Tag Archives: DUI Defense

What Happens at a DUI Trial?

If you have been arrested for DUI and you are going to trial, you are probably wondering what will happen. Hopefully, you have hired a DUI lawyer who has explained the DUI process to you and is ready to present a solid DUI defense, but even if you have a DUI lawyer, it is likely you are nervous and scared, especially if this is your first DUI arrest.

You may have heard your DUI lawyer mention a lot of fancy terms such as blood alcohol or tainted blood defense. You may have questions about the DUI process. How is the jury selected? What will the prosecutor say in their opening statement? Is your DUI attorney ready to present your DUI defense?

In every state the DUI process is similar. Hopefully, you have a skilled DUI attorney who has investigated the circumstances of your DUI arrest, he has answered all of your trial questions, and he is ready to defend you at your DUI trial.

The DUI Trial

Under the United States Constitution, you have the right to a public and speedy trial. “Speedy” may be a subjective, but in some states if you are in police custody your DUI trial must be scheduled within 30 days from your arraignment. If you are not in police custody, the state may have 45 days to begin your trial. Trial dates may be extended at the request of your DUI lawyer.

DUI trials which are not commenced on or before the expiration date must be dismissed by the state. Under some conditions, the state may have an extra 10 days from the trial date to start the trial. The DUI trial is considered “commenced” if the jury panel has been sworn in.

A DUI trial is like all other criminal proceedings and there are certain procedures and processes which must be followed. First, the prosecution will present their DUI case against you. This can include testimony by the arresting officer and expert witnesses.

If an expert witness is called to testify they may present evidence for the breath or blood test, opinions about the legality of the field sobriety test and whether or not your blood alcohol level would have caused you to be impaired and unable to safely operate your vehicle.

Each witness for the prosecution will be cross-examined by your DUI defense lawyer. Cross-examination of the prosecuting witnesses, if effective, should put doubt in the mind of the jurors about your guilt. Often the DUI lawyer attempts to shift the focus from your DUI test results, physical appearance at the time of the arrest, your field sobriety test or driving patterns, and attempts instead, to create doubt in the juror’s minds about the legality of how each test was administered.

After each witness has been cross-examined, the DUI defense lawyer will present defense witnesses. This is your chance to tell your side of the story and what really happened when you were arrested for DUI. Keep in mind that a juror may assume the witnesses that the defense calls will naturally favor the defense, and they may tend to discount or dismiss their testimony. After all defense witnesses are questioned by the defense, the prosecuting attorney will have their opportunity to cross-examine each defense witness.

After each side is finished calling their witnesses it is time for the closing arguments for the DUI case. The closing arguments are the DUI defense attorney’s last chance to explain their side of the story to the jury. Most jurors have probably made up their minds by this point, but a persuasive closing argument may be enough to sway their opinion and add credibility to your story.

What if you are convicted of DUI?

If you are convicted of DUI, even as a first time DUI offender, you may face severe DUI penalties. DUI penalties vary by state but can include:

• High fines
• Mandatory alcohol education classes
• Mandatory installation of a ignition interlock system
• Jail time
• Probation
• Community Service

If you have been arrested for DUI, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to contact a DUI lawyer. DUI lawyers understand DUI laws and can answer your questions and begin developing your DUI defense.

7 Common DUI Mistakes

The best way to stay out of DUI trouble is to avoid drinking and driving in the first place, but we are all human and do make mistakes. The second best way to avoid problems is to make your first DUI your last, because after that point you are in danger of being charged with a felony. DUI law is complex, so here is a refresher on some common mistakes made after you are charged.

DUI Charges Are Serious
Let’s face it: when you drink and drive you are a danger on the road. You are being charged with a serious crime. On the other hand, you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. That does not mean you can look at this as a minor problem. Even a first DUI can lead to long license suspensions, fines, and jail time. The more DUI charges you get, the greater the penalties. Take these charges seriously and you stand to save yourself some problems.

Don’t Miss Your Court Date

Perhaps the greatest and most common mistake is missing your initial court date. You might as well keep driving after an officer turns on his lights. You are then breaking the law. It’s likely a search warrant will be made for you, and when you are arrested, you will face even stiffer penalties. So make your court date.

