What Errors in Police Procedures During the Investigation and Arrest Will My OUI Defense Attorney Look for to Help My Case?
When you speak with an OUI or defense attorney about an OUI case, it’s really important to give a thorough background of the day’s activities leading all the way up to the time of the initial stop by the officer. One of the first things attorneys look at is whether there was a legitimate basis for the stop, so you’ll want to give information on the following: Were there witnesses with you who can describe how the stop happened? How did the stop happen? Were you traveling in excess of the speed limit or in accordance with the speed limit? Where did the stop happen? The location is important so that the attorney or an investigator can travel to the roadway to examine lighting conditions and see if there are any defects in the road, and also to see if the conditions are as described by the officer.
Simple civil motor vehicle infractions give an officer sufficient reason to make a stop. For example, the officer could say they saw your car pass the centerline in the road for a period of time. Next, your lawyer will analyze what happened after the stop. Did the officer pull you out of the car? We want to look at the nature of the interaction between the officer and the operator because the officers all undergo training at the police academy that deals with the observation, detection, and arrest of people suspected of operating under the influence of alcohol.
An unfortunate truth in any civil motor vehicle stop is racial profiling. These are issues that must also be fully explored in OUI cases. If there was not a legitimate basis for a stop, a successful challenge based on constitutional issues may result in the dismissal of the charge.
An experienced OUI attorney will get the training manual that was used by the officer in the academy to make sure that they followed the procedures that they were trained in. This is a terrific way to cross-examine an officer because they’re taught to look for certain factors or cues whenever they have an interaction, and oftentimes a number of those cues were not present or the officer failed to follow the policies and procedures they were trained with. That’s why it’s really important that you, the defendant, communicate with your attorney exactly what happened during your interaction with the officer.
When officers following procedure, officers typically perform the same type of field sobriety tests. They might ask somebody to recite the alphabet, but instead of going from A to Z, they’ll ask the person to start with a letter other an A and end at a letter other than Z. An officer might have a person count backwards from 85 to 36 or some other variation in sequence. Oftentimes, officers have people do the 9-Step Walk and Turn test or the One-Legged Stand test, both of which have to be administered in a certain way and call for an officer to look for key things. The administration of the field sobriety tests, and the performance on the field sobriety tests, is usually a focal point at a trial of an OUI charge. Your attorney will want to pay close attention to how these tests were performed and where they were performed. If a Breathalyzer test was given, it’s important to pay close attention to that to make sure that the administrator was properly certified, that the breath test machine was properly calibrated and certified, and that the period of observation that the operator is supposed to watch the defendant before a test is administered was followed. Breathalyzer testing has to be looked at closely.
In addition, you should also tell your attorney any physical limitations that you might have: a knee, back, or head injury, things to that effect. Those are all important pieces of background information that the attorney should know. Medical records documenting physical conditions or medications that may affect a person’s ability to perform field sobriety tests, or a breathalyzer test.
Finally, booking videos at the police station are very important to look at because they could have evidence that a person was speaking coherently, responding to questions appropriately, walking properly, etc. Sometimes, police vehicles have dash-cams, which could confirm or dispel claims regarding the way a defendant’s vehicle was operating. Dash-cams can also show how the defendant performed on a field sobriety test.
These are procedural things during an investigation that would be important for the attorney to know about and to examine.
Why Do I Need to Hire an OUI Defense Attorney If I Plan on Pleading Guilty Anyway?
There are collateral consequences to OUI offenses that a defendant really needs to be made aware of. These consequences could be as simple as the loss of license for that particular offense, as well as future potential consequences. The court is not necessarily going to inform a defendant about that. So even if someone’s going to plead guilty to a first offense (and certainly to any type of subsequent offense OUI), it would be in the defendant’s best interest to have an attorney. The attorney is in a better position to explain to the judge any mitigating factors, which might warrant a judge giving a defendant less of a probationary period or, if the judge has discretion, less of a loss of license. The attorney would also be in a better position to argue and persuade a judge to reduce or eliminate fines and fees to the extent that they aren’t required by statute. The attorney could even negotiate with the prosecution over any type of sentencing disparities.
An attorney will work with you to determine whether pleading guilty is appropriate under the circumstances. And if you were to plead guilty, your attorney can help get your case before the court and resolved quicker than if you remained an unrepresented defendant.
For more information on OUI Charges in Massachusetts, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (508) 503-6440 today.
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