Frequently Asked Questions About OWI Defense
I have just been released from jail following an arrest for drunk driving, aren’t all lawyers able to help me with a such a case?
The best answer is no. Drunk driving defense is a specialized field of law that requires extensive experience, training and expertise. A qualified defense lawyer must be specifically licensed in the State of Indiana. One licensed in another state or who has not devoted his or her practice to the cause of dui defense is almost never qualified to respond to questions pertaining to the ever changing field of dui defense. Each state and county within a state has different laws and procedures when it comes to meeting the challenge of a drunk driving prosecution. As a result, not only is it necessary to consult with a lawyer focused on dui defense but also one who is licensed and experienced in all courts throughout the state of Indiana.
Ok, so you practice DUI law in the State of Indiana, does it matter where my arrest took place in deciding what attorney to consult with?
One of the most common mistakes people make when arrested is to automatically assume that a “local” lawyer must be the most logical person to seek advice from once prosecuted for drunk driving. This decision can be ill advised and cause actions taken that a person cannot recover from. To provide just one example, although I am not located within Delaware County I practice there a great deal. Why? Because when needing a dui attorney in Muncie, many young people at Ball State University have spread the word as to my abilities after experiencing substandard representation from the local attorney they initially hired. As a result, the best case scenario is to consult with not only a lawyer who has limited his practice to the defense of drunk driving cases but also one with experience within the specific county your case is being prosecuted in.
There is nothing inherently wrong with seeking the assistance of a lawyer from a smaller community to attempt the defense of a drunk driving prosecution. The problem lies in the reality that small town lawyers must make a living to enable them to practice law. Unfortunately, this reality dictates that such lawyers must attempt to learn a little bit about all fields of law in order to serve the needs of the limited number of people they are available to assist. As a result, one must be extremely careful to make sure that this type of lawyer not only knows the latest developments within the ever changing discipline of dui defense, but is one who is also respected by the local prosecution as one who is willing to fight for a client and not merely serve as a messenger to communicate however his or her friend within the prosecutor’s office wishes to punish you or one you care for.
The bottom line: years of running a local legal practice alone says very little as to the capabilities of a given attorney being considered for one’s criminal defense. However, when one’s liberty and livelihood is on the line a 25 year reputation of excellence focused upon statewide dui defense speaks volumes.
I like to take my time when making important decisions, why shouldn’t I take my time when hiring an attorney?
There is a difference between taking the needed time to research and consult with the best attorneys in Indiana and procrastinating to one’s lifelong harm. Once a drunk driving charge has been filed the clock begins on the filing of certain defenses available to your drunk driving attorney. Once these deadlines have passed significant leverage in securing the best options on a client’s behalf may be forever lost.
Just as importantly from a strategic perspective is the message you wish to send to a prosecutor responsible for imposing a wide range of penalties in Indiana for those convicted of dui. While a drunk driving case is in the beginning stages a reviewing prosecutor must make significant discretionary decisions that can and do forever effect how your case will conclude. One must never lose sight that a prosecutor is employed for the purpose of punishing people they charge with drunk driving. One of the most effective checks on this power is an assessment as to whether a potential prosecution is either weak or likely to go to trial. Without the looming threat of the protective care of an experienced attorney a prosecutor believes is capable of mounting an effective dui defense, there is simply little incentive for such a prosecutor to be compelled to provide the most favorable legal options available.
My case has been set for trial. What does this mean? What if I do not want to be prosecuted in a trial? Do most cases get resolved following a trial?
While there are always exceptions, most drunk driving prosecutions in Indiana are resolved without going to trial. Successful resolution before trial can happen in different ways. The best results occur through the dismissal of dui cases without a trial being required at all. Having a client’s case “thrown out of court” is most satisfying not only due to the prompt relief it provides a client in my care but also due to the cost savings it provides one who is no longer reliant upon the expense and uncertainty of a trial verdict to secure dismissal of charges. In such fortunate occasions pre trial investigation and exclusion of evidence including, but not limited to the suppression of breath test/blood draw results, lack of probable cause, flawed field sobriety test procedure, failure to adhere to Indiana Department of Toxicology regulations, etc. allow for hard won pre trial victories.
