Getting Your License Back: Covering Your Bases

Multiple drunk driving convictions will eventually land an individual before the Secretary of State for a license restoration. Yet, there are so many small hangups that can catch up with you at a license hearing that can keep you off the road for a very, very, long time. Consider the following nuance: To petition the State of Michigan for a restored driver license after multiple DUI convictions, a substance abuse evaluation must be performed; that evaluation must be accompanied by a 10 panel drug screen that the evaluator should perform as a part of the evaluation they conduct for you.

At a restoration hearing a few days ago, the hearing officer at the Secretary of State wanted to know WHEN the client’s drug screen that accompanied the evaluation was conducted. Specifically, if the drug screen was done AFTER the actual question and answer portion of the evaluation was performed, there would be no way for the evaluator to take into account the drug test results into the paper portion of the evaluation. The fear, I suppose, is that a petitioner could do great on the evaluation itself but fail a drug test afterwards. If that occurred, then any written evaluation form that claimed you were “drug free” would be false and nullify the entire credibility of the evaluation.

On the other hand, if your drug test is done PRIOR to the completion of the written evaluation, then the evaluator can take into account your drug test results when completing the form. This order is the proper way to conduct an evaluation but is routinely missed by the evaluator. To ensure your driver license appeal is conducted properly, an experienced evaluator is key! Visit Attorney Joseph Awad at www.legalwins.com for a complete review and free case evaluation of your Michigan OWI/drunk driving case or to assess the merits of your driver license appeal. Don’t do it alone!

Identifying Ways to Strengthen Your DUI Case

At a license restoration hearing yesterday, I was representing my out of State client in petitioning the State of Michigan to release his Michigan “hold” for multiple drunk driving convictions; a clearance in Michigan would then allow him to obtain driving privileges in his home state. There were a couple interesting observations by way of the hearing officer at the Driver License Appeal Division.

First, it seemed relevant that my client’s most recent OWI offense was 6 years ago. The time elapsed since our request for a license seemed to have some bearing on the merit of our claim. The hearing officer is able to see if the client was caught illegally driving in recent years by viewing a driving record. No subsequent arrests or driving infractions helped show the State of Michigan that the client is not currently a threat on the road and has been complying with the order to not operate a motor vehicle.

It was also nice to see that the hearing officer did not place too great an emphasis on the fact that my client had only recently been attending AA meetings upon my advice. Attending and documenting AA attendance is very helpful in establishing a support group presence in the client’s life. When I learned the client had not gone in years, I advised him to begin attending AA immediately and document his attendance in writing. Rather than bulking at any last minute attempt to curry favor with the State by attending last minute AA, the hearing officer seemed to take the position that some meetings were better than none. A refreshing breath of fresh air from a government agency all too willing and able to deny one’s ability to drive. AA meetings and candid testimony go a long way in proving sobriety and demonstrating an earnestness to remain sober. These are only a couple factors that weigh in on the State’s mind when considering a petition to reinstating a Michigan driver license.

To learn more or to get assistance in reinstating your own Michigan driver license, contact Michigan DUI attorney Joseph Awad for professional and confidential legal advice and assistance.

DRUNK “DRIVING”? ACTUAL DRIVING NOT NECESSARY FOR A DRUNK DRIVING ARREST

It used to be that a police officer was required to witness someone actually operate a vehicle before that person could be arrested for drunk driving. For example, someone asleep in a motionless car who was consuming alcohol did not necessarily provide the officer enough basis for a drunk driving arrest. However, in 1995, the Michigan Supreme Court greatly widened the definition of “operating” a motor vehicle and no longer required a police officer to see someone drive to make a valid drunk driving arrest. Now, “once a person puts a motor vehicle in motion, or in a position posing a significant risk of collision, he or she continues to “operate” that vehicle (even if asleep) until the vehicle is returned to a position posing no such risk.” People v. Wood, 450 Mich 399 (1995).

If you feel as though you have had one too many drinks to drive and need to sleep it off, make your resting place the back seat of your vehicle and ensure the engine is not running. You should also make sure that someone sober parks your vehicle in a way that does not impede traffic or give the police any reason to claim you still meet the statutory definition of “operating” a motor vehicle for a Michigan OWI arrest. Contact Michigan DUI Attorney Joseph Awad to discuss your Michigan drunk driving arrest today. The advice is free and confidential.

