- Am I Required to Take Field Sobriety Tests and Why Does an Officer Want Me to Take the Tests?
- Can I Ask to Speak With an Attorney After Being Stopped and Suspected of an OWI?
- Are There Consequences if I Refuse to Take a Chemical Test?
- Can I Represent Myself to Avoid the Cost of Hiring a Lawyer?
- Why Should I Speak With an Attorney as Soon as Possible After Being Arrested for OWI?
- I Have Been Arrested for OWI / Drunk Driving, Can’t Any Lawyer Handle My Case?
- How Will My Drunk Driving Cases Get Resolved?
You are not required to take field sobriety tests even if an officer says that you’ll be arrested if you do not take the tests. The test are used to build their probable cause and to show impairment, it is in the officer’s best interest for you to take the tests. Field sobriety tests can be either Standardized or Non-Standardized tests The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, referred to as SFST’s, include, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), Walk and Turn, and the One Leg Stand and are standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA tests must be explained and demonstrated by police officer according to a standard procedure. They are used to help determine if a driver is intoxicated. According to NHTSA guidelines each test has a set number of clues that may be observed and an officer is to look for during the testing phase. Additionally, each test also has a specific number of clues that must be observed for a failure of the test. However, the results are based on the opinion of the officer based on a pass / fail basis. Non-Standardized tests are tests that have no scientific validity such as finger count, finger to nose, alphabet test or counting backwards. You are not obligated to take either Standardized nor Non-Standardized field sobriety tests and may refuse to do so.
During the investigation portion of an OWI case, you do NOT have the right to speak with an attorney before agreeing to take SFST or a chemical test such as a breath or blood test. Following your OWI/DUI arrest, whether you are still in-custody or have bonded out you have the right to request an attorney. You should not make any statements to police or anyone else before talking with an attorney.
If you cannot afford an attorney, you should ask the judge as soon as possible. If you intend on hiring an attorney, consult with an experienced OWI attorney as soon as your schedule allows or have your family hire an attorney for you.
If you refuse to submit to a certified chemical breath test or blood draw, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is required to suspend your license. The Court with send notice of your refusal to the BMV who will impose a minimum of one year and possibly up to two years if you have a prior OWI conviction. The two year suspension for a prior conviction is regardless of how long it has been since the last conviction. Additionally, a refusal will prevent you from getting administrative credit toward a court ordered suspension should you be convicted of OWI and prevent you from qualifying for specialized driving privileges (SDP). If you have already refused the chemical test, it may be possible to terminate or delete the refusal suspension from your record. This distinction is technical and will have consequences on how soon you will be valid to drive.
Yes, you can represent yourself in any criminal case including your OWI case. However, much like hiring the wrong attorney, representing yourself may have ramification to you that will not able to be corrected later. Keep in mind OWI charges are serious charges and have consequences beyond just jail time. Even if you think you are guilty and don't want to fight your case, there are license suspensions and mandatory jail or community service requirements for repeat offenses. If you have defenses or the police made mistakes in your case, a skilled OWI lawyer may be able to avoid some of these consequences. Here are some reasons why you should consider hiring the Andrew Bennett rather than representing yourself:
Attorney Bennett will be able to identify your defenses or the mistakes made by law enforcement. Additionally, if a conviction is likely, he may be able to minimize a license suspension or help you obtain specialized driving privileges, so you can drive to work and support your family.
Not in every county in Indiana will a prosecutor discuss your case with you. Your choice may be to plead guilty not knowing what will happen until the judge sentences you or to set the case for trial. In the counties where a prosecutor will discuss your case with you the plea offer will likely be worse than it would be with an experienced attorney. The prosecutor knows you don’t know the rules of evidence or criminal procedure therefore they have the upper hand when negotiating with an unrepresented defendant. Even if you decide not to dispute the charges in your case, consulting with an experienced OWI attorney is a wise decision. Attorney Bennett can determine if a plea offer is worth accepting or rejecting and taking your case to trial.
If you still choose to represent yourself at trial, keep in mind, you will be required to follow the Indiana Rules of Evidence and trial procedure the same as an attorney. Think before placing yourself at the mercy of a skilled prosecutor and judge. You may inadvertently make incriminating statements that a prosecutor can use against you.
Important life decisions should take time and reflection, however, in any criminal case including OWI cases taking too long to hire the right attorney could have long lasting consequences. After a criminal charge has been filed, an initial hearing will be set in your case. At the initial hearing the court will calendar what is called the Omnibus date. The Omnibus date is critical as this is the benchmark date setting the deadline for filing certain defenses. After the deadline has passed, considerable influence in securing the best resolution on your behalf may be waived or lost. One of the most effective decisions is an effective evaluation to determine whether a prosecution is either strong or weak as well as how likely the case will go to trial. Consulting with an attorney who is experienced in OWI prosecution and defense can affect the ultimate outcome of your case.
Yes, any lawyer in licensed in IN can represent you however, drunk driving defense is a specialized field of law that is technical and fact specific. Additionally, every county in Indiana has different local customs when it comes to resolving a drunk driving case. Because of its complexity not only is it advantageous but it is in your best interest to consult with a lawyer experienced in OWI defense but also familiar with the court where your case is pending in Indiana. A common mistake many people make after being arrested is to automatically assume any lawyer can handle their case. A determination to hire the cheapest attorney or the first attorney you speak with can be a detrimental decision with implications that a person either cannot recover from or take years to correct. The best thing to do is consult a defense lawyer who has experience in drunk driving cases and has experience within the specific county your case is being prosecuted.
Most criminal cases, including OWI prosecutions, in Indiana are resolved without ever going to trial, however, in some situations, your case should proceed to trial. The majority of cases are resolved through pre- trial negotiations between the defense attorney and the prosecutor. During the negotiations each side must make decisions about the risks and benefits of taking a case to trial versus the certainty of a plea agreement where both sides give a little. A successful non-trial resolution can result in the client NOT pleading guilty to an OWI but to a lesser offense or having the case dismissed because evidence has been suppressed. However, in cases where an OWI conviction cannot be avoided, most clients prefer the certainty offered by a plea agreement rather than the risk the judge imposes a more severe punishment after a guilty verdict following trial. However, the decision to go to trial is always the client's to make after an educated and reasoned discussion with their attorney. This assessment includes potential risks as well as the weaknesses of a State's case before formulating the best decision as to whether trial is the best option for a client to take.