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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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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.

Cooky Case of The Day: Man Gets DUI in Barbie Car

June 25, 2014 1 comment

Here’s proof that when they say “motorized vehicle” they mean any motorized vehicle. They have made cases stick for drunk garden tractor driving and farmers driving to and from the tavern for a beer and pickled egg between fields. The Telegraph reports that an intoxicated man was arrested and lost his license to drive for operating his daughter’s Barbie Car while under the influence. follow this link to read the article.

Cooky Case of the Day: Aussie is Ingenious Drunk Driver

June 23, 2014 1 comment

Here’s a link to a case about a guy who couldn’t wait until he got to the bar and invented his own “cooler car” powered by a 50cc motor.

New Feature: The Cooky Case of the Day


It occurred to me the readers of On Legal Ground might like a little levity. So in between blog articles, I will scour the web for some good legal humor. Here is today’s Cooky Case from Legal Juice

If you’re wondering “Is there a ‘right’ Mercedes to steal?” – the answer is a resounding “yes.” It would be a Mercedes that doesn’t have a lion in the back.. Per The Telegraph:

Caesar, Circus Probst’s ferocious five-year-old star, was being transported a Mercedes van when the vehicle was stolen.

The thief drove off, but abandoned the vehicle with the engine still running after crashing into a road sign. It was unclear whether the thief’s sudden awareness of the animal in the back of the van had inspired him or her to abort the mission.

The Innocent Owner Defense: Wait! That’s My Car!

June 17, 2014 3 comments

Parent’s have bought cars for their kids for a long time. For our children, the ownership of that first car is a rite of passage in a young person’s life. This is certainly the case here in Southeastern Wisconsin. A good friend of mine just presented his daughter with her first car for her birthday complete with a bow on the hood.

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Parent’s usually elect to retain title to their kids’ vehicles-even when they go off to college. My parents were kind enough to take responsibility for my jalopy, a big Black 1965 Chrysler 300, when I took it to school and parked it in my fraternity parking lot. Think Animal House. That car had every appearance of being my car. But I understood that Dad was paying the bills and it was really his until I could pay for it myself. Not sure I ever did. (Thanks Mom and Dad) but who does the law think owns your kid’s Studebelchfire? At least one Wisconsin court has held that despite registration in a parents name some ownership is limited.

Here’s it played out. A young women took “her” car registered in Daddy’s name to college where it was parked for the school year. She got arrested on drug trafficking charges in the car and the State initiated an action to take it . But it’s Dads, right? WRONG! The court in State v. One 2010 Nissan Altima, 2013AP2176, District 2, 6/11/14 (not recommended for publication) held that defendant was the “owner” for the purposes of the forfeiture law. Her argued he was the “innocent owner” under § 961.55(1)(d)2., which provides:

“[n]o vehicle is subject to forfeiture under this section by reason of any act or omission established by the owner thereof to have been committed or omitted without the owner’s knowledge or consent.”(¶¶3-7, 9).

The court rejected this argument. The court held that the registered owner’s financial stake was not more indicative of ownership than the daughter’s possession and control. Read that again. As a lawyer the case tells me that the innocent owner defense probably only applies to car thefts in the future. As a citizen, this case tells you that the government is once again willing to erode your property rights in order to achieve it’s goals. As a parent, it tells you to think twice before buying junior that car.

How Can You be a Priest and a Lawyer?

June 6, 2014 2 comments

I have made a career of defending the rights of the accused. I am also an Anglican priest and Canon Lawyer of the Diocese of Quincy (ACNA). I am often asked how I can function in both vocations. We in the church refer to someone like me as bivocational. The Church has a long history of clergy who work in the secular world. St. Paul was a tent maker. My father, also a priest, is a licensed psychologist. I think people assume that because I am a criminal defense lawyer, that I am required to do morally and ethically questionable things on a regular basis. The simple fact is that nothing could be further from the truth. Lawyers are held to a high ethical standard in the way we deal with clients, their money, their information and the courts. In fact, I find that my two vocations have a great deal of overlap.

Representing Guilty Criminals

The most common question I get is related to the guilt or innocence of my clients. “How can you defend someone you know to be guilty?” I explain that I am part of the system. I am a check on the power of the State that seeks to convict and possibly imprison my client. The beauty of our system is that it is adversarial. I read a book by Seymour Wishman years ago called *Confessions of a Criminal Lawyer. *The author, a respected attorney, surveyed other judicial sytems and concluded from personal experience that our’s is flawed but still the best on earth. That system requires able counsel on both sides of the aisle to enforce the law. In fact, I know a defense lawyer who always raises her hand during jury selection when the judge asks if anyone is in law enforcement. This raises an eyebrow or two, but clearly drives the point home. Sure, many of my clients have committed a crime. However, these people are guaranteed able counsel under our constitution and protecting their rights is a noble pursuit. As for any conflict with my other vocation, I am pretty sure it was our Lord who was crucified as a result of an unjust legal proceeding. Remember how the authorities sought individuals to bear false witness against him as Jewish law required two corroborating witnesses before a capital charge could stand.

“Publicans and Sinners”

And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
– Mark 2:16-17

It seems that there are those who think it is somehow unseemly for clergy to spend time associating with those who have committed crimes. I personally cannot think of anything more seemly for a Christian than to provide care for these people. As a priest, and one who represents Christ in His Church, I am called to reach out to those who have separated themselves from God through their sinful behavior and lead them to reconciliation. As a lawyer, I am often called on to help the broken find their way. Those same people who are scandalized by certain elements in society must also remember that “Publicans and Sinners” show up in all kinds of places, sometimes as regular churchgoing people. Sometimes even they need to be made familiar with the voice of the Good Shepherd.

How can I, a priest represent the rights of the accused? How can I not?