“What do I do if I’m charged with drunk driving?”

DUI is a serious offense, yet many respectable, responsible people find themselves facing allegations of operating under the influence of alcohol. Many folks do not intend to drive intoxicated or under the influence.

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DUI is Not an Intentional Crime

Driving under the influence (DUI) is often perceived as a deliberate violation, but it’s essential to understand that it is typically not an intentional crime. Unlike premeditated offenses, a DUI often results from a momentary lapse in judgment rather than a planned act. Our legal team recognizes the gravity of drunk driving charges and the impact they can have on a client’s life. However, we also understand that mistakes happen. That’s why we approach DUI cases with rigorous legal defense and empathy. We believe in providing a robust defense while acknowledging the human element involved in such cases. Our goal is to navigate the legal complexities on the client’s behalf. When a client of LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is accused of OWI, our team ensures their rights are protected and their side of the story is heard, all while fighting for the best possible outcome.

Perhaps someone drinks a few while celebrating at a wedding or a cocktail party, and that person does not realize they are under the influence. The officer will conduct a DUI investigation if that person is pulled over or involved in an accident while driving home. Drunk driving is often referred to as DUI or OWI. After a failed sobriety test or a breath alcohol level over .08%, a police officer will arrest someone for driving under the influence.

Do Not Face DUI Charges without Help

Whether this is your first DUI or fifth, you will most likely feel frightened and have questions and concerns. The best advice we can offer is to not face these charges without the help of experienced and effective lawyers. Enlisting the help of an experienced and professional legal team can be one of the wisest investments you will ever make if you are charged with drunk driving.

What should you expect from a great DUI defense attorney?

When charged with drunk driving, you should expect the following from a great DUI defense attorney:

  • Thorough Investigation: They should conduct a comprehensive investigation into your case, examining police reports, breathalyzer or blood test procedures, and any other relevant evidence. This might involve questioning and challenging the BAC testing equipment’s accuracy or the traffic stop’s legality.
  • Experience in Negotiations: A skilled DUI attorney, such as the lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., will have experience negotiating with prosecutors and judges. In some cases, they might be able to reduce your charges or penalties, or negotiate alternative sentencing options like diversion programs or rehabilitation.
  • Trial Readiness: If your case goes to trial, your attorney should be prepared to present a strong defense. This includes cross-examining witnesses, challenging the prosecution’s evidence, and effectively communicating your side of the story. Many lawyers have never taken a DUI case to trial. The attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have tried and won many DUI jury and bench trials over the past several decades.
  • Communication and Support: A great attorney will keep you informed throughout the process, explaining legal terms and procedures. They should be accessible to answer your questions and provide support, helping you navigate the emotional and practical challenges of the situation.
  • Protecting Your Rights: Your attorney should ensure that your legal rights are respected throughout the law enforcement process. This includes checking for any violations during your arrest, such as lack of probable cause or improper administration of field sobriety tests.
  • Tailored Defense Strategy: Every DUI case is unique, and a great attorney will develop a defense strategy tailored to the specific circumstances of your case. This might involve highlighting mitigating factors, such as a clean driving record or the absence of prior offenses.
  • Understanding of Penalties and Consequences: They should clearly explain the potential direct and collateral consequences of a DUI conviction, including fines, license suspension, jail time, and long-term impacts like increased insurance rates and employment difficulties.
  • Ethical Representation: A reputable DUI attorney will handle your case ethically and professionally, respecting attorney-client confidentiality and prioritizing your best interests. Prosecutors and judges know which lawyers are respected or disreputable and treat them accordingly.
  • Realistic Assessments: Finally, a great DUI attorney will provide realistic assessments of your case, helping you understand the likely outcomes and advising you on the best course of action. They won’t make false promises but will work diligently to achieve the best possible result.
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Will I Serve Jail Time for Drunk Driving Charges?

If you stand accused of drunk driving charges, the question most likely to be on your mind is, will I serve jail time? The answer is that it depends. Jail time used to be unheard of for a first offense OWI; however, more judges are starting to impose jail even for a defendant’s first offense. For second and third-time offenders, a minimum of three or four months is not uncommon without top legal representation. Some jurisdictions are more flexible, some prosecutors are more aggressive, and others are less so. Your driving record, criminal record, and any aggravating or mitigating factors will influence the severity of the sentence you receive.

While anything is on the table, you can expect a suspension of your driver’s license, a hefty fine for your first DUI charge, and a revocation of your license for a second or subsequent offense. Additionally, the judge may order you to complete alcohol education, therapy, community service, testing, support groups, and more.

Whenever your freedom is at stake, it is advisable to enlist the services of a reputable legal team to represent you in a court of law. If your blood alcohol level was relatively high or there are witnesses to attest to your inebriated state at the time of arrest, your defense will need to be as strong as possible.

Possible Penalties for Drunk Driving Charges

In Michigan, the penalties for drunk driving charges can vary significantly depending on whether the charge is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. The classification generally depends on factors such as the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC), whether it’s a repeat offense, and whether the incident resulted in injury, death, or property damage.

