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.