Make no mistake about it, California law is unsympathetic toward those found guilty of driving under the influence when the offense results in the injury or death of another. Where simply being arrested and convicted for DUI at a checkpoint or as the result of a traffic stop will yield serious fines and consequences including the risk of some jail time, being arrested for DUI that involves the injury or death of another can leave the suspect facing several years behind bars and serious financial sanctions.
First, Avoid It
The best way to avoid charges for DUI is to never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Of course, when certain circumstances exist and when minds are fuzzy, poor choices can be made. While there is no way to turn back time and prevent an accident from happening after it has happened, a person arrested for DUI following an accident where another person is injured or killed must make a decision on how to respond moving forward.
The Law Isn’t Evil
Many people have an idea of the law as something scary, but when it is understood, it is easy for one to see how much protection the law affords to those who are suspected of criminal offenses. The law gives those accused of a crime the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent. The law even states specifically that a person has the right not to incriminate him or herself. These rights help keep our legal system blind and are considered by some to be weapons against tyranny. After all, nobody wants to live under a system of law where the state forces suspects to prove their innocence. Under our system, it is the state that must prove guilt.
After an accident of any type that results in an arrest and charge for DUI, particularly one where a person has been injured or killed, the suspect should exercise his or her rights and refuse to answer any questions regarding the accident. In many cases, it is a suspect’s own statements which are misinterpreted or misreported by investigators that help the prosecution seal the suspect’s fate. If anything needs to be said, it can be said through an experienced DUI attorney.
A Word on Public Defenders
Public defenders exist because the law guarantees the right to an attorney. If a person can’t afford an attorney, the person is assigned a public defender. Unfortunately, these public defenders often seem to work more for the court scheduler than their assigned clients – preferring instead to rack up plea deals and clear up the court backlogs instead of actually mounting a diligent defense.
Even if they think they can’t afford legal counsel, DUI suspects should always get a second opinion. It is, after all, their very freedom that hangs in the balance. A skilled DUI attorney may not be able to make all of a person’s legal problems go away, but one can often negotiate very favorable consequences for those that they represent, especially in comparison to what many public defenders offer their clients. Many private DUI attorneys are willing to work with clients on matters of payment and, if one private attorney can’t help, he or she will usually be able to refer the person to an attorney or charitable organization that can. Suspects will never know the kind of help they can get in a DUI case unless they ask.