Tuesday, February 12, 2013

January 31, 2013: Jury Finds Client Not Guilty in OWI-1st Case (with .186 Blood Test Result)

"How can you possibly help me when my blood test says I was legally drunk?" Without a doubt, this is the most common question we are asked when people call us to assess their drunk driving case. It's a fair question. Here's the answer. While most attorneys would look at a .186 blood test result as an insurmountable obstacle to a successful defense, the attorneys at Melowski & Associates know better than to blindly accept the validity of a testing process that can be rife with errors. From how the blood sample was drawn and packaged, to the police officer's handling of the specimen, to the factory-like processing of the sample at the over-worked lab, we have uncovered countless instances in which there was plenty of reason to doubt the test result. In turn, countless of our clients have avoided the life-altering stigma of a drunk driving conviction because they hired attorneys who are skilled enough to successfully counter evidence that most lawyers would run from.

This was the exact situation that Attorney Sarvan Singh was confronted with when SJK first called our office to discuss his case. SJK had crashed his motorcycle, receiving significant injuries in the process. While SJK was being treated by medical personnel at the scene, a state trooper arrived and began questioning him about drinking. In response, SJK made several very damaging statements. While he was being loaded into the ambulance, the trooper told him he was under arrest for drunk driving and that he would have to submit to a blood test at the hospital. The result of that test was devastating to SJK: .186, more than twice the legal limit of .08. After consulting with other attorneys who told him he had no chance, SJK called Melowski & Associates after being referred by a former prosecutor who simply gave SJK the following advice: "Don't waste your time or money hiring anybody but these guys." Although SJK was very disheartened by what he had been told by the other lawyers he had spoken to, he had to fight his case because his career depended on it.

After listening to SJK's version of events, and pouring over every police report and lab document he could get his hands on, Attorney Singh knew there was hope. Since the overconfident prosecutor was not interested in giving SJK any breaks (prosecutors, too, have blind faith in test results, usually to their detriment), Attorney Singh knew the case was destined for trial. He needed to get creative. First, he was able to craft a legal argument to convince the judge that the statements SJK made to the trooper at the scene of the crash should be thrown out because they were obtained illegally. Second, Attorney Singh found SEVERAL problems with the equipment the lab used to test SJK's blood. Third, in the middle of trial, Attorney Singh, in a blistering cross-examination, caught the trooper in a significant change to his story that was never documented in his report. It was a major turning point in the case because it cast significant doubt on the rest of the trooper's bogus claims. In the end, the jury rejected not only the trooper's testimony, but the tainted blood result, too. SJK was found NOT GUILTY of all charges and walked out of the courthouse completely exonerated. A few days later, SJK sent a letter to Attorney Singh that said the following:
"I can't say enough good things about Sarvan. During my trial, it became very evident how much time and research he had done in preparation for trial. I truly believe that, regardless of the outcome, there was no one better able to represent me."
Never doubt the difference a top-notch attorney can make.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

January 28, 2013: OWI-1st/PAC-1st Reduced to Reckless Driving

Many of our clients hire us because of the profound consequences a drunk driving conviction will have on their jobs and their ability to find work in the future. That was certainly the case with LDJ, who was stopped and arrested in one of his company's trucks. LDJ is employed  by a well-known window company as a supervisor-installer. It's a job he's had for several years and he is regarded as a valued employee. But company policy is pretty clear cut. If you get convicted of drunk driving, especially if the incident involves a company-owned vehicle, you're out of a job. LDJ simply could not afford to do anything but fight the case. So LDJ gave Dennis Melowski a call after being referred by a friend. When Dennis first looked at all of the evidence, it looked like LDJ might have an uphill battle, since he was called in by another driver who gave a detailed statement to the police about how dangerously LDJ was supposedly driving. This was on top of both a roadside breath test and police department breath test that were over the legal limit. But after Dennis thoroughly questioned the arresting officer at LDJ's suspension hearing, things began to quickly improve. As it turns out, the arresting officer followed LDJ a considerable distance after receiving the complaint from the other driver and noticed no problems at all with LDJ's driving. The officer simply decided to "check him out" just in case. This admission by the officer provided Dennis some much-needed ammunition to raise a potential legal challenge to LDJ's initial stop. Other problems in the case soon became apparent. The officer's own squad video showed LDJ doing a very good job on the field sobriety tests, casting significant doubt on the other driver's claims that LDJ was so intoxicated that he was "all over the road." In the end, Dennis made it apparent to the prosecutor that a conviction on the drunk driving charges would be difficult. Dennis negotiated a very favorable resolution for LDJ. The drunk driving charges were dropped. Instead, LDJ plead no contest to a reduced charge of Reckless Driving, which is a non-alcohol-related traffic offense that carries no loss of license. LDJ just had to pay a fine that was about half the amount of the one he had been facing. More importantly, by avoiding a drunk driving conviction, LDJ kept his job and his career is thriving. Another very satisfied client.