Lafayette DUI Lawyers
Return to Indiana DUI Lawyers
- Scott, Vincent:
* Major felonies
* Medicare and Medicaid fraud
* Traffic violations
* DUI (drunk driving)
* Driving while suspended
* Habitual traffic violations
* Narcotics offenses
- Coots, Henke & Wheeler:
Because most criminal cases do result in penalties being imposed on those arrested, one of the most important things to consider in searching for an attorney or a law firm to represent you is their ability to work with judges and prosecutors in order to help clients avoid the most severe punishments available.
the law has changed a great deal and the number of arrests and the severity of the penalties for conviction have grown by leaps and bounds. But one thing hasn't changed—our approach to helping clients in these cases.
In addition to the tremendous expense of court costs, fines, attorneys' fees, and skyrocketing insurance rates, criminal penalties for OVI include:
First Offense: possible jail time, a 30-day minimum drivers' license
suspension, and a 180-day hardship license thereafter
Second Offense: a second offense within 5 years of your first results in a
minimum 5-day jail term and 1-year license suspension
Felony Offenses: if you have had two previous OVI convictions, one within
the last 5 years and the other at any time since 1991,
you are subject to a minimum 6-month jail sentence and
a 10-year loss of driving privileges
In addition, be aware that three major traffic convictions within 10 years (including violations like reckless driving as well as OVI), and you are considered to be a Habitual Traffic Violator. Three such convictions in that time span is a 10-year license suspension and if you are caught driving during that time period, you lose your license for life.
In some of these cases, we are able to help clients avoid convictions by challenging Constitutional issues such as probable cause or search and seizure violations. In others, defective testing equipment or improper testing procedures may have been used and we will uncover these avenues of defense wherever they exist.
In cases where a dismissal or reduction of charges is not possible, our experience and the strong working relations we have built with prosecutors and judges in the Central Indiana legal community becomes a great asset to our clients and we are often able to help them avoid the most severe penalties and minimize the amount of time their license is under suspension.
To learn more about OVI, license suspensions, and the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, contact an accomplished Indiana DUI attorney
- Sever Storey:
Charges of DUI/DWI are serious offenses that demand aggressive legal representation. A DUI/DWI conviction can not only result in loss of driving privileges and steep fines, but jail time and a permanent criminal record. DUIs and DWIs have the potential to affect individuals well after they have served their time, affecting future employment opportunities and even the ability to visit some foreign countries. We are aware of the inadequacies of BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) tests and will carefully investigate the evidence against you to see if there is a way to get your charges reduced or dropped.
- Stark Law Offices:
Drunk driving offenses in Indiana are commonly referred to in a number
of ways. Although the legal language for such offenses in Indiana is
Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated, Indiana dui attorneys
commonly refer to these offenses as Indiana dui or drunk driving
offenses. These terms have become more the standard language that
people have come to associate with drunk driving offenses in Indiana.
In Indiana, driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal
offense. As Indiana DUI attorneys, we recognize the need to make one
aware that such a criminal charge is more than a mere traffic
infraction that can be paid by a simple fine.
Indiana DUI Attorneys see that with each passing year the penalties and
punishments for drunk driving offenses are increasing throughout the
State of Indiana.
An Indiana dui lawyer understands that such an offense may result in
potential jail or imprisonment, loss of driver's license, fines, and a
variety of alternative punishments ranging from work release (working
during the day, in jail by night) to house arrest with electronic
monitoring. In addition, as Indiana DUI attorneys we know to advise
that although the courts might not enact such punishment, the Indiana
Bureau of Motor Vehicles and/or your insurance company may use a
conviction or even an arrest for such an offense as a basis to increase
your insurance rates.
More recently, Indiana DUI attorneys have had to fight the more
widespread imposition of ignition interlock devices installed on
automobiles and such contraptions as scram alcohol monitoring devices
attached to the ankles of individuals accused of dui offenses, even
before a finding of guilt.
Frequently asked questions of an Indiana DUI attorney:
What is a DUI?
Dui is standard language for the offense of Operating a Motor vehicle While Intoxicated within the State of Indiana. We instruct our clients that a person is guilty of Operating While Intoxicated in Indiana if he or she drives or is in actual control over a vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any chemical or controlled substance to the extent that his or her mental faculties are impaired and/or above the legal limit of .08 BAC within the State of Indiana.
Does a car have to be moving to be guilty of Operating While Intoxicated?
No. You can be arrested for Operating While Intoxicated even if your car is not moving. If a driver has control over a vehicle that is either running or can be proven circumstantially to have reached a destination while in a state of intoxication, one can be found guilty.
What do police officers look for when searching for drunk drivers?
