Most people who get charged with drunk driving never go to jail, but the fear is real. In Michigan, a DUI is called “Operating While Intoxicated” or “Operating While Visually Impaired.”
Many people call lawyers for this reason. The real reasons to employ a lawyer for your DUI charge has much less to do with keeping you out of jail for a first time OWI and everything to do with knowing the ins and outs of the process.
While we can and will fight your conviction on grounds related to your arrest, the reality is that a plea bargain decides most cases with the prosecution. If you face an OWI conviction for the first time, your case is not likely to be different.
What Happens After the Plea Bargain?
If you were arrested for a DUI and blew a result over the limit, there are narrow paths to claiming your innocence. In Michigan, you will be facing an OWI conviction.
However, there are many steps still to come, and you need expert guidance to “win” those steps and avoid more treatment than is necessary.
Three significant steps happen when you get a DUI conviction.
- PSI – or pre-sentence investigation
Pre-trial is where we make a deal with the prosecutor. Judges and prosecutors look favorably on plea bargains and tend to look down on someone who insists on a trial when they don’t indeed have a case. Courts are too busy.
In many cases, if not most, it is in your best interest to make a deal. The prosecutor gets the conviction he wants, and a judge is more disposed to look favorably on you during the next part.
The investigation is the most critical step of the process. It’s where what “happens” to you is decided. Your performance determines your outcome. It consists of a written alcohol assessment test and an interview with a probation officer.
I can’t stress this enough: that probation officer, using the results of the test, is the person who will determine the next part of your life and how difficult it’s going to be.
Judges almost always rely on their probation officers’ recommendations for sentencing. You want to get these two parts right: the interview and the test.
A Word on Sentencing
While almost no one who gets a first time OWI will spend time in jail, it’s best to think about what happens next in terms of the treatment you’re not getting. Not going to jail is a big one. Not having to inform your employer is also huge.
Here are some examples of things that may be part of your sentence:
- Not allowed to drink alcohol on probation
- Classes – like weekend alcohol awareness classes
- Victim impact panel
- Community Service
For a second DUI offense, your life is going to look much different. As far as the state of Michigan is concerned, you have a drinking problem if you get a second OWI, and your sentence will include a more inclusive treatment plan, including mandatory counseling or addiction recovery treatment.
About the Tests
The alcohol assessment test is the preferred tool used by probation officers and courts. Most of them use either the M.A.S.T. test or NEEDS assessment.
Both of these tests are scored numerically – the lower your score, the less intervention you need – and that score will show up on the judge’s desk when it comes time for your sentencing hearing.
Any alcohol assessment test addresses five areas:
- Family history
- Social comment
- Social conflict
Before you take this test, we will go over what you are likely to encounter together to make sure you get the lowest possible score.
Probation Officer Interview
We will also go over your interview with your probation officer – what you should avoid, and what to highlight.
Many first-time offenders do not understand instinctively how to talk to a probation officer based on what these officers see day in and day out.
The goal is to ace your test and your interview so that the judge considers a lenient recommendation when it comes time for sentencing.
Bringing it Home
No matter what stage of the process you’re in after a DUI, it’s never too late to call my office and get us working for your benefit. Get my expert legal advice and preparation and ace your pre-sentencing investigation. Let’s get you back on the road!