Skip to main content

The 5 Most Important Things to Know About a DUI in Michigan

Home Blog DUI The 5 Most Important Things to Know About a DUI in Michigan

Every DUI in Michigan is unique. Any one person’s DUI case is different from everyone else’s, just as a DUI in one place is different from another simply because of its location. In this article, we’re going to look at 5 things everyone should know about a DUI charge. As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I know the law of this state inside and out. Although we concentrate our DUI practice in the Greater-Detroit area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and surrounding counties, what we cover here generally applies everywhere in Michigan.

5 things to know about a DUI in MichiganThe primary focus of our firm’s work is in DUI and driver’s license restoration appeals – all of come about as the result of multiple DUI convictions. Thus, we deal with DUI-related matters all day, every day. Unlike the DUI part of our practice, the portion that involves license appeals is done statewide. In fact, many of our license clients actually live outside of Michigan. Accordingly, our work in license appeals means that we see how DUI cases play out everywhere across the state.

To be sure, the law is the law, and it requires that, in every case, certain things must happen, and other cannot. As a consequence, every DUI in Michigan shares certain similarities. That said, the importance of location cannot be overstated. Some courts and Judges are just plain tougher than others. We can even see this sometimes happen in the same courthouse, if a DUI case is assigned to one Judge versus another. In this piece, however, we’re going to focus on the the more common state-wide similarities, rather than more specific, local differences.

With that in mind, let’s turn to 5 things everyone facing a Michigan DUI charge should know:

1.) Getting completely out of a DUI in Michigan is far more the exception, rather than the rule. This is a simple, undeniable truth. Unfortunately, though, a lot of lawyers try to make it seem like hiring them is all a person has to do to have his or her DUI charge dismissed. DUI cases are built upon evidence. The law is predicated on the idea that as long as evidence is obtained legally, and is otherwise reliable (in other words, it cannot be shown to be unreliable), then it can be admitted in court.

The way a lawyer gets evidence excluded is to prove either that the evidence was obtained illegally, or that it is NOT reliable. If that can be done, then the entire case may collapse.

At issue in every DUI in Michigan is the idea that the person charged actually was operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. In other words, the question is simply whether or not the person did what he or she is accused of doing.

There aren’t that many DUI cases where there is any question that the person was operating the vehicle. Most of the time, the only question is whether or not he or she consumed enough alcohol to be over the limit.

In the real world, this means that most people facing a DUI in Michigan are hoping for that slim chance that the police screwed things up so badly that the evidence against them will be kept out of court. To be sure, that does happen, and it happens enough that, as Michigan DUI attorneys, we begin every case by ASSUMING there is some way to beat the case, and that we have to keep digging to find it.

That mindset is necessary to turn up anything that can be used to get someone out of a DUI charge. More important, though, is that, even in cases where there is no fatal flaw in the evidence, it is precisely that kind of determination that will allow us to find other, smaller things we can use as part of a strategy to achieve a better, more lenient result.

2.) No matter how strong the evidence, if a DUI case is properly managed, we can avoid many of the potential legal penalties and negative consequences. The statistical reality is that very few DUI cases in Michigan are outright dismissed. Instead, the vast majority of them wind up going all the way through the court system. This is why it’s so important to put every last shred of the evidence under the proverbial microscope so that we can use any and everything we find to leverage and negotiate a better deal.

When the evidence is strong enough to survive a legal challenge, getting the best plea deal, as in plea bargain, is important. However, it’s not everything, because we must also insulate the client from as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible. This of course, means keeping legal fallout to the absolute minimum. Specifically, we have to protect our client’s record, his or her freedom, and the ability to drive.

In the terms that matter most – what actually happens to you – it’s a simple fact that, in DUI cases, less is always more.

3.) Unless your DUI charge does get dismissed outright, there are going to be some kind of restrictions on your driving. In 1st offense cases, these can range from a short time with a restricted license to a longer period, if the final charge is more serious. Whatever ultimately happens is the result of the final charge that goes on a person’s record. This is another reason why it’s important for my team and I to carefully examine the evidence in order to drive the best deal possible.

In the majority of 1st offense DUI cases, we are able to negotiate the original charge (usually Operating While Intoxicated, or “OWI,” for short – the actual term for what everyone just calls a DUI in Michigan, or, in other cases “High BAC,” or “OWI with a BAC of .17 or Greater) down to a lesser offense. By doing that, we not only soften the blow to the client’s record, we also minimize and shorten any restrictions placed on his or her driving.