Misdemeanor Drunk Driving Charges

  1. First Offense (Operating While Intoxicated – OWI)
    • BAC of 0.08% or higher, but less than 0.17%.
    • Penalties may include:
      • Up to 93 days in jail.
      • A fine of $100 to $500.
      • Up to 360 hours of community service.
      • License suspension for 30 days, followed by restrictions for 150 days.
      • Possible vehicle immobilization.
  2. High BAC (Super Drunk Law)
    • BAC of 0.17% or higher.
    • Penalties may include:
      • Up to 180 days in jail.
      • A fine of $200 to $700.
      • Up to 360 hours of community service.
      • License suspension for one year (eligible for restrictions after 45 days with an ignition interlock device).
      • Possible vehicle immobilization.
  3. Second Offense
    • Penalties may include:
      • Five (5) days to one year in jail.
      • A fine of $200 to $1,000.
      • 30 to 90 days of community service.
      • License revocation for a minimum of one year.
      • Vehicle immobilization or forfeiture.

Felony Drunk Driving Charges

  1. Third Offense
    • A felony drunk driving regardless of when prior convictions occurred.
    • Penalties may include:
      • One to five (5) years in prison or probation with 30 days to one year in jail.
      • A fine of $500 to $5,000.
      • 60 to 180 days of community service.
      • License revocation for a minimum of one year.
      • Vehicle immobilization or forfeiture.
  2. Drunk Driving Causing Serious Injury or Death
    • Penalties may include:
      • For causing serious injury: Up to five (5) years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000.
      • For causing death: Up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $2,500 to $10,000.
      • License revocation.
      • Possible vehicle immobilization or forfeiture.

“What can someone charged with drunk driving do to help their lawyer defend them against the charges?”

If you’ve been charged with drunk driving, there are several steps you can take to assist your DUI defense lawyer in defending you against the charges:

  • Provide Complete and Accurate Information: Share all the details of the incident with your lawyer, including the events leading up to the arrest, your interactions with law enforcement, and any other relevant information. Honesty is crucial, as even seemingly minor details can significantly impact your defense.
  • Follow Legal Advice: Adhere strictly to the guidance provided by your attorney. This includes following any legal strategies they recommend and refraining from actions that could harm your case, such as discussing the case with others or posting about it on social media.
  • Gather Documentation and Evidence: Collect any evidence relevant to your case, such as receipts, photographs, witness contact information, or medical records. This information can help your lawyer construct a more robust defense. Obtaining letters of support, such as character letters, might be helpful for your defense attorney.
  • Avoid Further Legal Trouble: Stay out of any additional legal issues. Additional charges or violations can complicate your case and negatively impact your defense. Strictly adhering to your bond conditions is essential. Contact your attorney immediately if you have questions about your bond terms and conditions.
  • Attend All Legal Appointments and Court Dates: Be punctual, dress appropriately, and be present for all meetings with your lawyer and court appearances. Missing a court date can have severe consequences and poorly reflect your case.
  • Communicate Promptly with Your Attorney: Respond quickly to your lawyer’s requests for information or action. Effective communication is vital for a timely and efficient defense strategy. Similarly, your lawyer should promptly communicate updates regarding the case to you and respond to any of your questions and concerns.
  • Keep a Low Profile: Maintaining a low profile while your case is pending is advisable. Avoid situations that might lead to further scrutiny or legal complications. Monitor your social media for any posts that could be used against you. Prosecutors routinely search a defendant’s social media to see if they can use anything against them.
  • Seek Treatment if Necessary: If alcohol or substance use is an ongoing issue, consider seeking treatment or counseling. Demonstrating a commitment to addressing these issues can be viewed favorably by the court and might positively influence your case. Getting a professional substance abuse assessment and promptly following any recommendations is best.
  • Prepare for Court: Work with your lawyer to prepare for court appearances. This might include practicing answers to potential questions or understanding court procedures and etiquette.
  • Stay Informed: Stay informed about the progress of your case and understand the legal steps involved. This will help you make informed decisions and participate actively in your defense. If your attorney calls or emails you, respond promptly.

Remember, top OWI lawyers, such as those with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., guide and defend you when you are charged with drunk driving. They can protect and defend you most effectively when you cooperate, collaborate, and follow their expert advice to ensure the best possible outcome.

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

We Have Helped Many in their Drunk Driving Defense in Michigan

LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is an aggressive Michigan-based criminal defense law firm that has represented countless clients facing drunk driving charges, successfully helping their clients navigate a complex legal system and, in many cases, receive a far less severe sentence. In many cases, we have achieved outright dismissals of DUI charges or gotten charges reduced to non-alcohol-related offenses. We use a unique team approach that consistently achieves unparalleled results. Call us for a free consultation. We will take the time to talk with you, answer your questions, and work with you to develop a winning defense. We are not afraid to win!

Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.

We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!

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