Why do you compare being arrested for drunk driving with a serious illness like cancer?
Because the emotions one feels for both are so similar. Learning that you have a serious illness usually starts out with a series of tests. After the tests are done your doctor calls you into the office, sits you down and gives you your diagnosis. Your heart starts pumping and you can feel that ache in your stomach, the same ache you always feel when you’re under stress and afraid. Then your doctor tells you exactly what you feared most. Yes, this scenario probably all sounds very familiar because hearing the doctor tell you you’ve got cancer is a lot like hearing the cop tell you you’re being arrested for drunk driving. You got that same pit in your stomach and it seemed like time stops as you hear the cop uttering the words “you’re being placed under arrest for drunk driving.”
You’re right, being arrested for DUI is like being diagnosed with cancer and I do have a lot of those same feelings. What should do about them?
The first emotion one feels is usually denial followed by anger. This is because hearing the words “you’re under arrest” immediately causes the brain to go into defense mode. The first reaction is denial and you have thoughts such as “there must be some mistake” and “this can’t be happening to me.” “I can’t have a terminal illness.” Then it starts to sink it and you get angry, maybe at the cop that gave you the diagnosis, or the friend who was supposed to be your designated driver. Maybe you’re angry at the bar tender that pushed the drinks, or maybe the anger is directed inward and you blame yourself.
The next emotions are usually panic and fear, specifically a fear of the unknown. You ask yourself questions such as “what’s going to happen to me,” “can drunk driving be defended,” “how do I find a top DUI lawyer, and “am I going to jail?”
It is our opinion that the best way to deal with these emotions is to do two things. First, find a top DUI lawyer to defend you and second, begin seeing a counselor or therapist. If you have a drunk or alcohol abuse problem, then you should begin with treatment, possibly including attendance at AA or a similar 12-step program. Once you become active in your case in this way, your stress and anxiety will begin to diminish.
What exactly is the role of the DUI defense lawyer?
There are many different answers to this question, and in part it depends on how philosophical you want to be. Our Constitutional role is to “ensure due process.” The phrase “due process” really means fairness, so for a DUI defense attorney to ensure due process what he or she is really doing is to ensure that the drunk driving crime is being fairly prosecuted. If you are convicted of drunk driving, then a defense attorney’s role is to help you to obtain the best possible sentence, that is, to make sure you are treated fairly by the judge at sentencing.
I suppose another way to look at a DUI defense attorney’s role is understand that his or her role begins by looking for “reasonable doubt” in the state’s case. If there is reasonable doubt, then there should be no conviction to begin with, and if there’s no conviction, then there can be no sentencing.
In the context of a drunk driving case, the defense attorney must look at all of the state’s evidence, which will include the police report, any videotapes that may exist, and the breath or blood test evidence. The DUI defense attorney should also look at the documents that the police are required to maintain regarding the breath testing equipment or blood testing equipment. Do any of these things suggest that there may be a reason to doubt that you are guilty of drunk driving?
After a review of the state’s case, the defense of drinking drivers starts with an analysis of the law. The defense attorney should be asking him or herself whether or not any of your Constitutional, statutory or administrative rights have been violated. If the answer is thought to be “yes,” then the next question is what should the Court do about this violation? For every rights violation there is a corresponding remedy to be imposed, and sometimes this remedy is a dismissal of the case. Such dismissals will generally only occur when there has been a Constitutional violation, such as where the police did not have a lawful basis to stop your car, or such as where you were unlawfully arrested.
Top DUI defense lawyers know all of the various defenses that might be raised either before or during trial. Breath and blood testing is not always accurate or reliable, and the police officer’s opinion that you were drunk may be just that – an opinion.
What is a substance abuse evaluation? (Alcohol and drug assessment and possible treatment prior to going to trial).
Simply being charged with drunk driving does not necessarily mean you are an alcoholic. Research indicates, however, that the probability that you have an alcohol disorder, of which there are several types, increases according to the number of your drunk driving arrests. Once arrested for an OWI offense, most courts, employers, family or even friends assume that you may have an alcohol or drug problem. Drug and alcohol evaluation programs are available almost everywhere, and most can be researched on line for information.
Your attorney may suggest that you undergo an alcohol and drug assessment, and then to follow through on any recommended treatment plan. The first reason for this suggestion is that if you do have an alcohol or drug problem, the sooner you face the problem, and obtain treatment, the sooner you will be on the road to recovery. Second, even if you do not have a drug or alcohol problem, the sooner you seek a private, independent assessment, the more likely this prompt action will impress your trial judge, and in the event of a conviction help your OWI attorney arrange a favorable negotiated sentence.
Furthermore, the results of you actions may also be used by your attorney in his or her discussions with the prosecutor. If this substance abuse evaluation shows that you have no drug or alcohol problems, this might give some credence to and is yet another reason why the charges against you might be lessened. In the alternative, if the counselor suggests some educational sessions and it can be shown that you have completed them, this can be a negotiating “chit” for your attorney to use to try to get a negotiated plea in your case.
Michigan has a mandatory provision that all OWI convictions require an evaluation for alcohol and drug dependency prior to sentencing. These evaluations are done by the court’s probation department and will help them make a treatment recommendation for use by the judge at sentencing. Be sure that the counselor or treatment center you choose is appropriately qualified, or is otherwise one of the state-approved providers of alcohol and drug rehabilitation. Some courts prefer their own approved counselors.
Ok, I’ve hired the best DUI Lawyer I could afford, and have started treatment, what else can I do to help?
Here is a partial list of things you should be doing and thinking about. This is from Chapter Four of the Michigan DUI Book: