Above everything else, the single most important concern when facing a Michigan OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) charge is avoiding or minimizing as many of the negative consequences and penalties as possible.
In that sense, it all comes down to this:
SUCCESS IN A DUI CASE IS BEST MEASURED BY WHAT DOES NOT HAPPEN TO YOU
This truth is so simple that it’s easy to overlook, especially in the online marketplace of DUI lawyers all trying to sell their services with ever-more competitive messaging.
Of course, looking for a way out of a pending DUI charge is always our first priority in every case we take.
It’s perfectly understandable that everyone wants to “beat” his or her DUI charge and have the whole thing just go away.
The reality, however, is that the majority of Michigan DUI charges (in point of fact, more than 9 out of 10) do NOT get tossed out of court, and this number is consistent from year-to-year.
Accordingly, an intelligent defense strategy has go beyond just hoping to get the charges dismissed, and must provide a plan to achieve the best possible outcome (meaning the most lenient result) under all the facts and circumstances that exist in a given case.
Everyone’s first priority is to stay out of jail. The good news is that, often enough, particularly in 1st offense cases, that’s easy to accomplish.
Once the prospect of getting locked up has been eliminated, however, there are still plenty of other potential penalties that need to be avoided, or at least minimized.
Getting a plea-bargain is important, but that’s not the end-all of handling a DUI case, either.
A plea bargain is a negotiated “deal” that provides for the dismissal of the original charge in exchange for the person agreeing to plead guilty to a less serious offense. A plea-bargain is always a benefit, but there is more to winding up with the best result in a DUI case that merely getting a plea deal.
To learn more about things like plea bargains, and for a more detailed analysis of how DUI cases work, the reader should check out the DUI section of my blog. It contains hundreds and hundreds of detailed articles that examine every step the DUI process, and is fully searchable.
For our purposes now, here, consider the following example of how a typical plea bargain works in the DUI world:
Bad Luck Brenda gets arrested for OWI, and the evidence in her case is solid, and can't be successfully challenged.
Her lawyer manages to convince the prosecutor that, all things considered, Brenda, who has never been in trouble before, deserves a break.
Accordingly, in exchange for the dismissal of the OWI charge, she agrees to plead guilty to the reduced charge of OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired). This will spare her any driver’s license suspension, and save her both points on her driving record, and some money in fines and costs, as well.
Getting the best plea deal possible should always be the objective in every DUI case that makes it’s way through the court system, but, just like with being kept out of jail, there are still lots of other potential negative consequences to avoid or minimize..
One of the biggest “consequences” a person will experience as a result of a DUI conviction is being placed on probation.
And to be clear, anyone who doesn’t get completely out of a DUI is going to wind up on some kind of probation.
This is where a DUI case gets real, because a probationary term can range from something short, like 9 months, to something long - all the way up to 24 months.
That’s not the half of it, though, because what a person is required to do - and forbidden from doing - while on probation is every bit as important as how long he or she is on it.
In other words, beyond merely being long or short in duration, probation can also be easy or demanding.
Let's assume that for her DUI, Bad Luck Brenda gets sentenced to 2 years of reporting probation, meaning that she needs to appear every month at the probation department.
As part of her probation order, Brenda is required to go to AA twice per week, complete an out-patient counseling program, must provide alcohol breath testing 3 times per day on a portable unit that she has to rent, has to drug test at a testing facility 2 times per week, and can only leave the State of Michigan for a work-related purpose, and only then if she obtains prior written approval from the court.
“Well,” she thinks, consoling herself, “at least I didn’t go to jail.”
Next, consider the case of Tough Luck Tommy, who also got a plea-bargain to Impaired Driving (OWVI):
His lawyer was sharp, and really stepped up when the time came for Tommy to be sentenced by the Judge. As a result, he was only ordered to complete a 9-month term of non-reporting probation, with no conditions other than that he must not get in any further legal trouble during that time.
In other words, unlike Brenda, who has to test, then test more, go to AA, attend counseling, and can’t leave the state unless it’s for work and she gets permission first, Tommy can do whatever he wants.
Tommy (whose luck doesn’t seem so “tough” when compared to “Bad Luck Brenda”) doesn’t have to report to anyone, doesn’t have to test in any way, doesn’t have to go to AA or attend any classes or counseling, and can go wherever he wants, whenever he wants, as long as he doesn’t get arrested for anything during the next 9 months.
Who in the world wouldn’t prefer Tommy’s outcome rather than Brenda’s?
These are the kinds of consequences our clients are going to have to live with, and the things my team and I avoid and/or minimize for them. The easier we can make it for someone, the better for him or her.
DUI cases are complex, and each one has a lot of moving pieces, so to speak, including the underlying facts, the background of the person arrested, whether or not he or she has a prior record (or prior DUI’s), and the location of the case.
Similarly, there is a lot that goes into properly defending a DUI charge and producing the best outcome possible, because all of the things just listed need to be taken into account.
Yet for all of that, and for everything that can be or is part of a DUI case we come back to the simple simple truth one more time:
Success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you.
At the end of the day, what matters most is how intact you make it out of a DUI charge.
My team and I know that, and we will always make sure we produce the best result possible for each and every one of our clients.