If you get a DUI it is very important that you get a good DUI lawyer right away. If you wait, the chances of losing the case and losing your license get much, much worse. You may lose the chance to fight your license suspension if you wait too long. Equally as bad, critical evidence may be destroyed – that’s evidence you need to win.
Most states have a procedure that suspends your license for DUI or refusing a test BEFORE your court date. In some states the police take your license when they arrest you. In other states the Motor Vehicles department gets notice from the police about the DUI. Motor Vehicles then sends you notice of suspension that your license will be suspended soon. You have a right to fight this suspension, no matter which way they do it. But that right requires you to tell Motor Vehicles you want to fight it. The time to let them know is limited. In my state, Maine, you have ten days from the date of suspension to challenge the suspension. If you don’t file your challenge within those ten days, you can never challenge it.
Evidence you need to win your case may be lost if you don’t take steps to save it. Police video cameras record to hard drives. After a couple of weeks many of those hard drives start to record over the old recordings. Unless you put the police on notice that you want the video saved, you may LOSE IT FOREVER. That video may be the only evidence you have to prove the cop wrong. If there is no video it is your word against the cop’s word. Who do you think they will believe?
If you have witnesses they must be interviewed by your lawyer or the lawyer’s investigator right away. If you wait they will forget. The interview must be done by the lawyer or the lawyer’s investigator. If you hire the investigator or do it yourself, the DA can get the information. If the lawyer does it, the attorney-client and work-product privileges prevent the state from getting it.
If you are charged with DUI (or DWI, OUI, OWI, OUAI or whatever your state calls it) you need to get a lawyer right away. Don’t wait.
I talked to a man this week. He was charged with DUI in August. He just came to me a week before his court date. He had a .12 breath test. It could have been a very defensible case. Some of the things he told me made the breath test and field tests unreliable. Unfortunately, the only evidence of those things is his word. The video of the breath test is gone. The cruiser video showing him by the road is gone. I had to tell him his chances have gone from good to poor. Don’t let that happen to you.
Next time I will talk about hiring a DUI lawyer. What to look for and what to avoid.