Continuing to Drive
If you drive on a suspended license, you stand to get further charges brought against you. While it’s obvious some of us have to drive, you must wait until your license is reinstated. If you are pulled over, the officer will arrest you and immediately take you to jail.

Getting a Second DUI

As noted, the problem with DUI charges is that many are not for first time offenses. Some of us make this mistake more than once. If you can avoid getting a second, third, or further DUI, you can avoid jail time, extended license suspensions, excessive fines, and lawyer fees.

Out of State DUI
If you get an out of state DUI and do not take care of it, you may have a search warrant authorized against you. They do this even for speeding tickets. You must appear in court and fight your case. While you may want to avoid the problem, face it and be done.

You Need a Lawyer
Another common mistake those charged with a  DUI make is not hiring an experienced DUI lawyer. You may consider not hiring a lawyer at all and defending yourself. You may simply hire no lawyer and plead guilty. Both are bad moves. Make no decision without the help of an experienced DUI lawyer.

Hiring a Cheap Lawyer
Another problem is that of hiring a lawyer who is ineffective, often because he or she charges a low fee. Ask yourself why they charge so little. They may have an excess of cases and have no real time to spend with you. They may lack any DUI experience. They may even lack court experience. Hire an experienced lawyer. Pay the extra money so you can avoid jail time and further penalties. You may be found innocent, and at the least you can lessen the penalties.

Advantages of Hiring a Chicago DUI Lawyer

Getting an Illinois DUI leads to many problems. Some of the penalties are much stricter than in other states. You might pay a fine as high as $2,500 for a first offense, spend up to one year in jail, and have your license suspended for up to a year. If you get a second offense, the charges are similar, but you likely will have your license suspended for 5 years. And the further you go, the more you risk getting felony charges. How can you avoid this? What if you’re pulled over in Chicago for a DUI? You should hire an experienced DUI lawyer.

To avoid problems, you should avoid drinking and driving. But if you are pulled over, it’s time to consider representation. There are many advantages to hiring a Chicago DUI lawyer. This blog guide goes over them.

Understand the Laws
Illinois DUI laws, as in all states, can be quite complex. You get pulled over in Chicago for drinking and driving. You fail the breathalyzer. Case closed, right? Wrong, as you have rights, the breathalyzer is not always right, and you should defend yourself in court. But the value of a lawyer is in that he or she can help you avoid major problems. If you go into court not understanding the charges against you, how can you make a defense?

Question What Happened
A Chicago DUI lawyer’s job is to question what happened – what you did, what the officer did, what the breathalyzer or other sobriety tests said, and what charges are placed against you. This is an important part of the process. You might be down on yourself about the whole situation, but a good lawyer can fight for your rights. He or she might find something wrong with what the officer did, or in the validity of the breath tests, or in how damaging the charges will be to your life.

Avoid Maximum Penalties

Some Illinois DUI penalties can be quite severe, such as losing your license for years or spending years in jail. You may not win, that’s a fact. But you can at least lessen the penalties made against you. Without an experienced Chicago DUI lawyer, you won’t have this chance.

Save You Money

Some Illinois DUI penalties come with a heavy price tag. Some may cost you your job (such as if you cannot drive to work anymore). You might think a lawyer will cost you money. There will be some fees. But if you can stay out of jail, that saves you money from losing your job, losing assets, and losing your life. If you can continue to drive, you might also be able to keep your job. If you can avoid excessive fines, though sometimes minor, this too can help.

Represent You In Court

Finally, the biggest advantage in hiring an experienced Chicago DUI lawyer is in that he or she represents your rights in courts. There are so many things which might happen. The officer may have violated your rights in the arrest. The breathalyzer test may have been used incorrectly (which does happen). Or you may have not been driving at all. In court, a DUI lawyer can question what happened and ask that you be acquitted, if not at the least have lesser penalties.

