Three Questions to Ask your DWI Lawyer
So, you’ve been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Montgomery County. The encounter with law enforcement, the ride to the jail, the booking process – each step more embarrassing and frustrating than the first. Now, it’s time to fight the case. You need to find a lawyer, but you’ve never been in trouble before – let alone for DWI. This process should not be complicated or frustrating, but how do you know you’re in the right hands? What do you ask your DWI lawyer before hiring them? This article is meant to provide some suggestions. If you already have a lawyer though, this article is still for you. These are some questions you can ask other than, “What’s going on with my case?”
Instead of: “What’d my video show?” Ask: “What is your experience with the NHTSA manual?”
Most criminal defense lawyers will tell you they will obtain the video in your case. The video should show the stop, your contact with law enforcement, the performance of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) if they were administered, and the sampling of breath/blood if it was acquired. Each component of the video is significant and holds the keys to the guilt/innocence phase of your case. In order to analyze the SFST’s thoroughly to determine whether they were administered correctly, one needs to be intimately familiar with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Manual. The NHTSA is the bible for law enforcement in DWI cases. It delineates the proper policies and procedures in administering the SFSTs. A successful lawyer will know its details inside and out in order to best represent you.
Instead of: “Will my license be suspended?” Ask: “What is your ALR Hearing strategy?”
In a DWI case your license can be suspended in a couple of different ways. One way could be through a conviction and the other is through the Administrative License Revocation Hearing (ALR). When you were arrested, you should have been given two forms titled Peace Officer DWI Statutory Warning (DIC-24) and Notice of Suspension Temporary Driving Permit (DIC-25). In these forms you were requested to provide a breath/blood sample and provided information related to the hearing to contest a suspension. This hearing is the ALR hearing. If the hearing is not requested within 15 days from the date of your arrest, your license is automatically suspended. The ALR hearing is a tool. One in which, the arresting officer can be subpoenaed in an attempt to prevent your license from being suspended. Affirming that your DWI lawyer has a strategy for this integral part of the process, ensures that you have quality representation.
Instead of: “What are my blood results?” Ask: “What is your knowledge of gas chromatography?”
You may have consented to a blood test when asked at the time the officer read you the DIC-24 or your blood may have been taken subsequent to a warrant. You may not have provided any blood and this part isn’t for you. If your case involves a blood sample though, you need to know that the number is just like any other witness in a case, the Jury can choose to believe it or reject it. Just because there’s a result, doesn’t mean that it’s accurate or reliable. Gas chromatography is the process in which your blood is tested to determine its alcohol content. The official definition as per the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) is,
“Chromatography is a physical method of separation in which the components to be separated are distributed between two phases, one of which is stationary (stationary phase) while the other (the mobile phase) moves in a definite direction. Elution chromatography is a procedure in which the mobile phase is continuously passed through or along the chromatographic bed and the sample is fed into the system as a finite slug.”
A little overwhelming, right? The blood discovery, if your attorney is unfamiliar with the process can be as well. For someone who doesn’t understand gas chromatography the discovery will look just like random, silly graphs on a page and not mean anything. Those graphs though, hold the keys to the accuracy and reliability to your blood test results. There are forensic scientists whose jobs are primarily to analyze this material, but if your attorney does not get the results or have a basic knowledge of the process, they won’t know to seek assistance. Your DWI lawyer at the very least should not take the results as irrefutable evidence.
Whenever you meet with our office these are points that we will go over. Hiring and working with a lawyer for your DWI case, should not be frustrating or complicated and our aim is to provide the best possible representation in both strategy and communication.
Please keep in mind, this article is meant to be informative only. It is by no means legal advice provided by this firm – nor is it an exhaustive piece on each component involved in a DWI case.