As criminal defense lawyers, people sometimes ask us, “Why shouldn’t I just plead guilty to my DUI charge? After all, I was drinking that night. I did blow a .08 when I was arrested. Shouldn’t I just forget about hiring a DUI lawyer and just plead guilty at the first court date?” Our answer is, “We would recommend you hire a lawyer, and we would recommend that you plead ‘Not Guilty’ at the first court date.” Why is that our advice? Keep reading.
In a recent DUI case in San Diego, one of our Wallin & Klarich attorneys held an evidentiary hearing where he cross examined the police officer when the officer was on the witness stand testifying. The police officer had detained the client for DUI. The police officer made the client do a bunch of Field Sobriety Tests. The cop felt that the client failed all of them. The client blew a .08. The client was arrested for a DUI. Slam dunk case for the prosecution, right? Wrong. The Wallin & Klarich attorney got the police officer to admit on the stand that he had not been properly trained how to conduct all of the Field Sobriety Tests, and there were some of the tests which he hadn’t been trained to do at all. The police officer basically said that he didn’t know exactly when someone failed a test-so he just guessed. The police officer even admitted that he conducted his tests based on the advice given to him by some unidentified individual who was NOT his supervisor and NOT during official DUI Field Sobriety Test training meetings.
We use the above to show you why you should not just give up without knowing all the facts, even when your case starts out looking hopeless. Were you aware that some San Diego police officers receive poor training? Or little training? Or even no training at all? Believe it or not, it’s true. Of course there are some excellent police officers who really know their stuff. So before you decide to just plead guilty, you should consider speaking with a lawyer who can identify for you who the trained officers are, and who the untrained officers are. Not all police officers in the San Diego region are created (or trained) equally.
Now, in the above case, do you think our client ended up being convicted of a DUI? Don’t bet on it. Had our client just decided to plead guilty at the first court date instead of hiring a lawyer, he would have been doing himself a huge disservice. Give yourself a break, and hire a lawyer. It could mean the difference between a DUI conviction and a dismissal, even if you think you really are guilty.
If you have any questions about a criminal matter, feel free to check out our website at www.wklaw.com or give us a call at any time to discuss how a Wallin & Klarich attorney can help you with your DUI case.