Interviewer: What do you think is the percentage of clients that become repeat DUI offenders? Is that something that happens often? Do people often get second DUIs?
Matthew: Yes. We see that more often than you’d imagine. We’ll see someone with a DUI from ten years ago, get a second one. It’s more rare to see somebody get two DUIs back-to-back within the same year, but when that does happen that’s a red flag that someone has a drinking problem, or they have some sort of issue that’s causing them to make these choices. Those are definitely the cases that really need an attorney looking after that person and advocating for their best interests. At that point they are looking at jail time and driver’s license revocations in the five year range. Those cases are always important.
Explaining the Difference between Alcohol DUIs, Marijuana DUIs, Illegal Drug DUIs, and Prescription Drug DUIs
Interviewer: Let’s talk about alcohol vs. marijuana or drugs vs. prescription medication. How are all those handled? Are there any differences in the way the cases are handled?
Matthew: Yes. For a DUI that involves alcohol, it’s very straightforward. You have a Breathalyzer machine that does print out with all the paperwork and certifications. You can see where that person was on the scale for breath alcohol. Those are very straightforward cases. Once you start dealing with someone who is under the influence of, let’s just say, painkillers the only way that you’re going to get that type of evidence is to do a urine sample or a blood sample. A Breathalyzer machine won’t tell you that someone is on painkillers. What the State Attorney’s Office has to do is send that urine sample off to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and it can take several months to get the results back.
At that point, the urine sample can only show the existence of that chemical in in a defendant’s sysyem. It does not show how much is in their system. When a prosecutor gets the results back and let’s just say Oxycodone was in someone’s system, then that could be one pill, that could be two pills or it could be 15 pills. There’s just no way of telling from a urine sample. From a blood sample, it’s my understanding that they can determine how much is in your system, so that changes the tactics several different ways. With the urine sample, we go into court and we try and get experts to say, based upon the performance on field sobriety exercises, maybe an expert can testify that the person was not impaired even though they had it in their system.
Interviewer: I see. Which are the more challenging ones to defend? Explore that if you would.
Matthew: Well, the more challenging one and the more common is obviously the DUI with alcohol with the breath. Those are always challenging trying to keep the breath excluded from trial. The rarer of the circumstances are the chemical impairment cases with blood draws, but once you get a case like that it can get costly. You’re now looking at the decision to hire an expert to come in and review the results of the blood work and to testify that “I don’t think that they would be impaired by certain quantities.” You also have that expert testifying that it’s in their opinion that they are impaired or not impaired based on how they did on the tests, but it can get very technical and those cases can be challenging for both sides.
Most Common Prescription Medications Associated With Charges for DUI
Interviewer: With some of the prescription medications, what sort of medications are you seeing?
Matthew: We see a lot of painkillers. That’s fairly the most common. Actually, they are more common than an arrest than a DUI for cocaine or marijuana impairment. I think that with today’s world everybody it seems is on some sort of pain medication and it’s just so easily accessible that’s one of the most common in my opinion, DUI chemical cases.