4.) Financially, a DUI in Michigan is going to hit you pretty hard. About 20 years ago, the State of Michigan ran an ad campaign that a DUI would cost about $10,000 overall. The hope was that this message would prevent people from driving drunk, and perhaps inspire them to plan ahead for a ride. The simple truth, though, is that most of the time, people don’t think ahead like that, and a DUI just “happens.”

The good news is that, all this time later, at least in 1st offense cases, and even with inflation, that cost hasn’t gone up that much, if at all.

The bad news is that $10,000 is still $10,000, and nobody is happy having to spend it for what is usually a single, stupid mistake in judgment.

Legal fees aren’t cheap. While it’s true that top-shelf legal representation can’t be had for bargain basement prices, it’s also a fact that WAY too many lawyers charge high fees for nothing more than average services. You’ll never get quality you don’t pay for, but anyone looking for a lawyer for a DUI in Michigan has to be aware that it’s very easy to wind up paying too much for legal fees.

For what it’s worth, our is the ONLY law firm that is transparent enough to publish its prices. You can find them linked here, in the Fees section of our website and blog.

Add in an increase in car insurance, and various other costs, and it’s obvious that a DUI is costly. This is by design, but we can also see it as a silver lining to the legal cloud…

With very few exceptions, jail is pretty easy to avoid for anyone facing a 1st DUI in Michigan, and especially here, in the Greater-Detroit area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and the surrounding counties. The underlying idea is that if someone isn’t going to be punished by incarceration, then hitting him or her hard in the pocketbook may be enough to prevent a repeat performance.

At least that’s the hope.

5.) Success in a Michigan DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. My team and I believe I in this so strongly that it’s actually one of our mottos. Think about everything we’ve just covered. For that matter, the reader should consider everything else he or she has encountered while looking online: The main goal is always to AVOID…

Of course, the ultimate goal to avoid a conviction entirely. If that can’t happen, then the mission is to avoid as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible. Success, in that sense, means minimizing the impact to a person’s record, keeping him or her from getting locked up, and protecting his or her ability to drive. Beyond that, cost is important, and to the extent that as much of the fallout as possible from a DUI can be avoided, then it will cost a person less overall.

No matter how one measures it, having less happen to you (as opposed to more) in a Michigan DUI case is better. There is simply no other way to express this. Either you get out of the case entirely, or with the fewest penalties possible – or not. Nobody should ever be in the “or not” camp.

Although every DUI case in Michigan is complex, the formula for that kind of success is simple: Attention to detail and good old fashioned hard work, concentrated in the fundamentals. There is no “secret sauce” that any one lawyer knows to the exclusion of everyone else. The best results are had through good and hard work – period.

Of course, experience matters: I was a much better DUI lawyer when I had handled 100 DUI cases rather than my first 10, and a better lawyer still by the time I had handled thousands of them, as opposed to a few hundred.

Our firm concentrates in DUI cases. We’re not in court handling divorces, or drafting wills, or settling lawsuits. Virtually everything we do, day after day, week after week, and year after year, arises from drinking and driving. We will always fight for our clients and do what’s necessary to produce the very best outcome possible. Another one of our mottos sums this up best: No lawyer can do more, and we will never do less.

If you’re facing a DUI charge and looking for a lawyer, be a savvy consumer and read around. Pay attention to how different lawyers explain the DUI process, and how they describe their various approaches to it.

This blog is a great place to start. It is fully searchable and updated weekly with a new, original article. To-date, I have written and published more than 620 articles in the DUI section. Within it, the reader can find the answer to just about any DUI-related question he or she could ever have. There is simply nothing like this resource, but don’t just take my word for it- check for yourself.

Once you’ve done enough reading, start calling around. If your DUI case is pending anywhere in the Greater-Detroit area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb or one of the surrounding counties, make sure you give our office a ring. You can learn a lot by talking to a live person, and that’s exactly what you’ll get when you call us.

All of our consultations are free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call. My team and I are very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions, explain things.

You should always check out different lawyers, and anyone who tries to cut that short should be immediately written off. For our part, my team and I will always invite you to call us back, even to compare notes with anything you’ve heard from some other lawyer.