"She's Done DUIs Before..."

Posted by William Bly | Jun 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

Gavel money2

Earlier this month, I got a call from a young man who was unhappy with his current attorney.  He called and told me the attorney was recommended by a family friend and that he retained him solely based upon that recommendation.  I made some general inquiries regarding what had been done with his case and where things stood procedurally.  I was dismayed to learn the following: the young man went under suspension with the BMV... the attorney never requested a BMV hearing and furthermore, the attorney never informed him that he had a right to request a hearing... the case was in district court and the attorney told him that "we can transfer the case if we don't like the offer".  I kindly informed this poor guy that his right to request a jury trial expired as of today and that his attorney would need to request a motion to enlarge time.  I then learned that the attorney rarely practiced law in Maine and she practiced primarily in another state.  I guess that would explain why the attorney was so unfamiliar with Maine's BMV practices and our court rules.

After informing this gentleman that his attorney doesn't even practice criminal defense, he responded with the following statement:  "Well, she told me she's done DUIs before" I was absolutely shocked.  Flabbergasted I tell you!  I was incredulous!  She's done DUIs before!!!  Are you kidding me????  Her website indicates she practices personal injury law and nothing else.  But I guess she's qualified to handle an OUI {sarcasm}.

OK, I'm done ranting and raving.  Now, let me explain to you why I find this particularly upsetting.  ALL attorneys like to take DUI cases.  Why?  Because the vast majority of these attorneys are merely dabbling in DUI defense.  Those attorneys view OUI cases as easy money.  They think they can just show up at court, review the police reports (maybe), talk to the prosecutor and then turn around and tell the client that he or she has to plead guilty.  Wow.  Viewed in that light, I guess OUI defense is easy money for the vast majority of those attorneys.

However, the actual practice of DUI defense is NOT easy.  In fact, like anything in life, to be a good DUI attorney, you need to focus your practice on that area of the law.  It's not enough to attend an occasional seminar or read a couple of articles from the local bar journal about DUI defense.  No!  It takes time, hard work and dedication to sharpen your DUI defense skills and knowledge base.  Take me for example; I've attended training and certification on the Intoxilyzer 5000EN and the Intoxilyzer 8000EN, which are the only two breath testing devices used by law enforcement in Maine, over the past 10+ years.  I've received training from former cops and police academy trainers on the administration of standardized field sobriety testing and been deemed proficient in the administration of HGN by those same trainers.  I've attended an instructor level course on SFSTs and as a result, I know more about standardized field sobriety testing than most of the law enforcement officers, district attorneys and judges in all of Maine.  I've attended numerous DUI seminars throughout the country, including Texas, Boston, Pennsylvania, New Orleans and California.  I've taken a particularly rigorous training course concerning blood and urine testing methods.  In sum, of dedicated myself to excellence in the field of DUI defense.  Can your attorney say the same thing???

The point of this article is to shed some light on the training and factors that separate the true OUI defense lawyers from everyone else.  Sadly, I'm seeing more and more attorneys handling DUI cases because they know they can make a quick $1,500.00 off the client by pleading them guilty.  Handling cases you're woefully unqualified to handle is ethically questionable at best and does both the client and the profession a disservice.  Watching this trend develop has been an incredibly frustrating experience. 

When you retain an attorney, you're making what might be, the most important decision of your life.  Don't treat it like it's "no big deal".  It IS a big deal.  It's your life!  Your liberty!  Your future!  So get it right the first time.  Retain an attorney who is actually qualified to handle your case, whether it be a divorce case, child custody case, drug possession case, a child porn case or a drunk driving case.  They all require a certain level of proficiency and experience.  Hire the right attorney... not the cheapest.  Because in this world, you get what you pay for.

About the Author

William Bly

William T. Bly, Esq. is a graduate of Rutgers College where he majored in Political Science with a minor in U.S. History. Attorney Bly attended and graduated the University of Maine School of Law. During his time in law school, Attorney Bly focused on criminal defense.

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