While every case is unique, there are some steps that need to be taken in any DUI case.
First, the person charged – wrongly or rightly – needs to tell their attorney what happened the day they were charged. There are cases where things need to be done very quickly, such as subpoenaing surveillance video from the scene of a DUI arrest.
There are also cases where it is best to secure a favorable plea offer before laboratory testing is completed – such as a case where the blood result is likely higher than .15, which would result in an aggravated DUI.
Next, the lawyer will need to obtain court-ordered discovery. “Discovery” is the process by which prosecutors are required to share with the defendant their evidence. Many prosecutors in Kentucky have “open file” discovery, meaning they provide the defendant with everything in their possession, but even without open file discovery, a great deal of evidence is required to be shared with the defendant. Critically, in-car videos and video from body-worn cameras are often the most powerful evidence in a DUI case. Videos allow juries and judges to see exactly what happened during the arrest, and often show driving prior to the stop. Fortunately, dash cameras and body-worn cameras are becoming more common.
After obtaining discovery, the lawyer and client will review it carefully together. Lawyers obviously need to look for legal issues that should be pursued, and both the lawyer and client need to assess how strong the government’s case is against the defendant. Some legal issues that often arise in DUI cases are:
- Whether the stop was legally justified.
- Whether the officer correctly administered the field sobriety tests.
- Whether the arrest was supported by probable cause.
- Whether the officer correctly advised the driver of his or her rights under Kentucky’s implied consent law.
When these types of issues arise, it is often necessary to file motions and have hearings so that a judge can determine whether the stop and arrest should be allowed into evidence.
The lawyer will also need to evaluate the forensic evidence in the case. Breath and blood tests must meet certain requirements before being admitted into evidence, and experienced DUI lawyers can evaluate records related to the tests to determine whether they should be challenged.
After evaluating all of the evidence and considering any legal issues that need to be addressed, the lawyer will generally meet with the prosecutor to see if some type of plea agreement can be reached. In some cases, no plea agreement is acceptable and the case proceeds to a jury trial. Other times, a prosecutor may agree to amend a charge or recommend a light penalty in exchange for a guilty plea. Negotiation with the prosecutor is a very important part of many DUI cases.
There are a number of other issues that can arise in DUI cases, but an experienced DUI attorney knows how to work through the process and seek the best possible outcome.
If you are charged with a DUI, or have questions about DUI law, feel free to contact an attorney at Edwards and Kautz at 866-795-5087.