The primary line of defense in OWI or DUI cases is identifying factual or legal challenges and having the charge dismissed, or amended.
Let's set those cases aside for today. This blog article serves to provide some of the ways where clients can take action, how they can work to get the best result in cases where they are found (or plead) guilty to an OWI or DUI offense.
This article focuses on OWI second or greater offenses. The range of penalties for OWI first offenses is so limited -- 6 to 9 months of license revocation and a fine and costs of $900, that these steps will not probably sway the final result. In criminal OWI / DUI cases, however, these steps can be the difference between 30 days in jail and 120 days in jail.
First and foremost, clients must strictly abide by the rules and conditions of bail/bond release. At most first appearances in criminal court, the commissioner will order a client to maintain absolute sobriety, drive only with a valid license, and participate in some form of sobriety monitoring. In Racine, the Racine County Alternatives Program provides that monitoring, at the client's expense. The most important thing a client can do to best-position himself or herself for a sentencing hearing is to have no violations of bond.
Second, we encourage most OWI clients to setup and complete AODA and recommended treatment, especially where we have a hunch that their case will resolve without trial or dismissal. Wisconsin requires drivers to complete the AODA counseling before reinstating their operating privileges. Accordingly, the sooner the driver completes the counseling, the better. We frequently find that judges look favorably on clients who have completed their treatment ahead of sentencing. In short, having initiative matters.
Third, we encourage clients to consider AA meetings. Now, many clients will say, "I don't have a drinking problem, so why should I attend AA?" Our response is the same: we aren't recommending it because we think you have a problem. We are recommending AA because it looks good and will often result in a better outcome. We encourage client to keep track of AA meetings attended by keeping a notebook log or sign-in sheet.
Lastly, we encourage our OWI clients to prepare a letter discussing how the above-mentioned changes and actions have changed their perspective about drinking. Again, as our website states, we don't deal in problems; we deal in problem-solving. We are not here to be drug or alcohol counselors, but we know how alcohol and drug use causes legal problems. We know that clients who take these steps fare much better at the end of the process than those who do not.
If you or someone you know has an OWI or DUI case, please have them call us today to discuss the next steps in representation, in defending the allegations, and in working together to minimize the consequences of the OWI in their life.
Brian P. Dimmer