What Important Information Should I Share With My DWI Defense Attorney?
When a person is accused of driving while intoxicated, we have a very detailed questionnaire for them. We ask them a lot of questions about the circumstances and the events leading up to the arrest, such as where you were coming from, where you were before that, how much did you have to eat during the course of the day, how much sleep you got the night before, whether or not there were any mechanical issues with your car, and what the conditions were on the side of the road. The answers to these questions aren’t necessarily contained in the report that the police generated following the arrest, but they can help your defense attorney to properly defend you against these charges.
After we obtain this initial information, we ask for a list of witnesses, people who were with you leading up to your arrest. These witnesses can often give us important information. They may be able to provide testimony at your trial about whether or not they believed you were intoxicated and how many drinks they saw you consume leading up to the arrest. The trial may not happen until a year after the arrest and the witnesses may forget certain details that would be important to your defense. That’s why we ask all of our clients to give us a list of these witnesses and their contact information so that we can attempt to obtain statements from them. We can use those statements in our negotiations with the prosecutor. Further on down the road if the case goes to trial and they’ve forgotten some of the information about the event, we can use the statement they wrote shortly after the incident to refresh their memory about what happened.
Throughout the course of the representation, we will have many court settings, which are usually about a month apart. It may take many months before we obtain the discovery, the police report, the report from the analysis of the blood test machine, or the officer’s dashcam video. Although it may take many months for us to obtain this evidence, we may still have regular court settings where we are touching base month after month while we are requesting and trying to track down this evidence.
When you meet with your defense attorney at that time, it’s important to make sure that you keep them up to date about the status of your counseling. We always recommend to every client that we represent on a driving while intoxicated charge for them to not wait until they get convicted to do the standard DWI counseling but to do that counseling upfront. People sometimes think that doing the counseling upfront is like an admission of guilt, but we find that whether you are guilty or completely innocent of the charge, completing the counseling upfront results in better outcomes for our clients. When you meet with your defense attorney, you always want to keep them apprised of any counseling you’re completing. If you have updated location or contact information for any witnesses, we want to know about that. We also want to know about any updates to witness availability. For example, if we are scheduled for trial next month but you know that one of your key witnesses is about to be deployed in the military and is going to be gone a long time, we need to know this information so that we can best strategize our planning and the timing of the trial.
It’s important to keep your attorney apprised of any developments in the case regarding any evidence that becomes available or gets lost. We will often ask if you have any receipts that show how much you drank. If you only had two drinks but the blood alcohol analysis says you were well over the legal limit, then there is a disconnect between how much you actually had to drink and how much you are accused of drinking. If there is any evidence that we would like to present in a case like that, it’s important that you get that to us as soon as possible.
Lastly, one of the most important points is the test on your ignition interlock device. Most people who are charged with a second time DWI offense are required by law to maintain an ignition interlock device in their vehicle to prevent them from driving after they have been drinking. This is also mandatory for felony DWIs, and we are seeing it more and more on first time DWIs.
Often, people who have these machines in their car have problems with the monitor. It can register a positive reading for alcohol even though they haven’t been drinking. This is never because my clients drive to the bar, get drunk and then try to drive home with the machine in their car. What happens is that the morning after people have been drinking, they may get in their car and try to start it to go to work, not realizing that they still have alcohol on their breath from the night before.
These data points or specimens that you give your ignition interlock device are not reported to us immediately and we normally don’t find out about them until the eve of trial. The best opportunity to negotiate with the prosecutors is often right before the trial is about to start. One of the things the prosecutor will be looking at is the data from that device. If you have a couple of minor violations here and there, that might be the factor that would stop a prosecutor from being willing to dismiss the case or reduce it down to a non-DWI offense. It’s important for your attorney to know this information beforehand when they walk into the room and sit down at the negotiating table with the prosecutor.
If the prosecutor is going to have this information, you want to make sure that your defense attorney has this information too, so they are not blindsided with it and caught flat-footed at the negotiating table. Good communication is important for an effective relationship between attorney and client. Mistakes happen, accidents happen, but if you have a mistake or a mess up on your ignition interlock device, instead of hiding it from your attorney make sure you communicate it so there are no surprises down the road.
For more information on Sharing Information With Defense Attorney, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (512) 478-9898 today.
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