Yes, very often you can. When I take a drunk driving case to trial, I win more than 2/3’s of the time. Every case is different, but when you call me for a free consultation, I’ll ask you a number of questions about what happened to you, what lead up to the police pulling you over, how you reacted, what field tests they may have performed, and a number of other questions. Once I have a good idea about the specific set of facts in your case I’ll lay out your options in plain English, and tell you what strategies I would use to try to win your case.
It will probably take at least 6 months, and often longer from your arrest to a trial. (It is possible to accelerate the schedule and go directly from an arraignment to a bench trial, but there are risks to doing so which we should discuss beforehand.) For that time, your license will continue to be under suspension, since you can only get a hardship license after your case is over. If you are the kind of person who is prepared to fight (and not everyone is – see my DUI plea page), I’ll use every technique and skill I have to convince the jury to bring back a Not Guilty verdict. And if you are facing a second or third offense charge, fighting the case is the best option in almost every case, since the penalties are harsh, and pleading won’t get you back on the road any quicker.
Reasons to Fight A DUI at Trial
There are many good reasons to fight a Massachusetts DUI charge. The police often decide to “err” on the side of arresting you, even if they aren’t sure you are impaired. Field Sobriety Tests are often administered and scored with a strong bias against passing. And many people can’t pass them under any circumstances, especially if you have a medical condition that affects your balance or agility.
The burden of proof is on the state. The District Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your driving was impaired. The fact that your were arrested is not proof of anything. If you refuse to perform field sobriety tests or take a breath test, the fact that you refused is not evidence of anything, and cannot be brought up against you.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts must establish that:
- They had a valid reason to pull you over
- That the police officer did not violate your rights by forming an opinion about your impairment and making the decision to arrest you without sufficient evidence
- That in fact, your driving ability was impaired.
Some of the tactics I’ll use to raise reasonable doubt:
- Review the booking videotape – If the police videotaped you being booked, and you aren’t stumbling or incoherent, a jury may determine that you were not impaired.
- File a motion to suppress the evidence against you – A valuable technique for later cross examination at trial.
- Present Scene Photos & Weather Data – Evidence that can be helpful to document and explain the sequence that led to you being pulled over.
- Extensive Cross Examination of the officer, on his bias and his training – Often they do not follow their own training manual.
- Challenge the validity of the tests – Many field sobriety tests are not considered valid by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) if not administered correctly.
These are just a few examples of the methods I’ll use in your defense. The specifics can vary significantly depending on what happened in your case.
I’ll want to look at the police report of your arrest to have an idea of the evidence they may have against you. If you have a copy, you can send it to me by fax at (781)380-7735.
Call me 24 hours a day at (781) 380-7730 to talk about your case. Whether you want to settle the case or fight it in court, I’ll lay out all your options step by step. And remember, my initial phone consultation is absolutely free, with no obligation.
Transcript of Podcast – Whether to plead or fight your OUI.
Probably the most frequently asked question that I get after somebody has called me after they have been arrested for an OUI is “Should I fight this thing, take it to trial and try to beat the thing or should I work out a deal?” Now it really depends on the individual case. Most people should at least think about fighting the case.
Now my experience with dealing with clients is, the reason that most people decide to fight a case is, first of all if you go to trial and fight it, my experience has been that three quarters of the time my clients walk away with a dismissal or a not guilty
So frequently, the odds are pretty good that you are going to go to court and make this thing go away. So that is certainly one important consideration. Also, when my clients go to trial and lose, they are generally not much worse off then if they had worked out a deal.
Now sometimes people look at their case and say, in fact let me give you an example. I had a trial a couple of months ago, where my client was 20 years old at the time that this happened.
So really he shouldn’t have had anything to drink at all and he got behind the wheel and he drove and he was swerving down the road and he actually, according to the officer’s testimony, came close to side swiping the police car. Then when he got out of the car, according to the police he failed the sobriety tests.
So at first blush, to may people and to my client in particularly, this may not have seemed like a great case. But when I looked into the case, as is true in many cases, I found that there were some things that were going on that were really helpful. For example, I found out that, while my client may have been swerving a little bit, he was on his cell phone. At the trial, and on the stand, the police conceited that sure, when I saw the guy driving I did see him on his cell phone.
Secondly, sure he is 20 years old and he shouldn’t have had anything to drink, but I was able to turn that around in my favor, well my clients favor. What I argued to the jury was, basically you have some kid who is, he is pulled over, the blue lights come on, and an officer comes over to the side of the car. Now that officer has handcuffs, a badge and a gun and they point a flashlight in his face. They asked him to do a bunch of tests at the side of the road and if he does not do these tests perfectly, he knows that he is going to have these handcuffs slapped on him and he is going to be dragged off to jail.
Now, how does he feel in that situation and most of the time juries will understand and agree that that is a very stressful situation? Maybe under those conditions and if it is late at night and your client is tired you ask him to do a bunch of things. You ask him to walk a tight rope, do some gymnastics, and say the alphabet. Maybe under different circumstances, maybe if it was 12 noon, and it was a well lit room and there was no pressure, maybe those things are easy to do but that, those were not the circumstances that my client had to do those tests.
Again, I took the case to a jury and I argued those things to the jury and I asked questions to the police officer and I found out about all those good facts and my client was found not guilty. He is very happy that he took that case to trial.
Now I am not saying that every case should be taken to trial and the reason I am not saying this is because it really depends on my client. Sometimes people call me up and say, now maybe I could win this case, but this is my biggest concern. I want to get back on the road as quickly as humanly possible. I have a job; I have a mortgage, what is the quickest way to get my license back? Often times the quickest way for me to get someone’s license back is to go to court, move up the court date, work out a deal, and then go to the Registry and get them a hardship license.
Also, aside from the fact that people say that they just want to get their license back, the second reason people chose to work out a deal is they say, you now what I just want this over with. I feel like maybe I did make a mistake driving that night and more importantly I don’t think I am going to be in that situation again. I just want to move on and put this behind me and for some of those people it does make sense to work out a deal.
Now this website here I have got hundreds of pages of information and I have recorded a number of these podcasts which can give you information and they are helpful. What I would find the most helpful thing is read through this lists and if you have a case and you have been arrested, just give me a call and
I will answer any questions because I can certainly guide you through the particular facts of your particular case and tell you what is good about it and what is bad about it. So give me a call and we will sort this thing out and I will help you through your problem.
Russell Matson, Attorney at Law.
Call Russell Matson’s cell phone to talk to an attorney anytime at (781) 380-7730.