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The Keys to Michigan DUI Success – Managing Time and Facts

Home Blog DUI The Keys to Michigan DUI Success – Managing Time and Facts

Key Takeaways

  • There is almost NEVER a reason to hurry a DUI case.
  • Usually, the longer it can be stretched out, the better.
  • Every DUI charge is based upon evidence.
  • Facts are evidence, but some things are NOT admissible.
  • Facts and time must be managed together to produce the very best result.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, our firm lives by the standard that “success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you.” If you’re facing a Michigan DUI charge, you probably want to get out of it as quickly, painlessly, and completely as possible.

The reality is that getting the best result is usually achieved by slowing things down. Managing time is an essential component to properly handling a DUI case. To be clear, the actual term in Michigan for what everyone calls a DUI  is “Operating While Intoxicated” (or “OWI,” for short).

Likewise, managing the facts — which includes determining what is a fact, and what facts are admissible as evidence – is critical.

Thus, time must be controlled in a way to set up the best factual situation for someone facing a DUI.

Of course, nobody wants to have a DUI charge hanging over his or her head any longer than it must. Therefore, the sooner it’s not, then the better. However, just getting “rid” of a case as quickly as possible is almost NEVER the best course of action.

My team and I work with time to help produce the best possible outcome for every client. However, when a DUI case winds up getting assigned to a “rocket docket” Judge who is short on patience, time becomes something we have to work around, instead of “with.”

Fortunately, we can do that. Precisely because we are a full-time Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration law firm, my team and I handle drinking and driving cases all day, every day. We know from experience that some cases get wrapped up more quickly than others, and how to manage things even in the most challenging situations.

We know how to challenge and exclude evidence. While the goal is always to win the outright dismissal of a DUI charge, controlling the facts is critical to obtaining the best possible outcome. Ultimately, we need to avoid as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible.

Factors That Can Affect the Speed of Your DUI Case in Court

Waiting on Chemical Testing Results

doctor testing Blood alcohol levels after a DUI

There has been a growing backup of DUI cases because of the increased number of blood draws taken following arrest. In the past, blood draws were pretty much only done when someone refused a breath test. Now, however, they have become the first choice for chemical testing in many jurisdictions.

We have had many clients who were never even asked to take a formal breath test following a DUI arrest.

Of course, a breathalyzer test produces an immediate result.

By contrast, a blood sample must be taken in a specific manner, deposited into a special container, and then sent off to the Michigan State Police Crime Lab for testing. Once there, the sample will wait – for who knows how long – to be analyzed before the results get sent back to the arresting law enforcement agency.

For years now, there has been an increasing and ongoing delay from the time of a person’s DUI arrest to when his or her case actually “starts,” and the first court date is set. That time gap has grown even longer in cases involving a blood draw.

Thus, until the case gets to court and formally begins, there is no way to “move” it along, or, for that matter, slow it down.

Unfortunately, we see have also seen that rather often, the arresting police agency thereafter FAILS to inform the person that his or her results have come back. This can leas to an unknown but active and outstanding arrest warrant.

Also, many police agencies recycle their videos every 30 days, so if there has been no request to preserve it, then any evidentiary help it may have provided will be lost.

There are just 2 reasons why it’s important to hire a lawyer sooner, rather than later, following a DUI arrest. To be clear, “sooner” does NOT mean the very next day, but one should not delay beyond a week or 2 before retaining counsel, either.

Once Your Case Gets to Court

Once a DUI case has officially kicked off though (this happens at the arraignment), my team and I absolutely must use the element of time to our client’s best advantage.

Let’s begin with this general principle: It’s almost always better to slow down a DUI case, rather than let it go faster. There is rarely a circumstance when that’s not true.

Now, let’s look at some factors that directly affect the timing.

The Judge Assigned to Your Case

There are a few Judges who try to push DUI cases through faster than the speed of light.

Others will allow the defense lawyer almost limitless time to work things out.

In the real world, most judges fall in-between, and want to move cases along without unnecessary delay, but don’t try to close them out in record time, either.

If the Judge in your  DUI case is dead-set on clearing his or her docket at warp-speed, then your lawyer needs to do everything possible to slow that down.

My team and I know how to do that and fight for our clients. To be clear, that doesn’t mean just challenging the evidence. We will do whatever is necessary to produce the best result in his or her case.

Among other things, this requires using an intelligent strategy to reign in the pace of court proceedings in a way that has a positive effect on the outcome of the case.