Most arrests occur at night and on weekends. The following symptoms are some of the indicators police officers look for as determined by guidelines of the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA)
1. Turning with a wide radius
2. Straddling center of lane marker
3. "Appearing to be drunk"
4. Almost striking object or vehicle
6. Driving on other than designated highway
8. Speed more than 10 mph below limit
9. Stopping without cause in traffic lane
10. Following too closely
12. Tires on center or lane marker
13. Braking erratically
14. Driving into opposing or oncoming traffic
15. Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
16. Slow response to traffic signals
17. Stopping inappropriately
18. Turning abruptly or illegally
19. Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
20. Headlights off
Interesting to DUI lawyers in Indiana is the fact that speeding has not been identified by NHTSA as an impairment. However, be aware of the common prosecution tactic to argue that excessive speed amounts to "risk taking" suggestive of diminished judgment occasioned by alcohol consumption.
If the officer asks you, "Have you been drinking" your answer could be a significant factor in the officer's decision as to whether to ultimately arrest you and prosecute you for drunk driving. As an Indiana DUI Attorney office we believe that you should respectfully decline such questioning in a polite and courteous manner. We recommend that a client refer further questioning of this nature to his or her attention.
A police officer does have the right to inquiries that courts appear to look upon as routine questions. For example, your name, what is your address, what is your birth date, etc.
Once the questioning turns to the consumption of alcohol one should probably request to confer with a DUI lawyer. The officer will likely suggest that you have no right to a dui attorney in Indiana at this stage in questioning but you should continue to respectfully decline further questioning in this area.
Do I have the right to speak to a DUI attorney before taking a field sobriety test?
Your right to speak to a lawyer does not attach until you are formally put under arrest or placed "in custody." Field sobriety testing is considered "non testimonial" in nature. As a result, such testing does not fall within Miranda and the right to consult with an attorney before such testing may be requested.
Should I refuse to submit to field sobriety tests?
You are not legally required to take a field sobriety test. Unlike a refusal to submit to chemical tests or face mandatory loss of license, the experienced Indiana dui attorney would often agree that it might not always be to one's detriment to respectfully decline to submit to such testing under certain circumstances and to explain the officer's conduct as well as your own within a subsequent court proceeding.
What is the officer looking for during the initial detention?
We counsel all clients as to the factors that can lead to a drunk driving arrest in Indiana. Police officers making dui arrests are often trained to note the following "symptoms of intoxication" within their report:
* Flushed face
* Red, watery, glassy and/or bloodshot eyes
* Odor of alcohol on breath
* Slurred speech
* Fumbling with wallet trying to get license
* Failure to comprehend the officer's questioning
* Staggering when exiting the vehicle
* Swaying/instability on feet
* Leaning on car for support
* Combative or argumentative attitude
* Soiled or disorderly clothing
* Stumbling while walking
* Disorientation as to time and place
* Inability to follow directions
What happens if I refuse to submit to a chemical breath test?
We would generally suggest that refusing such tests is not a good idea. In Indiana, failure to submit to such a test will result in a mandatory one year license suspension, even if found not guilty of dui at trial. Unless, one is a habitual offender who knows to go to trial fearing extensive imprisonment over a mandatory loss of license for at least one year, an experienced Indiana dui lawyer would likely state that the implications of a refusal often outweigh the evidentiary benefits.
By accepting driving privileges the laws of most states have determined that you have given your consent to submit to such chemical test of the breath for the purpose of determining your BAC, this is called implied consent. Therefore, with your name on an Indiana drivers license you are in effect saying that if stopped for investigation of drunk driving you will accept to take such a breath test.
The officer never gave me a Miranda warning. Can I get my case dismissed?
No. The officer is supposed to give a Miranda warning after one is arrested. A police officer will often delay the arrest decision in order to allow one to make numerous incriminating statements. Only when and if one can prove that incriminating statements were made after the arrest could such statements be suppressed.
Am Indiana DUI Attorney will always point out that a suppressed statement does not equal dismissal as field sobriety testing and chemical test results do not fall within the Miranda warnings.
Of more consequence is evidence that an officer did not properly read and advise a suspected drunk driver of Indiana's "implied consent" law. That is your legal obligation to take a chemical test and the consequences of a refusal. If that is the case we may more positively attack the nature of an alleged refusal and the course of conduct of an arresting officer.
Potential defenses available to a DUI Lawyer in Indiana:
The majority can be broken down into the following areas:
* Driving. Intoxication is not enough. We must ensure that the prosecution prove that one's client was actually in legal operation of a vehicle when intoxicated.
* Probable cause. We will always look for evidence to be suppressed if the officer did not have probable cause to (a) stop (b) detain and (c) arrest. Sobriety roadblocks present particularly complex issues.
* Miranda warnings. Incriminating statements need to be suppressed if not given at the appropriate time.
* Under the influence. The officer's observations and opinions as to intoxication will always be carefully investigated by a thorough DUI lawyer in Indiana. It is imperative that your lawyer be more trained in the National Highway Traffic Safety Association manual on field sobriety testing than the arresting officer. Your lawyer must know to attack the officer's knowledge, training and experience. Further, the unique circumstances of each case involving potential, bias, pre disposed opinion of intoxication and contrary witness statements and/or observations must be explored and properly investigated.
