Despite a decades-long crackdown against drunk drivers, New York still has one of the highest numbers of fatal alcohol-related wrecks in the country.1 So, prosecutors are very aggressive in this area. In fact, many jurisdictions in upstate New York have no dismissal policies. No matter how weak the evidence is or what extenuating circumstances exist, prosecutors never voluntarily dismiss cases. This policy means that no pretrial diversion or other such relief is available in DUI cases.
There’s a lot at stake in these cases. In addition to direct consequences, like jail time and loss of driving privileges, these criminal charges have substantial indirect consequences. For example, a first-time DUI conviction usually causes auto insurance rates to triple. These individuals must purchase high-risk insurance policies and maintain them for at least three years.
What Happens When You Work with a Rochester DUI Lawyer
After a thorough case review, a Rochester DUI lawyer formulates a plan that reduces or eliminates these harsh consequences. This plan usually involves one of the three areas outlined below. Typically, if an attorney aggressively sticks with the plan, the outcome of your case could be a complete dismissal of charges or a not-guilty verdict at trial.
We all face obstacles in life. Determined people usually go around, through, or over them. Less-determined people usually quit. In most cases, prosecutors are aggressive, as outlined above. But they aren’t very determined. There’s a difference between these two qualities.
Cases filed in the wrong county are a good example. Many communities are partially in Monroe County and partly in another jurisdiction. Monroe County judges cannot preside over criminal matters that occurred in another county. When judges discover this problem, and they always do, they immediately dismiss the case.
Technically, prosecutors must simply begin anew in the correct county. However, many prosecutors lack the determination to start over. That’s especially true if, as is commonly the case, prosecutors don’t discover the error until relatively late in the process. Even a no-voluntary-dismissal district attorney usually allows prosecutors to make favorable deals if the alternative is an involuntary dismissal.
Frequently, intoxication is the only real issue in a DUI case. However, in many situations, the driving element of a DUI criminal case is more challenging to prove than the intoxication element.
Assume David is passed out drunk behind the wheel. Under New York law, he’s operating the vehicle, which means that a DUI charge could hold up in court. However, the state must also prove that the car had gas, four fully inflated tires, and was otherwise operational. Police officers rarely look at gas gauges during DUI arrests. So, there may be insufficient evidence on this point.
Fast forward a bit and assume David hit another car while driving. David and Jonathan, his passenger, are both out of the vehicle by the time emergency responders arrive. Unless an independent witness got a good look at the driver behind the wheel, the state would have a hard time proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that David was the driver.
In most cases, Breathalyzer test results provide intoxication evidence in DUI cases. According to one study, the Breathalyzer has a staggering 50 percent inaccuracy rate.2 So, a .10 result could mean the defendant had a .05 or a .15 BAC level. That’s a pretty big margin of error. Because of the high error rate, a Rochester DUI lawyer is often able to establish a specific flaw.
Improper calibration is perhaps the best example. If a judge throws out Breathalyzer results, it’s usually because the gadget wasn’t correctly calibrated.
During their testimonies, police Breathalyzer technicians often talk about how sophisticated these devices are and how many bells and whistles they have. Witnesses who provide such testimony are almost literally digging their own graves. The more moving parts that any gadget has, the greater the chances are that something could go wrong.
External and internal temperature changes are good examples. The weather often changes quickly in western New York, especially during certain times of the year. Breathalyzers calibrated on a cold day may be inaccurate on a warm day, and vice versa. Additionally, a mild fever could generate an erroneous result in a .10 or other borderline BAC case, every bit of accuracy matters.
Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Rochester DUI Lawyer
There’s a big difference between a criminal arrest and a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester DUI attorney, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Convenient payment plans are available.