Friday, January 8, 2016

Picking Up Right Where We Left Off: 2 More Clients Avoid Drunk Driving Convictions to Start the Year

Case #1: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .126 blood test result) Reduced to Two Minor Traffic Tickets

KG's case involved a serious motorcycle accident and a .126 blood alcohol level. Although the case looked bleak initially, Dennis Melowski was able to leverage some legal issues he uncovered in the case into a fantastic result. The timing of the blood draw relative to the accident, combined with a significant procedural flaw by the police in securing "consent" to the blood test, provided Dennis with enough ammunition to convince the prosecutor to drop the original drunk driving charges. In exchange, KG entered no contest pleas to the minor traffic offenses of Inattentive Driving and Failure to Control Vehicle. Aside from paying fines, KG suffered no consequences from her arrest. She never lost her license for a single day and was able to completely avoid an alcohol-related conviction. She is one VERY happy client.

Case #2: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .082 blood test result) Reduced to Two Minor Traffic Tickets

The outstanding outcome in WL's** case was no easy feat. WL had been arrested in a county notorious for not plea bargaining drunk driving charges. And for nearly two years, the prosecutor in WL's case refused to budge. A good portion of this time was spent litigating whether WL would be entitled to a jury trial. You see, in a first offense case, a jury trial has to be demanded (and paid for) within a short time of the first court appearance. Here, WL did not hire Dennis Melowski until that time had already passed. Dennis knew that WL had a very good set of facts for a jury, but his prospects of winning before a judge would be slim, as the vast majority of judges end up siding with the police in these cases. But Dennis refused to give up fighting for WL's right to a trial by jury... and left no stone unturned in the process. Dennis obtained a transcript of WL's first court appearance and discovered that the judge did not properly advise WL of the deadline for requesting a jury trial. Dennis filed a motion to allow a jury trial because of this defect. The prosecutor objected and filed his own motion in opposition. After multiple hearings, the judge agreed with Dennis. WL was permitted to have a jury trial. But the prosecutor still would not budge. During the next 6 months the case was prepared by both sides for trial. Finally, just two days before the trial was supposed to begin, Dennis was able to convince the prosecutor that a conviction at trial on the drunk driving charges was in serious doubt. Rather than risk losing at trial to Dennis, the prosecutor agreed to a very favorable deal. The drunk driving charges were dropped. In exchange, WL agreed to plead no contest to the minor traffic offenses of Inattentive Driving and Driving Too Fast for Conditions. Besides fines, WL suffered no other penalties. Because he avoided a drunk driving conviction, WL's job was saved. Needless to say, WL could not be happier.

**WL was actually referred to Dennis by a prosecutor in another DA's office  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

OWI-1st/Refusal of Chemical Test Reduced to Reckless Driving for Attorney Matt Murray's Client

LG was in a very difficult spot when he picked up his first-ever OWI charge. He was so worried about the certain job-loss it would cause that he didn't know what to do when the officer asked him to submit to a blood test. He thought the safest thing to do would be to refuse the test, not knowing that such a refusal would lead to a separate charge with penalties that are worse than the OWI itself. To save his job, LG would now have to avoid both the OWI and Refusal charges. Fortunately, LG's boss is a former client of our firm and he told LG to give us a call right away. As the attorney responsible for LG's case, Attorney Matt Murray knew he would have to get creative. After pouring over every detail, Matt was able to find just enough ammunition to craft a defense. Although initially reluctant to plea bargain, the prosecutor ultimately relented as Matt pushed the case closer to trial. Matt was able to convince the prosecutor to drop the OWI and Refusal charges in exchange for a no contest plea to the non-alcohol-related traffic offense of Reckless Driving. On top of that, the prosecutor also agreed to dismiss two additional citations LG had been issued for Operating Left of Center and Failure to Dim Headlamps. Aside from paying a fine for the Reckless Driving ticket, LG suffered no consequences. He avoided any loss of license and was completely spared of a drunk driving conviction. Another fantastic result and another job saved.  

