A DUI conviction in the great state of Michigan can severely impact your life, even if it’s only your first offense. That’s why the first thing you want to do is hire the best Michigan DUI lawyer to represent and defend you in court.
Hiring a DUI lawyer can mean the difference between community service and jail time and even license suspension. These are the types of things that not only make your daily life harder, but they also remain on your record, making it harder to get a job or enroll in college in the future.
Of course, you don’t want to hire just any DUI lawyer for the job. Read on to learn more about why you need a DUI lawyer in Michigan and the criteria they must meet before hiring them.
Do I Need a DUI Lawyer in Michigan?
A DUI—driving under the influence—is a serious offense. There was a time when hiring a DUI lawyer in Michigan or any other state meant you could likely plea for a lesser charge, such as reckless driving, and only have to pay a fine. Now, all states, including the District of Columbia, resort to the per se DUI laws.
In short, the per se DUI laws make it mandatory for those with a DUI charge to be judged on a DUI charge. Nothing more, nothing less. Additionally, in all 50 states, if you’re found with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit, you will be charged with a DUI.
Depending on where you live, you’ll likely pay a fine for your DUI charge and have your license suspended for up to two years. In Michigan, if you get a DUI, you could be facing jail time in addition to fines up to $500. You’ll also be expected to complete up to 360 hours of community service—and this is all just for your first offense.
If you get a DUI in the Great Lake State, even if it’s a first offense, it’s a good idea to hire a Michigan DUI attorney. It’s especially a good idea if you’re facing jail time, have aggravating circumstances, or if your recorded BAC was below the legal limit.
You’ll likely still lose your license and have to pay a fine since having a BAC at or above the legal limit is grounds for a DUI charge. However, a good Michigan DUI lawyer will be able to mitigate jail time. They’ll also be able to argue your charges if your recorded BAC doesn’t warrant a DUI, and in some cases, keep your license from being suspended.
What to Look for in a Michigan DUI Lawyer
Not every Michigan criminal lawyer is worth your time and money. You need to find the one that will best represent you and guide you through the process and prepare you for your court appearance and anything else coming your way.
These are the five must-have qualities to look for in your Michigan DUI lawyer:
1. Knowledge and Experience
Technically, you can hire any lawyer with a license to practice law. However, criminal attornies with training, knowledge, and experience in DUI cases are where you want to narrow down your search.
Your Michigan criminal lawyer should have extensive knowledge and training in the science of breath and blood testing. They should also have participated in the Michigan National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s SFST battery courses for advanced field sobriety testing.
Additionally, a good lawyer is one with extensive experience handling these types of cases. Criminal laws are always in flux, and an experienced Michigan DUI lawyer knows this and will be prepared with the proper defense for your case.
2. A Good Track Record in Court
While a DUI lawyer with experience is a must, that experience won’t mean much if they haven’t done well in court. Do your research and find out your potential lawyer’s court history. You want to hire someone who has won the majority of their cases—not someone who loses frequently.
3. Good Communication and Negotiation Skills
Good communication is essential between you, your lawyer, the court, and the opposing parties. You want to hire a Michigan DUI lawyer that will listen to you and keep you informed every step of the way. They should also be communicating with the opposite party to negotiate terms and conditions for your release or an out of court settlement.
In terms of negotiations, your DUI lawyer should be able to make the best possible deal to present before the judge. A good criminal defense attorney will do this with your best interests in mind while keeping things honest and fair.
4. A Clean Ethical Record
You can hire the best DUI lawyer in Detroit, but if they have a history of malpractice or have at one time been sanctioned by the State Bar, it could hurt your case. Judges don’t take too kindly to lawyers with poor ethical records.
To make sure your DUI lawyer has a clean, ethical record, all you have to do is visit the website for your State Bar. All disciplinary records of State Bar members are public, so you’ll be able to find out within minutes if your lawyer is ethical and in good standing.
5. Charges Fees You Can Afford
Legal services don’t come cheap, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a Michigan DUI lawyer that’s both excellent and affordable.
Once you find a DUI lawyer, you want to work with, talk about the costs upfront, before anything else. Most criminal defense attorneys are willing to let you pay in installments. They’ll also be able to give you an estimate of the total costs—however, this number is just an estimate and will inevitably vary.
Before hiring your DUI lawyer, have your budget in mind—and don’t hire legal counsel you can’t afford.
Find Your Detroit DUI Lawyer Today
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer doesn’t make you a criminal. It makes you informed and prepared to handle your offense. Without representation, you could be facing hefty fines and jail time for your DUI charges.
If you get a DUI in the state of Michigan, you’re going to need an experienced Michigan DUI lawyer. Contact us today for your legal defense consultation.