We are attorneys that handle the representation of persons charged with criminal offenses. Criminal offenses fall into the basic areas of traffic offenses, misdemeanors and/or a felony. Running a red light or driving under the influence of intoxicants (alcohol or drugs) are examples of traffic offenses. Misdemeanors are offenses defined by crimes that result in punishment of less than one year in jail, whereas felonies are punishable by more than one year in jail or life in jail, depending upon the seriousness of the crime.
Because the punishments for violations of the law result in serious fines and/or jail time or both, it is NEVER a good idea to go to Court without a lawyer. Generally speaking a lawyer can represent you to 1) make sure there is enough evidence to convict you and 2) likely negotiate a lower conviction and/or fine and jail time (this process is called plea bargaining).
Let’s look at a case scenario on a driving under the influence (DUI). A person is driving home from a party late in the evening and approaches a red light and notices that there is a Police Officer behind them. Because that person has had a few drinks they may become quite nervous at the proposition that an Officer may follow them and stop them. What should they do? Well, it really depends on how much the person has had to drink and only they know how much they had. It is a violation of the law to have more than .08 percent of alcohol in the blood when driving. Studies have actually shown impairments at less than .08. The rule of thumb when measuring blood alcohol for impairment is 1 oz of alcohol an hour but it seems to accumulate faster in the blood than it dissipates so, if you have only had 2 oz, you should not reach a violation of the legal limit. But, if you have more you could end up not being able to drive normally or perform what are known as field sobriety tests.
An officer, when stopping you, will generally approach your car and ask for your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. Fumbling of any kind can be perceived by the officer as evidence of impairment.
So, if you are stopped you must be courteous to the officer but taking any tests of any kind can result in the officer’s assessment of your performance as evidence against you. There are laws in most states that say if you do not submit to blood alcohol testing you may lose your license privileges so it is a …personal decision as to whether or not to try to perform and pass these tests. Obviously, the decision must be made on a case by case basis and whether or not you believe you are under the influence.
If you are arrested you will be transported to jail, permitted to an interview by Pretrial Services release officers and a bond will be set by the Judge. You will have to go to Court so take us with you!