Sunday, December 6, 2015

December 3, 2015: Jury Finds Client NOT GUILTY in OWI-1st/PAC-1st Case with .22 Blood Test Result

LT's job was literally on the line in this case. Had the jury found him guilty, he would have been fired the very next day. As the safety director for a large petroleum hauling company, his job required a valid CDL. Despite an impeccable employment record, and despite being a valued employee for more than 10 years,  his company's policy was set in stone. A DUI conviction, with its mandatory disqualification of CDL privileges, meant immediate termination. No exceptions. With the stakes that high, Dennis Melowski pulled out all the stops at LT's jury trial. Through a relentless cross-examination of the arresting officer, Dennis exposed so many mistakes and inconsistencies that his credibility was completely destroyed, so much so that the jury also found LT not guilty of the bogus Unsafe Lane Deviation charge the cop issued to LT. And the chemist from the state lab who tested LT's blood sample fared no better. Although this witness testified that LT's test result was nearly three times the legal limit, the jury completely disregarded this evidence after Dennis exposed countless failures and highly questionable procedures followed by the lab in this case. Dennis even got the chemist to admit that he had no explanation for an entry in the lab's own maintenance log documenting a mistake another chemist had made, an entry the chemist described as "bizarre." In the end, the jury had absolutely no faith in the case against LT and he was found not guilty of all charges. His job was saved. And he is one VERY happy man.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Complete Dismissal of OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .196 blood test result)

JM spoke to several attorneys regarding her case who offered her no hope of avoiding a drunk driving charge, given her .196 blood test result. The best she could do, they told her, was to possibly obtain the minimum period of license revocation upon her guilty plea. Knowing her career and reputation could not withstand the stain of a drunk driving conviction, her search for a lawyer who would fight for her continued. After much research, JM's husband encouraged her to call Dennis Melowski. It turned out to be the best move she could have made. As Dennis listened to JM's version of events, he realized the officer may not have had a valid basis to pull JM over in the first place, a fact Dennis confirmed when he carefully reviewed the officer's own squad video. As it turned out, JM was accused of a traffic violation she did not actually commit. Armed with this knowledge, Dennis filed a motion to dismiss all charges against JM. At the hearing on the motion, Dennis argued his point to the judge who, after watching the video for himself, agreed with Dennis. All evidence was thrown out and all charges were completely dismissed. As you can imagine, JM could not have been happier at this incredible outcome. You can read JM's 5-star review of Dennis' work on her case by clicking here (the review is titled "As if the Day Never Happened"):

Thursday, November 5, 2015

OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .246 blood test result) Reduced to Minor Traffic Ticket for CDL Client in Waukesha County

Our client, JJ, has been a truck driver most of his adult life. It's the career he loves and the sole means of providing for his wife and children. So when JJ got arrested for his first-ever drunk driving charge, his immediate concern was for his family. As most truck drivers know, a drunk driving conviction can be a professional death sentence, leading to immediate termination in most cases. Even worse, it can scare off future employers for years. In short, a drunk driving conviction was not something JJ could afford to have. After calling numerous lawyers who offered him no hope, JJ came across the Melowski & Associates website and read about the countless CDL clients the firm has helped over the years. After speaking with Dennis Melowski himself, JJ knew he had found the only lawyer up to the task of saving his career.

