Are Drug-related DUI Charges Becoming More Prevalent?
Interviewer: On the DUI cases you encounter, are they mostly attributed to alcohol, or are you seeing prescription drug and illegal drug cases instead of alcohol-related cases?
The Number of Drug-related Offenses Are Increasing in the Connecticut Area
Steven: Well, we’re seeing more and more prescription drug DUIs, and we’re seeing more and more drug-related arrests and police stops. Some of the police departments now, or at least most of them, have officers that are drug specialists. If a person is kind of really acting like they are under the influence of something, the police officer brings them in. They call in the drug specialist to make a determination whether they are under the influence of drugs. We’re seeing a lot of marijuana-related cases. Now, I understand that they are developing a test that will measure marijuana. They are going to come up with a measurement to say at what point a person is under the influence of marijuana. The confusing aspect about marijuana-related cases now is that they can detect that the drug is in your system, but you could have smoked it a week ago, and it’s still in your system.
Interviewer: Well, are the drug-related cases harder or easier to defend?
Attorney Tomeo Has Found That the Prosecutors Are Likely to Offer a Favorable Plea for Drug-related Cases, More So Than With Alcohol-related Cases
Steven: I think they are harder. They are harder to defend, but I think you can do better with the drug cases than you can with the DUI cases. It seems like the prosecutors are just like tired of the DUI cases. Many prosecutors say, “Well, you can accept my offer or go to trial.” A large number of attorneys do not want to try them. I think we’d do better if more attorneys would try the cases, but people want to get paid for trying the cases, and clients do not want to have to pay of extra money for trial defense.
There Are Many Attorneys That Look for Plea Bargains Rather Than Taking a Case to Trial
Interviewer: Well, why do not attorneys want to try cases do you think? Or why are they not trying them?
Will You Face Penalties for Wanting to Take Your DUI Case to Trial?
Interviewer: Is there any punishment from the courts for going to trial? Does the court come down harder on people for taking their time up or forcing a trial?
Steven: Well, I’m reminded by of judge’s actions during one case. I was told this by a number of attorneys. They said they sat in on a particular trial six or seven years ago in Connecticut, where the defendant was a first offender and they said the man had some legitimate argument for defenses. They went through the trial, and the jury came back with a conviction. The judge sentenced him to I think it was, three months in jail for a first offense DUI, with no aggravating factors such as an accident or injuries.
Some Sentences Are More Severe in Cases That Went to Trial
Then I saw another defendant go to jury trial, he was convicted, and he received a seven day sentence. If you talk with a number of lawyers in the state, a lot of them will say that there is some punishment for taking your case to trial.
The Judges Are Likely, However, to Impose Harsh Sentences on Defendants Who Act in a Disrespectful Manner
I think where it comes into effect is that, if you have a client that really acted in a poor manner up until the point of his arrest or subsequent to his arrest and didn’t learn or try to learn from the error of his ways, I think a judge at the trial might say to himself, “You know, I’m going to use my discretion here and give you a little kicker here on the penalty, because you’re clearly guilty, and you didn’t learn anything by the experience, and I’m hoping that this type of punishment will pause you.” You do hear other attorneys saying that they think there is a penalty if you go to trial. There are really some pretty good attorneys that have told me that. I’d defer to them. I wouldn’t say that occurs with all jurists, but I would say with some that there is a chance for that to happen.
It is Advisable Not to Give Up While Your DUI Case is Pending, Even if It is a Frustrating Process
Interviewer: What do you say to people that complain, “I can’t take it anymore. I just want to give up and get this over with,” while you’re representing them, once they’ve been charged? They just kind of want to throw in the towel.
Steven: I try to tell them to just let me try and do my job. I’m not a magician, but just let me try and do my job. I say, “If that’s all you wanted to do, you really didn’t need me to do that. You could have just gone in on your own. I really have to be able to function and do my job and try and do things my way to get you out from under this or at least to get some remediation here.”
You Must Let Your Attorney Do His or Her Job
For the most part, I can convince them to do that, because they are not really talking a lot of time. What is occurring is pretty much they are just upset with themselves, and they are nervous about what will happen next.
Interviewer: I think the point is, “Do not give them. Let you do your job.”
Consequences From a Conviction for DUI Can Be Costly, Long-term and Detrimental
Steven: Yes, because why hire a lawyer and then spend all that money to give up and not let him try to do his job properly. There are many issues attached to a DUI charge. There is the possibility of jail. There is probation. There are victim impact panels that courts want you do to that are given by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving. There’s community service. There are fines, fees and costs. There could be long-term employment and financial consequences for a conviction. Let me use this example to illustrate my point. You have a lawyer, and the lawyer says to the judge, “You know, Your Honor, this defendant is really a good person.” He tells a story about what the defendant has accomplished in life. The judge might say, “Well, look, I’m going to waive the fine and remit the fees and costs. Have a good day.” That just saved the defendant $798. He might not have done that on this own.