Although it’s normal to be anxious when you’re facing a Michigan DUI charge, DON’T panic, because it’s not the end of the world.
However, it can be managed. Instead of letting a DUI define you, we can help put it behind you.
Anyone facing a drunk driving charge wants to get out of it as completely, painlessly and quickly as possible. That's very "do-able," and doesn't require any kind of luck or miracles.
Instead, it takes a combination of experience, good work, and skill.
Unfortunately, the online DUI world is dominated by what’s called “fear-based marketing.” This is a tactic used by a law practice to highlight all the potential legal penalties and negative consequences that a DUI poses, and then positions themselves as uniquely able to protect potential clients from them.
It's BS, but it must work, because it’s a common practice used by many lawyers.
Not our firm.
It is important to understand this and not get over-stressed. You don't hire a lawyer to save you from things that simply aren't going to happen, you retain counsel to make things better, and get you through your case with the fewest legal penalties.
Of course, the “seriousness” of case increases depending on whether a person is facing a 1st offense, 2nd offense, or 3rd offense DUI charge. Every step up the ladder is significant.
Significant - but not fatal.
No matter what the marketing message, here is the reality of how DUI cases work here, in the Greater-Detroit area, meaning in the courts of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Livingston, St. Clair and Washtenaw Counties:
• For a 1st offense DUI, a person is very unlikely to go to jail.
Instead of working to “avoid” a jail sentence that’s almost certainly not going to be imposed in the first place, the lawyer needs to be working the case and working with the client to avoid as many of the other realistic potential consequences as possible.
As Michigan DUI lawyers, we do all of that, plus what’s necessary to set our 1st offense clients up to be in a position to get the conviction expunged and off his or her record at the first legal opportunity.
• In a 2nd offense DUI, a person is looking at a realistic POSSIBILITY of a few days incarceration, largely depending on the court and/or Judge.
Some Judges generally don’t impose any jail in 2nd offense DUI cases.
Others think most 2nd offenders should get a few days.
Many (probably most) Judges fall in the middle, and decide what to do on a case-by-case basis more than anything else.
• In a 3rd offense DUI (felony) case, the court’s mission is to really twofold: To disincentivize (punish) a person so he or she won’t do it again, and to provide the necessary help and support to help make that a reality.
Remember, there is no “higher” DUI charge in Michigan than a 3rd offense. This means that a person with 10 prior DUI’s can only be charged as a 3rd offender in the same way that someone with only 2 priors can be charged with a 3rd offense.
What matters most, in the context of 3rd offenses, is how many prior DUI convictions a person has had. In this context, the significance of a person’s prior record, particularly as to drunk driving, cannot be overstated.
Accordingly, if a person only has 2 prior DUI convictions, then his or her next offense will be called a “true 3rd,” meaning that it is NOT his or her 4th or subsequent DUI charge.
For a true 3rd offense, is still only likely to get a sentence that can be measured in days, not years. Of course, more prior DUI convictions on a person’s record put a person at very real risk for more severe punishment.
To be clear, we’re not talking about best possible outcomes here. Nor, for that matter, are we talking about “If you hire ME and ONLY ME, I can save you from all the misery and doom you otherwise face” BS kind of stuff.
Instead, we’re looking at what the average person can expect in the average 1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense Michigan DUI case here, in the Greater-Detroit area courts of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, or the surrounding counties.
No matter how scary this can seem, a DUI charge, while serious, is not the end of the world.
Don't panic and act out of fear, because it can be managed. Anyone who tries to scare you, or even let's you think otherwise is clearly NOT going to help you.
To be sure, there are plenty of things that need attention, but almost all of them can be managed. Among the real-world concerns for most people are things like:
1. Not going to jail
2. Protecting your driver’s license and the ability to drive
3. How a DUI conviction will affect your employment, or employability, as long as it’s on your record
4. Having to report a DUI conviction to a professional licensing body
5. Getting hammered with long and demanding probation that requires all kinds of counseling, testing, and/or treatment
These things can all be handled, but that’s done by formulating an intelligent defense plan based on the evidence and facts of the case. In that sense, it’s like proper exercise; everybody knows they should do it, and most people say they want to do it, but actually doing it requires, well, actually doing it.
One of our firm’s mottos is that “Success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you.”
This is the gold standard. Avoiding as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible is what we do in every DUI case we take.
My team and I accomplish that by doing what’s necessary to protect our clients, their interests, and produce the best outcome possible. We don’t pretend to save you from a jail sentence you were never going to get in the first place. Instead, we work on the things that will and are likely to happen.
Everyone would rather have a term of probation instead of jail. Who wouldn’t want a chance to demonstrate the NOT locking them up was the right choice?
While jail is often easy to avoid, probation is pretty much a “given” in any DUI case.
A key result of all that effort - and make no mistake, there’s a lot of it - is to secure the shortest and least demanding term of probation possible.
Probation can either be difficult or easy. Easier, of course, is better.
As we handle a case, my team and I take into account the new DUI expungement laws as we work with our client so he or she can get if off their record at the first legal opportunity. That doesn’t happen by accident; it must part of how a case ins handled from the very outset.
If our client has a professional license and has to report a DUI, then we work everything so that it shows up as the most minimal thing possible.
All of this brings us back to the point of this section: The realistic “big concern” in a DUI case are things like protecting your ability to drive and getting an easier term of probation over one that’s longer and more demanding.
It’s not about things that won’t happen, like getting locked up, or losing one’s professional license or employment.
When you get past the initial fear and understand the real issues, then you also realize that a DUI is NOT the end of the world.
In the sections that follow, we’ll examine different DUI charges and how things work in real life.
For an even more in-depth analysis of every aspect of Michigan DUI process, visit the DUI section
of our blog
. It is fully searchable, updated with 2 new, original articles every week, and contains more useful information about the Michigan DUI cases than can be found anywhere else.