How Hard Is It To Get A DUI Charge Reduced?
Lawrence Taylor (retired) explains what investigation is necessary for a successful DUI defense and all the factors that go into determining the ultimate fate of a person charged with DUI. Every case is different and every case is unique. There is a lot of information and an extensive investigation that is required of a DUI defense attorney in representing a DUI defendant. Any attorney that makes a prediction without doing any type of investigation and without knowing all the essential facts of a client’s case should not be retained as counsel. A DUI defense attorney should reexamine everything that they possibly can. From the blood test being reanalyzed by their own lab, to reviewing possible videotape of the jail cell where the DUI defendant was being held, to tracking the route taken by the arresting officer before they pulled over the defendant in question. No stone should be left unturned. Not only is investigation a factor, but the reputation and skill of the DUI attorney also contribute to the possible fate of the DUI defendant. The more reputable and skillful the DUI attorney is, the more likely it is that the DA will be more willing to offer a favorable plea bargain to the DUI defendant. That is why it is of the utmost importance that a DUI defendant hires an attorney who specializes in DUI defense.
Richard Jacobs (RJ): When your firm represents DUI defendants, how often are, is yourself or the attorney that work for you, able to get DUI charges reduced, for instance?
Lawrence Taylor (LT): Well, of course, every case is different and any attorney who tells you when they come in to be represented, any attorney that says, “I can get this reduced to a reckless driving,” or to whatever, walk out of the office as quickly as you can.
LT: Because you cannot predict in advance anything before you find the evidence and see, for example, the police reports, the DMV reports, the calibration records, the maintenance records, the usage logs for the machine, the videotape. Unless you have all that information and you know a lot about your client and his background and who the prosecutor and judges are, there are so many variables that you cannot do that. Having said that, we’re very successful, obviously, and in what we do in our profession, and we’re very good at getting charges reduced. But that depends on essentially, on two things. And that is, first, discovery and investigation, you have got to put a lot of time in and find the records, the DA is not going to turn them over to you.
LT: You have to get a court order in those cases. You need to get the blood, for example, from their lab take it to your independent lab and have it reanalyzed. You need the calibration records, the maintenance records, the usage logs, as I indicated, and the videotapes, possibly from the security camera in the jail cell area.
LT: These can be very helpful to showing whether you were, are, in fact are staggering and having difficult in your balance, speech is slurred, these kinds of things. So you better do your background. You may want to go over where the field sobriety test was administered, the videotape, the course of where the officer was following in the car.
LT: There are a lot of things that you need to do. The second part, the variable that permits you to get a good plea bargain or not, is simply your own credibility as an attorney, your own experience in the eyes of the judge and, most importantly, in the eyes of the DA. Does this DA have respect for you? If he doesn’t, if he knows you’re never going to try a case, you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re brand new, or you simply aren’t going to do the work necessary. He’s not worried about you; he knows you’re going to plead him guilty and he’s not going to deal with you. If, on the other hand, he knows you’re with the firm that is specialized and that has a reputation for going to trial when necessary and does the work and is an expert in these areas, he knows who you are. I mean, I used to be a DA, I know how that game is played.
LT: And you assess, not just the case that is the facts, you assess the attorney who you’re going to be opposing in trial, if it comes to that. And, that is most definitely a factor in your decision how to resolve that case.