Bond Conditions

Oakland County courts are known nationwide as the toughest drunk driving courts in the country.  The unfortunate defendant that finds themselves with an operating while intoxicated charge in one of these tough courts finds out pretty quick that the punishment starts long before any sentencing happens.  This punishment is given in the form of bond conditions.  In order to be let out of jail while the drunk driving case proceeds, judges in Oakland County will require everything from mandatory AA to daily testing.  Sometimes judges will require using an alcohol tether, while others insist on an interlock device placed in the defendant's vehicle.  The entire concept of innocent unless proven guilty is rarely followed in these courts and instead punishment before the punishment is given. 

If bond conditions are violated, then there is a possibility of being thrown in jail before the case is even adjudicated.  There is a reason why the Oakland County Jail is bursting at its seams with people, it's because the tough judges of Oakland County throw tons of people in jail for bond violations on bond conditions that are basically designed for people to fail. 

Obtaining the Police Report

In Oakland County, obtaining a police report in a drunk driving can sometimes be a difficult process.  The first issue many people find in dealing with drinking and driving misdemeanor cases is that the prosecutor is under no obligation to provide discovery, i.e. Police reports and videos.  Because of this, we as criminal defense attorneys have to take other avenues in order to get the report and the videos. 

The main method in misdemeanor cases that we do to get discovery is to use the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, better known as the FOIA act, to obtain the report and anything else floating around that could be important to the case.  We take our FOIAs seriously, as the leading FOIA case in Michigan is Amberg vs City of Dearborn, in which Amberg & Amberg lawyer Jim Amberg successfully sued Dearborn for failing to provide him with videos and reports. 

Using the FOIA law allows us to obtain all sorts of things that we use to bury the police and prosecutor at a drunk driving trial.  For example, we have successfully FOIA'd police policy manuals and use them against the police for failure to properly conduct owi investigations. 

Obtaining a police report through FOIA is simple and simply requires one fill out a form at whatever governmental department where the record is sought. 

Being Arraigned

One guarantee in an operating while intoxicated case is that you will get arraigned.  An arraignment is a court hearing where the court, whether by a judge or magistrate, informs the defendant of the charges against them and takes their initial plea.  Most of the time, the defendant pleads not guilty and the case then proceeds to a pretrial down the road.  Additionally, the magistrate or judge will set a bond, which may include travel restrictions, random drug and alcohol testing, and other requirements.

In most of the Oakland County District Courts, the judges allow waivers of arraignment in first offense OWI cases.  What this means is that we can send in a written waiver to the court, who will then in turn set everything down for a pretrial.  Our clients appreciate this because it eliminates having to go court and many times the random testing requirements are not implemented.

What is a Pretrial

A common question we receive from clients in drunk driving cases is what a pretrial is.  A pretrial is a court date where the prosecutor and defendant, through their lawyer, discuss what to do with the case.  Once it's established what's going to happen, then normally the parties tell the judge on the record what they want to do.  

Many things can happen at a pretrial.  For instance, if the police report hasn't been provided yet, the case will likely get adjourned to another pretrial down the road.  Other times people plead guilty at pretrials.  There can be an unlimited amount of pretrials in any case.  

At the pretrial, other things are also addressed.  For example, if somebody has allegedly violated their bond conditions,  then the court will likely discuss this at the pretrial.  Also, if a motion hearing is needed or the parties are setting a trial date, this also happens at a pretrial.

Warrant for Arrest

In certain circumstances in Oakland County drinking and driving cases, a warrant for arrest is issued against the defendant.  This generally happens when the case isn't immediately charged, many times in situations with more serious OWI charges.  A warrant for arrest means that the police have given the reports to the prosecutor and the prosecutor files a complaint with the court.  As part of the complaint, the court will sign a warrant for the arrest of the defendant.  At that point, the officers can go out and arrest the person, or if that person is pulled over or runs into officers in any other way, they can be arrested.

