1. Don't Wait to Hire an
Hiring an attorney in a timely manner is important. First, you have 15 days to request an administrative license revocation hearing (ALR). Requesting an ALR on time can help you receive important documents from the Department of Public Safety regarding your case. It gives you an opportunity to pin the officer down on important elements regarding your case. Hiring a qualified attorney as soon as possible is also important because memories can diminish. Furthermore, many times defenses that deal with medical issues requires more time to obtain evidence. Waiting too long to hire an attorney can make a good case become a loser.
Even if you do not hire me, hire someone as soon as possible.
2. You have the right to refuse Field Sobriety Tests
Understand the police want you to help them make their case against you stronger. By performing field sobriety tests, you are simply helping the police manufacture evidence against you. Be aware that they fully intend on using this evidence against you in court . Therefore, taking the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test (the pen test), the Walk and Turn (walk the straight line), the One Leg Stand test, or any other evaluation test on the street is usually not a good idea. Most experts agree that police officers are not trained well enough to accurately interpret the symptoms observed while administering these street evaluations. This doesn't mean that you need to be rude or nasty to an officer if he asks you to do some Field Sobriety Tests. Again, it is much better that you be courteous, respectful and "respectfully decline" all tests.
Think of it this way, if you are asked to submit to FST's the officer already believes that you may be intoxicated. If you refuse, they can either arrest you, or let you go. If they arrest you, that means they already felt that there was enough information to believe that you are intoxicated. . . why would you submit to FST's to give them more evidence against you???
3. You have the right to refuse to submit to chemical tests
Many experienced DWI Attorneys agree that the above tests are not completely accurate and therefore should not be taken. According to most experts of the three tests, the blood test is the most accurate. The Breath Test is the easiest for the officer, because the machine is available and already housed at the police station. The urine sample is the least accurate by all accounts, and rarely offered.
However, if you agree to take one of these chemical tests for the police, remember that you are then entitled to request your own independent test, so you need to request a blood test also. Most police officers will not provide you with that information. Therefore, calling an experienced DWI lawyer immediately after your arrest is very important.
Although you may refuse a chemical test, there can be consequences on your license. Of course, having you license suspended is no where near as devastating to someone as a DWI conviction (which will often revoke your license anyway!)
4. Never drive if you license is revoked
This is a great way to get charged with a new offense when your DWI case is pending. Being charged with a new offense can get your bond revoked and you being placed in jail.
It will also, almost certainly make your DWI punishment harsher.
If you license is revoked, you may ask myself or your DWI lawyer about how to obtain an occupational driver's license. This may allow you to drive to and from work, school, etc. Depending on your history and your case, you may be immediately eligible for an "ODL."
5. Don't hire based on fee alone
An attorney friend of mine once gave the advice to a client "find an attorney you trust, then find a way to pay them." I'd have to agree.
The State has unlimited resources and experienced officers who are trained to testify in these types of cases. You need an attorney who charges a fee which allows him to put time and effort in order to successfully challenge the prosecution's case. Lawyers, who routinely charge too little, must take on a larger number of cases at smaller fees in order to keep their doors open. Many times, those attorneys who have a large volume of cases are "spread too thin" and can not spend the time required to present a successful defense to your case. Look for a reasonable, predictable fee, not the cheapest.
6. NEVER talk to a prosecutor or police about your case!
Some people believe that officers and prosecutors can be reasoned with, without the help or advice of an attorney. BIG MISTAKE!! First, anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. Trying to reason out your case WILL NEVER WORK. In addition, it only tips the State off to what your defense is! What often happens is they make statements, which end up making their case worse.
7. Be on time for court
I place this tip in the "Duh" category. But it needs to be stated. The Court will issue a warrant for your arrest and revoke your bond. This is not a traffic ticket -- don't treat it like one. The next time you are stopped for a traffic violation, you will spend some time in jail and have to post a bond for your future appearances. You will also experience an extremely frustrated attorney.
8. Hire a DWI ATTORNEY.
Many people believe that any attorney can handle a DWI. WRONG! Only a DWI attorney is qualified to handle the detailed scientific and technical knowledge that surrounds a DWI conviction. If you would not have a heart surgeon perform brain surgery, then why would you hire a family lawyer to handle a DWI. You need a criminal defense attorney, who dedicates much of his practice to DWI law, such as myself.
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