When Your Drinking is NOT a Problem

Part of my attorney responsibility, especially in High BAC and 2nd or 3rd Offense DUI cases, is to help the Client get past the “I don’t have a problem” position and understand how the Michigan Court is going to see them, and what we need to do to minimize the negative consequences that a High BAC, 2nd or 3rd DUI inevitably brings.  While staying out of Jail is great, and certainly the first priority in any case I handle, but once I’ve accomplished that (and I usually do), you won’t feel very “lucky” if you wind up overwhelmed with classes and counseling and testing and community service and countless other things that can turn a Probationary Sentence into a kind of “Probation from Hell.”

Most Courts, if things are handled properly, can perceive a 1st Offense DUI as an aberration, or out of character, and not as any kind of indication of an alcohol problem.  Thus, the “I don’t have a problem” belief isn’t really a problem in a 1st Offense case, especially if we can back that up.  Things change rather dramatically, however, when a person picks up a 2nd or 3rd Offense DUI.  The Law presumes that a person with a 2nd or 3rd Offense DUI has an alcohol problem, and categorizes such people as “habitual offenders.”  While there is no such legal presumption for High BAC Offenders, every Judge out there is certainly skeptical when anyone who blows over a .17 comes forward and insists his or her drinking is normal.  To be clear, the Judicial system essentially automatically assumes every 2nd or 3rd DUI Offender has a drinking problem.  High BAC Offenders are certainly seen as much "riskier" than a lower BAC 1st Offender. 

Of course, it can be horribly frustrating when everyone sees you as having a problem that you don’t. However, your DUI lawyer will get nowhere if you want to begin by arguing with the Michigan Court.  As much as you can count on death and taxes, you can also count on never winning an argument with a Judge.  That doesn’t mean you can’t persuade a Judge to see things differently; that’s what being a good Detroit DUI lawyer is all about.  However, there is an established procedure for doing this, and it does not work by being argumentative or combative, even if a Judge is looking straight at you and what he or she is saying is dead wrong.  In fact, becoming too argumentative with the Court is called “Contempt of Court.”  If we’re going to have any impact, it will be by educated persuasion, not by becoming indignant.

Avoiding a “Probation from Hell” Sentence requires having a Michigan lawyer who can navigate through the trickiest part of a DUI case that isn’t otherwise “knocked out” by a successful challenge to the evidence: The Court’s focus, in any DUI case, will always be on your relationship to (meaning use of) alcohol.  For me, that means preventing the dreaded “over diagnosis” and your getting stuck in classes and counseling that are not needed.  It necessitates that, in a High BAC, 2nd or 3rd Offense case, I help you understand the realities of “the system” and how to maneuver through it successfully.   

In those cases where it seems the only person who doesn’t think their drinking has become a problem is the Client him or herself, then I have to help my Client take a step back and take a more objective look at their situation.  I know how the Court is going to look at the Client.  If you’ve picked up your 2nd or 3rd DUI, and you don’t think you have a drinking problem, that’s fine.  

If you hire me as your Detroit DUI or DWI attorney, I can bring something different to the table that can help.  Beyond being a “DUI Lawyer,” I also bring a working Clinical knowledge of the development, diagnosis and treatment of alcohol and addiction issues.  In addition to having worked in the DUI field for more than 2 decades, I am enrolled and involved in formal post-graduate, University level addiction studies.  This means I am fluent in the language and methods of the Counseling professionals who diagnose and treat alcohol problems.  Whereas the Court system, and everyone in it, has a familiarity with the Criminal and DUI aspects of alcohol use and abuse, I have a much broader and deeper understanding of them.

In the DUI world, the Court system has a narrow, almost counter-productive view of what “help” means when used in conjunction with a person’s drinking.  It is just a given, in the world of modern treatment protocols for alcohol and drug issues, that the Judicial system in the U.S. is 10 to 20 years behind the times.  As someone who knows both sides of that issue, I can confirm that.  This simply means that I have to make sure that my Client doesn’t just roll over and get shoe-horned into the wrong kind of expensive, time-consuming counseling and wind up forced to sit through AA meetings that they hate.  AA is a wonderful program, and can be the most effective way for about 1 out of 3 people to get past a drinking problem.  

The other 2 out of 3 people, however, won’t be helped at all by being forced into AA.  Yet if you ask a person who does NOT specifically study or work in the field of alcohol treatment about how to get a handle on a drinking problem, you’ll find that “counseling” and AA are their only answers.  20 years ago, these were the only answers, but things change and evolve.  Now, it’s understood that things like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy can be far more successful for many people than the old-school, traditional methods (such meeting regularly with a Counselor who him or herself got Sober through AA, and being required to attend AA, often multiple times per week) of helping a person get past an alcohol problem.  

If you’re convicted of a 2nd or 3rd Offense, the Law presumes that you have a drinking problem.  You are going to be ordered into Counseling.  You run the same risk, albeit without the legal presumption, if you’re convicted of a High BAC Offense.  You can either just wait to see what happens (which the equivalent of having NO plan at all) or you can be proactive and hire a Michigan DUI attorney to help you formulate a plan.  I can make sure that, if you don’t really have a problem, you don’t find yourself in the clutches whatever Clinic that gets the Court’s referral work, only to get squeezed for endless appointments and money.  While you’ll have to go through Counseling, no matter what, wouldn’t you rather go to a Counselor who honestly understands that his or her role is to help you assess your drinking behavior and not just “milk” you for as long as possible?

How many Courts do you think are on the “cutting edge” of modern treatment protocols?  I can tell you that “old school” is the ONLY school of thought that the Judicial system has when it comes to handling a DUI driver.  And if the Lawyer you hire isn’t familiar with all of this, you can count on going down the very same “old school” road to same old counseling and same old treatment that everyone else gets.  I can help you avoid that.  If your drinking isn’t a problem, I can help make sure it isn’t seen as one, at least to the extent possible given the habitual offender presumption, and make your whole DUI situation much better.