Friday, June 22, 2012

June 15, 2012: OWI-1st Reduced to Reckless Driving

Certain counties in Wisconsin are notorious for being tough on drunk driving cases. A handful of counties even have a "no plea bargain" policy, meaning they will not, under any circumstance, agree to reduce a drunk driving charge to a lesser offense. Our client, ASW, had the misfortune of being arrested in one of these counties. Even worse, ASW was a crane operator who had to maintain a valid commercial driver's license (CDL) to keep his job. A conviction on a drunk driving charge would mean an automatic twelve-month disqualification of ASW's commercial privileges. This would not only lead to the immediate loss of his present job, it would likely scare off future employers for years to come. Something had to be done. ASW hired Dennis Melowski to not only fight his case, but to save his career.

Fortunately, Dennis understands the urgency of action in cases like ASW's. In most cases, an automatic license suspension will take effect within 30 days of arrest and, with clients like ASW, this suspension needs to be prevented at all costs. If it is not, harsh employment consequences may result before the client has even had a chance to fight the case in court. Many lawyers don't understand this or, even worse, don't care. Not here. Dennis has a remarkable track record of preventing the automatic suspension so that his clients have all the time they need to effectively contest their charges in court. This is exactly what Dennis did for ASW. Dennis was able to persuade the presiding judge to stop the DOT suspension. Due to this, ASW was able to keep his job while the case was pending in court. And thank God he did because it took Dennis just over two years to get the result ASW needed. Dennis relentlessly challenged evidence at every turn, filing multiple motions on ASW's behalf and fighting for ASW at every turn. Finally, the day before ASW's jury trial, the prosecutor decided he had had enough. The prosecutor knew how much damage Dennis had done to the arresting officer's credibility through cross-examination at prior hearings. Moreover, Dennnis had exposed a major breach in protocol with ASW's breath test. Dennis was able to prove that the arresting officer could not possibly have conducted a twenty minute observation period, a prerequisite under Wisconsin law. In short, the holes Dennis made in the prosecutor's case were too many to overcome. Despite being in a county that "never" plea bargains drunk driving cases, Dennis still obtained a fantastic resolution. ASW's drunk driving charges were dropped. Instead, he pled no contest to the non-alcohol-related traffic offense of Reckless Driving, which carries no loss of license and would have no impact on ASW's commercial privileges. In addition, there is no alcohol assessment or counseling and no ignition interlock device. Most importantly, ASW is not a convicted drunk driver. And is still a crane operator.