While I was sitting in court this morning, waiting for my case to be called, I was shocked at the number of people who showed up for the first court date of their DUI without a DUI Attorney. I don’t know why I was shocked; I see it all the time, but I always find it interesting when the defendant just cannot understand why the Judge is making them come back in a month with a lawyer. People often think they can handle their case on their own; it would certainly be cheaper, and how much really goes into fighting a DUI, right? The answer, in short – a lot!
Aside from the fact that a DUI is a civil case (the suspension of your driver’s license) and a criminal case (the Illinois Vehicle Code violation(s)) all wrapped into one, the number of factors that can lead to a favorable disposition are aplenty. There’s the driving, the stop, the videos, the audio recordings, the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, the breathalyzer, all of the paperwork, and the discovery tendering process, not to mention the federal grants, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards, the quotas, the general orders, and the policies and practices, to name a few. If your head is spinning, the intricacies of each of those factors would send it into a tailspin.
DUI defense is laden with technicalities, and DUI defense requires a skilled DUI Attorney. That fact was no more apparent than in the recent Illinois Appellate Court case of People v. Day. That case pitted the technical nature of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests against a police officer’s credibility in determining whether a driver is impaired.
In Day, the defendant was driving home from a party with two of his friends, both of whom were admittedly intoxicated. When the Police Officer pulled Mr. Day over because the light above his license plate was burned out, or excessive noises were coming from his exhaust (depending on whose version of events you believe), the Officer smelled alcohol and asked Mr. Day to step out of the car, into the rain, onto the wet pavement on the side of the road. During Field Sobriety Tests, Mr. Day allegedly displayed several “cues,” the mistakes that officers use to form probable cause that you are drunk, and smelled like alcohol (in addition to a few other factors). He was arrested for DUI, and forced to hire an attorney to accompany him to court.
Mr. Day is lucky he did hire a DUI Attorney, and a skilled one at that. When he challenged the Officer’s Probable Cause to arrest him for DUI, first through the civil Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension, and later through the criminal Motion to Quash Arrest and Suppress Evidence, the trial court found a lack of probable cause under both standards.
Based on the facts above, laid out in more detail in the case, can you figure out why the Officer lacked probable cause to believe that Mr. Day was in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the intoxicating influence of alcohol?
If you didn’t pick up on the fact that it was raining, and that the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are no longer Standardized when conducted on the rainy wet surface, making them unreliable, then you just caught a glimpse into why the judge will make you come back next time with a DUI Attorney. (If you did pick up on the rain issue, you can submit your application here…). All kidding aside, the Judge found that the evidence as presented was not enough so that the officer reasonably believed that Mr. Day was driving under the influence of alcohol so as to support his arrest.
This case does not say that driving drunk in the rain will mean you can never be arrested for DUI, because the Court ruled that if there were other indicators of intoxication, this arrest might have been good. It only means that, in this case, the rain was an important factor. As I said before, this case just highlights the reason for hiring a DUI Attorney who is experienced in contesting DUIs, and detail-oriented in their approach – something you can be sure you are getting when you hire LauraLaw.
So don’t be caught in front of the Judge at your next DUI court date without a DUI Attorney. Contact us here at LauraLaw, and one of our skilled attorneys will happy to discuss your DUI Defense. We also handle matters related to Criminal Defense, Administrative Hearings, and Police Officer Defense if you are looking for an attorney to represent you. In the meantime, drive safely, and have a great week.