Many prospective clients ask me, “How do I handle a DUI?” Your DUI defense starts immediately. It is important to handle it right from the very start.
Before the Blow
After you have been arrested for DUI, the officer will take you to a jail or police station where there is a machine for taking a breath sample. In Oregon, this machine is the Intoxilyzer 8000, and is also known by its older name of the “Breathalyzer”. The police officer has a protocol that he is required to follow. If you ask to contact an attorney, the office is required to give you that opportunity. Memorize my telephone number – it just might ring through to me even in the middle of the night.
You’ll learn that you have a right to refuse to take the breath test. If you refuse the test, DMV will suspend your driver license for a longer time and the jury in a criminal case will be told that your refusal is evidence that you were under the influence. You might even have to pay more in fines. But, critically, refusing the test will deprive the prosecutor and the jury of potentially very damaging information about your blood-alcohol content, or BAC. Refusing the test will also not affect your ability to get in to the DUI diversion program if you qualify.
After the Blow
If you fail or refuse the breath test, DMV will automatically suspend your driver license. When I handle a DUI case, I almost always request a DMV hearing. I do this for a couple of very good reasons. In a small percentage of cases, the officer won’t show up for the hearing or there is some other fundamental flaw that will result in DMV returning your driver license. I will also learn a lot of information very early in the case, much earlier than I would otherwise. It is usually the only chance I have to talk with the police officer and cross-examine him without a trial. The DMV hearing is a great way to learn a lot about how to better handle a DUI case.
It is of critical importance that you contact and hire me to represent you right after you have been arrested for DUI. This is because you only have ten days from arrest to ask for the DMV hearing – if you miss the deadline, you lose the right to have that hearing at all!
Going to Court
After you have been arrested for DUI, the police officer or the jail will give you a date that you have to go to court. This will be for an arraignment, where the judge will read you the charge and tell you when to come back to court again. This is another very important time to have an attorney helping you.
The prosecutor (the “DA” or “City Attorney”, depending on the court) is required to provide police reports and other “discovery” at this point. When I handle a DUI, I demand the reports, your criminal history and DMV license record, and all recordings. Many police cars these days have video recorders, and some police officers now wear body cams. These videos have to be preserved, and they have to be handed over to your DUI attorney.
I review the records with my client, and then we make a plan on how to move forward. If you are eligible for DUI diversion, we’ll make sure to go back to court within 30 days of arraignment if you are going to enter the DUI diversion program. The DUI diversion program isn’t right for everyone who is eligible; I’ve had at least one client reject diversion, go to trial, and win!
If you’re not DUI diversion eligible, I’ll then spend time determining if motions to suppress evidence would be helpful, and if there is any other way of getting the evidence limited or the case dismissed. My client and I then decide how to proceed, whether to file motions or to try to negotiate a plea bargain.
If we reach a deal with the prosecutor, you’ll then go to court, plead, and get sentenced. If you go to trial, we’ll move in that direction and hopefully get the “Not Guilty” verdict you’re looking for. If it’s not such good news, I still handle the DUI case through sentencing.
Conclusion on how to handle DUI cases
Every DUI case is complicated, and you need an experienced DUI attorney to handle your case from the very beginning.