Every DUI case is different. The options and defenses available to you will depend on your circumstances. Here are two DUI cases. In the first case we have John who does not have a record. This is his first offense. In the second case we have Jane who has a prior DUI conviction.
John was at a party with a group of friends. He hadn’t eaten lately. He had a couple of glasses of beer. He then bid good bye to his friends and drove home. On the way, he noticed a bill board with an attractive woman advertising a new car model. He looked at the bill board to have a good look at the car for second but that one second proved costly. Before he could realize what was happening, his car veered off the road and crashed into the street light. He did not suffer any injuries. A police officer soon showed up at the crash site. Smelling beer from John’s breath the officer asked him to take the field sobriety tests which John willingly took and passed. The officer however placed him under arrest for DUI since he smelled of beer and had crashed his car into a street light. He was taken to the station and his blood sample was taken. The blood test result indicated a blood alcohol concentration of 0.09, which is slightly over the 0.08.
Jane visited a local bar where she had a few drinks. After spending a couple of hours at the bar, she realized that she would not be in a position to drive home own her own. But it was past midnight and she lived far from the bar. She did not want to take a cab home because she would have to come back the next day to get her car. So she decided to drive home. The alcohol was having its affect on her. She was constantly changing lanes and speeding. A police officer seeing her erratic driving stopped her. When he asked for her registration particulars, he realized she was smelling of alcohol and exhibited signs of intoxication. When asked if she was drinking, she chose to remain silent. She knew she had the right to remain silent. The officer asked her to perform the one legged stand. She failed miserably. She was then subject to a breath analyzer test. The result showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.12 percent. She was arrested and taken to the station.
At the police station both John and Jane were put in their respective cells while the arresting officers completed the paperwork. After completing the paperwork, the police ran a background check on both of them.
John’s background check revealed that he did not have a criminal record and this was his first offense.
Jane’s background check revealed that she had a prior DUI conviction.
After conducting the background checks, the police officers informed both of them that they would be released if they pay the bail.
John’s bail was set at $1000. Jane’s at $5000. Both were informed that they could make a phone call to arrange for the bail amount. John called his sister who came to the police station and paid the bail amount. He was allowed to go home but asked to appear in court next week.
Jane did not have $5000 required for the bail. She did not know anyone who would pay the bail amount for her. She did not want to inform her family. She had to spend the night in jail because she could not pay the bail amount.
John went home. He realized he did not have the money to hire a lawyer. He contacted the Office of the Public Defender. He was informed that a public defender would be assigned to his case and the public defender would meet him in court before his scheduled hearing.
Jane spent the night in jail and was produced in court the next day. During the hearing the judge asked her if she was being represented by a lawyer. She replied in the negative. The judge then asked her if she wanted a public defender to represent her. She replied in the affirmative. She was told that the court clerk would arrange for a public defender and her case would be called out again.
Meeting with public defender
John met the public defender in the court just before his scheduled hearing. After introducing each other, the public defender reviewed the case and informed John that since he had a clean record and was only slightly over the legal limit, the public defender can talk to the prosecutor and get a good deal. John wanted to challenge the test results. The public defender informed that he could challenge the result but he may not succeed as the results are generally accurate. The public defender advised him that he best bet would be to cut a deal with the prosecutor.
After waiting for a few hours, the same public defender who was assigned John’s case met with Jane as he was assigned her case too. Jane asked him when she would be released. He told her that it would take some time as it was a second offense and also her blood alcohol concentration was well over the legal limit. She advised her to plead guilty saying that a guilty plea will result in her being released the next day. The judge would order her to pay a fine and attend an alcohol program. She will be on probation. Jane wanted to fight the charges. The public defender advised her that based on the circumstances of her case, she was unlikely to succeed. If she failed in her attempt to fight the charges, she may have to spend some more time in jail whereas by pleading guilty, she would be released the next day and she would be on probation.
The public defender met the prosecutor and discussed both John and Jane’s cases.
The prosecutor told the public defender that since the state has a tough stance against drunk driving, dropping the charges against John was not possible even though it was his first offense and he was only slightly over the legal limit. But is was possible to lower the charges to reckless driving which carried a much lower penalty – about 100 hours of community service and a 6 month probation. Although John was initially reluctant, he agreed to the deal.
As for Jane, the prosecutor informed the public defender that because of her prior DUI conviction and the high blood alcohol concentration, the only thing she could do was to plead guilty. Pleading guilty would result in her being released the next day but she would have to enroll in an alcohol rehab program and she would be on a three year probation.
At the hearing, prosecutor and the public defender informed the court of the deal and John pleaded no contest. A contest plea cannot be used as evidence in a civil suit against John should the county sue him for damages to the street light.
During Jane’s hearing, the public defender informed the court about the deal. The judge then asked Jane if she understood the consequences of a guilty plea. Jane replied in the affirmative. The judge then completed the formalities and sentenced her in terms of her guilty plea. She had to spend the night in jail before being released the next day.