Your DUI case: You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

April 28, 2011

I was just in court yesterday on a DUI case where my client was cited for failing to maintain a single lane, pulled over, performed poorly on the field sobriety tests, and whose breath alcohol level was a .128 and .132. The client was arrested for DUI and hired me shortly thereafter. When I was initially retained on the case; it didn’t look good for my client. However, after more than 5 months of working on the case, the State Attorney’s Office amended the DUI charge to a reckless driving charge. My client was happy; and I was happy to have been able to get a very good and appropriate result for my client.

Then my thoughts turned to all of the phone calls that I get from prospective client’s who have a similar set of facts; and then they say to me or just decide to go into court without a lawyer and plead to a DUI. I understand the potential client’s perspective. They are thinking: This person wants to charge me a lot of money. What can he do for me? Attorneys can’t and shouldn’t guarantee results. It is not ethical and it is frankly impossible given all of the potential variables in any given case. However, during the initial consultation, I may have a pretty good idea how to defend a client’s case; but other times, I will tell the prospective client that I will not be able to know for certain until I review all of the discovery (police reports, evidence, witness statements, etc.). Ultimately, like yesterday, cases can and do turn on one statement by an officer or one small piece of evidence. Yesterday’s case reminded me to continue to be as diligent and attentive to details as I can for my clients. Don’t just look at the cover, read the book.

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