Of course, we’re talking about slowing down a case that has formally started in the court system. As noted above, there has been an increasing and ongoing delay from the time of a person’s DUI arrest (particularly when there has been a blood draw) to when he or she will have their first court appearance.

The Facts and Evidence

No matter what the circumstances, the very first thing a DUI defense attorney should do after being retained is obtain ALL relevant evidence. A DUI is, after all, a criminal charge, and it must be handled as such. Whether a 1st offense, or 2nd offense misdemeanor case, or even a 3rd offense felony case, everything depends upon the facts. This is true for every criminal case, whether it’s a DUI or not.

Immediately following the arraignment hearing (sometimes, this step can be skipped, or “waived,” as we’ll see below), the defense lawyer should issue a formal request for every single bit of pertinent evidence.

Beyond merely reviewing a person’s prior criminal record (if any), and the police report, a good criminal defense lawyer will seek out everything important that’s related to the case. This includes:

  • Obtaining all useful video/audio evidence.
  • Confirming whether and how any field sobriety tests were administered.
  • Determining the method(s) used to obtain any breath or blood sample(s).
  • Establishing the protocol used to analyze and obtain chemical test results.
  • Evaluating anything else pertinent to the case or police investigation.

Managing the Facts – Challenging Evidence

Managing the facts begins with making sure that any evidence that can be kept out of court IS excluded.

  • The biggest mistake an attorney can make is to merely “look over” the evidence.
  • A good DUI lawyer will begin with the mindset that there IS something wrong with it.
  • He or she will examine how the evidence was obtained.
  • The lawyer’s job is to never give up, but instead keep digging.

Of course, this won’t create facts that don’t exist, nor will it change the facts that do exist. However, that kind of determination will lead to discovering things that may not otherwise be obvious by merely “reviewing” the evidence.

Handling the Evidence That is Admitted

Even though there may not be a basis to get a case dismissed outright, plenty of other problems with the evidence may be uncovered that can help drive a better result and outcome.

Sometimes, there can be enough of an arguable issue that even though the prosecutor may win, he or she will agree to a better deal (usually a plea bargain) to move the case along. This really gets to the meaning of negotiation; each side gives up a little to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement.

Understandably, in a case involving a habitual offender, or where someone has been hurt or killed by a drunk driver, the prosecution will not be very inclined to budge.

On the flip side, when the evidence is demonstrably weak, the defense is not likely to (nor should it) cave in and take a plea in a case that can be beaten.

Once any questionable evidence has been excluded, the next step, to put it in simple terms, it to “work with what you’ve got.” Sometimes, this is a matter of managing how things are presented.

Real-Life Example # 1:

Imagine that Staggering Sam is arrested for a DUI, and his BAC (bodily alcohol content determined from either a breath or blood test) results are .18, which is above the level needed (.17 or above) to charge him with a “super drunk” or “High BAC” offense.

According to the police report, Sam was highly intoxicated when pulled over. This is confirmed by the bodycam video, which shows that Sam could hardly stand up straight, and was slurring so bad it was hard to understand what he was trying to say.

This is good for the prosecution. They have video of a guy who was practically falling-down drunk, and a BAC result that’s over twice the legal limit.

If we ONLY focus on that aspect of the case, there is a way to present – meaning manage – Staggering Sam’s situation to make it look better:

  • While it’s true that Sam had a high BAC, his obvious intoxication shows he hasn’t developed any kind of big tolerance to alcohol.
  • An increased tolerance is often found among those arrested for a High BAC (“super-drunk”) charge.
  • Almost everyone facing a DUI will say that they’re not a “big drinker.”
  • This is harder to sell when the person saying it was able to drink enough to be more than 2 times the legal limit and didn’t appear as intoxicated as Sam.
  • In  his case, though, Sam can believably make this argument precisely because he was practically “falling-down drunk.”

This isn’t some technical, legal strategy, but it is exactly what is meant by the old saying that “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” The more ways we can favorably present any and everything about a DUI situation, the better. This is always a key part of “managing” the facts.

The Seriousness of the Charges

In theory, every case should be treated the same. In practice, however, the seriousness of the charge does affect things. The police and prosecutor aren’t so worried about expediting the blood test results of someone charged with a simple 1st offense DUI.

By contrast, when a drunk driver kills several people in a tragic accident, you can be sure that case is going to get prompt attention. It’s also a certainty that the prosecutor is going to have a very strong interest in the matter.

This is also largely true when dealing with a 2nd offense DUI versus a 1st offense, and even more so when it’s a 3rd offense DUI versus a 1st or 2nd offense.