* Blood alcohol concentration. (BAC). There exists a wide range of problems associated with blood, breath and urine testing. A good DUI attorney in Indiana will check the certifications of breath test operators and equipment. Breath test operators must be properly certified and recertified every two years. Breath test equipment must be properly certified and recertified every 180 days by the Indiana Department of Toxicology. Further, your dui lawyer should know proper procedural safeguards as to proper use of the machinery in administering a valid test sample. In addition your attorney should always investigate time place and manner of officer conduct in acquiring such test readings. These issues should always be strictly scrutinized by the lawyer in accord with Indiana Department of Toxicology Regulations.
* Testing during the absorption phase. The breath or blood test can prove unreliable if done while one is still actively absorbing alcohol. Thus, an Indiana DUI Attorney knows to rapidly move for the striking of breath test results taken prior to being observed for twenty minutes or after three hours of alleged driving while intoxicated.
* Use of Toxicologist. Where the situation warrants, retain qualified toxicology experts to challenge the validity of breath test results. For example, where bac levels are low enough to qualify, your dui lawyer will demonstrate that the possibility existed that one could have been below the legal limit of .08 when observed driving only for the level to rise above the legal limit post observation.
FIELD SOBRIETY TESTING IN INDIANA
Field sobriety tests have been around as long as dui laws have been enforced. For years, Indiana dui attorneys fought applications of field sobriety tests that varied from one law enforcement agency to another. Field sobriety tests were limited only by the officer's creative imagination. In the late 1970's the United States Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic safety Association (NHTSA) funded for the first time research to evaluate currently used physical coordination tests which were used to determine the relationship between intoxication and driving impairment, to develop more sensible tests which would provide more reliable evidence of impairment, and to standardize the tests. The researchers finally concluded that the three test battery which included the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk and Turn and One leg stand were the most reliable of testing procedures. The next step was to standardize these tests. Additional research was therefore conducted to complete development and validation of the sobriety test battery and to assess the battery's feasibility in the field, as well as its effectiveness for estimating blood alcohol content of subjects and facilitating the identification of drivers with blood alcohol content above the legal limit.
Types of Field Sobriety Tests
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
Nystagmus is the involuntary jerking of the eye. It can be an indication of intoxication. However, a trained DUI lawyer in Indiana knows that the occurance of nystagmus is not dependant upon the presence of an intoxicant in the body. Substances that would not interfere with driving ability can produce the nystagmus, and nystagmus may be congenital or caused by structural or neurologic disease.
Examples of possible indicators of alcohol impairment emerging from nystagmus tests include the inability to keep the head still, noticeable swaying and the utterance of incriminating statements.
Defenses available to nystagmus: Conditions that may interfere with a suspect's performance on the nystagmus test include a suspect having an artificial eye, weak vision in one eye, eye irritants such as wind and dust, visual and other distractions such as rain, traffic lights, etc. can provide further impediments. Some persons who are not under the influence may have nystagmus and may also be caused by certain pathological disorders such as brain tumors, brain damage and some diseases of the inner ear.
Walk and Turn
This test is always fertile ground for attack by this Indiana DUI Attorney. In this test, the subject assumes a heel to toe stance with the subject's arms down to the side. The subject is to maintain this position until the officer instructs the subject to begin walking. Instructions given by the officer are read aloud. The subject is to take 9 heel-to-toe steps along the line.The subject is to walk the line in a series of small steps. While walking, the subject is to keep his arms at his side, watch his feet at all times, and count his steps out. Factors that may interfere with a suspect's performance of the walk and turn test include wind and weather conditions; the suspect being over the age of sixty; the suspect being fifty pounds or more overweight; the footwear of the suspect; and highway traffic.
One Leg Stand
We have often entertained jurors through an officer's inability to perform such a test sober and/or a general incompetence as to properly applying such a test, The instructions for this test are given to the subject while the subject stands with his feet together, and arms down at his side until told to start. The instructions which are supposed to be given to the subject (with accompanying demonstration) are for the subject to stand on one leg (either leg), holding out the other foot approximately 6 inches off the ground, foot pointed forward so the raised foot is approximately parallel to the ground. While standing, the subject may be instructed to maintain this position while the officer estimates thirty seconds or the subject may be told to count out loud (one thousand and one, one thousand and two, and so on). Either way, the subject is to keep his arms at his sides at all times and watch the raised foot. We will research conditions which may impede a suspect's ability to perform this test including a test surface which is not dry and level; the suspect being over the age of sixty; the suspect being at least fifty pounds overweight; footwear which impedes the performance of the test, such as heels; and certain medical problems and disabilities.
Non Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
It is common for us to fight the application of many other, non-standardized field sobriety tests which have been approved for use by such organizations as International Association of Chiefs of Police ("I.A.C.P.") in their "Improved Sobriety Testing for Boating/Alcohol Enforcement" Student Manual and the U.S. National Park Service. These tests include, but are not limited to, the finger to nose test, the finger count test, the hand pat test, the alphabet test, the reverse counting test, and the coin pickup test. A good Indiana DUI attorney must strictly scrutinize the manner in which such testing is conducted when effectively defending such cases.
- Campbell Kyle Proffitt:
The criminal justice process includes pre-trial plea negotiations and
the discovery process, bench and jury trials, sentencing,
post-conviction relief and appeals.