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YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

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YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Old 09-29-11, 03:00 AM
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YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Dear Otters,

About a month ago I was arrested and charged with Public Intoxication (Class B Misdemeanor) in the state of Indiana. My first court date (arraignment) is in two weeks. I've heard varying opinions on what I should or shouldn't do, but not from anyone who has much direct experience on either side of the coin. Not sure if I should have a lawyer no matter what I end up pleading. So, I'll see what some of you guys have to say.

The details:

I'm 30 years old, no priors. Had a speeding ticket when I was 23, but that's about the extent of run ins with the law.

The arrest was just before 6 a.m as the sun was rising. The previous hours / night before, I was at a friend's birthday party. I had been drinking (obviously), but stayed at the party for several hours, left around 5 a.m feeling ok. Tired, but not "trashed" or anything (which I hadn't been to begin with).

Not being very familiar with the area due to living in and primarily spending my time in Illinois, I ended up getting "lost." I'm right on the border to Indiana, so I'm pretty much used to ALWAYS going East when coming home from... anywhere. Long story short, I end up in Gary, Indiana.

Specifically, I got to a toll road, and the attendant I was speaking to smelled alcohol, didn't let me through, told me to wait, called the police, etc. When they arrived, I was just calmly standing outside of my car. They asked me if I knew where I was; I honestly didn't know. I told them I had been drinking earlier; saw no reason to deny it / lie. I was very pleasant and cooperative. They didn't perform a breathalyzer or any Field Sobriety tests.

Anyways, I'm just curious about how I should take things from here. Originally I just thought I should just plead "Guilty" and deal with it from there. My brother thinks that's crazy and that I should get a lawyer and plead not guilty. Personally, I would just like to avoid any time served in prison; I can deal with monetary fines, community service, probation, whatever.

So... should I "fight" it with the defense that with no "physical" evidence (breathalyzer), there's no proof that I was intoxicated? Should I just be grateful that I didn't get charged / accused of a DUI and eat the charge? Or is this the type of case that gets "dropped" due to either my clean record / all the much worse things that happen in a place like Gary, In?
Old 09-29-11, 03:39 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

If you can deal with monetary fines, then you have No reason at all to not get a lawyer and plead not guilty. Get a lawyer ASAP. Only reason you should not have a lawyer is if you're a dumb kid or simply cannot afford it. Don't let this ruin your job opportunities in the future or plague you your entire life when companies do a background check on you.
Old 09-29-11, 03:54 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by Poink View Post
Dear Otters,

About a month ago I was arrested and charged with Public Intoxication (Class B Misdemeanor) in the state of Indiana. My first court date (arraignment) is in two weeks. I've heard varying opinions on what I should or shouldn't do, but not from anyone who has much direct experience on either side of the coin. Not sure if I should have a lawyer no matter what I end up pleading. So, I'll see what some of you guys have to say.

The details:

I'm 30 years old, no priors. Had a speeding ticket when I was 23, but that's about the extent of run ins with the law.

The arrest was just before 6 a.m as the sun was rising. The previous hours / night before, I was at a friend's birthday party. I had been drinking (obviously), but stayed at the party for several hours, left around 5 a.m feeling ok. Tired, but not "trashed" or anything (which I hadn't been to begin with).

Not being very familiar with the area due to living in and primarily spending my time in Illinois, I ended up getting "lost." I'm right on the border to Indiana, so I'm pretty much used to ALWAYS going East when coming home from... anywhere. Long story short, I end up in Gary, Indiana.

Specifically, I got to a toll road, and the attendant I was speaking to smelled alcohol, didn't let me through, told me to wait, called the police, etc. When they arrived, I was just calmly standing outside of my car. They asked me if I knew where I was; I honestly didn't know. I told them I had been drinking earlier; saw no reason to deny it / lie. I was very pleasant and cooperative. They didn't perform a breathalyzer or any Field Sobriety tests.

Anyways, I'm just curious about how I should take things from here. Originally I just thought I should just plead "Guilty" and deal with it from there. My brother thinks that's crazy and that I should get a lawyer and plead not guilty. Personally, I would just like to avoid any time served in prison; I can deal with monetary fines, community service, probation, whatever.