When Dennis first looked at JJ's case, he knew there were two things definitely working against him: JJ had a very high blood test result of .246; and his case was in Waukesha County, which is notorious for taking a very hard-line approach in drunk driving cases. But Dennis also knew that JJ had a very legitimate issue regarding the officer's initial stop of his vehicle. You see, the officer stopped JJ solely because his high-mounted rear brake light was out. That's it. The officer did not see JJ commit any other traffic violations, nor did he see JJ drive erratically. While a defective high-mounted rear brake lamp can provide a valid basis for a traffic stop in certain situations, Dennis knows that it requires the officer to have certain information about the particular vehicle before stopping the driver. If Dennis could get the officer to admit that he didn't have enough information about JJ's vehicle prior to the stop, he could very well get JJ's case dismissed. With his plan in place, the officer was carefully (and successfully) questioned about this very issue at JJ's administrative suspension hearing. Based on the officer's testimony at the this hearing, Dennis filed a number of legal challenges regarding the stop of JJ's vehicle. After a few hearings were held, Dennis was gradually able to convince the prosecutor that the stop of JJ's vehicle was invalid. Rather than risk having the whole case dismissed, the prosecutor agreed to drop the drunk driving charges against JJ, in exchange for a no contest plea to the minor traffic ticket of Inattentive Driving, which carries only a fine. JJ's license would not be suspended and his CDL privileges would be completely spared. Most important, JJ would avoid the professional death sentence of a drunk driving conviction. Needless to say, JJ was thrilled with this fantastic result. So thrilled, in fact, that he posted a 5-star review of Dennis' work on the independent lawyer rating website Avvo. You can read JJ's review here (it's titled "CDL OWI first offense case):

Thursday, October 29, 2015

OWI-1st (Prescription Drugs) Reduced to Reckless Driving

This was a perplexing case.  SH, who was coming home from working as a nurse at a hospital, was called in for weaving all over the road.  She was pulled over and performed so poorly on the field sobriety tests that it was one of the worst videos we have ever seen.  Yet, SH had not consumed any alcohol or illegal drugs.  Nevertheless, she was arrested for OWI and blood was drawn, returning a positive test for Lorazepam.  With her career as a nurse on the line, she hired Attorney Matthew Murray and he began working on the case immediately.  The prosecutor initially refused to do much even though SH was within the therapeutic range for her Lorazepam prescription.  This was based in part on how bad the driving was and how poorly SH performed on the field sobriety tests.  The prosecutor believed the municipal court judge would not have a problem finding AH guilty.  A week before trial, however, the prosecutor came around when it was apparent we were serious about fighting the charge.  It was also apparent that we would be appealing the case to a jury trial at the circuit court level if we did not prevail at the municipal court level, something we have done several times against this prosecutor.  Given our past successes, the prosecutor thought a guilty verdict at a jury trial would be difficult and agreed to reduce the charge to a Reckless Driving ticket, which consists of only paying a fine.  SH was completely spared of an OWI conviction. She also never lost her license and her career was saved.  She could not be happier.  Neither could we.  These prescription drug cases are becoming more frequent and, as in this case, can be completely involuntary.  These are the kinds of cases that should not result in convictions and the loss of careers.  Unfortunately, prosecutors still pursue convictions and it is an honor and a privilege to help those in this very difficult situation.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Complete Dismissal of 3rd Offense Case in Ozaukee County on Morning of Motion Hearing

BH was charged with his third offense in Ozaukee County.  Ozaukee County is notorious for prosecuting drunk driving offenses to the fullest extent and refused to do much for BH initially.  On the other hand, our firm is notorious for defending drunk driving cases to the fullest extent. Something would have to give. In this case, as in any other case we handle, Attorney Matt Murray combed through all the reports and recordings, when a golden nugget revealed itself. Following BH's breath test, the booking video clearly showed BH asking if he could have the alternative blood test free of charge, which is his right under Wisconsin law in such a situation.  Yet, the arresting officer never responded to BH's question. She kept side-stepping the request, stating things such as “well, the machine is accurate … this is not a borderline result,” etc. In essence, the officer was trying to discourage BH from seeking an alternative test. Attorney Murray filed a motion to suppress (throw out) BH's breath test results on the grounds that the officer did not give BH the alternative blood test he had asked about, violating his rights in the process. When Attorney Murray initially raised this issue, the officer actually filed a supplemental report denying that BH had ever asked about a blood test, much less that she did anything to discourage such a test, not knowing that she was caught red-handed on the booking video. Finally, on the morning of the motion hearing, the prosecutor learned of the officer's actions as depicted by the video and agreed to dismiss the drunk driving charge.  BH could not be happier and neither could we.  This was a case in which the officer’s misconduct was exposed, protecting not just BH, but hopefully all citizens from such misconduct in the future.