Case Conclusion Date: 01.08.2014
Practice Area: DUI and DWI
Outcome: Guilty Verdict - one weekend in jail
Description: My 19 year old client accidently drove her jeep onto a neighbor's parked car at 2:00 am. As she tried to back down off of the other car, the jeep fell over into the middle of the street and onto the passenger side. When the police arrived, my client was uninjured, but unable to climb out of the jeep without their assistance. There was an opened bottle of whisky in her vehicle. She smelled of alcohol and admitted to drinking "some margaritas and three beers." She did pretty darned well on the sobriety tests (IMO), but she repeatedly stated on her arrest video that she was intoxicated (3 different times), that she had consumed "quite a bit" of alcohol, and "I'm lucky I didn't kill someone." She cried and screamed bloody murder for 35 minutes once the handcuffs were placed on her, and repeatedly stated that "I'd rather die." (Rather die than be arrested for DWI, apparently. She never really clarified her statement.) Two hours after her arrest, she provided breath samples of 0.13 and 0.14. Because of her repeated assertions that "I'd rather die," she was taken to a mental institution rather then kept in jail overnight. It was also apparent from all of the circumstances that her father was very wealthy and would likely pay any fine assessed. The jury convicted her in 10 minutes (which is really quick). She absolutely didn't want probation, so we went to the jury for punishment. The minimum jail sentence for a DWI with an open container in the vehicle is six days. The jury subsequently sentenced her to 14 days in jail, which with her back time amounted to less than one full weekend in jail. She felt that a weekend in jail was more than a fair exchange for foregoing 18 months of reporting to probation, 20 hours of alcohol-related classes and programming, 24 hours of community service, and the chance of being put in jail for a much longer period for potentially violating probation in the future. The jury also imposed a $2,000 fine, figuring that father would pay it for her. While this certainly wasn't a victory in the "not guilty" sense, it does show what can be done with a little creativity to meet the client's needs - even with relatively difficult facts. We never expected to win her case, and our goal was to avoid probation and get her the shortest possible jail sentence. For the most part, mission accomplished!