What Defense Works with a DUI Charge?
Interviewer: I know every case is different, but what strategies are you using most successfully against DUI cases?
Steve Tomeo: The defenses to a lot of these cases oftentimes have to deal with Constitutional issues. This includes such as whether the stop was proper and whether there was sufficient probable cause to make the arrest.
Attorney Tomeo Works to Prove That His Client’s Constitutional Rights Had Been Violated during a DUI Police Stop; However, Police Officers Are Receiving Additional Training to Thwart These Challenges.
I’m finding that over the years that the Police Academies have schooled police officers better to combat these challenges to violating Constitutional rights. The police officers are oftentimes pretty educated individuals. A lot of them, I’d say the vast majority of them are college graduates. A lot of them have Master’s degrees and have undergone additional training.
For example, I know that representatives from the Department of Motor Vehicles talk with police departments on how to write up arrest reports and utilize the proper terminology. The officers are trained to make sure that they “cross every T and dot every I” on the arrest reports so that there are no mistakes discovered at the administrative hearings. Of course, this training also helps the police officers in writing up their arrest reports in criminal court.
I’m finding that police officers are more sophisticated today than they were ten years and that the laws have evolved to better protect the officer when he or she is making an arrest.
You know when it comes to pulling an individual over most of the courts are not going to second guess the police officer. They are just not going to do it. Sometimes you get a case and the reason was a bad stop so they will dismiss the case, but that’s not oftentimes the case.
Attorney Tomeo Has a Great Deal of Experience Looking for “Holes” in the Police Report and Therefore, the Prosecutor’s Case
Interviewer: How have you really have a good effect on someone’s outcome because they’ve hired you?
Steve Tomeo: When I read an arrest report it’s probably because of my training I do not see it so conservatively. I see that there are issues in that regard. I mean sometimes it’s difficult because you just can’t go to the prosecutor and say, “Well, I do not think it’s was a good stop and I do not think you have probably cause.”
They want to know why and they want to know what past cases you’re relying on to back up that claim. You have to prove your side to them, so oftentimes when I see these issues I give the prosecutor a memorandum of law so that he can see what cases I’m relying on.
He’s willing to look at it and read it and say no, he checked his own sources and he feels that I’m wrong in my interpretation. Sometimes you have to file a motion to suppress evidence or a motion to dismiss a case for various reasons and let a judge decide that.
Attorney Tomeo Urges Clients Not to Underestimate the Ramifications of a DUI Charge
What everybody thinks is you know people think it’s only a DUI, it’s only a DUI. The question is you’re facing jail, so you want to try to get out from underneath this charge or you just want to go in and do the time you are sentenced to.
Attorney Tomeo Oftentimes Finds Evidence in His Client’s Favor When Cross-Examining the Arresting Officer at the DMV Hearing.
Sometimes there are factual disputes and the only way you can resolve it is by having a trial. Additionally, if there are factual disputes, you can subpoena the police officer’s at the DMV hearing and you can cross-examine them there. Sometimes you can uncover new evidence in your client’s favor that might not even be in the police report or you can clarify issues there.
Interviewer: How often are you able to get a substantial positive result in a case? Maybe it is not possible to have the whole case dismissed but can you work to mitigate the charge significantly?
DUIs and Penalties in This Current Climate: With No Prior Offenses, You Are Likely to Be Eligible to Enroll in a Program and Your Charge May Eventually Be Dismissed
Steve Tomeo: I would say if I looked at all of the DUIs, first time offenders, we’re able to significantly help our clients more than 60-65% of the time.
With the current laws, if you have no prior offenses you can be admitted into these programs that can result in getting the case dismissed. More recently, we have encountered prosecutors objecting to these programs.
In the Stanford Court, the prosecutors are routinely objecting to the granting of the alcohol education program. I am finding that we have to argue to get our client in it, even when they’ve been found to be eligible for the program and it’s discretionary with the trial court judge.
Attorney Tomeo Has Had Success in Mitigating Penalties for Repeat DUI Offenders
But, you need to present a reasonable argument to the judge in order for the judge to grant your client the program. In cases like that, factor in the first, second, third, fourth, fifth offender clients, I think we’re able to produce meaningful results in 65% of the cases.
Interviewer: That means that you know people shouldn’t just give up and plead guilty. There’s definitely a reason to fight and more often than not your client’s situation can be improved.
Nationwide, an Overwhelming Majority of Individuals That Go to Trial to Fight a DUI Charge Lose.
Steve Tomeo: I think the statistics nationwide and probably in Connecticut are that probably 80 to 90% of all criminal defendants that go to trial lose.
These Cases Are Not Likely to Be Won at the Appellate Court or the Supreme Court, Either
The Supreme Court and the Appellate courts most of the time are sustaining the lower court decision. When you’re talking criminal court you better be prepared to go to battle or else, if you want to avoid it, you just got live a life where you’re not going to take any chances and do not drink and drive or take a cab. The penalties for a DUI conviction are becoming increasingly severe.