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What do you do when your DUI client is an alcoholic?

She came in squirming and scrambling, saying the cop lied, blaming others, not taking responsibility for her actions, not facing reality…

…in spite of the fact that she had just been arrested for third-time DUI Offense, with a .19% blood alcohol level (more than twice the legal limit), having violated her probation for a prior DUI conviction only one month earlier!

Now she was facing serious time in prison and she was scared — and that’s good. An alcoholic needs to be wakened up. You want to get them to open their eyes, to get them out of denial — to recognize that they’re causing themselves and others problems and it’s time to stop.

From a legal standpoint, you’re not going to win a case like this.

In fact, the more you litigate and file motions, the more likely the prosecution will find out other information that could work against your client. It’s better to stay away from the facts of the case and choose a different course…

My strategy was to urge my client into an extensive program of recovery.

The fear of going to jail on a third offense — mandatory minimum of 120 days — was enough to get her attention. I worked with her to get her into rehabilitation, starting with an AA meeting every day, then getting an AA sponsor and working the 12 Steps.

I also got a court order sending her into rehab, so that the time she spent in rehab would count toward custody, and would show the judge that she was serious about facing her problem and dealing with it.

To help her case, I got her voluntarily to wear a SCRAM device around her ankle before she went to court to prove she’s had no alcohol (the defendant has to pay for it). This enabled me to present that my client was an alcoholic, but had stopped drinking, was going to treatment, attending 12-step meetings every day, had gotten a sponsor, was working the steps, was going into rehab.

As a result, although my client had to plead guilty for the third-time offense, she received credit for all the recovery work she was doing, including the live-in rehab program, and was able to avoid the jail time she would have had to serve otherwise.

Are we DUI lawyers simply “getting people off,” or are we doing a service?

What’s better for the person? What’s better for society? What do you think? Please COMMENT BELOW.

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