So... should I "fight" it with the defense that with no "physical" evidence (breathalyzer), there's no proof that I was intoxicated? Should I just be grateful that I didn't get charged / accused of a DUI and eat the charge? Or is this the type of case that gets "dropped" due to either my clean record / all the much worse things that happen in a place like Gary, In?
How in the hell where you not charged with a DUI? Seems you lucked out, big time. In my jurisdiction, drunk in public is considered a very minor offense and it can be expunged (cleared from your record for most purposes) after successfully completing informal probation (typically 1-3 years). I don't think you need to spend vast sums of money on a lawyer because you don't seem to have a viable defense (what with your confession and all). You might want to pay a lawyer for an hour of their time to consult with them and get an idea of the "standard disposition" for the charge you are facing (in my jurisdiction, it would be time served and a fine of less than $1,000, with 3 years informal probation). Run away from any lawyer who promises you the dismissal of all charges for a large (nonrefundable) flat fee. They will almost inevitably scare you into settling for whatever the "standard disposition" would have been in the first place. You might try calling your local bar association to see if they have a lawyer referral service that gives you an initial consultation for a nominal fee.

Some of the redneck states have much stiffer penalties for alcohol-related offenses so YMMV. My brother was once charged with having an open container in Kansas because he was stopped with a six-pack of beer on his back seat with one beer missing (get it? the six-pack had been "opened," ergo an open container, even though the empty sixth can was not in the car).
Old 09-29-11, 05:53 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by Poink View Post
Dear Otters,

About a month ago I was arrested and charged with Public Intoxication (Class B Misdemeanor) in the state of Indiana. My first court date (arraignment) is in two weeks. I've heard varying opinions on what I should or shouldn't do, but not from anyone who has much direct experience on either side of the coin. Not sure if I should have a lawyer no matter what I end up pleading. So, I'll see what some of you guys have to say.

The details:

I'm 30 years old, no priors. Had a speeding ticket when I was 23, but that's about h3the extent of run ins with the law.

The arrest was just before 6 a.m as the sun was rising. The previous hours / night before, I was at a friend's birthday party. I had been drinking (obviously), but stayed at the party for several hours, left around 5 a.m feeling ok. Tired, but not "trashed" or anything (which I hadn't been to begin with).

Not being very familiar with the area due to living in and primarily spending my time in Illinois, I ended up getting "lost." I'm right on the border to Indiana, so I'm pretty much used to ALWAYS going East when coming home from... anywhere. Long story short, I end up in Gary, Indiana.

Specifically, I got to a toll road, and the attendant I was speaking to smelled alcohol, didn't let me through, told me to wait, called the police, etc. When they arrived, I was just calmly standing outside of my car. They asked me if I knew where I was; I honestly didn't know. I told them I had been drinking earlier; saw no reason to deny it / lie. I was very pleasant and cooperative. They didn't perform a breathalyzer or any Field Sobriety tests.

Anyways, I'm just curious about how I should take things from here. Originally I just thought I should just plead "Guilty" and deal with it from . My brother thinks that's crazy and that I should get a lawyer and plead not guilty. Personally, I would just like to avoid any time served in prison; I can deal with monetary fines, community service, probation, whatever.

So... should I "fight" it with the defense that with no "physical" evidence (breathalyzer), there's no proof that I was intoxicated? Should I just be grateful that I didn't get charged / accused of a DUI and eat the charge? Or is this the type of case that gets "dropped" due to either my clean record / all the much worse things that happen in a place like Gary, In?
Don't talk to the cops. Ever.

BTW, there is plenty of physical evidence. There is your voluntary confession that you had been drinking and then got in a car and drove. You're boned.

Plead guilty.

Last edited by crazyronin; 09-29-11 at 06:03 AM.
Old 09-29-11, 09:46 AM
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http://www.cooperlegalservices.com/criminal.htm

In Indiana, there are two common charges that are often brought in drunk-driving cases.

1. "Operating a vehicle while intoxicated" (I.C. 9-30-5-2). This offense is a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is one year in prison and a fine of $5,000. The minimum sentence is no time in prison, no probation and no fine.

2. "Operating a vehicle w/BAC of at least .10% " (I.C. 9-30-5-1(A)) This offense is a Class C misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is no more than 60 days and a fine of $500. The minimum sentence is no time in prison, no probation and no fine.

