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DUI Sentencing

A common question we hear from those with a drunk driving charge pending is "what's the worst-case scenario” if I get convicted. What follows are all the possible consequences that might occur for anyone with one or several DUI convictions in Michigan.

The DUI lawyers at the Barone Defense Firm suggest that this list be read as a total “worst case” because one of our primary jobs on behalf of our clients is to avoid as many of these consequences as possible. Because none of this, except some mandatory sanctions, is set in stone, it’s important for you to find the best possible DUI attorney to represent you in court.

What follows are three categories of potential penalties that apply to all Michigan drunk driving offenses. Only the first category, judicial sanctions, are imposed by the Court. The driver license sanctions are imposed without a hearing and therefore without due process, by the Michigan Secretary of State.

The collateral consequences, which are often the most damaging, occur simply because you have a conviction on your record. Many lawyers are unaware of some of these collateral consequences, and will fail to advise their clients accordingly.

The three categories are:

1. Judicial Sanctions:

These are the sanctions, meaning the punishments, that the Judge sentences you to, such as jail time, period as well as terms and conditions of probation, fines and costs, vehicle immobilization or forfeiture, alcohol and/or drug testing, restitution, costs of prosecution, some driving restrictions, such as to not drive without a valid license or only with a car outfitted with a BAIID, etc., any sentencing alternatives such as WWAM, community service, adult treatment court and the like, and anything else that the Judge will impose as a part of your DUI sentence.

Most of the possible judicial sanctions are discretionary, meaning the judge is not obligated to impose them. This is not true relative to minimum periods of incarceration for repeat DUI offenders. In most instances however, a judge is obligated to “individualize” your sentence, meaning he/she is obligated to “make the punishment fit the offender” and to an extent, the crime. Because of this, the amount of jail or prison time imposed will depend on many factors, and it will be up to your lawyer to be sure the Court has complete information, especially the beneficial information, prior to your sentencing.

The actual sentence you receive from a judge will be based on many factors, including the sentencing practices of your judge, your prior criminal record including arrests that did not result in conviction, and all of the detailed facts and circumstances of your case.

2. Driver License Sanctions:

As indicated above, driver license sanctions in a DUI case are imposed by the Michigan Secretary of State and not be the Judge presiding over your case. Unlike many of the punitive sanctions discussed above, driver license sanctions are not individualized and are not discretionary. They do not vary from person to person based on your individual circumstances.

The driver license sanctions applicable to a first offense will depend on many factors, including your chemical test result, whether children were in the car, whether someone was seriously injured or killed and whether you were in a commercial car or noncommercial car (if you have CDL). For an over-21 run-of-the-mill first offense DUI, the driver license sanction is 30 days of no driving followed by a 150 period of restricted driving. You should discuss your circumstances with your Michigan DUI lawyer specialist to determine the exact sanction in your case.

If you are a repeat offender, then the only thing that the SOS will consider is the number of prior convictions during the relevant look-back period, which is either 7 or 10 years. For example, if you have two convictions within 7 years then your license will be revoked for a period of one year whereas if you have more than two prior DUI convictions within the prior 10 years, then your license will be revoked for a period of one to five years. The look back is calculated from date of conviction to date of conviction.

3. Collateral Consequences:

Most of the clients that retain the Barone Defense Firm do so because they are worried about a potential collateral consequence and want to avoid the conviction for this reason. The most common example of this relates to potential loss of employment and/or a professional license, such as a heath care license or admission to practice law.

Other common collateral sanctions include the skyrocketing insurance premiums or total loss of coverage. Collateral consequences arising out of a DUI are especially pernicious because once you have been convicted of drunk driving you’re convicted for life and your criminal record is permanent. This is because in Michigan a DUI crime cannot ever be "expunged" or removed from your record in any way.

Here are some additional collateral consequences to consider and inquire about with your Michigan DUI lawyer specialist:

Child Custody – Even a single DUI conviction can wreak havoc on your parenting time. This is because a DUI conviction is a prime target to be used by a vindictive spouse who will use this information as part of an attempt to persuade a divorce court or probate judge to change your custody or visitation rights.

Concealed Weapons (CCW) Permits – When it comes to the right to conceal carry a pistol, Michigan is a shall issue State. This is not the same thing as a “shall keep” state. If you are convicted of DUI in Michigan, the County Clerk who processed your CPL application will send you notice suspending your CPL for a period of time. Many factors may come into play, so you are best advised to discuss the length of suspension and even the possibility of revocation with your Michigan DUI lawyer specialist.

