If you have been arrested and charged with DUI (driving under the influence), you may think your chances of winning your case are good. You are presumed innocent. The prosecutor must prove his or her case by legal and competent evidence establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. You can remain silent and rely on your lawyer to ask great questions until that cop who arrested you cracks like an egg under the pressure and proclaims your innocence – right? Not a chance! The deck is stacked against you in a DUI trial whether you are in Boise, Idaho or Honolulu, Hawaii. Here’s why –
First – the politicians who passed those tough DUI laws are against you. They know that being tough on crime gets them re-elected, and they want to be re-elected. So being tough on drunk drivers is a "no-brainer." Who will complain if they make it more expensive and more difficult for drunks to drive! The few folks who will complain only do so AFTER they have been convicted. Their answer is to keep lowering that BAC limit, and increasing the punishment. You can’t expect a break from politicians!
What about judges? Not a chance! Go to court and watch how that all works out if you are convicted. You will be fined – around $1000 for a first time DUI. You will lose your driver’s license. The judge doesn’t have a choice here as the politicians have made suspending your license mandatory. And just how will you work with that restricted license? Your problem – not theirs. And then there is jail time. Usually the sentence includes 180 days in jail with 170 days or so SUSPENDED. You may be able to avoid actually serving the jail time by doing community service (like 40 hours or so) or by picking up trash along the road on a "work crew." But that suspended time is hanging over your head like an axe ready to fall if you make another mistake. Violate the law while on probation and you can expect to serve part or all of that suspended time. And you will have to go to an alcohol evaluation, and the classes they recommend, and the victims panel, and pay the increased costs of insurance and re-instating your drivers license. Help from the judge? Right!
What about the "$500 to get you through this" lawyers who "used to be a prosecutor" and got your name from the jail records. You know – the guys who send you that "Dear DUI Defendant" letter. They want you to be afraid to do anything except plead guilty. Help? Some – but only if that is the best you can do.
What then, is the answer? More about that after this weekend is over and I have time to write again. Today I am off to prepare for a TRIAL. You know, where defendants actually make the state prove their guilt.