Furthermore, a lesser-included offense of "Public Intoxication" (I.C. 7.1-5-1-3) is often charged. This offense is a Class B misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is 180 days in prison and a fine of $1,000. The minimum sentence is no time in prison, no probation and no fine.
Most of the sites that appear as a result of a relevant Google search argue that you should use the services of a lawyer. However, these all tended to be sites run by legal service practices... i.e. interested parties.

FWIW: one common point was that it was difficult/impossible to expunge a criminal conviction gained in Indiana.

Maybe there is a site somewhere where one can see recent court results in order to determine whether legal representation is worthwhile. The common defence of not being in a public place doesn't appear to apply in your stated circumstances but the LEO decision not to take you in (you don't mention this specifically) might perhaps be argued to indicate that he didn't see you as a danger to other people or yourself and so that you were at the lesser end of the intoxication "spectrum".
Old 09-29-11, 09:59 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Misdemeanor, you're clearly guilty and lucky you're not being charged with DUI -- just pay the five dollars.

And stay the fuck off the road when you're drunk.
Old 09-29-11, 10:16 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

i'd get a lawyer. they might be able to negotiate a plea for something better than you could on your own.
Old 09-29-11, 10:51 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by Poink View Post
Specifically, I got to a toll road, and the attendant I was speaking to smelled alcohol, didn't let me through, told me to wait, called the police, etc. When they arrived, I was just calmly standing outside of my car. They asked me if I knew where I was; I honestly didn't know. I told them I had been drinking earlier; saw no reason to deny it / lie. I was very pleasant and cooperative. They didn't perform a breathalyzer or any Field Sobriety tests.
I don't have any advice, but I'm curious... did they then drive you home? Or take you to the drunk tank?
Old 09-29-11, 10:55 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Well, you confessed to the police, so, yeah, um, good luck.
Old 09-29-11, 11:09 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by crazyronin View Post
Don't talk to the cops. Ever.

BTW, there is plenty of physical evidence. There is your voluntary confession that you had been drinking and then got in a car and drove. You're boned.

Plead guilty.
Originally Posted by ResIpsa View Post
How in the hell where you not charged with a DUI? Seems you lucked out, big time.
Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara View Post
Misdemeanor, you're clearly guilty and lucky you're not being charged with DUI -- just pay the five dollars.

And stay the fuck off the road when you're drunk.

Please, none of you serve on a jury for anything. He confessed to drinking. There is nothing illegal about consuming alcohol and then driving or being in public if it is below the legal limit. You are making an assumption that he was "drunk".

Do you all honestly believe the cop would not have done a breathalyzer & field sobriety if he suspected that the OP was legally intoxicated? Almost every cop will tell you that they can immediately tell if someone is "drunk". Obviously this cop was able to ascertain that he wouldn't fail the breathalyzer or field sobriety test and was, therefore, not drunk.

You have two options:
1) Try to get a meeting now with the district attorney to work out a plea arrangement.

2) Get a lawyer to negotiate for you. It shouldn't be as costly as a DUI case but will likely run you several hundred to possibly a thousand $'s.

You weren't in the process of creating a disturbance and there is no physical evidence. Admitting you had been drinking is not a crime. It doesn't help your case but it isn't the end all-be all that others are making it out to be.

Either way your goal should be a probationary period with the incident being expunged upon completion & paying court cost/fine. Offering to do community service or some education courses would show well in the judge & DA's eyes, I'd think. With your clean record and the evidence in the situation, I think you should fare pretty well.

Last edited by Nefarious; 09-29-11 at 11:16 AM.
Old 09-29-11, 11:17 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by Nefarious View Post
Please, none of you serve on a jury for anything. He confessed to drinking. There is nothing illegal about consuming alcohol and then driving or being in public if it is below the legal limit. You are making an assumption that he was "drunk".
Where I live, we have a "zero tolerance" policy that guarantees an arrest and DUI even if you're below the legal limit. Some cops might let you off the hook, but others can and do arrest and charge you for even the slightest trace of alcohol in your system.
Old 09-29-11, 11:22 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
Where I live, we have a "zero tolerance" policy that guarantees an arrest and DUI even if you're below the legal limit. Some cops might let you off the hook, but others can and do arrest and charge you for even the slightest trace of alcohol in your system.
That's not where this offense took place. You might as well be saying, "In Saudi Arabia they lop your head off."
Old 09-29-11, 11:25 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Please don't waste the court's time with a trial for a misdemeanor just because you're too stubborn to pay your fine or plead out.
Old 09-29-11, 11:25 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Someone I love was killed by a drunk driver many years ago. I hope you get what you deserve.
Old 09-29-11, 11:26 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by Nefarious View Post
That's not where this offense took place. You might as well be saying, "In Saudi Arabia they lop your head off."
I live in Maryland, not Saudi Arabia, and you said:

Originally Posted by Nefarious View Post
There is nothing illegal about consuming alcohol and then driving or being in public if it is below the legal limit.
Well... that's not correct as people get DUIs even when they're below the legal limit all the time. They could have a similar policy where the OP was, but the cops let him off easy because he was so cooperative.

