Top 3 Mistakes Lawyers Make in DUI / OVWI Cases

Attorney Marc Lopez has had the opportunity to work on both sides of the courtroom in drunk driving cases, as both a DUI / OVWI Deputy Prosecutor and as a DUI / OVWI Criminal Defense Attorney.  Here are the Top 3 Mistakes made by attorneys representing individuals accused of drunk driving.

#1 Assuming the Case Cannot Be Won

Too many attorneys go into a drunk driving case with the defeatist attitude of “you cannot beat the breathalyzer” or “the officers are too well trained.”  This attitude is problematic and results in the attorney being too eager to begin the process of getting the client a guilty plea. They do not even attempt to beat the charges.

These attorneys lose credibility with the Prosecutor’s office because the prosecutor knows that these “defeatist” attorneys will never go to trial or never seriously fight a questionable case.

Attorney Marc Lopez approaches each and every drunk driving case with the same idea – what can be done to beat these charges?  The first step is almost always getting the police officers involved in the case into Attorney Marc Lopez’s office for a formal statement under oath – a deposition.  It is only at a deposition one can learn if the officer has been properly trained, properly certified and if the breathalyzer test was administered properly.

If you contact an attorney who refuses to formally interview the officers or, more commonly, demands additional attorney fees to depose the officer, you need to ask that attorney how hard they are going to fight the drunk driving charges.

#2  – Not Understanding Issues Surrounding the Breath Test

Many attorneys do not realize that in order for the Breath Test to be admissible in court, the police officer that administers the breath test must follow a precise set of rules.  Because the rules are so precise many police officers make mistakes without realizing it.   The law in Indiana is very clear – the test must be given in the precise manner and method as ordered by the State Department of Toxicology.

The biggest problem is that many criminal defense attorneys do not know the correct method for administering the tests and simply take the officer’s word that the test is done correctly.  Many attorneys do not even know the administrative code that covers the breath test.

It is vitally important to attack the breath test because, if the test is kept out of evidence, it will be much more difficult for the State to convict an alleged drunk driver.   The best method for attacking the breath test is by deposing the police officer (see #1 above).

#3 –  Not Understanding the Officer’s Training

Every single police officer in the State of Indiana has attended some sort of law enforcement academy.  At this academy, some time is spent teaching the officers how to administer the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.  There are only three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests – the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the One leg Stand and the Nine Step Walk and Turn.  Each of these three tests has standardized instructions,   administration and scoring.

Many officers never spend any more time learning these tests than what is taught in the academy.  As a result, many officers incorrectly administer the tests and incorrectly score the tests.   Unfortunately, many defense attorneys are unable to recognize if a test is done incorrectly.

Attorney Marc Lopez has taken the same course on the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests that police recruits are given at the academy.   This training allows Attorney Marc Lopez to effectively cross examine the police officer and find out if they did the Standardized Tests correctly.

In drunk driving cases, it is vitally important to attack all problems with the case, including the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.  Be 100% sure your attorney knows more than just the names of the tests.  Ask if they been trained in Standardized Field Sobriety Tests like Attorney Marc Lopez.

Attorney Marc Lopez represents individuals accused of drunk driving in the Indianapolis, Indiana area.  He is a former DUI / OVWI Prosecutor with the Marion County Prosecutor’s office.  Call Attorney Marc Lopez today at (317) 489-9611 or contact him through e-mail.