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Five Myths About Defending Accused Drunk Drivers

Five Myths About Defending Accused Drunk Drivers

Almost every attorney is at one time or another confronted with a client, friend, or family member charged with drunk driving. Because accused drunk drivers are immediately charged with a crime, drunk-driving cases represent the single largest category of criminal infractions of all reported cases, with about 200,000 more cases processed each year than all theft and larceny offenses combined. Even attorneys who do not generally handle criminal matters are routinely asked how an accused person should proceed in a drunk-driving case.

In the 1960s, driving under the influence of alcohol was considered a minor offense, leading to modest fines; in the 1990s, it is considered the most serious misdemeanor offense. In several states, repeat offenders are considered felons.

Nearly two million drunk-driving cases are filed by law enforcement officers around the country ever year. These cases take up a large portion of the criminal docket of most court systems. Because the penalties for drunk driving have increased, many of those charged with this crime now must seriously consider alternatives to pleading guilty or nolo contendere. For the rest of the 1990s, the absence of palatable alternatives for the accused driver will lead to a dramatic increase in these trials.

Most attorneys harbor many myths and misconceptions about this offense. These can lead to malpractice. In this article, I will address five myths about defending accused drunk drivers.

MYTH NUMBER 1: Most people accused of this crime are guilty.

This is perhaps the most troubling myth one harbored by attorneys and the general public. In my opinion, an attorney who believes this should never represent a person accused of drunk driving. That mindset can eliminate objectivity.

In the overwhelming majority of drunk-driving cases in which police obtain a chemical test, an infrared breath analysis machine is used, not a blood test. This primary evidence is vulnerable to attack by a skillful practitioner.

Attorney Kathleen Carey

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Kathleen Carey is an experienced and passionate advocate for her clients.

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