Earlier today, I received a call from someone seeking an attorney to defend them on a charge of driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.1 One of the questions — a perfectly reasonable one — concerned my experience in defending DUIs.
DUI defense is a growing part of my practice, although I normally defend more serious criminal cases, such as those involving gang members and including assaults, attempted murders and (in one case) the death penalty. In the past year, I have represented something less than a dozen people on DUI charges. In every case, I obtained for my clients a better result than anyone anticipated.
Before I give any examples, I want to add this disclaimer:
Attorneys are human beings. Or, at least, I am. This means we cannot predict the future. Even when something seems certain based upon our background, training and experience, this does not make it possible to know what will happen with any particular case until it has happened. My own contracts contain what I refer to as my “No Crystal Ball Guarantee.” What I mean by this is that the only thing I guarantee is that I don’t own a crystal ball. And even if I did, I’m sure I would not know how to use it. When you hire me, you are hiring a skilled attorney with a positive track record. Each case, however, is different. No particular result can be guaranteed in advance. And one of these days, I’m bound to lose a case.
If you run into an attorney who says differently, you should run in the opposite direction. An attorney who guarantees you a particular result is an attorney who will tell you anything to get your money.
Having said that, it is always possible to say, based on experience, training and background, what the attorney thinks might happen. I just always remind my clients that I may have been accused of having…uh…hmm…chutzpah, but I do not have crystal balls.
Some of My Recent DUI Case Results
- In a small town an hour or so south of Fresno, my client was facing his fourth DUI. Since it was a fourth DUI, it was charged as a felony. At the time he was charged, he was already in jail serving a term after a plea agreement on three prior DUIs. (He did not have me as his attorney on any of those.) When I took the case, he still had approximately 6 months left on his sentence. There was probably enough evidence for a conviction on the felony DUI.
END RESULT: Based upon my work on the case, the court reduced the felony DUI to a misdemeanor, let my client out of jail early and sentenced him to drug court. The last I heard, he had nearly successfully completed the program, has stopped drinking and should eventually get his driver’s license back.
- I inherited a felony DUI case from another attorney. The client was not a U.S. citizen. There was a concern over the possibility for deportation upon a conviction. The client had at least four prior DUI convictions.
END RESULT: Upon learning my client had never had the opportunity to reform himself, I convinced the court to agree to give him probation with an approximately six-months in-patient rehabilitation program. After the program, he would be re-evaluated and if it was felt there was not a satisfactory response to the program, he would repeat it, for a total of just under one year. This should help him avoid deportation. I was recently informed that he had successfully completed the initial program and is not expected to continue driving under the influence.
- A young man was arrested after driving the wrong way on a one-way street in an unfamiliar area of town. Police determined he was driving while intoxicated. Because he did not contact me soon enough after his arrest, the DMV had suspended his Class B (commercial) license for one year.
END RESULT: Through a particular type of motion, which many attorneys and even the courts don’t always know, I was able to get a lesser charge of wet and reckless, a NOT GUILTY finding on his blood alcohol level and got his driver’s license reinstated.
- A man was arrested after allegedly speeding and evading the police. When arrested, he supposedly failed his Field Sobriety Tests. Breath and blood tests supposedly showed blood alcohol above the legal limit.
END RESULT: We obtained a NOT GUILTY on his blood alcohol level and his driver’s license will thus have to be reinstated.
These are some of the most recent DUI cases I have handled. As the old saying goes, “YMMV.”
While I’ll bring all my experience and skill to bear on your case and keep you fully-informed of the progress, remember that these results are no guarantee of what will happen in your case.
By the way, the last two clients listed above never even had to appear in court, thus saving them the embarrassment of having to stand there while everyone heard that they were allegedly driving under the influence.
- See California Vehicle Code § 23152 at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs /vctop/d11/vc23152.htm (last visited July 7, 2008). [↩]