STUDYING THE CASE: AUDIO VISUAL EVIDENCE IS YOUR ALLY

It’s no surprise that a police officer typically writes a DUI police report in a way that supports his decision to arrest you. It should also come as no surprise, then, that many police reports contain exaggerated facts and false information about your DUI arrest.

Obtaining the officer’s in-car video and booking video of your Michigan DUI arrest is very valuable in deciphering what actually occurred versus what the officer states took place – in writing. There is no substitute for audio and visual evidence to determine the accuracy of the methods used by the officer in his investigation and arrest. In a recent case handled by the firm, Attorney Joseph Awad obtained the video evidence of his client’s arrest. In that video, it was immediately clear that certain chemical rights required to be read by the officer were in fact not read at the police station. Attorney Awad cross-examined the officer regarding the chemical test rights at a court hearing. The officer stated under oath that he had reach the proper chemical test rights at the police station. When confronted with the video evidence that demonstrated no such rights were read at the station, the Judge ultimately suppressed the breath test results in the DUI case. A subsequent jury trial on the OWI case resulted in a NOT GUILTY verdict for the client.

This is just one example of many that demonstrates how audio and visual evidence in your case can greatly assist your defense. In this way, and in so many others, it is critical to never presume guilt in a Michigan DUI case. Studying the video evidence and other information of your OWI case is an invaluable asset to locating the strengths of your case and will greatly assist your attorney in your DUI defense. Contact Michigan DUI Attorney Joseph Awad today for a free and confidential evaluation of your case.

MOUTH ALCOHOL AND BREATH TEST ERRORS

Michigan DUI law requires an officer to visually observe a drunk driving suspect for 15 minutes prior to the administration of a breath test. The “observation period” is in place to ensure the suspect has not burped, belched, regurgitated, or placed anything in his or her mouth. Yet, mouth alcohol is one of the main reasons breath tests are oftentimes inaccurate. Even a trace amount of alcohol in your mouth can skew the breath test results in an upward direction if the breath test device does not detect the mouth alcohol. The State’s machine for DUI breath tests assumes that any reading it receives comes from your aveolar air, commonly known as air from the lungs, not the mouth. If in fact your breath test machine detects your mouth alcohol, and not the alcohol you actually ingested, your breath test result may be inaccurate. Attorney Joseph Awad is a Michigan DUI attorney skilled in the detection of police error when it comes to breath test procedures and protocol. Mistakes in the breath testing process may form the basis for a successful DUI defense. Visit the firm’s website or call today or a free and confidential evaluation of your Michigan DUI case.

Michigan DUI: Visiting the Scene of your Arrest

One of the most important things your Michigan DUI attorney can do to help with your case is visit the location where you were arrested for DUI. The terrain where your field sobriety tests were given can reveal a lot of information about your performance on the tests themselves. It can also demonstrate the general conditions that you and the officer faced before and during your arrest. Factors such as sufficient lighting, ground conditions, speed limits, and other elements will give your Michigan DUI case an added advantage when your lawyer examines the truthfulness or dishonesty in the officer’s police report. Any inconsistencies between the police report and the actual scene of your arrest can help your attorney flush out errors made by the officer when you were arrested. Any variation has the potential of assisting in the defense of your OWI/DUI case. Visit the firm’s web page to see how Michigan DUI attorney Joseph Awad can help you with your Michigan DUI/OWI case today.

How to avoid bankruptcy

The first and most important fact about bankruptcy is that it should constitute the ultimate solution whenever you are in financial difficulties. When you are struggling with huge debts, even if you think it is impossible to get out of them, you must try several solutions before opting for the final decision of bankruptcy. If you feel yourself constrained, that debts are all around you, don’t postpone. The more you postpone the payments, and wait for something to happen, the worse it will get. You need to take action immediately, and start by being your own financial manager. Here are some steps you must take when you feel that you are heading slowly but surely towards bankruptcy:

  • Take pen and paper, note down all of your outstanding debts (with interest rates)
  • Sort things out. See whether you can afford at least to pay back those loans which have very high interest rates. The sooner you get rid of these, the better.
  • You might have money stuck elsewhere, which you can use for paying off debts(stocks, jewelry music boxes, expensive equipments, even your vehicle transport). Try to pay off from your debts as much as you can through own powers, and not by taking on another loan.

