A Question Of Driving Under The Influence (DUI)
Q: I was out with friends. I had two glasses of wine. I was driving home and was pulled over for speeding. The officer asked if I had been drinking and I told him I had two glasses of wine. Then, he asked me to step out of the car. He told me to walk an imaginary line heel-to-toe and also told me to lift my leg and count to thirty. I have terrible balance due to a knee injury. The officer told me I failed. Then he had me follow his pen and again told me I failed. I know I was not drunk and felt fine. He did not care. I was arrested. I was treated like a criminal and had my blood withdrawn. Then I spent two days in jail. Now, I have court for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge. What should I do? Should I hire a criminal defense attorney?
A: The officer can arrest you if there is probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence of alcohol. Based upon the failed Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) and your admission to drinking, the officer has a good argument regarding the validity of the arrest.
However, just because you are arrested of DUI does not mean you are guilty of DUI. It is important to understand that although officers are trained to look for clues of impairment, they do make mistakes. Mistakes also occur in the taking and testing of the blood. When you go to your first court appearance, you will find out if a criminal complaint has been filed. Sometimes, a criminal complaint is not filed right away because the blood has not been tested. At that point, you will be asked to return to court and be provided with a new court date. Once a criminal complaint is filed, you will be asked to enter a plea. At this time, I highly recommend you enter a “not guilty” plea and request time to seek the services of an attorney. Your dui attorney will carefully review the file and look for issues to address with the court. Your attorney will carefully review numerous matters, including but not limited to: the reason for the stop, the FST’s, your knee injury, the arrest procedures, the blood withdraw, and the blood handling, testing and results. Each DUI arrest is very fact specific, and if you would like to discuss your particular matter in detail, Trachtman Law provides a free consultation. Regarding your question about hiring an attorney, the issue becomes: “at what point do you need to hire an attorney?”
Like stated above, you definitely should hire an attorney if a criminal complaint is filed. Some people, prefer to hire an attorney from the very beginning. The advantage of such is that the attorney will be the one going to court on your behalf and will keep track of your court dates.
The disadvantage, of course, is that if a formal complaint is not filed, you will still need to pay your attorney’s service.