A question that we get all of the time is whether the court or cops will let the person know that they have a warrant for their arrest.  The short answer to this is generally no.  Most courts will not send any paperwork out until the defendant has been arraigned.  As far as the police go, sometimes officers are decent and will notify the defendant that a warrant for arrest has been entered, although they are under no duty to do so.  Most of the time, the cops don't do anything and it is left up to the defendant to figure everything out on their own.

What we do as drunk driving lawyers in Oakland County is to call the arresting agency up and let them know we are representing the defendant.  We request that the officer in charge of the case let us know when the charges are entered.  In addition to that, we contact the court and file all of our paperwork.  We then call every other day until they either call us or we find out that a warrant has been issued.

Once we discover an arrest warrant has been signed, we call the client up and plan a time to turn themselves in.  For the most part, the District Courts in Oakland County allow us to accomplish this simply by going to the court and appearing before a magistrate.  The arraignment is generally an easy process and we're out of there quickly.  On the other hand, courts like the Pontiac District Court require specific times and sometimes request that the arraignment process is done through the Sheriff's Department.

Getting a Bond

A very important consideration in an operating while intoxicated case in Oakland County is what the bond will be.  A bond is an assurance that the defendant will show up to court.  What normally happens in drinking and driving cases is that courts will indicate that the defendant is not permitted to drink or use drugs while on bond.  Many times in the Oakland County district court system, judges require that the defendant participate in random drug and alcohol testing.

Bond is given in a variety of ways.  For example, sometimes the police will let a person go with an interim bond that they agree to appear before the court when they are charged.  Bond can be set by a judge or magistrate at the arraignment, and the judge is always allowed to modify the bond.

Many people in Oakland County are not able to comply with the various bond conditions.  When this happens, the court will hold a bond violation hearing where the judge may simply revoke bond and send the person to jail.  Once the defendant is sentenced, the defendant is no longer on bond and some of the bond funds can be attributed to fines and costs.

Not Being Immediately Charged

One common occurrence happens routinely in Oakland County drinking and driving cases, which is that the client is not immediately charged with operating while intoxicated.  Instead what happens is that they are simply let out of the police department the next morning with no paperwork, nor instruction, for what to do.  There are numerous reasons why this takes place, but it generally happens when somebody is given a blood draw, or if the charges are more serious, such as a drunk driving felony or high bac.

Do not panic!  That is the first thing we always say to our clients when this happens.  Instead, what we do is contact the court and the police agency and let them know we are handling the case.  Then we contact the court frequently until a court date has been set.  When this happens, we take the client into the court to be arraigned, which is a short and easy process.  

One thing not to do is to wait to hire a lawyer until the charge comes back.  We have seen charges take over a year in Oakland County to be charged in operating while intoxicated cases.  The problem with waiting is that some of the best evidence, generally the police videos, are usually destroyed.   If we didn't get the opportunity to file a FOIA request prior to their destruction, then you as the client do not have a good argument to get the case thrown out and instead you are out of luck.

Getting a Paper License

Although being arrested for a drunk driving in Oakland County is usually a mortifying experience for most, one of the most shocking parts is when the officer destroys your driver license.  According to Michigan law, the officer is required to destroy your license, and this is generally done with a pair of scissors.  

When an officer destroys your license, the officer will give you a paper license.  This is a license on a regular sized sheet of paper and for all intensive purposes is a regular license.  The paper license does not create a prohibitions or restrictions on your driving.  If your license is up for renew while having the paper license, you can still renew your license at the secretary of state.

You can eventually get a new plastic license, generally after your operating while intoxicated case has been adjudicated.  What happens is that the secretary of state will send you notice of whatever sanction you've been given, then after, you can go in and get a new license.  In the event that you win your case, the secretary of state has to give you a new license.

If your license has been taken because of a drinking and driving charge, one short term solution is to obtain a Michigan temporary ID card while the case is pending.  That way you can avoid those embarrassing situations where you have to pull out that paper license when giving id.