Yes being proactive is mandatory when you work with me, and yes it is mostly geared to help us with the prosecutor, judge and probation, but in the end it could save my client’s life. Most clients come to me for a DUI after the worst night of their life, and something led to this moment in time. My client may be having trouble at work, medical issues, trouble at home or simply have an out of control substance abuse issue. A client comes to me for help inside the courtroom, but I probably help them even more outside of the courtroom.
I see clients at their worst; they come to me with everything on the line. A client’s freedom is on the line, finances are about to get tight, and their ability to drive is in jeopardy. Sometimes my client is in a bad place medically, and without my help, will hurt themselves or someone else in the community.
I’ve yet to work with a client who did not tell me during the case, or at the end of the case that my proactive program really helped them get their life together. The average DUI case in Michigan lasts about 8 weeks, and longer if we go to trial. Many of my client’s cases are not completed until 6-12 months after the actual DUI incident happened.
During a DUI case in Michigan, a court at most is doing some alcohol and drug testing, but the client is allowed to drive without restriction, and free to live their life however they wish. There isn’t much to stop a client from drinking and driving at this point in the case; if the client has an alcohol problem, the addiction will be stronger than fear of a bond violation. Sometimes a case takes awhile to be charged, and a client can have weeks and months go by before a court is even monitoring them for drugs and alcohol.
This is exactly why I require all of my clients to go on my proactive plan from day one. Even if the end result is a dismissal of charges, or a not-guilty at trial, the client still found themselves arrested and charged with a DUI offense. This is enough of a reason to make changes in your life, and put a number of safety measures (for the client, their family and the community) in place.
Not only will the program help once we’re in court, but I need a sober and clear-minded client to assist me during the case. I need a client who has sweat equity in the result, and a I need a client who is learning from the case no matter the outcome.
My ideal case result for a client is the following:
Client comes to me after a DUI arrest. Depending upon criminal history and the facts of the case, the client begins proactive alcohol testing to hold themselves accountable from day one. The client is not using illegal drugs, and they pass a 10-panel drug screen, and they test daily for alcohol. The client undergoes an alcohol screening and assessment and follows the recommendation (education and or/treatment), and attends AA on a weekly basis. I may also send the client to an Impact Weekend or intensive outpatient or inpatient counseling.
As my client is making changes in their life, and holding themselves accountable, I am working all angles on their behalf to have their case dismissed via motion or at a hearing, and come up with potential trial defense. Best case, we make the case go away, but my client has learned from the situation, and will never put themselves in the same situation again. I also hope that their family and friends can learn from the situation, and the case has a broad impact on society in a very positive way.
I’ve had clients share their stories with friends and family, which have inspired those people to be more aware of their own decisions. Outsiders see my client who is otherwise successful and put together, and realize that no one is immune to getting in trouble while behind the wheel.
The worst thing would be for a client to get off, not learn from it, assume they’ll get off the next time, and continue this dangerous pattern of bad choices. Nobody likes drunk driving; every single one of my client’s would agree as well, and it’s my job that my clients learn, and avoid the same pitfalls in the future.
It would be a disservice to the community if I was enabling bad behavior; I drive on the same roads, as does my family and friends; I want to prevent future DUI’s just as much as law enforcement.
DUI Attorney & Former Prosecutor Jonathan Paul