OWI and PAC of 0.09 Amended to Reckless Driving Before Trial
When our client contacted Chirafisi & Verhoff, he made one thing perfectly clear. If he was convicted of either OWI or PAC, he would lose his license and in turn his employment. He was scared, and the stakes were high. He was also worried about the facts. Police stopped our client for speeding after midnight going 13 mph over the limit. When officers spoke with him, they immediately noticed the smell of alcohol coming from his breath. The client admitted to police he had consumed six beers that evening and said he had a shot of Crown Royal less than 10 minutes before he was stopped. Police also found a partially-full, open Miller Lite beer can behind the driver’s seat. The client was arrested for OWI and provided a breath sample with reported values of 0.095 percent and 0.097 percent.
Attorney Verhoff immediately went to work reviewing the evidence. Although the client was concerned the evidence against him appeared overwhelming, Attorney Verhoff saw many pieces of evidence that helped the case. The first thing he noticed was the police officer did not document in his report slurred speech, bloodshot eyes or other signs typically associated with impaired driving. He also noticed the client was able to provide his license and proof of insurance as requested without any problems. Most significantly, Attorney Verhoff noticed something very interesting about the results of the three standardized field sobriety tests. The client’s performance on the two physical tests was poor. But on the horizontal gaze nystagmus (eye) test, which is the test prosecutors often find to be most reliable, the officer did not observe the required number of “clues” to suggest impairment.
During the course of negotiations, Attorney Verhoff argued that although the test result was over the limit, the other evidence, including the timing of the last shot, suggested that when police actually stopped the client, his alcohol concentration was below a 0.08 percent. Moreover, given the lack of the typical indicia of impairment and his good performance on the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, there was a strong argument the client was not impaired. As for the remaining field sobriety tests, Attorney Verhoff informed the prosecution that the client could document a back injury, which would have an impact on his performance. The prosecution originally insisted on a conviction for the OWI. But at the last hearing before trial, after considering Attorney Verhoff’ s arguments, the prosecutor agreed to amend the OWI and PAC citations to reckless driving, rather than going forward with a trial. Attorney Verhoff even was able to get the prosecutor to agree to dismiss the speeding ticket.