Our legal system, as good as it is in theory—and as one of the best legal systems in the world—has its practical, day-to-day imperfections to be sure. It makes few concessions for human error, personality differences, or human flaws.
At best, our legal system is an imperfect attempt to make things as fair for everyone as possible. In other words, what I’m getting at is that sometimes good, well-meaning individuals make bad decisions and end up caught in a less-than-ideal legal system.
This article isn’t about our legal system, so I won’t go into any detail on its intricacies and complexities, but if you’ve found yourself in a DUI-related legal jam, I do want to emphasize the need to get a good criminal defense attorney, preferably one who focuses specifically on DUI defense.
I had the opportunity to interview a gentleman—we’ll call him Jeffrey—about his own experience with the DUI legal process.
Jeffrey had three DUIs, and he was very candid and open about “owning” all his own decisions leading up to them. He also made it very clear that he wished he’d done more of his homework and found a better attorney for his defense in the legal system.
A little background: Jeffrey is a college graduate, grew up in the suburbs in a good middle-class family, and has never had any history of juvenile delinquency or criminality. He was never charged with a DUI until his early 30s. One thing he says he’s learned the hard way is that no one is immune to legal consequences.
“With all three DUIs, I hired an attorney named Dan, who is a good guy and friend of our family,” Jeffrey explains. “He’s got a lot of experience and is respected in our community. He got me decent plea deals in all three instances—or at least they seemed like good plea deals at the time. So I took them, going for the path of least resistance and wanting to avoid dragging things out in court.”
According to Jeffrey, the first two of his pleas were so close to each other time-wise that they ended up costing him his driving privileges for five years. “And in short, that really sucked,” he says drily. But when he got the third DUI, that was when the previous plea deals really hurt him. It was not a fun outcome for him, and he will be dealing with the fallout from taking a plea deal for the previous charges rather than fighting them.
“I’m not calling Dan’s legal expertise into question, but I wish he’d been a bit more aggressive, rather than just be so quick to cut a deal,” Jeffrey continues. “I don’t feel like he was straight with me regarding the potential loss of my driving privileges, even when I asked him several times directly. He seemed more eager to cut a quick deal and to expedite things.”
Neither Jeffrey nor I claim to be a legal expert, but after discussing the scenario in detail, he and I both agreed that the circumstances seemed such that the charges could have been beaten if they had been fought, especially in the third instance. “In retrospect, I wonder if I should have fought these DUI charges more fervently,” Jeffrey says thoughtfully.
Again, to sum things up, he wishes he’d had a better attorney.
“Needless to say, the lesson was not wasted on me,” Jeffrey asserts. “I’ll never drink and drive again.”
The attorneys from Schatz, Anderson & Associates have gone above and beyond the normal criminal defense process and received training specific to DUI and criminal defense. They have even taken many of the same courses that law enforcement personnel take, so that they can better understand the laws, processes, and training that the officers receive and are supposed to be upholding. They have made themselves experts in the area of the DUI process.
So if you’re looking at some potential legal consequences as a result of drinking and driving, ask yourself this: How much is your driving privilege, your career, or your freedom worth to you?
By Jonathan Crowell