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A DWI trial “win” is all relative

I’ve often said that the reason I do not post a list of trial "wins" on my website is because I feel that to do so is deceiving to potential clients.  Simply saying "DWI case – Not Guilty" is not fair because EVERY case is different.  Some cases, quite honestly, you SHOULD be winning.  Some cases, are significantly harder.  And in every case, the client’s idea of what a "win" is, is different.

My trial this week truly brings this point home.  I represented a client accused of DWI 2nd.  He provided a breath sample of .210, and .220.  Close to 3 times the legal limit.  The offer pre-trial was to be convicted of DWI second, $2000 fine, court costs, 2 years probation, an ignition interlock device on his car, a S.C.R.A.M. device (ankle monitor that checks for alcohol — very expensive), and 30 days in jail as a term and condition of his sentence.

We decided to take the case to trial, knowing that it was going to be a very tough battle.  The jury ended up finding my client guilty.  After a VERY hard fought trial, the  judge assessed the punishment.  the punishment ended up being a lower fine ($1000 instead of $2000), and only 5 days in jail instead of 30 days in jail.

(5 days in jail, keep in mind, is the statutory minimum jail term if you are convicted of DWI 2nd, and your first conviction was within 5 years.  3 days in jail is required for a DWI 2nd if the conviction was over 5 years ago).

So basically, he was granted the minimum amount of jail time.  For him, it is a win.  Of course, our goal was to be found not guilty, but we still achieved a better result than pleading guilty.  You must factor in, though, that he had to pay his attorney to try the case.  But I suspect if he was asked before trial, if he was willing to pay a little more to spend 25 less days in jail, he would have happily agreed.