Top Five Questions to Ask Your Michigan DUI Lawyer

by baronedefensefirm on January 26, 2010

For the first time in recent history the Michigan economy has had a big impact on the legal profession. Just like so many people in Michigan, many lawyers are making less and less money and are trying to figure out how to put food on the table.

As a result of this sad fact many lawyers who have never handled a drunk driving case have decided to try and make a go of it.  Their goal is self-serving, and they’re really only trying to supplement their incomes while they wait for the next big thing.  

While some of these lawyers have a certain amount of knowledge and skill, too often they do not.  And if they don’t it will be you that will suffer from this lack skill knowledge or experience – not the lawyer.

When looking for someone to represent you for your Michigan DUI case the question is, how do you distinguish the copy-cats and wanna b’s from the genuine DUI defense lawyers.  The best way to do this is to ask the right questions. 

Here are the top five questions to ask any lawyer you are thinking of hiring for Michigan DUI (also called OWI/OWVI/UBAL/OUIL/DUIL):

  1. Other than drunk driving, what other areas of law do you handle?  This is really a trick question (the best kind to use wherever lawyers are concerned) because what you really want is a lawyer handling ONLY DUI cases to the exclusion of all others.  The law and science involved in drunk driving cases is far to complex to handle as part of a general practice.  For this reason, when shopping for a lawyer to handle your Michigan DUI case general practitioners are to be strictly avoided.
  2. How many drunk driving cases did you take all the way to trial last year?  Another trick question because the question assumes two things.  First that the lawyer you are considering was actually practicing DUI defense last year, and second, that they took ANY cases to trial.  Many lawyers who claim to be drunk driving defense specialists do nothing but take their client’s money with the goal of pleading them guilty.  Make sure the lawyer you hire is willing to take your case all the way to trial.
  3. How will you defend against my breath or blood test?  When listing to the answer for this question try to gage whether or not the lawyer actually understands the science, law and administrative rules involved in breath and blood testing.  For example, ask them if they understand infrared spectroscopy (breath testing) and gas chromatography (blood testing).  The bleed ‘em and plead ‘em types won’t have a clue what you’re talking about.
  4. What was the topic of the last DUI defense seminar you taught or title of the last article you wrote about DUI defense?  I suppose you could say this is a bit of a trick question as well because it assumes the lawyer you are interviewing actually teaches or writes for other lawyers.  This is also a great question to separate the top tier lawyers from the one’s that are just learning.
  5. How long have you been practicing DUI defense in Michigan? There can be no substitute for experience, and yes this is a bit of a trick question as well because there is a way to tell if the lawyer you are interviewing is being truthful.  It is important to double-check because looks can be deceiving and someone who looks older may have just been licensed whereas someone who looks young may just be fortunate.  In Michigan we have what are called “P-Numbers.”  This is the lawyer’s license number and it from this number can be determined approximately what year the lawyer started.  Keep in mind that this does not totally answer your question, which is how long they’ve been practicing just drunk driving defense in Michigan, but it will at least tell you how long they’ve been licensed.

Here is a helpful list: Michigan Licensed: 01/07/2010

Since the mid 70’s when P numbers were assigned, there have been more than 73,000 lawyers sworn in. For your information, here are milestones of about 5,000 lawyers going back to 25000.

70000     11/28/2006

65001    12/23/2002

60000    12/04/2000

55000    06/27/1996

50000     07/06/1994

45005    10/06/1993

40000    05/11/1987

35002    05/17/1983

30000    05/17/1979

25000    04/17/1975

Get a FREE confidential CASE EVALUATION on your Michigan OWI/OWVI/DUI by calling (248) 306-9159 , or filling out this consultation request form. Call now, there’s no obligation!


This post was written by...

– who has written 204 posts on Michigan Drunk Driving Lawyers.

Patrick T. Barone is the author on two books on DUI defense including the well respected two volume treatise Defending Drinking Drivers (James Publishing), and The DUI Book – A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding DUI Litigation in America. He is also the author of a monthly DUI defense column for the Criminal Defense Newsletter, published by Michigan’s State Appellate Defender’s Office. Mr. Barone is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he teaches Drunk Driving Law and Practice. He is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorney’s of Michigan’s Trial Lawyer’s College where he provides trial skills training to Michigan’s criminal defense practitioners. Mr. Barone lectures nationally on various DUI defense topics, and he has appeared in newspapers, on television and on radio as a drunk driving defense expert. Mr. Barone has been certified as an instructor and practitioner of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and has also attended a 24-hour certification course at National Patent Analytical Corporation (the manufacturer of the DataMaster) and has thereby been deemed competent by the manufacturer to operate, perform essential diagnostic verifications and calibration checks on the DataMaster. Mr. Barone is a Sustaining Member of College for DUI Defense. Mr. Barone is the principal and founding member of The Barone Defense Firm, whose practice is limited exclusively to defending drinking drivers. The Firm is headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan.

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