But sometimes, trying to right certain wrongs can end up resulting in more trouble than its worth.
Our D.C. DUI defense lawyers recently read about a prime example of this in a case out of Florida. This was a situation in which a DUI defendant attempted to take matters into his own hands.
The case is still pending, but so far, it hasn’t gone well. It illustrates why legal matters are best left to your lawyer.
This story starts back in 1987. Ronald Reagan was president. The defendant was just 21.
It was 7 a.m. on a Tuesday morning in late September on Dania Beach. An officer arrested the defendant in the parking lot of an apartment complex, after receiving a report that a vehicle had struck another in the parking lot.
The officer reported that the defendant was found staggering in the parking lot, with bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. He wasn’t in his vehicle. He didn’t have the keys in his hand. But it seemed clear he’d been drinking.
The officer put him through a battery of field sobriety tests, which he failed.
Then, the officer called for the assistance of a state trooper, to help administer a DUI breathalyzer test. The accuracy of those results has been called into question, as the first time, the reading spit back a 0.10 percent blood alcohol level. The next time, it was a 0.24 percent – quite a jump.
Still, the defendant was arrested for misdemeanor DUI. A trial date was scheduled, but the defendant never showed up. A short time later, he had moved to start a new life in Sweden. He says he didn’t realize that the case against him was still open or that there was a warrant for his arrest.
Twenty-six years went by.
It wasn’t until a recent trip to the U.S. to visit his daughter that he realized he had a warrant out for his arrest.
In trying to do the right thing, he penned a letter to the judge overseeing his case, requesting that the matter be dismissed. He cited the fact that the officer hadn’t seen him behind the wheel, the fact that the breathalyzer test results had varied so significantly and the fact that it was nearly three decades ago.
But instead of the intended effect of having the matter dropped, prosecutors renewed their dedication to prosecuting him. A court date was set. The defendant, as expected, didn’t show up.
So now, the defendant has hired an attorney, and paperwork has been filed to have the case either dismissed or tried in front of a jury.
In most places, the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor DUI is 12 to 18 months. That may or may not apply in this case, but those limits can be considered void if the defendant absconded prior to trial, as is alleged in this case.
Still, the matter is minor enough that the state may simply choose to agree to a dismissal, given the time lapse and the apparent weakness of the case.
Because the laws can vary from place-to-place and based on the unique circumstances of your situation, involving a lawyer from the beginning in a case like this will almost always result in a better outcome.
If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC at 202-765-3175.