Avoid Costly Drinking and Driving Fines

One of the downsides often overlooked when it comes to drinking and driving charges is about the money. You may spend thousands, if not tens of thousands, on fines and court costs. How can you save money on DUI court costs? This blog guide goes over ways to avoid the fines, fees, and other costs.

Avoid DUI

It may be too late, but if you can avoid drinking and driving in the first place, you can save on fines and fees. You may get a designated driver. You may call a cab. You may ask for a ride from a friend who has no drank anything. Thousands die every year because of drinking and driving, and thousands more avoid problems by simply making the right decision and not driving. It’s estimated over 50,000 lives are saved every year simply because of the system of using a designated driver. These numbers speak for themselves.

Multiple DUI
Fines and fees increase the more DUI charges you get. A first time DUI can be costly, yet the fines are not that much – from $500 to $1,000, depending on the state and the nature of the charges. However, what can be more costly are the court fees. You need a lawyer if you want to avoid paying costly fines, but if you win, you then owe more money in legal fees. It’s a double edged sword, but remember you will be doing far more than paying some fines if you lose. If you win, or lessen the charges, you can avoid jail time, license suspension, and probation.

Cheap Lawyer?

Should you hire a low-priced lawyer? Well, simply because a lawyer is “cheap” does not mean he or she is bad. Nor does an expensive price mean a lawyer is good. However, don’t let price stop you from looking for a lawyer. You definitely need one. You may be able to lessen the charges, if not have them dropped. You may not have been over the limit at all. The arresting officer may have made a key mistake. These things happen all the time. If you are getting felony charges for multiple DUI offenses, the costs can be quite high, making hiring an experienced DUI lawyer even more important. So don’t focus necessarily on price.

Choosing a Lawyer
You should hire a local lawyer familiar with your state laws. You should not pay tens of thousands of dollars. You should hire a lawyer who has court room experience. You need a lawyer who specializes in DUI law.

Other Costs of DUI
DUI charges are about more than lawyer fees and misdemeanor or felony fines. A first time offense can mean days to weeks in jail. A felony charge for multiple DUI offenses may mean months in jail. If someone was hurt because of you’re driving, you may even face years time in jail. Further, you will be losing your license too, sometimes for years.

DUI Defense Strategies

How can you win? How can you avoid excessive fines, fees, jail time, and suspensions? There is no magic solution. What you can do is start immediately. Look for a good lawyer immediately. Be completely honest about what happened with your lawyer. Plead not guilty to the charges. Then let your lawyer make a defense. As noted, there is often a hole in the prosecution’s case. Your lawyer can find it.

6 Tips on the Sobriety Test

Do you have to take the breathalyzer test? What happens if you refuse? These kinds of questions are asked every day by people who get charged with a drinking and driving. Sobriety tests themselves can be quite complicated, so this blog guide will help you understand how sobriety tests work, what rights you have, and how you can avoid major charges.

Do you have to take the breathalyzer?
While some tests you do not have to take, as no law says you must, the breathalyzer test is something you can be punished for denying. All states have laws in place where if you refuse a breathalyzer you can have your license suspended and risk other penalties.

Are breath tests 100% accurate?
No, breath tests are subject to human error. Therefore, if you fail one, it’s not always accurate. The majority of the time the breath test is correct, but the blood test is technically much more accurate. The problem with breath tests is the fact there is no difference whether you are 120 lbs or 220 lbs, nor if you’re a man or woman. Also, the officer may incorrectly operate the breathalyzer.

Do you have to take the blood test?
Yes, you must also take the blood alcohol tests. These have similar charges if you refuse them as breathalyzer tests. Blood tests are the most accurate form of sobriety test available. They too are subject to error, as is any test, but it’s very rare. If you fail both a breathalyzer and blood test, you may be in trouble.

Do you have to take other sobriety tests?

Other sobriety tests are quite often optional. There are no laws stating you have to walk in a straight line, or say the alphabet backwards, or count down in some way. These are all optional. If you are unsure, ask the officer if you must by law take this test. Rarely if ever are these field tests mandatory.