After these steps, and if you have found a way of paying off at least a small part of your debts, you can move on to the next solution. For example, say that you have an overall debt of $15,000. Now, by trying to cover even 10% of that debt by selling personal items is one step forward on your way of getting out of debt. If you manage to do so, that means you have by now a debt of only $13,500, which means that if you take on a loan for paying your debts off, you won’t be at least paying for the interests accruing on the sum of $1,500. Even if you sold personal items in order to make repayments, at least you didn’t have to make another loan in order to make payments. You managed to get rid of a small part of your debts, but you still have a great part left over which must be taken care of. To avoid bankruptcy a person has to use in a way or other a bankruptcy trustee. The following are some of tips you could implement in order to avoid filing for bankruptcy:

  • Debt consolidation loans. Take out such a loan in order to pay off the remainder of your debts. This is a secured loan (collateralized), so it will definitely come under good terms: lower interest rates than an unsecured loan, higher loan to value, and sometimes there will be no late payment fees.
  • Debt settlement. You could contact all of your lenders in order to settle your debt with them. This can happen over the phone, or by writing debt settlement letters, where you carefully will expose the reasons why you cannot continue the repayments (your financial status changed because you lost or changed your job for example). Lenders are generally flexible to work with in these matters, because they want to recuperate their loss even if at a smaller percentage. So, you might easily get your lender lower your interest payments or extending the term of you loan so that you will pay less on a monthly basis.
  • HELOC – or home equity line of credit, is a secured type of loan and differs from a home equity loan which you receive as a lump sum, in that a HELOC works like credit card loan (only secured), so on much better terms. You will have access to a certain amount (settled by the lender, depending on the equity left in your home), where you can withdraw money from any time you need and as often as needed.

So, it is very important that you take the ruling into your hands and commit everything possible to get rid of that debt as soon as possible. There are a variety of reasons people may find themselves paying off debts. Making payments for your Michigan DUI Lawyer, car payments, credit card debts and other similar obligations are only a few examples. It will take you some years until you can see that record clean, but with every repayment towards that debt you will feel more and more enlightened. If you consider that you need counseling because you cannot manage everything by yourself you can turn to a debt counseling agency in order to get the proper advice.

Interlock Ignition Devices – An Alternative Sentence for Drunk Drivers

Today, drunk driving can certainly be considered an ever increasing problem within American society. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2008 an estimated 11,773 people were killed in instances where someone involved was driving while intoxicated. In order to be deemed as driving while intoxicated, the driver’s blood alcohol content, or BAC, must be at .08 or greater. Those people who were killed comprise 31.6 percent of the 37,261 traffic related fatalities in the 2008 year. Certainly there is no reason this number should be as high as it is.

In recent years, judges have begun to crack down and impose harsher punishments for repeat offenders, a move which may have helped strengthen the reputation of the American judicial system in the eyes of the American public. Punishments for drunk driving will vary from state to state, and sometimes, even from county to county. Generally speaking, for a first offense, penalties will include some sort of fine, a driver’s license restriction, mandatory attendance at an alcohol/drug education program, and possible jail time or community service depending on the specific circumstances.

Second, or repeat offender’s will most certainly receive a much more harsh level of punishments. Those who repeatedly drive drunk will almost definitely receive a sentence including some jail time. Their mandatory drug and alcohol education classes will also be imposed for a much longer period of time. Other probable imposed punishments will almost certainly include making the offender attend regular AA meetings on top of their drug and alcohol educational classes, as well as the required installation of an ignition interlock device, which is a device installed into a repeat drunk drivers vehicle in order to measure their BAC every time before they are allowed to start the vehicle. If they are over the legal limit, the ignition interlock device will process the information and prevent the vehicle from starting, therefore not allowing the driver to physically start the car.

These ignition interlock devices would, at face value, appear to be one of the more popular punishments which judges are utilizing today. The idea of someone who has been cited for drunk driving in the past having to take a mandatory breath test before they are allowed to start their car seems like a phenomenal concept on its own. Combine it with the fact that if alcohol is indeed detected, the vehicle will immediately lock-down it’s ignition system, prohibiting intoxicated drivers from using the roadways, and you get an exceptionally intelligent approach. After all, preventing the repeated endangerment of those innocent civilians on the road can certainly be considered a good idea.

