Driving Under the Influence
What is involved?
DUI charges are very common. As in domestic violence, the horror stories have driven the law to very strict measures. For a first offense with a blood alcohol content of .15 or more, the accused is facing up to 90 days in jail, up to a year probation, $1000-2000 fine, 10 days of vehicle immobilization, six-months no driving, and six more months of using an interlock device, along with DUI school, and maybe even community service. Much of this is mandatory, in other words, neither the judge nor the prosecutor have discretion on the punishment. You could have driven safely, ticket-free, for thirty or more years, and then this is what you get for your one mistake. Second, third and fourth convictions are punished severely, with very serious penalties up to and including ten years of no license and real jail time. DUIs are serious business.
What you can do
The best solution is to invoke your constitutional rights to protect yourself from the worst. When pulled over do not answer a bunch of questions about where you were, what you had to drink, where you are going, your dog's name, all that. It can all be used against you and will be, especially an admission to drinking. Be polite and respectful always, and provide your license, insurance and registration. If you are a concealed carry holder, inform the officer promptly and courteously.
However, once you have done the above, you can refuse to do the field sobriety exercises if asked. You will fail it on your best day. The 'test' is designed to provide incriminating evidence and that is about it. You've seen the videos, nervous people tipping over while doing things they never do, all while out in an unfamiliar environment with police intentionally giving them drill instructor phrased commands. Ever see a video where at the end of the person doing the test, the cops cheer the brilliant performance and provide the suspect a police escort for the rest of the drive home? No, and you won't see that, and you wouldn't be that guy anyway. No matter what the officer tells you, you do not HAVE to get out in the headlights and cameras and do the silly exercises carefully designed to trip you up. You may politely decline.
The next decision point is whether to take the breath, blood and or urine test. If you have crashed or caused severe injury, you will not have a choice. They will take your blood one way or another. Submit politely to the collection of the evidence in that circumstance. Otherwise, if it is your first incident of being asked to provide a sample and there were no injuries or deaths, you can refuse to provide a sample. This refusal can be used against you in court, however. Now the officer may tell you that you must provide one due to something written on the back of your driver's license. No, you do not. You did agree to do so when you got your license, but the REAL deal is that you can refuse one time without criminal penalty. The DMV WILL hold you to the agreement however, and will not issue you a hardship license automatically like they do for those who do test, even if they are determined to be over the limit. You would need to have a hearing scheduled and could expect not to legally drive for four months or as long as a year. If you decline to give a sample, do so politely.
Should you provide a sample? That's up to you. Know this though - if you do blow, the number will be put on your citation and you can be charged and convicted even if the number is below the legal limit. If you don't blow, the state will have to prove you were driving under the influence without that powerful piece of evidence. Again, totally your call on whether to provide that evidence to the state to use against you.
What I can do for you
So, jumping ahead to now; you've already been charged with DUI. You didn't read the above until today, you did the dancing bear routine--not very well, and that is on tape. You blew over the legal limit and that is duly documented. You have a court date. What now? Call me. Call me so that I can analyze your case from start to finish. The police have very specific rules to follow. While the evidence in DUI cases tends to be strong compared to other kinds of charges - mostly due to compliant drivers and video recording - not all DUI cases are a lock. We will examine what prompted the officer to pull you over, how much you had to drink, how was the HGN test administered, all that.
Sometimes, if the situation is right, it can be a complete defense to trial; really force the state to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt while challenging the evidence all the way. In less favorable circumstances, we will work to mitigate the damage. Can we plea down to reckless driving? Sometimes we can. Can we get the ten days of immobilization waived, the fine lowered and keep you our of jail? Often this is an achievable option. This is what we work for. At a minimum we can attend your preliminary hearings on your behalf sparing you that time and hassle sitting in a crowded courtroom.
Call me so that we can have this conversation with your facts in front of us, as well as a realistic understanding of what we are up against. Consultation is free. The cost for our services is a flat fee. The Goal of Representation for your case is a huge driver of the cost. Some may offer to take your case for a lot of money when the chance of winning at trial is not good, and then you end up pleading out anyway. We will be realistic with you based on your circumstances up front. Let’s sit down and talk it out. It is always FREE to do so.