“Winning”, the word was given great attention when Charlie Sheen was in his dispute with the Two and a Half Men creator’s. Many people disputed if Sheen was actually winning. As an attorney, many of the Drunk Driving client calls we receive are from potential clients who want to win. Most lawyers market themselves as a “winning lawyer”. Winning at Drunk Driving is not as simple or precise as winning a sporting event or even Blackjack. When you are charged with DUI/Drunk Driving winning is often subjective to the person who is charged. When we help someone get their Driver’s License Reinstated winning is easier to understand. When a client feels they have won from their perspective, the only perspective that matters, they win.
In Drunk Driving, Client’s have an established idea of what winning is. To most winning is a dismissal or a not guilty verdict. To others winning a drunk driving case is simply avoiding jail. Some just hope to save the driver’s license or have driving restrictions for work. Most charged with drunk driving plead or our found guilty of something. Winning a drunk driving case cannot be measured by Guilty or Not Guilty. Most clients win even with pleading guilty.
The secret to winning is perspective. As you go through your Drunk Driving case recognize that no two DUI cases are the same. You will not get the same result as your neighbor who claims to have never done a day in jail after having been arrested 14 times. His facts are a lie. Keep your case, your facts in perspective.
First, if you have been arrested for drunk driving you need to do is be honest with yourself. Are you in fact guilty? This does not mean throw in the towel or to not challenge theGovernments case. Did you drink? Did you have too much to drink? Do the results of the tests validate what you already know? If you had a BAC level four times the legal limit and video shows bad driving and poor dexterity what do you really expect to be the outcome? If you are realistic about your facts and the probable outcome then you win.
Second, before calling a lawyer determine a budget. How much are you willing to pay for a lawyer? How much can you pay? You will find lawyers who will charge you up to $10,000. All may be very competent but will the result really be that much different. What you need in a lawyer is competency and due diligence. Most lawyers have a very good idea on what the government will offer you as a plea agreement, if any offer right on the phone. The question is will they share that with you.
At the Barrix Law Firm my practice is to tell prospective clients right up front what the offer is likely to be with or without a defense attorney. My clients do not pay for a result. My clients pay for my experience, time, time set aside for their case, demands on my time, my expertise and focus on DUI/DWI law. They pay for my expert evaluation of the case, from that evaluation good things can happen. Not all cases require the same amount of time so not all fees are the same. I am upfront and honest, they know the cost and what we will do. The great results come from due diligence. We order all the records, evaluate every piece of evidence with a team of attorney’s working every case. We make it clear that not every client gets a great result, they do get great evaluations of their case. Clients simply do not know how to evaluate or investigate a criminal case like drunk driving. Most lawyers who do not focus on Drunk Driving do not properly evaluate OWI cases either.
Third, don’t be sold by false promises or fear. Lawyers often promise the moon or scare you into hiring them. Some lawyers tell clients “Hire me, I am the only lawyer who can keep you out of jail”. “If you don’t hire me you’ll surely lose everything”. Some lawyers say, “Pay me as much as you can and this case will be dismissed. This arrest is invalid, the police violated the law etc.” Then when they advise you to plea they say, “Well now that I see all the facts this is your best course of action”. Or, “You didn’t tell me all the facts. Had I known this or that my advice would have been different”. Choose a lawyer who will tell you the way it is. What will happen if nothing goes your way and what they will actually do for you, then you win.
Fourth, Plea Agreements are often a win. Often times a lawyer will work out a plea agreement for the client. Lawyers who can spot legal or factual issues can often get a better plea agreement for the client. A plea agreement is often a win. If you get your case reduced this may be a win. If you plea to a non alcohol offense that is always a win. Avoiding jail on a first offense is only a win if you were likely to go to jail to begin with. Most judges don’t give jail on a first offense. If you avoid jail on a second offense that is usually a win. Pleading a felony to a misdemeanor is definitely a win. Postponing a conviction or having a case reduced to avoid a license sanction, can be a win. All of these situation require a conviction or finding of guilt but factually are often winning scenarios for clients.
Fifth, Trial is not always winning. Winning at trial is often only a not guilty verdict. The cost-risk benefit of trial and experts are so much for the average person. The risk of a straight up conviction after turning down a plea agreement is risky business. Juries are not usually asked to vote guilty of not guilty. The typical jury is told to choose between Guilty of OWI or the less serious offense Guilty of Impaired or Not guilty. A third of the choices are guilty of something. Once you pay for a trial and experts the only win is often not guilty verdict and juries love the compromise to impaired. Juries think they are doing the client a favor. Little do juries know that the difference between the DUI and Impaired are minor. If you go to trial know your case and the potential options for the jury and what that means for you. If you have to teach the jury the science of BAC testing etc., you are already starting from behind. The science is so complicated most jurors cannot follow the science
It can be done. I’ve successfully defended BAC levels as high as .21 after teaching juries why the science cannot always be trusted. This had no risk as there was no offer to the client until after he had invested in the experts and the difference in the offer was so minor in reality he still had no risk.
Finally, sometimes no matter what you pay, or do you are just going to be found guilty, because you are guilty. Learn from it. A drunk driving arrest is a great opportunity to evaluate your relationship to alcohol. Drunk Driving is dangerous and always wrong. Not to say that every person who is charged with drunk driving is guilty. People are often over charged or charged wrongfully. However, if you determine you have an alcohol issue and you get the help you need and the alcohol under control then you win your DUI case every time!
Jason Barrix is the principle founding attorney at the Barrix Law Firm. He has handled Drunk Driving cases through out Michigan for the past 22 years. He has attended numerous courses and educated himself in all facets of Drunk Driving Law and Science for the past 22 years. He was selected as one of the National top 100 lawyers by his peers. If you have questions he can be contacted at the Barrix Law Firm 616-456-1900 or Barrixlaw.com.pe your paragraph here.