Disability, Life and other Insurance – Upon learning of your DUI conviction, many insurers will deny or revoke your insurance. And they will find out, sooner or later. If you are facing a DUI charge then you may wish to discuss your continued insurability with your lawyer.

Employment – Although rare, some employers will use a DUI conviction as an excuse to terminate your employment. Even if this does not happen, once this fact ends up in your employment record you might be passed over for a promotion, or worse, downgraded. A drunk driving conviction can also future employability. And, if you have any kind of license from the State, then you may have a reporting requirement, and the State can sometimes use this information to suspend or revoke your license and therefore, your livelihood. This is particularly an issue for many of the licensed professions such as doctors, nurses and the like because all licensed health care professionals must report their convictions to the State. A DUI conviction can also preclude you from admission to many universities and professional schools, including medical school and law school. If you are convicted of a DUI then it will be very difficult to pursue a career in law enforcement at either the State or Federal Level.

Because employment consequences are of such grave concern it will behoove you to obtain any applicable employment contracts and employee handbooks for your job. Be sure to have your Michigan DUI lawyer specialist review these documents to determine if you have a reporting requirement and what sanctions, if any, you may face from your current employer if you are convicted. The last thing you want to have happen is to be surprised to learn that what you thought was a "private" indiscretion is really "public," and to be surprised when you hear the bad news from your boss.

Civil Lawsuits – Winning a criminal case does not mean that you will also avoid facing any civil liability. A well-known example of this is the O.J. Simpson case. He was acquitted of murder but lost the civil case. If your DUI has caused or resulted in any property damage or you have caused the injury or death of another, then you can be sued for money damages whether you win or lose the drunk driving case.

Military Induction – In almost all instances, both during and after a DUI arrest and conviction, you will no longer be a candidate for acceptance into the military. If this is your first DUI offense (misdemeanor) then in some instances you may still be able to gain entrance to the armed services, but only after you have successfully satisfied all your court conditions. To help prove this is true and otherwise establish your eligibility, an official Judgment of Sentence will need to be presented to your recruiter.

Travel – While your case is pending you will typically not be allowed entry into Canada for any purpose. You will also almost always be unable to leave the state without the permission of the court. Other countries have restrictions on those with criminal convictions as well, and it is best to discuss your situation and any future possible or planned travel with your Michigan DUI lawyer specialist.

Immigration Issues – Although DUI is usually not considered a “crime of violence” it can still cause significant immigration issues. Because the immigration code is a very complicated area of law, you will be best served by consulting with an immigration lawyer specialist. We have a list of lawyers to whom we refer for these matters. And, while your DUI case remains pending you are best advised to not leave the United States without a plan, and this will require a consult with your immigration law specialist. It is possible for people who are not deported have been refused reentry into the United States.

Benefit of Legal Representation

Fortunately, DUI charges can be defended, and will not always lead to a criminal conviction. With help from a skilled Michigan DUI lawyer specialist your case can be fought and your chances of obtaining a favorable result, including the avoidance of some or all the consequences above can be achieved. The attorneys at the Barone Defense Firm brings over a 10 decades of experience to the table, offering the personalized legal representation you need during this stressful time. Contact the Barone Defense Firm today for a free consultation.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Patrick Barone is the ONLY choice for DUI defense. He was realistic from the start and made it a point to look at my case before taking my money. As a business owner, when I think of attorneys, I think of the "shark infested waters. Patrick is a shark alright, but his prey is not the client; it's justice for his client. Ten stars Patrick!! Chris F.
★★★★★
Attorney Patrick Barone was very helpful and helped me understand the charge and sentence absolutely clearly. He also guided me through step by step helping me form a statement. His instructions were clear and detailed. It was obvious he cared about me understanding every important detail within my case. I would absolutely recommend this defense firm to anyone in need. Aaron B.
★★★★★
The Barone Defense Firm is the firm I recommend. They are truly concerned about the person, not just the legal issue, but the person as well. They are the most knowledgeable defense firm that I am aware of, having actually written the book on DWI Defense. If you are faced with a DWI you will not find a more professional and skilled law firm. But, most importantly, they care about how the accused individual recovers his or her life when the case is complete. Very remarkable group of lawyers. William H.