Do I need a lawyer for my Rhode Island DUI?

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Richard S. Humphrey - Criminal Defense: DUI/DWI - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Richard S. Humphrey

Located in Tiverton, RILaw Offices of Richard S. Humphrey

Tiverton, RI
Phone: 401-624-6152
Fax: 401-624-8180

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You should have a lawyer with decades of experience fighting DUIs protecting you because Rhode Island’s penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) — especially if this is your first offense — is disproportionate to the perceived criminal activity. If you represent yourself and enter a guilty plea, you may be subject to the full extent of the penalties under the law. DUI cases are highly technical, and there are requirements that law enforcement must follow for your charges to be valid. DUI defense lawyers can make an impact on your outcome by employing three important tactics:

Finding Flaws In The Police Report

There are strict procedures that police must follow when making an arrest. These procedures are outlined by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). If the arresting law enforcement agent fails to follow the proper protocol, your field sobriety test results may no longer be valid. Additionally, it opens the door for a great many questions to the officer’s judgment.

Discrediting The Opinion Of The Arresting Officer

Drunk driving charges are dependent on the opinion of the arresting officer at some point throughout the arrest. In order to be tested, the arresting officer has to believe that you are under the influence. This is because the police cannot subject someone to a test without cause. That cause in the case of a DUI is going to be based on their opinion.

Since the opinion of the officer is so important, your lawyer will speak directly to the officer and question their report personally. There is a strong chance that throughout the report the officer will make three observations as to your condition, saying that:

  • You had blood shot eyes
  • You slurred your speech
  • There was an overwhelming smell of alcohol coming from you

These are the standard reasons police use for subjecting anyone to a sobriety test. However, with careful examination, it is incredibly easy to find inconsistencies in this reasoning in the reports the police file. For example, if the report says you were pulled over and given a sobriety test due to slurred speech, yet it also takes down a statement from you, then how bad was your speech actually slurred? If an officer can understand you well enough to write down a statement, how is it possible that your speech was so slurred as to require a sobriety test? Every single decision the officer makes will be influenced by their judgments, opinions and biases, and those are all up for debate when it comes to your rights.

Keeping The Pressure On

When you are facing a DUI charge, it can have incredible impacts on your life. These charges stay with you and cause a huge amount of difficulty if you are facing them. To prove your guilt, the police should have to be perfect from the beginning to the end of your arrest, and your lawyer will keep the pressure by:

  • Questioning the accuracy and validity of testing equipment and procedures
  • Discrediting any anonymous tips on a specific driver
  • Reviewing the recorded footage and documentation of the incident

Even something as simple as how you pulled over during the stop can make a difference. In the justice system, you are innocent until proven guilty. A lawyer will help ensure that anything less than perfection on the part of the police will lead to a better outcome for you.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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