Truth be told, the vast majority of case resolutions are resolved through extensive pre trial negotiations between defense attorney and prosecutor. In such circumstances each side must make calculated decisions bearing upon the risks and benefits of taking a case to trial versus the certainty of a pre trial resolution that may be of benefit to both parties. In my experience, where a case is not one capable of being thrown out of court at the pre trial phase, most clients overwhelmingly prefer to take advantage of a pre trial agreement that preserves liberty and livelihood over one that risks far more serious punishment in the wake of a guilty verdict following trial. The decision on whether trial is advisable is always the clients to make. I believe it is essential that all potential risks as well as potential weaknesses of a prosecution be explored in formulating the best decisions as to whether trial is the best route for a client to take.
Far too frequently a lawyer’s financial interest in taking a client’s case to trial will potentially interfere with what decision is best for a client. When it comes to pre trial consultation I believe there is no room for misunderstanding. It is the client who will be left with the consequences of an adverse trial verdict and not the attorney; an attorney who will exit a legal defense with the prospect of a far greater fee should trial be encouraged. As a result, I am never hesitant to communicate my best advice based upon over twenty years of experience in all parts of Indiana to help guide us to the best decisions on your behalf. A client deserves nothing less than the fullest, candid and most complete information I can provide as to whether trial is right for them.
Who will be responsible for defending my DUI case at Stark Law Offices?
Any and all dui cases defended by Stark Law Offices are handled by me personally. Although I have a valuable support team behind me, my job as an attorney is to not only handle your defense in the most effective manner possible, but also to be personally available to speak with by phone any time a question may arise. When the stress of a criminal prosecution enters one’s life I know how important it is to have a trusted attorney to talk to any time day or night. I believe one of the most valuable resources I can provide is the comfort of knowing that you have my individual attention every step of the way as we face the challenges of your case together.
What are field sobriety tests and do I have to take them if asked to do so?
Field sobriety tests are tests that have been standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine if a driver is intoxicated. These tests must be performed by police officers according to a standard procedure. The results are based on the opinion of the officer who conducts them. It has been found in several studies that they are far from accurate in determining impairment and not always applied according to accepted protocol by law enforcement. You are not obligated to take such tests and may refuse to do so.
When can I ask to speak to an attorney in a DUI case?
Following a dui arrest or put into custody, you have the right to request the services of an attorney. You should exercise this right as soon as possible and refrain from making any statements to law enforcement until you are protected by legal representation. You do not have the right to speak to a lawyer prior to taking any chemical test.
What happens if I refuse to take a breathalyzer test?
If you refuse to submit to a breath test or blood draw, you will lose your license in a BMV suspension for a minimum of one year, two years for one who is found to have refused with a prior dui conviction regardless of how your case turns out. This means that, even if your case is dismissed, you will still be under the administrative action of the suspension. In such cases and in counties where applicable, I need to expedite the issue of seeking to “terminate” the refusal suspension whether by agreement with a respective county prosecutor or potentially through argument before a reviewing judge.
Whether probable cause has been found that one has either tested at or above.08 or has refused a breath test, the individual’s license will be suspended by the person’s initial hearing date. Unlike license suspensions resulting from a breath test of .08 or higher determined through a probable cause determination no later than a client’s initial hearing date, a person found to have refused a breath test does not receive credit toward any ultimate court ordered license suspension should a dui conviction be incurred at a later date.
I am out of state and have been arrested for drunk driving in Indiana. How can I get you to represent me?
Whether a person is out of state or simply unable to come to one of our offices due to work, school and or family responsibilities, retaining me to represent you at a moment’s notice is convenient and hassle free. Simply give me a call. Information and payment info can be communicated by phone, email or regular mail.