What happens if you fail and are charged?
If you fail a breathalyzer and/or blood test, you can be charged with a DUI. It depends on how many offenses you have received. Even first time offenses can be quite damaging, but of course they are less tough on you than multiple DUI charges. A first time offense often means you will get your license suspended for six months to a year, you may face some jail time, you may be fined, among other penalties. If you get further DUI charges, you risk getting a felony, which means a longer license suspension, more jail time, and bigger fines.

Who can help?
If you are charged with a drinking and driving, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a serious charge. It may be the toughest legal battle you have to fight in your lifetime. Therefore, you need proper help, and that means hiring an experienced DUI lawyer. It’s his or her job to fight for your rights. There may have been mistakes in the arrest. The breath test may have been wrong. You may have proof you were not intoxicated. If you were drinking, you might think pleading guilty is a good idea. Pleading guilty is rarely a good idea when charged with drinking and driving. Hire a DUI lawyer and make no decisions yourself.

Primer on Drug Use and DUI

You are pulled over, but you haven’t been drinking. The arresting officer asks if you’ve taken any drugs, legal or illegal. You have. What should you say? As with admitting to drinking, if you’ve abused drugs, or taking legal medication which impairs your driving, you should not admit to it. If you feel you’re in danger of being charged with a DUI (if not DWI), you should only take any breathalyzer tests given, which are required, while also giving over identifying information.

Will you always be charged if you admit to using drugs?
This is a complex subject, as there are few laws defining what drugs you can or cannot take and drive, what level of drugs in your system is legal, and how this affects your driving. If you admit to taking some drugs, even if legal, you risk being charged with a DUI.  The problem is, if the officer believes your driving has been affected by the drugs you took, even if prescribed, you can be charged with a DUI. The laws here change from state to state, but treat this as you would a drinking and driving offense: do not give over incriminating information to the officer.

What if you use illegal drugs?
If you use illegal drugs, this too can affect your driving ability. If drugs are found on your possession, this is no different than being caught anywhere else: you can and will be charged. The laws are again different on this issue. For one, if you are addicted to any drug, some states define this as a drug causing impairment. The important point here is that legal or illegal drugs does not matter; what matters is if the drug affects your ability to drive.

What if you used legal drugs?
If you use legal drugs that affect your driving, it does not look much better to the officer nor the judge. The laws on how much of a drug it takes to influence your driving is different from alcohol. State laws are all different here, but if it’s obvious you are driving while impaired – and an officer should be able to interpret this – you can be charged.

What if you mix drugs and alcohol?
Common knowledge shows if you mix certain medications or other drugs with alcohol, it can not only be dangerous to your health, but also impair your driving abilities.

What charges do you face?
Typically state laws on DUI for drugs are similar to alcohol related DUI charges. State laws differentiate between drug related DUI and alcohol related DUI, but the penalties are similar. You will face a license suspension, fines, potential jail time, probation, and sometimes more.

Who can help?
If you are charged with any DUI, no matter the circumstance, you need an experienced DUI lawyer. It’s his or her job to defend you in court, to question the charges, and to limit any penalties you face. For example, some drug related DUI charges can lead to losing your license for years. Then you might lose your job because you can’t drive. A good lawyer can often limit charges, if not defeat them.

6 Things You May Not Know About DUI Defense

1: Do Not Give Too Much Information
If you’re pulled over on suspicion of abusing drugs or alcohol and driving, you may consider explaining to your officer how this will ruin your life. Rarely will they care. On the other hand, they may play friendly while interrogating you – to get more information. If you’ve been drinking, do you have to admit that? No, you only need give the officer your identifying information and take the breathalyzer test. You do not give any information the prosecution can use against you.

2: Do Not Plead Guilty

If you fail the breathalyzer and perhaps the blood test too, you may consider just getting this over with: pleading guilty. However, ask any lawyer who specializes in DUI law and you’ll hear a consensus: you rarely, if ever, want to plead guilty. If the prosecution offers a deal, which is rare in DUI cases, you may consider that. However, you should always consult with your lawyer prior to making the decision.

