By WILLIAM FRANCIS
The experience is humiliating, terrifying and unforgettable.
When you were arrested or cited for DUI, you realized immediately that you could be sentenced to time in jail, ordered to pay stiff fines and surrender your driver's license. Then there was more fear and worry. You could lose your job. You could lose your right to travel. You could lose your good reputation.
It's natural to want to turn back the clock. It's common to be angry. It's easy to become confused, frustrated and scared.
If you're in this situation, talk with an attorney who specializes in DUI and other major traffic crimes. A DUI expert can help you understand what's going on.
A competent DUI attorney can look at the facts of your case and see defenses where you thought there were none. For example, a DUI defense attorney will want to know if the police made a lawful stop, or if the police made contact with you improperly or unlawfully.
A police officer may have asked questions and requested that you submit to field sobriety tests. These tests are extremely unreliable and are designed to make you look guilty of DUI.
You may have been asked to blow into a machine. You should know that breath test results can be challenged in court. In Oregon, the state's breath testing machine is the "Intoxilizer 8000." This machine is not the most reliable indicator of a person's blood alcohol content -- and juries are not required to accept the results from this device.
By WILLIAM FRANCIS
If you have been accused of DUI, chance are you have never been in trouble with the law. You may believe you have no choice but to plead guilty.
While you always have the option of pleading guilty, it shouldn't be your first move.
It makes sense to talk to a criminal defense specialist with experience defending persons who have been charged with DUI. The criminal justice system encourages people who have no experience in the law to make mistakes. Nice people are usually at a severe disadvantage.
It's normal for anyone to feel remorse, confusion and embarrassment after getting a DUI or being charged with any other crime. But it is a mistake to go to court and plead guilty or enter a diversion program at your first court appearance.
If you have been arrested or cited for DUI in Oregon, the best idea is to have an attorney go to court with you, or appear on your behalf, at your first appearance date. Our judges allow plenty of time for persons charged with DUI to decide what to do. Legal questions arise in every DUI case. There are questions of whether the police made a lawful stop or a lawful arrest, and whether the police followed the law and their training as they gathered their evidence.
DUI evidence often includes testimony about psychomotor abilities, chemistry, biology, pharmacology, toxicology, and various other fields. The reliability of this evidence often depends on standards and procedures of government-operated crime labs, but these are subject to criticisms among scientists who are not employed by law enforcement agencies. Police are not scientists, yet generally they are allowed to testify that their procedures, along with their opinions, are based on science. They are trained to claim the authority of scientists when they testify at trials.
With this experience and training, it is almost always impossible for an unrepresented person to prevail against the police. However, in the jury selection process, and continuing through the opening statements, cross-examination of the police officer, and closing arguments, an attorney can show a jury the weaknesses in the state's case.
I've taken a lot of DUI cases to trial before juries. I've gone to Boston and New Orleans to study the law and science. I've gone to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Philadelphia for police training programs in DUI investigation. I've been trained by police in Drug Recognition protocols. I've examined and cross examined forensic experts about the toxicology and effects of alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications, and harder substances such as heroin, cocaine, narcotic analgesics, stimulants and opiates.
From this experience, I'm confident telling you that the criminal justice system, in the interests of keeping us "safe," has established a process for prosecuting DUIs that is often an affront to our Constitutional protections of due process.
The "DUI exceptions" to the Constitution are persistently troubling. The police procedures that are brought to bear against innocent drivers who are doing nothing more offensive than traveling through Jackson County, Oregon, at night, are heavy-handed, and the outcome is often already known before the blue lights begin to flash.
Excesses may include arbitrary arrests, based on minimal evidence, that result in criminal DUI charges. Yet hundreds of people surrender to the court system every year without a question. They admit to accusations of crimes they didn't really commit but didn't know they could fight.
By WILLIAM FRANCIS
If you have been arrested or cited for DUI, here’s what to do next.
First, find out if you still have time to file a request for a hearing on any proposed DMV license suspension.
To challenge a proposed suspension, you have to file a hearing request within 10 days of a DUI arrest or citation. There are no exceptions to this filing deadline. You can call the Francis Law Office for help with your hearing request.
If a police officer gave you paperwork telling you that your license is suspended, you probably should challenge the suspension. This does not commit you to any particular course of action, but it preserves your options.
Even if you don’t request a DMV hearing, you will have to appear in court on the DUI charge. This is a criminal matter, and it’s separate from the DMV case.
A judge will encourage you to enter a plea of not guilty at your first appearance. This is because the judge will want you to talk to an attorney before making any decisions.
Oregon is particularly strict in its DUI laws. Drivers and DUI attorneys from other states frequently comment that Oregon has some of the toughest DUI laws anywhere.
Diversion may be the best move for some persons. It may be the worst move for others. For example, Diversion may not be a good idea for someone with a professional license or a security clearance. It may not be the best option for a person who wants to keep a job, rent a car or travel outside of the United States. Diversion is always the worst choice when you compare it to having a case dismissed.
If diversion is offered, you generally have 30 days from your first court appearance to decide on whether or not you want to enter the program. This allows time to confer with an Attorney, review your police reports and consider your options.
Despite what some people say, you can’t get a DUI diversion order or a DUI conviction off your record. The record of your arrest – and your guilty plea – will be public forever unless your case is dismissed or you are acquitted after a trial. There is no expungement process for a DUI in Oregon.