OWI/PAC - 8th Dismissed in Juneau County
Potential clients sometimes ask us why they should hire a lawyer or enter a not guilty plea if they know they committed the offense charged and the evidence looks grim. There are a variety of answers to these questions. Often a lawyer can help a client obtain better results at sentencing. In other situations, the lawyer can review the case and make sure the police officers did their job properly. Sometimes, as in this case, the lawyer can find problems with the police investigation that requires the judge to throw out evidence, leaving the government unable to move forward. In this case, our client was stopped for speeding. During the traffic stop, the trooper learned our client had multiple prior convictions for OWI and was subject to a permissible alcohol concentration for driving at 0.02 percent. The trooper had our client provide a breath sample on a preliminary breath test (PBT) device, which showed a result of 0.127. The trooper arrested our client and took him for a legal blood draw. The test results from the blood draw showed an alcohol level of 0.138. Our client was charged with two felony counts, OWI-8th and PAC-8th. He also received a citation for speeding. Our office immediately requested a hearing on the administrative suspension of our client’s license. This is a step that many lawyers do not take, but one our firm conducts at every opportunity. In this case, the administrative review hearing proved to be worth its weight in gold. During the hearing, the trooper testified that he did not observe in our client any of the typical signs of consuming alcohol. He did not observe an odor of intoxicants. He did not observe red, watery or glassy eyes. He did not observe slurred speech or a thick tongue. The trooper never even asked if our client had consumed any alcohol. Instead, the trooper admitted that he demanded our client submit to a PBT solely because he was aware of our client’s the prior OWIs and his lower permissible alcohol concentration for driving. Using the answers provided in the administrative review hearing, Attorney Verhoff filed a motion to suppress evidence based on the trooper’s improper use of the PBT to establish probable cause for an arrest. The motion was so strong that the District Attorney conceded the issue and dismissed the case on the morning of the scheduled evidentiary hearing. Our client, who began the case wanting nothing more than the least amount of prison time possible, walked away having to pay a forfeiture on the speeding ticket.