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D.C. DUI Cases Sometimes Hinge on Technicalities

by | Jun 4, 2012

Washington D.C. DUI attorneys know there are a number of ways to negotiate advantages for our clients.

When you’ve been arrested on charges of a  D.C. DUI, it may seem incredibly daunting. You worry about contending with the reaction of family members, your employer and your community.

One thing, however, that you shouldn’t have to worry about is whether you’ll get a fair trial.

That was a concern for a National Football League player, whose case ended in a mistrial practically before it began.

The case involves Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams. The former teach captain was arrested in November 2010.

According to police, Williams was stopped shortly before 3 a.m. after officers reportedly saw him driving his vehicle without headlights. He was given a citation for driving under the influence and taken to a detoxification facility.

After his arrest, he was stripped of his title of captain. As it was his second such arrest in his seven seasons with the team, he was fined by the team and could have faced a multi-game suspension if convicted. So he had a lot riding on this (and relatively speaking, so do most people who are facing these types of charges).

Now, a lot of DUI cases don’t end up going all the way to trial. A lot of times, what ends up happening is that your D.C. DUI defense attorney will negotiate some form of a plea deal. This really depends on the amount of evidence that is stacked against you and the validity of that evidence. Some factors that will come into play will be whether you were given a breathalyzer or blood test and what the results were, whether you took a field sobriety test and what the officer observations of that were and whether there are any witnesses that could testify (law enforcement or otherwise) as to whether you were impaired behind the wheel. Based on all that, an attorney will negotiate a plea that could result in less jail time, fine costs or other penalties than if you had simply chosen to plead guilty.

In some cases, though, you and your attorney may decide you have a good shot if you take your chances at a trial.

That’s what Williams and his attorneys decided.

However, a mistrial was declared after it was determined the defense was only allowed to excuse two jurors – rather than the three he to which he was entitled – during the jury selection process.

It reportedly stemmed from a misunderstanding of judicial processes. Apparently, the defense attorney chose not to pass on one of the jurors, and the judge told him that if he did not use his pass in that instance, he would not be able to use that turn.

The judge later changed his mind, and it was on that basis that a mistrial was declared.

A new trial on the misdemeanor charges is slated for August. Often, such circumstances induce a prosecutor to offer a deal rather than to expend the resources for a second trial.

Washington D.C. DUI defense lawyers will be watching to see if that is what occurs in this case or if a new trial unfolds.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights or fill out our online contact form. Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards accepted. Call 202-765-3175.