Given that anything considered a “serious” case is going to get closer attention from the court and prosecutor, it is critically important for me and my team to manage the facts and slow things down. We must ensure that any evidence that can be excluded is kept out, and that we put the best face on everything else.

Remember also that slower is always better than faster, and there is no downside to moderating the pace at which a DUI charge will be wrapped up.

The Exception to Moving Slowly for a DUI Case

In practice, there is seldom a good reason for getting a DUI case wrapped up sooner, rather than later. I can’t get into very much of the “why” here, without revealing some proprietary strategies (meaning secrets) that are best not given away, but the simple fact is that working a DUI case for longer usually produces better results – period.

Occasionally, however, it is better to “speed things up,” but such cases are the exception, and not the rule.

Real-Life Example #2:

Assume Lucky Larry gets arrested for OWI (DUI) and takes a breath test which shows that he was well over the legal limit. For some reason, the police miss the fact that he had 2 prior offenses more than 20 years ago, making this case the 3rd DUI in his lifetime.

Larry is released the next day with a citation for “OWI.”

In Michigan, a 3rd DUI in a person’s lifetime is a felony.

He calls around, and winds up hiring our firm. We quickly realize that as soon as any prosecutor reviews Larry’s case, the oversight will be found, and he will be charged with a 3rd offense (felony) OWI.

To avoid that, we set up an arraignment right away and plead him straight-up guilty to the charge that’s on his ticket – OWI.

Because of the prohibition against double-jeopardy, Larry cannot be re-charged, and will have entered a quick guilty plea to a 1st offense DUI in order to avoid facing a 3rd offense DUI.

Of course, the court and everyone else will eventually figure this out, but there isn’t a Judge or prosecutor who wouldn’t agree that, as Larry’s attorneys, we got him a real break and did a good job defending our client.

Larry got a huge benefit from having this case moved along so quickly. Of course, this circumstance is certainly an exception, although my team and I have in fact done this exact thing.

It’s Usually Better to Slow a DUI Case

The previous example is about the only exception to the general rule that it’s better to stretch out a DUI case. To be sure, the idea that it’s better to slow things down is applicable in the practice of criminal law in general. In this context, “managing” time means extending it. In almost every criminal and DUI case, slower is better than quicker.

The example below is representative of what my team and I often encounter in the handling of DUI cases.

Real-Life Example # 3

Imagine Bad Luck Brenda gets arrested for a DUI and is charged with a High BAC offense. She hires our firm, and we start working on the case. Our investigation reveals that the evidence against her is solid.

Initially, the prosecutor is unwilling to reduce Brenda’s High BAC charge. Not ready to simply take “no” for an answer, and believing that we can do better, my team and I slow the case down, and persist with our attempts to negotiate a plea bargain.

As part of our efforts, we send Brenda to one of the highly qualified counselor we use so that she can obtain a thorough substance abuse evaluation. Fortunately, we get a glowing and clinically sound report showing that Brenda does NOT have a drinking problem.

This is enough to finally convince the prosecutor to agree to a plea bargain, and because we never gave up, Brenda is allowed to plead guilty to the far less serious charge of OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired, or “Impaired Driving”).

This saves her points, money, and, perhaps most important of all, prevents her from losing the ability to drive.

Winning back a driver’s license is a burden and expense best avoided, if at all possible

Brenda’s better result came about precisely because we slowed things down and really “worked” the case.

Although there is an almost infinite number of variables that can affect how any DUI case will resolve, generally speaking, the passage of time never hurts, and, indeed, usually helps drive a better result. Let’s look at yet another example to explain this.

Real-Life Example #4

Honest Annie gets arrested for a High BAC DUI charge in January. The evidence in her case is rock-solid (her BAC was .20, meaning 2 and 1/2 times the legal limit), but we still manage to negotiate a plea bargain so that she won’t lose her driver’s license.

No matter what, the court is going to be concerned about her elevated BAC. A person’s alcohol level is always an important consideration in any DUI case, but particularly so when it’s high, as it was in Annie’s case.

Because we know that having Annie stand before the Judge sooner, rather than later, isn’t going to help anything, we do what we can to drag the case out and slow down the pace of court proceedings. Through a series of strategic maneuvers, we manage to delay her plea until November, thereby pushing her sentencing date into late December.

When we show up in court for her sentencing, we can make a solid argument to the Judge that, in a sense, Annie has been under the jurisdiction of the court, and therefore on a kind of “probation” for almost a year since her arrest, and she has not been in any trouble since.

