Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 29, 2012: OWI-4th Reduced to Negligent Operation of Motor Vehicle

When GAM was arrested for his fourth DUI charge, he was facing some very stiff penalties. In the county where he was arrested, GAM was facing a 6-month jail sentence; a 3-year license revocation; a several thousand dollar fine; 3-year installation of an ignition interlock device; and extensive alcohol counseling. Even worse, GAM was a CDL holder and he was facing lifetime disqualification of his commercial privileges if convicted of the DUI charge. GAM knew he had to fight the case. The stakes were just too high.

But how could he possibly win? GAM was well aware that the legal limit in a fourth offense case is just .02, the equivalent of one drink for most people and a very easy hurdle for the prosecutor to clear. GAM's breath test result was .09, a borderline result in most cases, but not in a fourth offense. In GAM's situation, his breath test result was more than four times the legal limit. GAM knew he had to find the best lawyer possible to defend his difficult case and Dennis Melowski was his man. Right off the bat, Dennis knew he had to find a way to get GAM's case knocked down to a third offense, so that the legal limit would become the usual .08. This would make GAM's case much easier to defend. And Dennis did exactly that. By combing through records from one of GAM's prior convictions years before, Dennis found a serious flaw. This flaw was brought to the attention of the judge who presided over the case ten years earlier. After a contentious hearing with the prosecutor, the judge agreed with Dennis. GAM's old conviction was thrown out by the judge. This was victory number one. Now GAM was only facing a third offense in his present case. But Dennis was not content to stop there. After extensive litigation involving GAM's initial stop by the police, the arresting officer's credibility became severely damaged, and the prosecutor knew it. This fact, combined with some essential police video evidence that had inexplicably gone missing, led to a fantastic settlement of GAM's case shortly before his scheduled jury trial. The prosecutor agreed to drop the drunk driving charges. Instead, GAM agreed to plead no contest to a reduced charge of Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle, which is a non-alcohol-related misdemeanor offense that will not even appear on GAM's driver record. More importantly, the reduced charge would have no impact on GAM's regular or CDL privileges. In fact, GAM did not lose his license for even a single day and his commercial driving career was completely spared. GAM simply agreed to a 30-day jail sentence, all but one day of which would be served on electronic monitoring. No probation; no license revocation; no ignition interlock device; and no drunk driving conviction. A real result if ever there was one.

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 23, 2012: Aggravated OWI-1st with .13 Breath Test Result Resolved with Reckless Driving Ticket

When our client, JMP, was initially stopped by police, the arresting officer immediately conducted a felony arrest because he claimed that JMP's driving was so reckless that it endangered several pedestrians who were standing on a nearby sidewalk. The officer claimed that JMP had been doing "donuts" in the middle of an intersection and then accelerated away at a very high rate of speed, nearly going up on the sidewalk in the process.

Things got even worse for JMP at the police department when the officer smelled alcohol on JMP's breath. Ultimately, he was put through field sobriety tests and arrested for drunk driving. A breath test JMP submitted to revealed an alcohol level of .13. In addition to the "felony" JMP had been arrested for, he was also charged with a first offense drunk driving. JMP, in short, was in a lot of trouble. He knew he was going to need a very good attorney on his side in court. After asking around, JMP was given Dennis Melowski's name by a friend of JMP's dad, who was a former client of Dennis'.

When JMP first spoke to Dennis, he was despondent. He thought he had a hopeless case. JMP knew the officer was greatly exaggerating his driving behavior, but who would believe his side of the story? Fortunately, Dennis Melowski is well-accustomed to hearing embellished (if not fabricated) stories by the police and knows how to deal with them. JMP's case is a textbook example of this. At a hearing early on in JMP's case, Dennis had a chance to cross-examine the arresting officer. By using the officer's own squad video, Dennis was able to catch the officer in various inconsistencies and half-truths. In fact, by the time Dennis was done with him, the officer was telling an almost entirely different story than the one in his report. It became clear that there was no felony committed, despite the officer's original claim.

That left the OWI and PAC charges. Once again, the officer's credibility took center stage. All along, JMP had insisted that he asked for a blood test after taking the breath test, which is a person's right under Wisconsin's Implied Consent Law. Conveniently, however, the audio portion of the police department video was "not functioning" when this conversation took place. Despite assurances by the officer to JMP that his repeated requests for a blood draw "were being recorded," this turned out not to be true. Although all of the other interactions at the station were audio recorded, JMP's request for an alternative test was not. Knowing what Dennis had already done to the officer's credibility on the driving allegations, it was clear to Dennis that the prosecutor knew what would happen to the officer's credibility regarding the "non functioning" audio. This gave Dennis the opening he needed to negotiate an outstanding deal. In exchange for the complete dismissal of the drunk driving charges in circuit court, JMP plead no contest to a municipal charge of reckless driving and another municipal ordinance violation for revving his engine within the city limits. JMP paid a fine, but otherwise suffered no consequences. He never lost his license for a single day; did not have to complete alcohol counseling; and was able to completely avoid the life-altering stigma of being a convicted drunk driver.        

Friday, October 26, 2012

September 28, 2012: Complete Dismissal of OWI-1st Case with .13 Breath Test Result

Persistence pays off. This is a principle the attorneys at Melowski & Associates steadfastly adhere to. It also aptly summarizes the outcome in County of M v. TAG. TAG was stopped for allegedly speeding, in one of the most notoriously aggressive counties in the state in enforcing drunk driving laws. After the administration of field sobriety tests, TAG was arrested and provided a breath sample revealing an alcohol level of .13. She was devastated. She immediately thought her career was finished. Fortunately, a friend told TAG she knew of a great DUI defense attorney by the name of Sarvan Singh, with Melowski & Associates. Because TAG needed to avoid a drunk driving conviction at all costs, she hired Sarvan to save her career. Sarvan began by examining the evidence against TAG. As he watched the officer's squad video, Sarvan could not understand how TAG was arrested in the first place. TAG passed every single field sobriety test. Sarvan knew something must have been amiss. He looked more closely and noticed an issue with the breath test itself. Armed with this ammunition,  Sarvan prepared the case for trial. In fact, he prepared for trial on several separate occasions. The problem was that each time Sarvan was ready to go, the prosecution wasn't. Although this was a first offense, the continued delays meant TAG was being denied Due Process, one of the fundamental principles of our justice system. Sarvan sat the prosecutor down and laid out all the problems with the case. Based on what Sarvan revealed, along with the County's continued delays, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the case and not refile the charges. Needless to say, TAG was thrilled. Her life was on hold for nearly two years, but the end result was worth it. Persistence pays off indeed.