The Michigan DUI Process

[Please note that this site is currently being redone.  As a result, some pages have different fonts and text than others and some spacing may be off.  This is a temporary situation affecting only the appearance of the site, and by Spring of 2017 everything will be uniform.  Meanwhile, all of the information remains accurate and up-to-date]

In contrast to all of the information about a Michigan DUI on this site, and the numerous Drunk Driving articles on my blog, this section will be a boiled down, summary overview of a typical Michigan DUI case.

Getting Pulled Over

Most often, a person gets pulled over by the Police, although sometimes, an accident gives rise to their appearance or a 911 caller has alerted the Police. Whatever the reason for the Police contact, be it a traffic stop or another situation altogether, the end result is always the same; an arrest for DUI, and a ride back to the Police station.

The Traffic Stop

As a Michigan DUI lawyer, the reason for the traffic stop is very important to me.  As part of my investigation, I will want to hear my client’s recollections and see the Police in-car video, as well.

When a person is released from jail, they leave with a citation, a paper license, and no car. They'll have to get it out of impound. Whenever they get back home, they're full of regret and fear and humiliation, and the first thing they want is a good shower.
Sooner or later, they begin to look for a lawyer to take on their Michigan DUI case.  Drunk Driving cases are specialized.  There are endless legal and scientific nuances involved in analyzing a traffic stop, the administration of field sobriety tests, and the breath (or blood) test and the results that follow, not to mention all the other things that come together to make up a DUI case. A Detroit attorney either concentrates in the DUI and DWI field, or not. It’s the “or not” that should be avoided.

At its simplest, these are the “steps” in a DUI case, here is a brief look at each:

The Arrest

This is pretty self-explanatory, and if you’re facing a DUI charge, then you already know all about it. At this point, it is of little value to re-hash what has already happened. Instead, we’ll shift our attention to what is coming.

The Arraignment

This is where a person faces either a Judge, or Magistrate, and is informed of the actual charge or charges against them. A plea is taken (almost always a “not guilty plea”) and a bond is set, along with any “conditions” of the bond. Conditions of a bond always include no use of alcohol and sometimes alcohol testing is added as a condition of bond in order to enforce the “no drinking” provision. In many, if not most cases, the arraignment can be “waived” by hiring a DUI lawyer who will file papers with the Michigan Court that automatically enters a “not guilty” plea for the client, and bypasses the necessity of having to show up to Court for this purpose. Instead of going to the arraignment, the client will simply wait to show up for the pre-trial, along with their Michigan DUI attorney.

The Pre-Trial

This is really the meat and potatoes stage of a DUI. The pre-trial is where the Detroit DUI defense lawyer and the prosecutor meet and discuss the case. The real point for me here is to get the drunk driving charge dismissed. Many times, a DUI case is resolved at this stage through what is called a “plea bargain,” meaning that the original charge (often written up as "OWI") is dismissed in exchange for a plea to something less serious, and/or a “sentence agreement,” is reached, meaning a deal that specifies "no jail."

The Trial

A trial occurs because the Michigan DUI defense lawyer and the Prosecutor cannot agree on a mutually acceptable charge.  A trial results in a verdict of either “guilty,” or “not guilty.”

The Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI)

Unless a case is “knocked out” or otherwise “beaten” at trial, this is the most important step in the whole DUI process (and the one that I can help with more than anyone) because what happens here determines what ultimately “happens” to the person at sentencing. Here, it is required that a person be interviewed by a probation officer and then take a written alcohol assessment test. This takes place after a plea deal has been reached but before the person is sentenced by the Judge. The final product of the PSI is a written sentencing recommendation sent to the Judge, and is based upon the person’s performance on the written alcohol assessment and how well or poorly he or she did at the probation interview. In the real world, this written recommendation is pretty much the blueprint for exactly what kind of sentence a person will receive. This is so important that I spend multiple hours with each client preparing him or her for the alcohol assessment test and the Probation interview.

The Sentencing

A “sentence” is what the Judge orders a person to do, and not do. In reality, the sentence in most DUI (and all other criminal) cases mirrors the pre-sentence investigation report recommendation. This means that if the probation officer recommends that a person attends something like an 8-week intensive alcohol education program, you can bet your paycheck that the Judge will order just that. This only underscores the importance of making sure I prepare you for the alcohol assessment test and the probation interview.

If you hire me as your Detroit DUI lawyer, I'll never lose sight of the fact that the most important part of my job is to keep you out of jail and minimize all the other penalties that can be thrown at you. I don't get paid to watch my clients get hammered by the Judge, I get paid to make sure they don't.

The Outcome

The truth is that DUI case will cost a lot of money, right from the start. The money “faucet” is turned on as a person is released from Jail, and has to post some sort of cash bond. From there, the money just seems to pour out: Getting the car out of impound, hiring a lawyer, fines and costs, driver responsibility fees, skyrocketing car insurance rates, repaying the municipality for arrest fees, probation fees, plus any additional costs a person will have to shell out for counseling or alcohol education ordered by the Judge. DUI cases are big business for Courts and the cities within their various jurisdictions. A DUI is a very expensive mistake.

Yet, in the end, when I make it out that a DUI really represents nothing more than a mistake in judgment, and an out-of-character incident for you, then things can be made better, and you can not only stay out of jail, but also avoid a difficult and expensive term of probation, as well. I can do that.  Call me to find out how.