Written by attorney Jonathan Andrew Paul

The "Concerned"​ Michigan DUI Judge - Does this mean jail?Maybe, but speak to a drunk driving lawyer

I stand before 100's of judges each year on DUI cases. If we're able to successfully resolve a case to the clients satisfaction, we will appear before the judge for sentencing. The charge may have been reduced to a lower DUI charge or even a non-DUI charge, but the judge will always examine the "original case", not what was worked out with the prosecutor.

For example, if my client creates enough leverage proactively and we find enough leverage within the facts of the case, we may be able to create a non-DUI outcome such as disorderly conduct. Even if we're able to do this, the judge is still going to treat the sentence as a drunk driving sentence; that's not necessarily a bad thing, but many clients think they are out of hot water if the prosecutor cuts a great deal.

There's two things a judge takes a "close look" at: was there an accident, and is the BAC number "high" - in my experience, a judge look at anything above 0.15 as a high, and anything with a 0.20 and up to be "concerning". When you're approaching being 3x the legal limit, terrible things are bound to happen, but for some luck that the client didn't kill someone with their vehicle.

A client may be able to function at 3x the legal limit, but it's very unlikely the judge believes that, nor cares if you're able to drive at that level. Even if a judge is not known for sending first offenders to jail, if you have a BAC at a "concerning" level, the changes go up on spending a weekend or more in jail in Michigan.

So what do we do to prepare for this scenario? We put safeguards in place such as daily alcohol testing, Impact Weekend, proactive community service, Intensive Outpatient (IOP) treatment among other steps from day one. We can't change a BAC number if we're going to be pleading on a case, but we can take the sting off the result.

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