I'm curious what your expertise is since you were so dismissive of the opinions of others in this thread.
Old 09-29-11, 11:26 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by Nefarious View Post
Please, none of you serve on a jury for anything. He confessed to drinking. There is nothing illegal about consuming alcohol and then driving or being in public if it is below the legal limit. You are making an assumption that he was "drunk".

Do you all honestly believe the cop would not have done a breathalyzer & field sobriety if he suspected that the OP was legally intoxicated? Almost every cop will tell you that they can immediately tell if someone is "drunk". Obviously this cop was able to ascertain that he wouldn't fail the breathalyzer or field sobriety test and was, therefore, not drunk.

You have two options:
1) Try to get a meeting now with the district attorney to work out a plea arrangement.

2) Get a lawyer to negotiate for you. It shouldn't be as costly as a DUI case but will likely run you several hundred to possibly a thousand $'s.

You weren't in the process of creating a disturbance and there is no physical evidence. Admitting you had been drinking is not a crime. It doesn't help your case but it isn't the end all-be all that others are making it out to be.

Either way your goal should be a probationary period with the incident being expunged upon completion & paying court cost/fine. Offering to do community service or some education courses would show well in the judge & DA's eyes, I'd think. With your clean record and the evidence in the situation, I think you should fare pretty well.
Good advice.

Except he didn't get charged with a DUI, or even being "drunk".

He got charged with public intoxication. Most likely because he confessed he was drinking. And smelt of alcohol.

It's not the end of the world, and it's not a huge charge, but he should have shut the fuck up to the cop.
Old 09-29-11, 11:43 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
I live in Maryland, not Saudi Arabia, and you said:



Well... that's not correct as people get DUIs even when they're below the legal limit all the time. They could have a similar policy where the OP was, but the cops let him off easy because he was so cooperative.

I'm curious what your expertise is since you were so dismissive of the opinions of others in this thread.
My point is that cops, even you seem to agree, are more likely to charge a greater offense than to let someone off in an alcohol related situation. My advice and response was geared towards the poster's situation. Not what the laws might be in any other locale.

My expertise is I have excellent reading comprehension skills and read the OP's post where he said he wasn't trashed, didn't get a breathalyzer or field sobriety test, and wasn't charged with a DUI. A dash of common sense thrown in and voila.


Originally Posted by Shazam View Post
Good advice.

Except he didn't get charged with a DUI, or even being "drunk".

He got charged with public intoxication. Most likely because he confessed he was drinking. And smelt of alcohol.

It's not the end of the world, and it's not a huge charge, but he should have shut the fuck up to the cop.
Any patron leaving a restaurant or bar could be legally charged with "public intoxication" if they consumed one glass of wine. The intent of that charge is for people creating a disturbance or intoxicated to a degree they are unsafe to themselves or others. That's not the case here.

I can understand advising that he shouldn't have said anything but, as he stated, he had some alcohol smell to him and didn't feel it was in his best interest to deny it. It arguably could have turned out much worse for him if he hadn't been as cooperative. But, in general, I agree. The less said, the better.
Old 09-29-11, 11:51 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

I think I would fight it, based on what you have said. I can admit to drinking earlier without it meaning I was intoxicated in public. Obviously I wasn't too bad as I wasn't given the DUI tests.

Talk to a lawyer and ask those questions.
Old 09-29-11, 11:52 AM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by Vibiana View Post
Someone I love was killed by a drunk driver many years ago. I hope you get what you deserve.
He wasn't a drunk driver.
Old 09-29-11, 12:01 PM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by Nefarious View Post
My point is that cops, even you seem to agree, are more likely to charge a greater offense than to let someone off in an alcohol related situation. My advice and response was geared towards the poster's situation. Not what the laws might be in any other locale.
I brought up the zero tolerance policy in my area because it's possible they have something similar where the OP was. Since he's not from the area he wouldn't even know about it and it's likely that he doesn't know how good or bad the situation could have been depending on their laws.

