After a Michigan drunk driving arrest, the first thing on many people’s minds is: will I lose my job? A recent story in the Detroit Free Press details how for many, the unfortunate answer is yes.
As the article explains, a public safety director for a city in Michigan was placed on leave because of an Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) charge. Even though the case hasn’t concluded, the officer is already facing consequences for the OWI charge. The final “verdict” on this officer’s job status could depend not just on the result of the case but also how the officer handles himself before the case is finalized.
The Michigan DUI lawyers are the Barone Defense Firm always discuss this issue with clients immediately after they have retained the Firm. It is important to address this issue at the beginning rather than at the end of a case because getting ahead of the issue can help our client’s save their jobs. There are several things to consider including:
- Did the arrest happen on company time or in a company vehicle?
- Is a company vehicle a benefit of employment and will the arrest impact this benefit?
- Does the employee have a duty to report the arrest? For some categories of employment, the answer is yes, but the best way to know is to have a look at the employee handbook or employment contract.
- Would it be helpful to undergo counseling for alcohol use?
These are a few of the many questions that will be discussed and resolved with our client soon after they retain the Barone Defense Firm to represent them. Regardless of the result, the Free Press case demonstrates how OWI charges in Michigan can have consequences that reach beyond the punishment handed down by a judge. We call these “collateral consequences.”
What are collateral consequences?
Consequences that are not directly ordered by the court are called collateral consequences. Collateral consequences of an OWI charge can include job loss, child custody issues, immigration issues, loss of professional license, and prohibition from traveling to other countries. For more information see our article:
What are the most at-risk jobs?
The DUI Lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm have been helping people through OWI charges in Michigan for over 30 years. In our experience, the most at-risk jobs include doctors, nurses, other licensed healthcare professionals, pharmacists, outside sales professionals, road test engineers, police officers, firefighters, CDL truck drivers, manufacturing workers with very strict attendance policies, and any job that requires a government security clearance or significant travel.
What can be done to help someone facing serious collateral consequences in an OWI case?
Each client we help requires a specific game plan tailored to that client and that client’s career. It goes beyond being an expert in drunk driving law and evidence. Helping someone through an OWI case when there is risk of job loss requires a level of care to dig deeper. We must understand and advise our clients of reporting requirements to employers and licensing boards. We must review with our client’s pertinent sections of employee handbooks. We must be proactive regarding alcohol and drug counseling. We must leverage the high stakes in the presentation of the client in court. Doing these things can lead to good results in court and in human resources reviews of employees.
All of this isn’t to say that expertise and experience with evidence, police procedure, and scientific issues in OWI cases does not matter. Much to the contrary. Experience and expertise in OWI cases becomes even more crucial. Spotting an issue, for example, in the blood sample collected to obtain blood alcohol content can lead to a life-changing result in an OWI case for someone whose job is at risk.
For these reasons, if you are charged with Operating While Intoxicated in Michigan and face potential job loss you should call the Barone Defense Firm for a consultation about your case. The sooner we speak to you, the sooner we can begin the process of avoiding both direct and collateral consequences of an OWI charge.