There are many features of this device which add to the resourcefulness of the product. For starters, they have what is known as a Rolling Retest Feature. As previously stated, upon entering the vehicle, the driver must pass a test similar to that of a Breathalyzer. If their BAC is above the allowed limit – usually .025 – the vehicle will not start. In some cases, drivers will attempt to have a sober friend blow into the device so as the vehicle will start even if the drivers themselves are under the influence. To help prevent this from happening, the Rolling Retest Feature has been implemented. This feature will periodically and randomly request a re-test while the vehicle is being driven to ensure the driver is not under the influence. Once a retest request is made, the driver generally has approximately 6 minutes to provide a legit sample, before an alarm of some sort (usually honking horn/flashing lights) is triggered which can only be deactivated by turning the vehicle off.

Another key feature associated with this device is that there is a log kept of each time the device is used. It records each time the device is used, and keeps track of BAC registration numbers. If there are program violations then the driver will be required to bring the vehicle in for what is commonly known as early recall. Early recall is an unscheduled visit which is a result of the any of the following scenarios:

1)One Rolling Retest Violation
2)One situation where tampering with the ignition interlock device is apparent
3)3 Readings over .025
4)Any other violation with regards to the specific restrictions placed on the specific case

If an early recall is issued, the driver has five days to return to the installation service center. If this time period is exceeded, the vehicle will proceed into an additional five day “grace-period”. If this period of time is not met, the vehicle will go into a permanent lock out, which would result in the vehicle being towed to the service center. It also entails the owner of the vehicle paying all fines associated with towing, and the service appointment. Generally, as long as there are no problems, the monitoring periods (the amount of times the vehicle must be brought to the service center) are usually 30, 60 or 90 days. While at the service center, technicians examine the device to ensure there is no evidence of tampering, recalibrate it to ensure the device is receiving and recording accurate readings, address any problems the driver may be experiencing with the device, and to check the logs which have been kept to check on all activity which has transpired during the time since the last visit or installation.

Today, virtually all 50 states have laws permitting judges to impose ignition-interlock devices as alternative sentences for drunk driving. A couple actually have mandatory policies in place (please refer to the below table)

California

If you get caught driving with a suspended license which was a result of a DUI charge, the court is legally obligated to impose an ignition interlock device for up to three years from the date of the convictions.

New Mexico

All first time drunk drivers are required by law to use the device for at least one year, with repeat offender’s being made to use the device for extended periods of time.

North Carolina

A DWI conviction in which the driver’s BAC is 0.15 or higher, or there has been a separate conviction within the previous 7 years, will be required to install an ignition interlock device.

Massachusetts

As of 2006, any driver that had any subsequent DWI offenses and who are eligible for license reinstatement or hardship (working) license, are required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle.

While they are few in number, there are a few criticisms which have been voiced. One study concluded, “The results of the study show that interlock works for some offenders in some contexts, but not for all offenders in all situations. More specifically, ignition interlock devices work best when they are installed, although there is also some evidence that judicial orders to install an interlock are effective for repeat DUI offenders, even when not all offenders comply and install a device. California’s administrative program, where repeat DUI offenders install an interlock device in order to obtain restricted driving privileges, is also associated with reductions in subsequent DUI incidents. One group for whom ignition interlock orders do not appear effective is first DUI offenders with high blood alcohol levels.” – California Department of Motor Vehicles – “An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Ignition Interlock in California.” Other criticisms include one driver who filed a law suit claiming he passed out and crashed trying to fulfill a rolling retest request, and also referring to those individuals who will just use a different vehicle to get around the hassle of trying to meet the necessary standards every time they enter the vehicle. Regardless of these criticisms, the device is still widely used, and does indeed assist in helping to keep drunk drivers off the road, which in turn helps protect those drivers who travel our countries roads on a daily basis. So, if you’re personally ever experiencing a situation where you may need a Michigan DUI Lawyer, contact Joseph Awad today for all your DUI/OWI needs.

Car Sharing: Making Moves in the Right Direction

In recent months past, the automotive industry has been a part of one wild roller-coaster ride. With the struggling economy combined with the pending collapse of some of the nations leading auto producing giants, it would seem at face value that there is no hope for the industry recovering. However, things began to look up with the implementation of the CARS program, which helped not only resuscitate the industry a bit, it also helped take inefficient vehicles off the road, replacing them with more fuel efficient options. It would seem from there, the industry has only made improvements for the most part.

