For the eight months, I have been defending a man that was accused of a DUI occurring on Hill Air Force Base. The man was exiting out of an inbound gate at 5:30 a.m. (All traffic, both lanes were inbound with no exit). The man pulled to the side and the cops arrived and smelled alcohol. The man was given Field Sobriety Tests and then a breath test that read .139. (The limit being .08) . The case was dismissed today.
Here are five tips in defending a Federal DUI.
- The first thing you have to know is that in Federal Court, a person is not entitled to a jury trial. The trial is held before a judge only. Do not make the judge mad and be prepared at all times!
- Next, because there is no jury, do not hold anything back for the trial. Bring all issues up front with the judge and make the prosecution work. Challenge all issues. The prosecutors in Federal Court may not be used to people challenging the case. They may show up unprepared.
- File motions to challenge the Stop, the Arrest, the validity of the Breath Test, and any thing else that can be brought before the judge. In Federal Court, the motion is simple, concise, and has no argument. All argument and briefing comes after the hearing and the evidence. This makes sense because sometimes you never know what the cop will say and you don’t know what the evidence will be.
- Request evidentiary hearings. Sometimes the witnesses get shipped off to military duty and are unavailable for hearings. These hearings are your trial. The judge who hears the hearing, will hear the trial. If the judge is convinced of your argument prior to trial, you won’t be wasting his time doing a trial when he has heard all the facts.
- Judge’s in Utah are tough and conservative, but smart and reason well. They support their findings with reasoning and caution. Write a brief better than the prosecution and and support it with documentation and with law. Attack the prosecution’s brief carefully and methodically.
The man’s case was dismissed because of all of the above. We filed motions to challenge the arrest and the breath test. An evidentiary hearing was held. The officer’s did not conduct the field sobriety tests according to the standards. The validity was compromised. The officers could not tell the court how they insured the breath test was accurate by checking the man’s mouth and waiting 15 minutes before giving the test. Cheers to this man. He almost lost his job, his career, and everything else that rolls into having a Federal DUI on the record.