begin to form any kind of picture, and that’s with all the detail this writer had already supplied.
Let’s rewind for a second: This writer already has a Lawyer. At the end of my very long day, when I’m looking at maybe two hours of time for myself, how important is giving a second opinion to someone who is not, and certainly not going to be, my Client? Beyond that, before I could form any solid opinion, I’d need to see the evidence. I’d need to read the Police Report, and, if the other Lawyer was smart enough to obtain a copy of the Police in-car video, assuming it was relevant, watch that, as well.
I had to tell the guy that of course I can give a very accurate assessment of what’s likely to happen, but I’d have to review all of the evidence to do that, and that would mean he’d have to be my Client. I didn’t go on to tell him that I really have no interest in taking over a DUI case that’s moved very far along because, in all truth, unless the previous Lawyer just happens to be a “DUI Lawyer,” like me, chances are it wasn’t handled in the same way I’d have handled it, anyway. To begin with the guy had taken on a case in a Court he wasn’t familiar with, and that was a huge mistake, already causing problems. That’s my rather lame attempt to nicely say that, more likely than not, his current Lawyer has already done other things I would consider mistakes, as well. DUI cases are hard enough, but to take one that’s been botched up is a huge headache.
At least this guy had a Lawyer. Another source of frustration (or, more accurately, “time waster”) are those long emails with all the details the writer thinks are important that begin with “My boyfriend…” or otherwise end with some mention of money “being tight.” As I noted, I can’t really offer any kind of fair “prediction” about anyone’s case without all the facts, and to get a hold of all the facts, I have to be the Lawyer. Even so, I’d never email a Doctor with a long description of how something hurts, and when, and what makes it worse, and then ask for medical advice. That doesn’t stop some people, though…
For all of that, and precisely because I’m a Detroit DUI Lawyer, I can make certain general observations about a pending, local case. If you have a case that will be heard in the Rochester Hills (52-3) District Court, you’re facing a tough time. Overall, that’s the toughest Court around. If your case winds up in New Baltimore, Shelby Township, or Sterling Heights, then it will automatically play out in a more lenient way than if it’s pending someplace like Troy. Novi isn’t nearly as scary as urban legend makes it out, and Clinton Township and Roseville are both rather “kindhearted” Courts, although Clinton Township will charge a lot more money than Roseville. Madison Heights is decidedly more “down to earth” than Bloomfield Hills (isn’t that a surprise?), and St. Clair Shores, despite the fact that the Courthouse itself has been torn down and Court is being held in a an empty, former Catholic School, tends to be a lot like the Court in Romeo. Waterford and Plymouth tend to “feel” very similar, even though they’re located rather far apart. Having a DUI in Westland is a “gift,” to the extent that anything about a DUI can be good, and Romulus, while pretty much far away from everything, is one of the nicest Courts around.
Any real kind of “prediction” about what will specifically happen in any given case must be based on the facts of, and those begin with when, where, why, and how a person is pulled over. Before I (or anyone, for that matter) can really give a competent assessment of how a case is likely to play out, all the evidence has to by carefully reviewed and analyzed. Usually, after my first meeting with a new Client (that takes about 2 hours), I have a pretty good idea about the case. At that point, I can at least outline the broader issues and let the Client know what other information I need, and how it can affect the case. Saying anything more, with less information, isn’t the kind of prediction someone facing a DUI should be looking for. That’s calling for more of an “educated guess.”
DUI cases involve a lot more than BAC results and a Ticket. There are countless potential things that can affect the outcome of any given case, and any realistic assessment needs to take all of those things into account.