We emphasize how that should count for something, and certainly underscores that the whole DUI situation is really a “one-off,” and out-of-character for her.

There really is no way to predict the many possible ways that the passage of time can help. Once, some years ago, we had a DUI case that we were able to get dismissed because the arresting officer had retired and moved out of state. Had we moved that case along quickly, that would not have happened.

For all the good things that can happen by slowing down a DUI case, it’s important to remember that nothing will ever get worse, meaning that there is virtually no downside to doing that.

Why Time Management is Important For Your DUI Case

manage your time after a DUI

It would be impossible to count, over the course of more than 30 years as DUI lawyers, how many times a new client has said something to the effect that “I just want to get this over with.”

If my team and I went along with every person who said they “just want to get this over with,” we could cut out a lot of time and work on the cases we take and get paid the same money for less work and close these matters out more quickly.

We don’t put in extra time and effort into our cases because we’re bored – we do it because we know exactly how to bring about the best possible result. We live and work by the Golden Rule – treat others as you would wish to be treated.

I know that if I was injured and wheeled into a hospital while unconscious, I would certainly hope the attending physician would do all the “right” things to really fix me up, rather than just taking whatever shortcuts so he or she could just be done with me quickly and get home sooner.

The point, of course, is that it would be far more profitable for us to just get every case “over with” as soon as possible, but we don’t do that precisely because it’s NOT the right thing to do.

Who wouldn’t want to do less work in less time for the same money?

Doing the easy thing, however, is very different than doing the right thing. Integrity is sometimes described as “doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching.”

That’s how our firm operates. We do what’s necessary to bring about the best result possible in every DUI case we handle, and that always involves managing time and the facts.

The court, for its part, must follow the Michigan Rules of Criminal Procedure and protect the defendant’s right to fair treatment in all criminal proceedings. No matter how backed up the system may be, that’s no excuse to rush someone through at the expense of a proper defense.

What is an Arraignment in Michigan?

The arraignment is a kind of preliminary hearing and is the first step in a criminal case official. It is the official “kickoff” of a criminal case (a DUI is a criminal case).

Normally, the arraignment process requires that a person make his or her first court appearance (sometimes, this is done virtually instead of in-person) and go before a judge or magistrate to be arraigned.

An arraignment always serves five very important purposes:

  1. Informing the person of the charge or charges against him or her.
  2. Advising him or her of their constitutional rights
  3. Entering a plea (it should ALWAYS be “not guilty” at this stage, unless directed by the person’s lawyer as part of a strategy, as noted in the example above).
  4. Setting bail (bond amount).
  5. Establishing bond conditions, such as “no drinking” and ordering breath and/or urine testing to ensure compliance.

Most of the time, whatever amount of bail (often called an “interim bond”) was posted to get out of jail will be enough, and the judge or magistrate conducting the arraignment hearing will let the person go on his or her own recognizance, meaning no more money will need to be handed over.

In some cases, a person can waive the arraignment, meaning that the defendant’s lawyer will file certain paperwork, including a waiver, that will automatically enter a not guilty plea on his or her behalf so that the person does not have to show up for that initial appearance in open court.

Even when that happens, the judge is certain to set certain bond conditions at the first substantive court date. In DUI cases, those bond conditions always include a “no drinking” order.

How Much Does a Michigan DUI Lawyer Cost?

Precisely because our Michigan DUI law firm charges a flat fee in DUI cases, our clients never have to worry about us “jacking up” the bill. If we get one case wrapped up super-fast, then good for us.

If the next case takes 4 times longer to conclude (often, this is because of extended plea bargain negotiations and multiple pretrial conferences), then, as the old saying goes, “that that’s just how the ball bounces.”

Although it’s rarely a better choice to hurry any DUI case along, the right thing in any case is always to handle it at the pace necessary to get the best result while protecting the defendant’s rights.

This means doing what’s best to get the case dropped, or at least get the client out of it with the fewest possible legal penalties and negative consequences.

Of course, job number one in all DUI cases is to avoid jail time.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of lawyers who charge top dollar for nothing more than average legal services. This is often – but not always – the case with those who represent all kinds of criminal defendants and don’t concentrate in DUI cases, instead handling them as part of a larger criminal practice.

On the flip side, there are no bargains when it comes to good legal representation. It is a simple fact that one will never get legal advice or a quality of representation that he or she doesn’t pay for.

