Friday, May 25, 2012

May 23, 2012: OWI-4th Reduced to Non-Traffic Misdemeanor

When BDQ was stopped for driving without his headlights on at bar time, it quickly turned into an arrest for a fourth offense drunk driving charge. This is a very serious offense, typically involving a sentence of several months in jail; 3-year license revocation; a fine of several thousand dollars; and mandatory ignition interlock device for a long time. On top of that, these cases are usually very easy for a prosecutor to prove, since the legal limit drops all the way down to .02 for fourth and subsequent offenders. For many people, just one drink is sufficient to put them at or over this very low level. So when BDQ's blood test came back at .21 (more than ten times his legal limit) Dennis Melowski had his work cut out for him.

This case is a testament to the importance of patience, strategic timing and relentless advocacy. BDQ's arrest occurred in December of 2009 and was resolved the day before his jury trial scheduled in May of 2012. In the two and a half years the case was pending, Dennis dealt with numerous different prosecutors who would not budge on the drunk driving charge. But Dennis perservered and zealously advocated for BDQ at every turn. Finally, the day before the jury trial, the prosecutor was convinced that the problems Dennis had uncovered in BDQ's case, from errors at the lab to failures by the police to document key evidence, were enough to create reasonable doubt in BDQ's case. An incredible deal was reached. The original OWI-4th charge was reduced to the non-alcohol-related, non-traffic misdemeanor offense of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle. The charge of PAC-4th was dismissed completely. BDQ pled no contest to the reduced charge, which will not even appear on his driver record and carries no loss of license. Even better, he would not have to spend a single day in jail or be subjected to the costly and embarrassing ignition interlock device. Instead, BDQ was placed on probation for one year and was ordered to pay a fine, but otherwise suffered no consequences from this incident. Another very satisfied client.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 4, 2012: OWI-1st Reduced to Non-Traffic County Ordinance Violation

Our client, JFK, was stopped in a Walmart parking lot after an off-duty sheriff's deputy called 911 to report that he was driving erratically. After failing the field sobriety tests on camera, JFK was arrested and taken to the local hospital for a blood draw, analysis of which showed a .153 blood alcohol level. JFK was devastated. He knew what this meant for his career as a commercial truck driver in the food service industry, the only job he had known for the last 15 years. Being a stand-up guy, JFK informed his company of his arrest. The reward for his honesty? The company let him go on the spot. JFK thought he would never drive commercially again. He knew he had to find the best attorney possible if he ever wanted to salvage his commercial driving career. After an extensive search, JFK hired Dennis Melowski. Dennis got to work immediately to lay the groundwork for JFK's defense. His efforts paid off. At JFK's administrative suspension hearing, the off-duty deputy who called JFK in made a seemingly harmless admission in response to questioning. But Dennis knew it was more than that. The admission actually corroborated a key claim by JFK that provided the entire basis of his defense.  Dennis sat on this key development until just the right time---the day before JFK's scheduled jury trial. Dennis' disclosure caused the prosecutor to believe that a conviction on the original charges was in serious doubt. A fantastic deal was reached. The original OWI and PAC charges were dropped. Instead, JFK plead no contest to a local county ordinance violation that was non-alcohol-related and would not appear on JFK's driver record. Both his regular and commercial driving privileges were completely spared. JFK paid a fine but otherwise suffered no consequences from this incident. And the best news? When JFK told his former company that he was not convicted of drunk driving, they hired him back. On the spot. Another commercial driving career saved.

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 2, 2012: OWI-1st and Refusal of Chemical Test Reduced to County Ordinance Violations

Like many people, when KES refused to submit to a blood test following his drunk driving arrest, he thought he was doing the right thing to help his case. After all, if the police don't know your blood alcohol level, how can they prove you were legally drunk? Unfortunately, this way of thinking does not account for the provisions of Wisconsin's Implied Consent Law, which makes it illegal for you to refuse a breath or blood test if you are lawfully arrested for drunk driving. If you do refuse, it only makes things worse because it exposes you to an additional charge (Refusal of Chemical Test) which carries lengthy revocation of your driving privileges and mandatory ignition interlock installation if you are convicted. This is especially true in a first offense case, where the length of revocation can be twice as long for refusing the test than for the drunk driving charge itself. On top of that, refusal charges are very tough to defend, since there are only a very limited number of defenses that can be raised.

Fortunately, KES was referred to Melowski & Associates by another attorney familiar with Dennis Melowski's unmatched record of success in dealing with these types of cases. Although the case against KES initially looked strong, Dennis' persistent negotiations eventually paid off. And in a big way. Just two days before KES's refusal hearing, Dennis negotiated a remarkable deal. Both of KES's original charges (OWI and Refusal of Chemical Test) would be dropped. In exchange, KES agreed to plead no contest to two non-traffic, non-alcohol-related county ordinance violations. These ordinance violations carry no loss of license and will not even appear on KES's driver record. KES paid a fine, but otherwise suffered no consequences as a result of his arrest. Most importantly, as a well-regarded businessman in his community, he was able to completely avoid the life-altering stigma of being a convicted drunk driver. Needless to say, KES is ecstatic.