The following are common mistakes people make in their Arizona DUI cases, and the regrets and consequences of those mistakes. The excerpts are paraphrases of actual statements made by DUI defendants, and represent common and very real scenarios:
I pled guilty at the start of summer.
I wanted to get my extreme DUI in Phoenix over with. It was a first offense and I just wanted it behind me before school started in August (I'm a teacher). I pled guilty and was sentenced to 10 days in Sheriff Joe's "Tent City." That place would be bad enough in January, but during the Arizona summer heat it was pure hell on earth. &
I didn't take the charge seriously.
I thought it was like a traffic ticket. Now, I've been to jail, am paying high risk insurance, and have a criminal record that has prevented me from getting the job I want. It would have been cheaper to treat this like the very serious charge that it is from the start.
I hired the same guy I called from the police station.
The attorney I called from the police station said I sounded fine, to take the blood test and then call him the next day. I did, thinking he had my best interest at heart. Turns out he could have been a witness in my case had he not represented me. My money was more important to him and his firm then protecting my rights.
I tried to talk and negotiate with the prosecutor myself.
I wanted to save the money and didn't qualify for a public defender. I admitted drinking to the prosecutor, and even admitted that I had two prior DUIs that he didn't know about. Instead of giving me credit for my honesty, the prosecutor dismissed the charge, which I initially thought was good. Turns out he dismissed so the County Attorney could then refile the charge as a felony. Now I am looking at a presumptive prison term of 2 1/2 years.
I ignored the summons because I was in Arizona on vacation.
I simply figured I would never come to Arizona again and it wouldn't hurt me. Arizona suspended my license and has a permanent hold on it because of an outstanding bench warrant. My non-Arizona drivers license is suspended now because of the Arizona matter and I will have to return to Arizona to face the music if I ever want to drive legally again.
I didn't hire an attorney.
I thought I could do it myself. After all, how hard could a DUI charge be? I mean, I did admit to drinking and blew double the legal limit... open and shut, I'm guilty... right? Turns out the law is very complex, and had I raised a Constitutional issue at the right time, my case would probably have been thrown out.
I hired the cheapest attorney I could find, and used cost as my only criteria.
I got what I paid for! I understand there is always a chance or losing, but with the guy I hired, it had to be 100%. If I had it to do over again I now know that I would hire the best attorney out there, regardless of cost, and have him fight like hell to get me off whatever way possible.
I didn't take my license suspension seriously.
After my DUI, I had to drive. I could have had my husband drive me. But I didn't. I got pulled over because I forgot to close my gas tank door after filling up. Wham! I got charged with Driving With License Suspended, got revoked on my DUI charge and spent 20 days in jail.
I didn't exercise my rights.
I didn't feel drunk, and thought I could talk my way out of it. What I said got twisted around in the police report, and I look like a slurring, belligerent, idiot. The description is dead wrong. But because I didn't exercise my right to remain silent I'm going to have a DUI on my record.
I didn't show up for Court.
I didn't think it would be a big deal. Then I find out there's this "bench warrant" for my arrest! I found out the hard way, when they did a random security background check at work. The police actually hauled me out of the office, in my suit and tie, in handcuffs. In front of my co-workers and employees. I spent the night in jail before the Judge let me out the next morning.
I talked to people other than an attorney about my case, and listened to their advice.
I'm a big believer in learning by experience. So I talked to other people who'd gone through this. This was my first (and only) DUI arrest. The advice I got was dead wrong, and made me doubt my attorney's advice. I didn't know that the law had changed since my friend had his last DUI.
After talking with 10 attorneys, I decided that I knew enough to handle my case on my own.
When I got to court I entered a plea of not-guilty. That went well. The Judge advised me to get an Attorney. I didn't. The next time I came to court I tried to argue my case. I wanted to tell the Judge why I was innocent (I have a dental partial that trapped mouthwash, which contains alcohol, and I believed that caused my high breath test). She yelled at me again, telling me that the pretrial hearing is not the correct time to present evidence, and that if I intended to introduce scientific testimony, I would have to get an expert who would need to submit a report. I didn't know what to do. Then, at my MVD hearing the Hearing Officer wouldn't even listen to my story. He said it was not a valid defense, given the issues. I lost my license. When I went back and hired a lawyer, he showed me why my case would have been a sure winner at the MVD hearing. Now, my license is suspended for a year, and I am not eligible for an occupational license. It takes me 2 hours to get to work on the bus.