Will I go to jail for a DUI/OWI/Drunk Driving?

January 24, 2017 Leave a comment

I hear this question all the time. Unfortunately, like most questions people ask lawyers, the answer is, “It depends.” It depends on a great many variables. While you are waiting in police custody to be released to a responsible party or worse while you sit in jail waiting to appear in front of the intake court, you are probably not calmly and methodically working through the logic of the situation. The fact is, your mind is racing because ever since you saw the lights of the squad car in your review mirror you’ve asked yourself a great many questions you may not know the answer to. “Why was I pulled over?”  “Will I lose my job or my license?” and the subject of this post: “Am I going to jail?”

Regardless of whether this is a repeat offense, you may spend the night in jail, or at least 12 hours, if you have no one to pick you up. If you are accused of a repeat offense, you may be held for court if the court fast tracks these cases. Otherwise you will be given a date to return to the intake court and released. The intake court determines the conditions of your release which may include cash bail.

Let’s start with the guarantees. If you are ultimately acquitted by a judge or jury, if the case is dismissed because of successful motion practice or if your attorney is able to negotiate and amendment of the charge, you are definitely not going to jail. You will not be able to get any of these results without an attorney at your side.

In Wisconsin, a first offense is not criminal and you cannot be sentenced to serve time in jail on a first offense. If you fail to pay your fine, the court might issue a warrant for your arrest which could result in you serving an alternate jail sentence, so pay that fine on time.

If you are convicted of a repeat offense, Wisconsin law mandates a jail sentence some cases are classified as felonies (since January 1st 4th offenses and greater) and you may enjoy the hospitality of the Wisconsin Prison System.

Without question, regardless of the severity of the offense, an OWI conviction can be a life changing event. Even if you think you don’t have a chance, you should seek the advice of competent counsel. It is always wise to get as much information as possible before you make an important decision. Most lawyers who practice in this area will not charge you for a consultation and you are likely to get valuable insights.

Stay safe,

Eric

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What if I failed the Field Sobriety Tests?

January 18, 2017 Leave a comment

It’s the middle of the night. You are driving home from a local tavern or a buddy’s house. You’re tired and looking forward crawling into your nice warm bed. Much to your surprise, you see the lights of a police car in your rear view mirror. What was a nice evening, has just turned into a nightmare. You could lose your license, your job…even your freedom because the officer suspects you of driving under the influence. You stop,  and after a few words with the officer (perhaps he smells that drink you had before you left), you are standing at roadside trembling with fear, when he asks you to perform field sobriety tests, some of which you couldn’t do on your best day. It’s One o’clock in the morning after a few drinks and you are far from your best. Are you doomed? Is it all over now? For many people this is the beginning of the end. But it doesn’t have to be.

 

First and foremost: This is not the time to get indignant. Be polite and cooperative with the officer. You don’t score any points by copping an attitude. The officer may take note of your good attitude in his report. He will most definitely mention it if you were belligerent. A bad attitude can affect the outcome of your case. Judges and prosecutors do not make good offers to defendants who are abusive to arresting officers. If you choose to take your case to trial, you will look like an angry drunk to the jury if you lip off to the officer.

There is quite a bit a good attorney can do, despite apparent poor performance on field sobriety tests. Through cross examination it is possible to chip away at what might appear to be a rock solid case due to field sobriety test results. The officer will undoubtedly report that your speech was slurred, deliberate or thick tongued. The officer has never met you before and has never heard you speak! Maybe you talk that way all the time. You were likely asked to walk a straight line while keeping your feet in a heal-to-toe position. You might make one mistake on this test and have it count as a failure. There are several elements to this test. You may have gotten 80% of them right yet still failed. Last time I checked, 80% was a B- not an F.  A lot of these clues can be minimized by a skilled attorney.

Get to an attorney who regularly represents the accused in DUI/OWI cases as soon after you are released as possible. Fresh recollection is always better than memory that has diminished over time. Chances are the officer has generated his field notes the evening of your arrest. The report will generally be thorough and make note of every indicator of intoxication he notices. He is trying to build a case against you from the moment you step out of the car. I very rarely see information that has been included in a police report to make the accused look innocent!  The police deserve our support for the good work that they do, but when they are placing you under arrest, despite what may be a friendly and professional demeanor, they are not on your side.

All is not lost if you failed your field sobriety tests. Most people arrested for drunk driving are ultimately convicted. However, a large portion of those people plead guilty at their first appearance. They are guaranteed a conviction. Many who hire lawyers will still be convicted. Perhaps they are facing jail time and accept an offer to plead in exchange for a shorter sentence. Maybe the deck is otherwise stacked and a plea is in your best interest. Despite the figures, a DUI/OWI case can be won-even if you failed your field sobriety tests. In fact, a large number of OWI acquittals are in cases where the officer reported failures on most if not all of the tests. If you or someone close to you has been in this position, the best advice I can give is to consult with an attorney who practices in this field regularly.

Drink responsibly and drive safely,

Eric

Don’t look now…


Legally Weird reports that the FAA is attempting to take away your God given right to keep and bear flamethrower drones. Those opposing the measure claim that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a flamethrower drone is a good guy with a flamethrower drone. House Democrats are reported to be scheduling a sit-in to raise consciousness of the danger of flamethrower drones and get a vote on such measures as closing the flamethrower drone show loophole.

National Flamethrower Drone Association Representatives claim that the majority of flamethrower drone owners are law abiding citizens seeking to protect their homes and have a little fun while making rotisserie turkey in the back yard. Read the article here.

Cooky Case of the Day: Foot Smeller Leads Police on Scooter Chase 

September 16, 2015 Leave a comment

This one smells bad. Here it is….

Answering to a Higher Court

March 12, 2015 Leave a comment

In June of 2014 I wrote a post about my two vocations. I am both a criminal defense lawyer and an Anglican Priest. I was recently featured in an online article about Alumni of the Lawrenceville School, the prep school I attended near Princeton University. Follow this link to read it.

Cooky Case of the Day: New York Man Eats DWI Test Results.

November 5, 2014 Leave a comment

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A 40-year-old man is facing multiple charges after New York state police say he tried to eat his DWI test results.
Troopers say Kenneth Desormes, of Greenwich, Connecticut, was stopped for speeding on Interstate 95 at 5:30 a.m. Sunday. After speaking with him, the troopers determined he was intoxicated and arrested him.
Desormes was transported to the state police barracks in Tarrytown to be processed. Troopers say when his breathalyzer tests results were printing, Desormes grabbed the paperwork and tried to eat it.
Desormes is charged with driving while intoxicated, obstructing governmental administration, and criminal tampering.
Troopers have not released information as to whether he was remanded to jail, released with an appearance ticket, or released on bail or bond.

Cooky Case of the Day: Cooky Field Sobriety Tests


Follow this link for today’s Cooky Case a funny video of field sobriety testing. This is what it takes to pas folks…..almost.