3: Hire a Lawyer Prior to Your Court Date
And before you even go to court, have an experienced lawyer in place ready and willing to help you. You should immediately get in touch with a lawyer who specializes in DUI law instead of waiting a few days prior to the trial. Give him or her time to look over your case. Make all decisions with your lawyer.

4: Not All Lawyers Are Equal
While a good lawyer is a good lawyer, you need a DUI lawyer – not someone referred to you who has taken on a few cases before, or who specializes in some other law. Some lawyers take on any case for the money, not specializing in anything. And even if you hire a DUI lawyer, it does not mean he or she can help. Sometimes you make a mistake, and hire the wrong one. There is no law saying you have to keep them on your case. You can save valuable time by being picky and being willing to pay extra.

5: Drunk Driving is Not the Term
Simply because you got a DUI does not mean you were drunk. You may have been much closer to the limit than you think. It’s too broad a term to use. Instead, use “under the influence,” and start asking questions on how much you were over (if not under) the limit.

6: BAC Tests are Not Perfect
When you go to court, plead guilty, and take the maximum charges, you are forgetting two things: first, a lawyer can often lessen the penalties, and second, not all blood alcohol content tests are accurate. In fact, the breathalyzer has been proven to be wrong. If you fail a blood test, that is stronger evidence. But guilt is never a guarantee, and you have a right to question what happened.

Court Appointed Lawyer or Professional DUI Lawyer? 5 Differences

If you are charged with a DUI, it’s time to think of a defense. While it is possible to defend yourself, in almost all situations, you should consider working with a lawyer. That leaves you with two options, as provided for by the sixth amendment: a court appointed lawyer or a professional DUI lawyer. Are there differences? Absolutely. You can save yourself plenty of time, money, and penalties by choosing the right lawyer. If you have no way of hiring a lawyer, you should definitely consider using a court appointed attorney – it’s much better than defending yourself. If you have the means to hire a lawyer, note the following differences.

Specialty
If you work with a court appointed attorney, he or she will not be a specialist in DUI law; the lawyer will take on a variety of cases beyond DUI. That means the lawyer has far less knowledge on DUI defenses. The lawyer may not be aware of all laws, effective defenses, and lack the skill needed to help. Since the lawyer will take on a variety of cases, it may cost you valuable time in preparing a case.

Experience
Rarely are court appointed attorneys incredibly experienced or successful in DUI law. True, they may have defended some driving under the influence cases, but he or she will have handled a variety of criminal law cases. Where a professional DUI lawyer can have hundreds of drinking and driving cases, including many successful defenses, a court appointed attorney may have a fraction of that experience.

Time
Quite often court appointed attorneys are overworked. They take on a huge load of cases, making it almost impossible to spend a great amount of time on your case. Also, a court attorney may have less resources in preparing your defense. He or she may want to help, but lacks the budget to do so.

Incentive

If you pay a lawyer for a DUI defense, he or she has more incentive in helping you win. A successful case looks good on his or her record. A court attorney gets no monetary reward from helping you win. He or she may be open to shutting the case quickly. While not common, you may get a court attorney going against your wishes and accepting a plea bargain from the prosecution.

A Successful Defense or a Guilty Plea?

If you have the money to spend on an experienced DUI lawyer, it can lead to much better results. If you go to jail, face fines, and lose your license for years, how much would you value avoiding that? You may lose time off work, pay over $1,000 in fines, and be unable to drive for a year or more. If you have to choose between defending yourself and using a court attorney, go with an attorney. If there is any way you can afford a professional DUI lawyer, it’s more than worth it.

What Proof Is Used in DUI Cases?

You’ve just got out of jail after being pulled over, tested for alcohol, and arrested for a DUI. What’s next? You have to defend yourself in court.

Can you plead innocent to the charges? Absolutely, as a successful DUI defense is very possible. On the other hand, the odds are against you. You have to know what evidence is being brought. Just like when you get into an accident, proof of what exactly happened can define the following events. This blog guide will explain what proof will be used against you and how you can discredit it.

