Many people --- attorneys and judges included --- have completely wrong attitudes towards a DUI charge.
They are trapped by believing many common LIES about DUIs. Such LIES can lead to malpractice by the attorney and dire consequences for the client who suffers due to the lawyer’s lack of knowledge. The LIES surrounding DUI are:
1st LIE: A DUI Is A "Simple" Charge
Let us ask:
• Is it ‘simple’ to lose your job?
• Is it ‘simple’ to not be able to drive?
• Is it ‘simple’ to be unable to travel to other countries?
• Is it ‘simple’ to not be able to rent an apartment?
• Is it ‘simple’ to be banned for life from having a Commercial Driver’s License?
• Is it ‘simple’ to go to jail?
• Is it ‘simple’ to have a damaged credit rating?
• Is it ‘simple’ to have your insurance increased by thousands of dollars for years to come?
• Is it ‘simple’ to blow to start your vehicle for two years or more?
• Is it ‘simple’ to report to a probation officer every month for two years?
• Is it ‘simple’ to submit to monitored sobriety in the form of breathalyzer test three times a week or more for two years?
• Is it ‘simple’ to ask for permission to leave the state for two years and possibly be denied for no good reason?
This is just the start of some of the hidden costs of a DUI. This is a charge that keeps on ‘giving’ - it follows you for your lifetime. There is nothing ‘simple’ about the types of penalties you can suffer from a ‘simple’ DUI.
Regretfully, far too many untrained attorneys and general practitioners think of DUIs as ‘simple’ and advise their clients to quickly enter a plea. A trained, competent DUI lawyer can help you understand the dangers you face and do more to protect you.
2nd LIE: A DUI Case Is The Same As Any Other Criminal Case
If the consequences were not so serious, this LIE would be humorous. Recently, a judge said “A DUI case is one of the most difficult cases to try, more difficult than most murder cases.” In many areas, the courts handle DUI cases differently from other offenses. For example, in a murder case, the defense lawyer will order an independent analysis of ballistics tests, blood splatter patterns, fingerprints, and other physical evidence. This is not true or possible in drunk driving cases. Colorado law does not require an officer taking a breath test to capture some of the breath so it can be analyzed independently at a later date, even though the machines can preserve samples at a minimal cost. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that it is perfectly acceptable that such critical evidence is destroyed.
In the judicial system, DUIs are ‘special’. Yes, different rules apply to a DUI case. In a run of the mill criminal case such as murder or drugs, you would be allowed to view and test the evidence against you. If blood was involved, you could also have it tested. In most DUIs, the evidence consists of a breath test thatproduces a number printed on a piece of paper. That’s it – your ability to drive all depends on a number from a computer-generated batch!
Attorneys, who are not extensively trained in DUI defense or, even more disturbing, the ones who just want to earn a quick buck, do not know how to protect their clients. These attorneys could face malpractice from mishandling such cases but even more disturbing—their clients are the ones who will suffer for years to come.
3rd LIE: If You Were Arrested, You Must Be Guilty
You certainly don’t want an attorney representing you who starts off thinking you are guilty. An attorney should believe in his client and devote himself and his team to defending his client.
This is perhaps the most troubling LIE because so many attorneys and individuals believe an arrest is proof of guilt. Since this mindset can eliminate objectivity, an attorney who believes you’re guilty has no business representing a person accused of drunk driving.
The evidence in most drunk driving cases is a breath test, not a blood test. A skillful attorney can be successful in exposing the problems with either test. Because of their lack of sophistication and reliability, most scientists would not trust the results of a breath test machine as a basis for research or investigation. This is especially true considering the fact that the manufacturer refused to provide the source code for the machine, even after the Supreme Court in Minnesota ordered them to do so. Believe it or not, the state wants you to accept the results produced by this machine without providing any of the internal information or data on how the machine works. Both the accuracy and reliability of these machines should be subject to challenge.
The breath machine is just a low-bid machine purchased in a government contract. There are a number of ways to attack a breath test. This is not a scientific instrument, yet the State wants to treat it as such. There are reliability, accuracy, administration and training errors, just to name a few.
It takes extensive training and study by an attorney to challenge this test. Attempting to defend a DUI case without this training and knowledge could expose the attorney to a malpractice charge and leave the defendant to suffer the consequences.
4th LIE: You Can't Win A Colorado DUI Case
It’s hard to believe, but we have allowed ourselves to be brainwashed into believing this lie. It is outrageous to think that a person would actually pay a lawyer who believes this lie. With this attitude, you might as well just plead guilty and save the fee.
An experienced DUI lawyer will start preparing for trial from the very first meeting. He will investigate and subpoena every piece of evidence available. The lawyer will often fight extensively through motions and other procedural maneuvers. No client should automatically be advised to plead guilty because an attorney who is not properly trained believes that these cases are difficult or impossible to win.
Many lawyers will push a guilty plea without having done any investigation of the case. Possibly the client told the attorney he could not afford to fight the case.
This is common - but did the attorney tell the client the hidden and long-term costs of a conviction and did the attorney explain the defenses to the charge so the client could make an informed, intelligent decision?
Many times the client will realize the long-term cost of accepting a quick guilty plea is greater than the cost of fighting—that is if the options are fully explained by a competent attorney.
5th LIE: DUI Is A Minor Offense
The stigma of a conviction can cause tremendous stress and fear. Many drivers whose licenses are suspended or revoked continue driving to keep a job and provide for their families. By doing so, they live in fearof being stopped, caught, and jailed for driving with a suspended or revoked license. Most of those convicted also suffer financially and socially. In most states, a DUI conviction is permanently on a driving record and Colorado is one of those states. Only those justly convicted should have to endure these emotional, financial, and psychological hardships.
It is not a crime to have a drink and drive. A conviction for drunk driving should only occur when it is
proven that a person’s driving was impaired due to the consumptions of drugs and/or alcohol. Not because a person’s
BAC exceeded an arbitrary number.
Usually, drivers do not know if they have been properly represented or if the state’s case was valid and based on a legal stop. A qualified DUI attorney is needed to investigate the case thoroughly and recommend the best alternative.
You have a right to inquire about the training your potential attorney has received. You should be sure that the lawyer has spent substantial time training specifically in the field of DUI.