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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Be Safe This New Years!

New Years is an opportunity to revel with friends in a successful year gone by and to celebrate the coming good fortune. Not to sound like a cheesy public service announcement but if your New Year's plans involve alcohol Do Not Drink and Drive. There will be stepped up enforcement from police, there will be other drunks out and there is probably wet or icy roads.

Take a Taxi, walk, rent a limo, have a designated driver.

Lawyers know that after New Years there are lots of new cases because of all the hazards of New Year's Eve. Do not be in need of a lawyer. If you do need a lawyer contact one early.

I deal with people who are caught Drunk Driving at best these people receive a DUI. More likely, jail and additional charges. If you are pulled over and you have been drinking what should you do?

Here are your options:

1. Cooperate. Once you are pulled over everything is a gamble. Maybe you can sweet talk the cop. Maybe your BAC is low enough that you are under the limit. Maybe you pass the field sobriety test. Maybe Franco Harris catches an impropable pass and wins the game. Anything could happen.
In reality, if you really only had one beer and you really are sober, you may be getting pulled over for speeding. Cooperate take your speeding ticket and learn your lesson. If you have had anything more than two beers, you are taking a gamble by cooperating. Your breath test is something you have almost no chance to predict. It could be high, it could be low and it will depend on a number of factors.

2. Don't give Blood! No matter what unless you are sober, don't give blood. A blood test is incontrovertible. Whatever it says it what the court will find. Unless you are willing to pay exceptional amounts of money to your lawyer to fight a blood test(which you will probably lose), don't give blood.
A breath test is fungible. A breath test is not perfect. A breath test gives you a chance. Blood does not. If you are drunk and give a breath test, you are still going to lose. If you are on the borderline, a prosecutor may let you wiggle on a breath test. Not on a blood test.
IMPORTANT: failing to cooperate with any of the tests, blood, breath, field sobriety will land you a night in jail regardless of your status.

3. Remain Silent. This is the exact opposite of one. Rather than talking your way out of a ticket. Instead of being helpful, you can say nothing and do nothing. If you are drunk and you know you are drunk, choose this option. You will get taken to jail. You will get charged. YOU MUST CALL A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY! You know the jailhouse phone call... this is when you call your lawyer and have him show up at the station to help you out. It will cost money but its the best chance you have of avoiding a jail sentence. Don't wait. Don't talk to anyone. Just your slurred speech may be evidence against you if you were to say anything more than "(your name) and I want a lawyer. "
Lawyer's like myself are on call 24 hours a day for our clients. You should expect to pay a premium to your lawyer if you call him at night and need his help. It is worth it. If your lawyer is not willing to help you "after-hours" you may want to question what your lawyer is doing for you.

4. Run from the Cops. Don't do this. It is a horrible idea and will guarantee that you piss of the cops, the prosecutor and the judge. Going from a simple DUI to evading arrest is a fast way to a bad day (or more likely a bad 3-5 years).

5. Field Sobriety Tests. Pay attention to these tests. Pay attention to the field conditions. There are specific ways these tests should be given. If the cop does an eye test while his back is to his squad car while the lights are on it may invalidate the test. By having you look at him and the flashing lights, the flashing lights can affect the test. It the cop has you do a test in the cold with no jacket, you may be shaking due to the cold, not the alcohol. Keep track of these issues and make sure to inform your lawyer of these issues immediately.

Finally if you are drunk and not driving be careful. Too often another person may be drunk driving. Crossing streets, walking in a bike lane or any other activity that places you in close proximity to vehicles may be dangerous. Pay close attention to your own safety because the other cars can also be dangerous.

Happy New Year!

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