I think there are a few factors that come into play when a cop decides to go easy or really come down on somebody. Prior offenses, attitude towards the cop(respectful and cooperative?), whether or not the cop has had a bad day, etc.

Myself, I've been let off the hook while intoxicated behind the wheel twice. I wasn't breathalyzed either time, but knowing the zero tolerance policy in my area I could have easily gotten a DUI on both occasions. I'm convinced that the only reason I got off was because I was completely honest, cooperative, and respectful towards the officers, but I still consider myself lucky.

So I don't think it's unreasonable that some of the posters in this thread said the OP was lucky to avoid a DUI. Not because he deserved a DUI, but because it was within the realm of possibility and DUIs are a terrible thing to deal with.

Originally Posted by Nefarious View Post
My expertise is I have excellent reading comprehension skills and read the OP's post where he said he wasn't trashed, didn't get a breathalyzer or field sobriety test, and wasn't charged with a DUI. A dash of common sense thrown in and voila.
Well this response was much more pleasant to read than telling us about decapitations in Saudi Arabia or that we're not on a jury for anything. Thank you for explaining your point of view with more logic and less condescension.
Old 09-29-11, 12:03 PM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

If they never did any test on you, you should fight it.

My wife worked at a jail where people got brought in on PI all the time and most of the time it's complete BS! It's an easy arrest and quick cash for the county.

My brother is a cop and is cool, not full of crap like some cops are, not the type to try to nail people. He says PI is a joke usually and doesn't arrest people for it unless they are truly making problems for people, being very loud where they shouldn't (waking people up, etc) or are so drunk they might hurt themselves seriously.

I say fight it. What time the night before did you stop drinking?
Old 09-29-11, 12:07 PM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Initially, I thought this would be an easy win for you since I'm confused about you allegedly being drunk and them letting you get back in your car and drive.

The only way those things add up is if the legal limit for driving and the legal limit for "public intoxication" are different in Indiana. And they very may well be.

Maybe stinking like booze and saying you have been drinking is enough to get public intoxication and not a DUI. If so, you may have a difficult case. That would make PI fairly subjective and you have multiple cops and a toll lady against your own personal opinion of your level of intoxication and behavior.

It's generally a bad idea to be driving around stinking like booze, whether intoxicated or not. It was enough for someone outdoors at a toll booth to notice. Bad move, but hope it works out for you.
Old 09-29-11, 12:07 PM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by Vibiana View Post
Someone I love was killed by a drunk driver many years ago. I hope you get what you deserve.
He wasn't charged with that. He wasn't even given a breathalizer or soberiety test.

I'm sorry you lost a friend to a drunk driver but I don't think we need a lynch mob here the guy was just asking our opinion.

I would totally fight this with a lawyer.
Old 09-29-11, 12:16 PM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

I really despise drunk drivers, but going on what you said and not making any judgements aside from the facts I would say that you probably weren't.

First of all it's not like you were stopped driving erratically, it was just an overzealous toll booth willie. Second the Police didn't give you any kind of tests so I don't think they thought you were drunk, I mean it takes a couple of minutes for a test, they would have done it if they though to, and they are certainly in a better position to gauge that than I am.

As for people saying that he should not have talked to the cops. They likely smelled alcohol on his breath, had he lied then the police probably wouldn't have been nearly as nice. It's not going to help you to blatantly lie to the cops face, it would have likely just pissed them off, it would piss me off if someone thought I was stupid.

Since they did not give you any tests I am going to assume in court it is your word against theirs so a lawyer can probably help you with that as there is no proof that you were past the legal limit. The legal limit is there because obviously a specific amount of alcohol is ok and the cop has no proof that you were past that. If you can do it I would get a lawyer and see what they can do to help
Old 09-29-11, 12:22 PM
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Re: YALT: Should I get a laywer? (Booze related)

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
Where I live, we have a "zero tolerance" policy that guarantees an arrest and DUI even if you're below the legal limit. Some cops might let you off the hook, but others can and do arrest and charge you for even the slightest trace of alcohol in your system.
I thought zero tolerance laws only related to under age drivers.

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