The First 30 Days
DUI charges are certainly serious, since convictions mean a long list of both direct and indirect consequences. No matter how bad a case may seem, there are ways to cushion or avoid these consequences entirely. However, time is of the essence.
It is frequently the activity that happens in the first month of the case that can make a difference in the outcome. There are several important reasons for this.
- We can preserve evidence for use later in the case. We handled a case recently where our client was accused of swerving on the roadway. What the officer didn’t record was that the road had recently been “scraped” in anticipation of re-paving it. We took photos of this the day our client hired us. By the time we got to court, the roadway had been re-paved. The photographic evidence turned out to be critical in turning a .15 breath test into a not guilty.
- We can interview witnesses to preserve testimony. Sometimes people move, forget, or become unavailable. Immediate action can preserve vital evidence.
- We can oftentimes influence the type of charges that are filed before the case is brought to court. Law enforcement officers make a recommendation of what charges should be filed when they arrest someone, but prosecutors make the ultimate decision before the first court date. Based on our relationships with the various prosecuting offices, we can sometimes cause a dismissal or reduction in charges before the case gets to court. It’s often easier to “kill the monsters when they are little” than waiting to get to court, when positions may become locked in.
DUI defense is a very nuanced area. Most people (including many lawyers!) don’t know the issues that can turn cases around. It may sound trite, but it is absolutely true that if you go into court and plead guilty, there is a 100% chance you will be convicted.
No matter how dark your situation may appear to you, in the hands of a well trained, capable professional, yours may be a very winnable case. This is true no matter what the blood or breath alcohol test results are, or even if you refused all chemical tests. We have produced dismissals or dramatic reduction in charges even in the face of all of these scenarios.
We change the focus from how our client performed, to how well the arresting officers performed their duties in accordance with their training. We explore and look to leverage doubt and uncertainty relating every aspect of the forensic results, whether breath or blood tests. There are dozens of ways to defeat a blood or breath test result. Here are just a few examples from actual cases that we’ve won:
- Because the initial stop of our client wasn’t properly justified, all of the evidence that was collected afterwards had to be thrown out;
- That our client was not a suitable candidate for breath testing due to a physical condition, like persistent heartburn, that causes falsely high breath test results;
- That the breath machines weren’t functioning properly according to the calibration and maintenance records;
- That the integrity of the blood test results were compromised by bacterial growth or improper anti-coagulant or preservative levels;
- That blood-typing demonstrated a blood sample police attributed to our client was, in fact, someone else’s blood sample;
- That even though our client’s test results were above the legal limit at the time of testing, they were below the legal limit at the time of driving (which is the critical time in a DUI case)
All these cases, and many others, appeared to our clients to be unwinnable. The critical facts that turned the case around weren’t apparent on the surface. We had to get to them by digging, just like peeling away the layers of an onion. Just like a medical emergency, which may appear hopeless to a patient in the throes of an emergency, these legal emergencies are solvable.