One concept which has recently seen a boost in support is the idea behind the Zipcar. The Zipcar company is leading a car-sharing campaign which seems to be spreading like wildfire across the nation. With a membership base of 325,000, Zipcar continues to expand its reach. It’s become such a popular concept that non-profit organizations have begun to organize similar programs around the country. Organizations such as I-Go out of Chicago, City CarShare in San Francisco, and Philly CarShare in Philadelphia offer similar services. Even car-rental heavyweights Enterprise and Hertz are hopping on the wagon.

“The future of transportation will be a blend of things like Zipcar, public transportation and private car ownership, Not only do I not fear that, but I think it’s a great opportunity for us to participate in the changing nature of car ownership.”said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who acknowledged that car-sharing is a definite sign of evolution within the auto industry.

In October of 2007, Zipcar – which is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.- took over rival company Flexcar. With that addition, the company began to generate approximately $130 Million annually. Zipcar Chief Executive Officer Scott Griffith has estimated $5 Billion in annual revenue throughout the entire industry if these growth patterns continue on the path they are currently on.
In the past year, there has been a 78% increase in memberships in the Ann Arbor area alone. The fleet at University of Michigan has 15 vehicles- comprised of Toyota, Honda, Mini, and Ford , and is looking to continue to expand.

Another phenomenal quality of these programs is the fuel efficiency involved. CEO of Chicago-based I-GO Sharon Feigon has noted that half their vehicles are hybrids. She’s also been quoted as saying, “Remember: We pay for the gas, so we will always be partial to fuel-efficient and low-emission vehicles.” While the car-sharing industry has focused its attention primarily on college towns, much of its growth is expected to be found in larger cities such as Boston, New York, and Chicago,

Here are a few specifics for the Zipcar program:

-$25 Application fee / $50 annual membership fee ($35 for Univ. Michigan students,staff, faculty) gets a magnetized card that provides access to one of four cars in Ann Arbor.

-Hourly Rates: $8 Hour weekdays / $9 Hour Weekends

-Must have unblemished driving record due to insurance payments ( Zipcar will not hesitate to reject those drivers deemed high-risk.

-No smoking in the vehicle.

-Each vehicle has a gas card in the glove compartment, drivers must leave ¼ tank of gas when returning the vehicle.

-Drivers may not taxi people nor deliver any products (i.e. pizza)

For these nominal fees, you can save yourself thousands of dollars a year in insurance, gas, car payments, parking passes, and other areas associated with owning a vehicle. Its not only financially smart, its environmentally friendly. Joining the Zipcar family is a smart way to help improve your life while managing to save some extra change here and there. But you still have to obey the law, avoid having to call a Michigan DUI lawyer in a shared vehicle!

Detroit: Improving in the Eyes of the American Consumer

Over the course of the past few months, there has been much attention directed towards the auto industry. Specifically towards the Detroit’s Big-Three, and whether or not there should be an extensive amount of money given to them to bail them out of the massive debt they were in, which was crippling the automotive industry. The common consensus seemed to be that they didn’t deserve the bail-out money due to a lack of quality production. People felt as if the vehicles being produced out of Detroit just weren’t up to par with other foreign auto makers.

While these Giants may have had their ups and downs, they have apparently picked up the slack in recent years, as they have topped the charts in terms of customer satisfaction according to one article which was posted on Forbes.com. According to a report released by University of Michigan, Detroit had some of the largest gains in customer satisfaction, with Ford at a 5 % increase from last year, Chrysler at a 4 %, and GM at 2%. GM’s Cadillac continues to top the charts for the second year straight, producing a 7.2 % increase in customer satisfaction. The American Consumer Satisfaction Index attributes this rise in consumer satisfaction to three primary factors:

1)Consumers more readily recognizing improvements in quality and service
2)Car prices have evened out, and even decreased with rebates and other incentives
3)The Automakers’ consumer base has shrunk

While it takes a long period of time for a consumer to change their perception from negative to positive regarding a company, the time in which it takes to lose that positive support is much less. It is for this reason that a smaller consumer base and increasing customer satisfaction can be seen as a good thing. With the consumer base decreasing, those who remain are becoming more and more satisfied, helping the percentage increase.

“For Detroit, serving a smaller, more satisfied customer base should be easier to manage and to build from compared to what they had before, which was a large diversified mass of customers that almost always had lower satisfaction than those who bought cars from foreign competitors.” says ACSI spokesperson Claes Fornell. These are only some of the improvements being made in Detroit since the bail-out.

This article has been brought to you by Attorney Joseph Awad, premier Michigan DUI attorney.