The bottom line is that anyone who needs a lawyer must look for value, meaning a plentiful combination of experience, honesty, integrity, and skill. Beyond things like protecting a person’s ability to drive and staying out of jail, nobody wants any conviction that could be avoided winding up on his or her criminal record.

My team and I are the ONLY lawyers to publish our prices. Click the link below to see our flat fee schedule:

https://www.randalawyers.com/fees/

For all the excuses that can be made, there is simply no good reason a lawyer can’t provide a clear idea of how much a DUI case will cost.

Why Work With Jeffrey Randa and Associates

We are genuine Michigan DUI lawyers. In that capacity, we typically handle hundreds of DUI-related cases every year. We have the experience and skill needed to produce the very best outcome possible in your case, whether this is your first time, or you’ve had any prior DUI’s.

The very week that this installment was written, we challenged the evidence obtained from a drunk driving arrest and got our client’s entire DUI case dismissed. This was a direct result of managing the facts (evidence) and time. Instead of winding up with a DUI conviction, our client got NOTHING on his record.

Beyond just knowing what to do, my team and I put our hearts and souls into our work. That unbeatable combination of experience, integrity, and skill enables us to help good people out of bad situations.

No lawyer can do more, and we will never do less.

Testimonials

“I can’t believe you got MY WHOLE DUI CASE THROWN OUT! Everyone was nice, Ann and Beth, you were great, and my lawyers worked hard, told me to be patient, and then got the whole case dismissed. Best decision I ever made was to hire you guys. Thank you, Jeffrey Randa and Associates! I highly recommend your firm!” – David

“I had a lot of issues with my drivers license and outstanding warrants…. I have to say Jeffrey Randa office made it all smooth going. They really have their act together making the process a lot easier to handle and I also found their pricing to be very reasonable considering how bad my case was.” – JJ.

“Would recommend using this firm. The highly knowledgeable individuals that work for this firm are respectful, helpful and completely professional in every aspects. My emails to the firm were always answered. If something happened with my case, they were fast to inform me. The process of my case was made so incredibly easy once I contacted this firm for assistance. They really gave me my life back, and I am so grateful for all that your firm has done for me. I wholeheartedly recommend this firm and its lawyers for your cases. Thank you Jeffrey Randa law office.” – C.

“Just two words describe them ‘The Best’. They handled my case with ease. Gave me advice and the tools to get me the best case possible.” – Derek

“Very professional and understanding of my situation. Helped me through a very stressful spot. Genevieve was my lawyer and I will say she really is the best.” – Devin

Additional DUI Resources

Make Every Minute Count During Your DUI Case

If you’re facing a DUI charge, you need to either get out of It completely, or avoid as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible. While you shouldn’t delay in hiring a lawyer, neither should you jump and hire a criminal defense attorney too quickly, either.

You need honest, skilled, and vigorous representation by someone highly experienced in DUI defense. To find that, be a wise consumer and explore your options. Check around and look for real information.

If your case is pending in the Greater-Detroit area, meaning anywhere in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, or one of the surrounding counties, make sure you give our office a ring. My team and I fight for our clients and do what’s necessary to produce the very best result in every case we take.

We provide a free consultation that is confidential and done over the phone. right when you call. We are very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions, explain things, and even give our take on anything some other lawyer has told you.

We can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at either 586-465-1980 or 248-986-9700.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need an Attorney for the Arraignment Process?

No, having a criminal defense lawyer is not required for an arraignment, but it’s far better to have one than not. As noted above, in some cases, the arraignment can be waived, but this can only happen when someone has hired an attorney beforehand.

No matter what, a person should ALWAYS plead “not guilty” at his or her arraignment.

Can a First Offense DUI Be Dismissed in Michigan?

Yes, a DUI case can be dismissed. As pointed out above, my team and I just got a DUI case completely dismissed the very week this piece was written. That result, of course, depends on the state of the evidence, and having a proper legal strategy to fight the charge.

What Are the Common Defenses to Fight DUI Charges in Michigan?

There are countless things that can go “wrong” with a DUI arrest and be used to fight it. Sometimes, there are extraordinary circumstances. Most of the time, however, there are not.

Here are 5 of the most common defenses used to fight a Michigan DUI charge:

  1. Lack of reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop.
  2. Improper administration of field sobriety tests.
  3. No probable cause to make the arrest.
  4. Failure of the police to follow proper procedure related to the investigation, arrest, or chemical (breath or blood) testing.
  5. Improper analysis of blood sample.