Breath Tests
A breathalyzer tests the blood alcohol intoxication you have by, as it sounds, your breath. On a more scientific note, once alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream, it goes through your lungs, where the breathalyzer comes into play. The process, though useful and often right, is not perfect. There is some potential for mistakes. Yes, the majority of the time a positive breath test is correct. But since the tests are subject to human error and it makes no difference how much you weigh or if you’re man or woman, it’s not the most damning evidence.

Blood Tests
Blood tests are the most damning evidence. Why? As noted, alcohol goes into your blood. It does not go out of your urine. Therefore, testing your blood alcohol content, BAC, is the most accurate of all tests for alcohol. If you are over legal limit of .08 on a breath test, there may be some question. But if you fail a BAC test, you may be in trouble.

Officer Testimony
The officer will be writing the report on what happened, making what you do and say crucial in defense. As often quoted, what you say can be held against you in a court of law. Therefore, the less you say the better. You have to, by law, give your name, license, and identifying information, but you need not answer every question the officer asks. Also, the officer may ask you to do a field sobriety tests – such as walking a straight line – and as we note on this blog, that’s not always required. Few states have laws where you have to take a field sobriety test.

Your Testimony
In court, your testimony will not be the deciding factor unless something clearly illegal happened. If you were pulled over for absolutely no reason, perhaps because of how you looked or how your car looked, that is against the law. Profiling based on race, sex, and other appearance does occur. If you feel your rights were infringed upon, you have a right to say so in your testimony.

Can you win?
Yes, beating DUI charges even with evidence against you is very possible. But, face it, if you are guilty and the officer acted correctly, you may have to accept some penalties. Even then, you might be able to avoid some of the charges, such as a long jail sentence.

Who can help?
Hiring a professional DUI lawyer is crucial in winning in court. And winning is not always beating every charge; sometimes lessening license suspensions or avoiding jail time is a win. No matter what, get an experienced lawyer willing to spend time into defending you. Simply forgoing a lawyer, and pleading guilty, may mean maximum penalties.

Beating DWI DUI Charges With Evidence Against You

Forget the odds: you can successfully defend yourself against DUI charges. It’s not easy, especially without legal counsel. However, there are many strategies for success. This blog guide gives you five.

Why were you pulled over?
The Fourth Amendment of our  constitution has this seemingly minor law: an officer cannot commit unreasonable searches and seizures against you. In practical terms, you cannot be pulled over because you are a minority, because you look different, because you drive different, and for a variety of other reasons. You have rights. If you get pulled over at random and for no reason, your lawyer can likely challenge the arrest. If the arrest was begun in the wrong way, that is against the law, even if you had been drinking. That means you can challenge the reasons for the arrest and have the whole case thrown out.

Your Rights
You have rights. They need to be told to you upon arrest. This is the Miranda statement. If an officer pulls you over because you’re driving oddly, questions you, and then gives you a Miranda warning, that is correct. However, that is not always how it goes. If the arresting officer fails to explain your rights, it’s a legal error and can be used in court.

Did you know the breathalyzer fails?

Another defense against seemingly impossible odds is questioning the validity of the breath tests given to you. You can still win. This is touch and go for law enforcement: the breathalyzer test can be wrong. There is no difference if you are a 100 lb woman or 250 lb man. So you may be fine for your size, having no trouble driving, but fail the breath test. And it’s subject to human error as well: officers are trained on how to use them, but errors occur.

The Arresting Officer Makes a Mistake

In the majority of DUI cases, the arresting officer can give quite damning evidence against you. However, if your lawyer can find holes in his her her statements, it can be damning for the prosecution. Thee are rarely any other witnesses, and simply raising questions and showing how laws weren’t followed can mean you are found not guilty.

Get the Right Lawyer

If a lawyer charges too low, you may want to question how experienced he or she is. You have to pay to beat a strong DUI charge. However, you need not spend a fortune. Few of us can spend $20,000 to $30,000 to win, but with the right lawyer you need not spend that much. Keep in mind that your paying for a complex service. You have many options, but ensure your lawyer specializes in DUI law, has time for your case, and can actually beat this charge for you. Many offer free initial consultations and case reviews, the best ways to get started.