Reasons why a multiple DUI offender should hire the best DUI attorney they can.
Hint: All DUI lawyers are not created equal.
Most multiple DUI offenders believe that the judge is going to throw the book at them no matter what they do in preparation for their DUI trial. That is to say, they know things do not look good and many presume nothing can be done to fix or mitigate the situation. This is not true and is fatalistic to your case. Yes, judges are not looking to give a defendant with multiple prior DUIs a break, but with aggressive and knowledgeable defense counsel, sometimes things can work out far better then expected.
When it comes to hiring an attorney who can actually litigate a DUI case, most attorneys will tell or imply to you that they can try a serious DUI case. However, the reality is that there are only a handful of attorneys in Maryland who are qualified to effectively try a DUI case and those are the ones that will try your case; the rest of the pack is mainly interested in pleading your case out and getting back to the office. That is, any attorney can walk into court and attempt to litigate a case (although most choose to just plead) but attorneys who specifically focus on DUI defense will tend to deliver much higher success for their clients.
Often when facing a case where the client has multiple priors there is no option but to try the case. As indicated, the court and the state are not in the business of offering a good deal to a defendant with 3 prior DUIs. If the state is demanding serious jail and your attorney knows the Judge will do it, then you have to be ready to try the case because “rolling over” is not an option.
Case in point, I was in court the other day, this was my client’s 4th DUI offense in Maryland. The state said that all of their witnesses were on call and offered my client one year in jail. I told them that offer is rejected and that we would be litigating the case. I could see the panic on the prosecutor’s face. My client and I waited the entire docket and when my case was called there were still two state witnesses missing. The state then offered my client the lower DUI charge (21-902B) and said he would defer to the judge instead of asking for a year in jail. I suggested to the client we should not accept that deal either because the state was going to have trouble proving their case.
I realized that I had been lied to by the state. He told me that all of his witnesses would be there and it was now several hours into the docket and no word from them. The prosecutor then asked the judge for a postponement. I objected and argued that the prosecutor lied and told me they were on the way. To the judge’s credit he denied the postponement because even though my client had multiple offenses, the state had not only neglected to get his witnesses to court but he lied about their availability. The case was dismissed and the client walked away from a 4th offense, all because we stood our ground and we were “ready for trial!” Too few DUI attorneys will stand their ground and force a trial.
This is just one case. There are many like this where simply being prepared and not afraid to say “ready for trial” will result in favorable results. The future may seem bleak with no light at the end of the tunnel, but the mantra must be “ready to fight” until the end because good things can happen. Conversely, if one is not ready to fight, then nothing good can possibly happen. The system is set up for a defendant to have every fair opportunity to win their case if the state drops the ball or if we force a fumble.