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If you are facing a Michigan DUI charge, you need answers to all of your questions quickly. Many attorney websites will give you all the information you can handle about themselves and their victories. The problem with this approach is that while it may make you feel more comfortable about a possible outcome in your case, it does not help you to become an educated consumer of legal services or to navigate the Michigan DUI court process.
Our firm strives to give you the best information on the Internet about what you will be facing in your very near future. We have also tried to educate you on Michigan DUI laws in plain English so that when you decide to hire an attorney, the legal terms thrown around in a casual manner mean something to you.
Michigan DUI vs OWI
In the mainstream media and all across the country, drunk driving cases have been labeled as DUI or Driving Under the Influence. Michigan defines their drunk driving in a different manner, calling it Operating While Intoxicated or OWI. Before that, they used the label Operating Under the Influence of Liquor or OUIL. In Michigan, you will also see a common label being used of Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level or UBAL. This last label is simply an alternative method of proving an Operating While Intoxicated charge in Michigan.
Before Your Michigan DUI
In the Michigan DUI Handbook, you will find a page that talks about what may have happened BEFORE your traffic stop for suspicion of operating under the influence. The reason why this is so important is that many people will understandably try to block out the events of that night. However, you need to try and recall as much as you can from the events of that night to assist in your Michigan DUI defense. We give you some of the main things to recall and journal to best assist the attorney that you hire to represent your interests.
What Happens at the Michigan DUI Traffic Stop?
Believe it or not, the initial traffic stop in your Michigan DUI case MAY provide the start of your best defense. Many times the police officers will not have the proper probable cause to stop your vehicle in the first place and then questions you about drinking and driving. If this threshold issue can be challenged and kept out of your case, subsequent evidence evidence obtained against you could be suppressed as well.
What Happens After I am Released from DUI Custody?
After a night in the drunk tank (often the first time a person has been in jail) there will be disorientation, hangover effects and overwhelming embarrassment. This is normal, but you need to start taking certain actions immediately to help minimize your situation and to help you qualify and seek out competent defense counsel. You may also have been given critical court dates or have deadlines to take action concerning your Michigan drivers license.
Should I Hire a DUI Lawyer?
If you have been arrested and charged with a Michigan DUI, one of the first questions that will be racing through your mind is “do I even need to hire an attorney?”. With the economic state of affairs in Michigan this is a perfectly legitimate question to ask. However, the answer is without question an unequivocal “YES!!!”. We have seen so many people simply plead guilty at their first court appearance and have regretted this decision for the rest of their lives. This may seem a little dramatic, but consider the one fact that a Michigan DUI conviction will stay on your record FOREVER. There is no possible way under current law to have a drinking and driving conviction expunged from your record.
How Do I Find a Michigan DUI Attorney?
If you have come to the proper conclusion that you need representation during your Michigan DUI, the next thing to consider is where to start when it comes to finding an attorney. This can be a very daunting task depending on your circle of friends and family, your employment, or your access to the Internet. If you have a circle of friends who are heavy drinkers, they will tend to know all of the Michigan DUI attorneys in your area. You may get referrals from other friends and family as well. However, the Internet has truly leveled the playing field and given you the consumer of legal services the power to investigate, research, question, and literally shop for your DUI attorney. We encourage all of our prospective clients to engage in this process and make an informed decision.
What Happens at the Initial DUI Arraignment?
The initial arraignment is the first time you will be in full contact with the Michigan DUI court process. Without the proper education on what you might expect, you will be going in blind and things can and do go wrong quickly. The reason why this happens so often is that the players in the court process like clerks, attorneys and judges handle these cases every day and it gets routine. Therefore, they lack the understanding and compassion sometimes necessary to deal with your anxiety and confusion. Some judges are better than others, but remember that many times a magistrate (not a judge) may handle your initial appearance. It is always better to have an advocate standing next to you to both alleviate your fears and maximize your outcome from the hearing.
Do I Need Alcohol Counseling for my Michigan DUI?
This questions is common among first offender Michigan DUI defendants. The answer is almost always “it depends”. For some people, they may have a true alcohol problem that has just now resulted in their first drinking and driving arrest. Others may have simply been at a celebration and made a huge mistake getting behind the wheel of a car. Even though our firm has handled many Michigan DUI cases, every individual is so unique and it requires a proper screening from a license substance abuse counselor to determine whether or not treatment is recommended or required. In addition, if you case results in a plea agreement, Michigan law requires a screening before sentencing.
What Is the DUI Discovery Process?
Discovery is simply the legal term for “show me everything you have against me Mr. or Ms. prosecutor”. A skilled Michigan DUI attorney will be able to navigate these waters very easily and make sure to uncover evidence that will be eventually used against you at a trial. This does not mean your case must precede to trial, but every competent defense attorney should prepare your case from the start for a trial to gain the most leverage on a prosecutor. There may be time limits for requesting certain pieces of evidence and the sooner these can be obtained the better so do not wait to start this process.
What Is a DUI Pre-Trial Conference?
The first time you or your attorney will have an opportunity to meet with an speak to the prosecuting attorney in a formal setting is called a pretrial conference. Many defendants are shocked when they find out they are not typically involved in this meeting if an attorney has been hired. Do not take offense to this as it is done to protect you as much as it is to increase efficiency. Remember that anything you say during the course of your Michigan DUI, even if in the context of a pretrial conference, can and WILL be used against you. Therefore, it is best to have a skilled defense attorney speaking for you on your behalf at the first pretrial conference.
What Are DUI Pre-Trial Motions?
A large majority of Michigan DUI cases will go through the entire lifecycle without any pretrial motions. The only reason an attorney will be justified in filing pretrial motions on your behalf is if there are legitimate problems with either the process or evidence in your case. This can range from the initial traffic stop all the way to the breath or blood testing conducted in your case. Michigan DUI attorneys are bound by a code of ethics that requires them to file motions that can be supported by current law and cannot be frivolous. A skilled defense attorney that has real trial experience will know the difference.
What Happens at the DUI Final Pre-Trial
The final pretrial or settlement conference is an extremely important hearing in your Michigan DUI case. This the last opportunity to try and come to an agreement with the prosecuting officials. Pressure can be brought to bear by both sides of this transaction depending upon the evidence in your case, pretrial motions, and any trial issues such as witness credibility or availability. When you add this pressure to the timelines placed on district court trial judges, it can be used in your favor to settle your case. However, if it cannot be settled an attorney should be ready to go to trial at this final pretrial.
What Is a Bench or Jury Trial?
Our law firm offers fixed fee pricing and include a full bench or jury trial in our written fee agreements. This allows our clients to intelligently decide whether or not their case needs to be tested at trial. A bench trial simply means that the district court trial judge will decide your case versus a jury. Whether or not to waive your right to a jury trial is a decision that should be made by the entire defense team. However, there will be cases where a jury trial is your best option depending on evidentiary issues and timing.
What Happens at the DUI Sentencing Hearing?
Since the majority of Michigan DUI cases settle before trial, the sentencing phase of your case is one of the most, if not THE most hearings in your case. A skilled defense attorney will start working on a DUI case at the end and will be prepared for sentencing well in advance of the actual date. This means conducting a proper client intake, alcohol screening and treatment if appropriate, and other factors like community service or victim impact panels. This is also your opportunity to be heard and this right is protected by statute. Your defense attorney will be able to counsel you on speaking to the judge.