DUI in the 52-3 District Court (Rochester Hills)

The 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills is one of the busiest around, especially when it comes to DUI cases in the Detroit-area. My team and I handle cases here as much as, if not more than, anywhere else. The 52-3 court has jurisdiction over the following 10 municipalities: Addison Township, Auburn Hills, Lake Angelus, Lake Orion, Leonard, Oakland Township, Orion Township, Oxford (both Township and Village), as well as Rochester and Rochester Hills.

Although it’s normal to be worried about what will happen, there are certain consequences that, while technically possible, are very unlikely, some that are inevitable, and others that may or may not be imposed, depending on the particular circumstances of your case. Because we handle so many DUI’s here, we can always provide our clients with a very accurate picture of how things will play out in their case as it goes through this court.

Just about everyone, including lawyers, simply refer to the court as “Rochester.” Located just north of M-59 and just east of Rochester Road, it is home to 3 Judges - Julie Nicholson, Nancy Carniak, and Lisa Asadorian. The 52-3 District Court is 1 of 4 courts within what is organized as the 52nd division that includes sister courts in Novi (52-1), Clarkston (52-2), and  Troy (52-4).

The 52-3 District Court runs like a top, and is a model of efficiency, especially given the large volume of DUI cases that fall within its jurisdiction. An OWI charge that could take months to resolve in other courts is often be wrapped up in a matter of weeks here. That can either be good thing, or not, but whatever the situation, nobody will have to wait very long to find out.  

The 52-3 District Court has always been at the forefront of requiring as well as monitoring bond conditions, and was one of the first local courts to mandate regular breath and/or urine testing to ensure compliance with the “no drinking” order that is standard-issue in every case. A bond condition is a court order requiring that, as a condition of being allowed out on bond (as opposed to held in jail), a person must either do, or NOT do something.  

A “no drinking” bond condition is a court order prohibiting a person from consuming any alcohol while their case is pending. An additional condition is usually attached that also requires a person to abstain from the use of any drugs, as well (excluding, of course, any necessary prescription medication). 

It is always the case in Rochester (and in most courts) that, in addition to not consuming any alcohol, anyone facing a DUI will also be ordered to periodically “test,” meaning provide breath and/or urine samples to prove that he or she is in compliance. The court will order a testing schedule that specifies how often a person must provide a breath and/or urine sample. 
  
Unfortunately, and despite being under orders to refrain from drinking while on bond (or probation), plenty of people do so anyway, and then get caught. In this court, such violations are taken very seriously, and any person who fails or skips any required testing will find themselves before their assigned Judge in very short order.

Of course, there is no such drama for the vast majority of people who comply with their bond or probation conditions. 

The reader won’t have to go far to learn that this is generally considered a “tough” court. For everything that one could say about this, and for all the comparisons that could be made between any one court and another, the simple reality is that, if your case is here, then it’s here, and, as the saying goes, “it is what it is.”  

There is good news, however, because for as much as this court had been a trend leader in the imposition of “no drinking” bond conditions accompanied by close monitoring, it has also been something of a trend leader in using jail alternatives.  

Although the court is “tough,” particularly when it comes to the kinds of bond and probation orders it issues, it is not jail-happy, at least when it comes to OWI cases.

The Judges of the 52-3 court often sentence offenders who would otherwise be candidates for jail time to what is called “WWAM” (said like wham), instead.  WWAM stands for “Weekend and Weekday Alternative for Misdemeanants.” Essentially, it's supervised community service, and, no matter how you cut it, is much more desirable than being sent to jail.  

While the DUI process is rather similar across all local courts, her are a few differences in the way things run in Rochester:
  • In most courts, a person (meaning a lawyer, party or witness) will sometimes check in with the clerk at the front counter, or with the clerk for the assigned Judge in his or her courtroom, as is the practice in the other 52nd divisions courts. In Rochester, before court goes into session, each Judge’s clerk handles the checking in by standing at a podium outside of the courtroom, in front of the doors.  
  • Anyone with business in the court should know that any trip to it will usually eat up the better part of the morning or afternoon. There is really no quick “in and out” here. Also, cellphones are NOT allowed in the building, so in order to avoid a return trip to your car, don’t try and bring it in
  • After your matter has concluded in the courtroom (in either the morning or afternoon session), you will have to go the clerks office on the 1st floor (all the Judge’s courtrooms are on the 2nd floor) and wait for your name to be called to get your paperwork and any further instructions, including any return date. This can be time-consuming, and accounts for why there is generally no quick “in and out” here.
My team and I appear in the Rochester court a lot, so there’s nothing about the procedures here that we haven’t been through countless times. 
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