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What to Expect When You are Charged with Drunk Driving


For most of our clients, being charged with drunk driving is the first time that they have ever been in trouble with the law. Oftentimes, these arrests follow a family event or holiday party or a simple dinner with friends in which the driver had no perception that his driving was impaired by alcohol. It is frightening to be arrested and held in jail, and the court process is embarrassing and confusing. And because the penalties for a drunk driving conviction are so severe, it is not a charge that anyone should take lightly. If you have been charged with an OUI offense in Massachusetts, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

What to Expect from a Lawyer 

A lawyer’s most important job is to help you make decisions about how best to handle your individual case. A lawyer starts with reviewing the police report and related records to determine the basis for the charges and to determine whether there are any defenses. The police report will almost always read in a way that suggests that you have no chance of beating the charges. Virtually every police report indicates that the driver failed the field sobriety tests and smelled of alcohol. Yet, an experienced attorney will know how to read that report to see if there are defenses that can be raised or even whether there was a legitimate basis for you being stopped by the police. Your lawyer will also interview you and conduct an investigation to determine whether there is any information that is helpful to your case. Once your case has been thoroughly reviewed, your lawyer will be able to advise you as to how best to handle your case.

Plea or Trial?

The most important decision you will need to make is whether to negotiate an agreement to resolve your case or whether to contest the charges at a trial. For most first offenses, the resulting driver’s license suspension and fines will be essentially the same whether you plead or are convicted after a trial. This suggests that, where there is any evidence in your favor, it may be best to go to trial. However, if you decide to plead, in most first offense cases you can avoid having a criminal conviction on your record. You may also be able to get a hardship license very quickly after a plea, which is often the most important factor for some clients. Sometimes, the evidence is so overwhelming that there can be no realistic expectation that you could prevail at a trial. In these cases, you need a lawyer who can negotiate the best possible resolution and move you through the process quickly so that your license can be restored. For all of these reasons, you need a lawyer who will assess your case and provide you with an honest opinion. Obviously, you will pay your attorney much less to resolve your case with a plea than if it requires a full trial.

At Sankey Law Offices, Attorney Jeffrey Sankey will be available to advise you from the time of your first phone call. He has the knowledge to carefully evaluate your case and the dedication to provide you with an honest discussion of your alternatives. And if you decide to challenge the charge at court, Attorney Sankey has the trial experience that you need in these type of cases.