You can be faced with a criminal charge by receiving an OUI citation in the mail, and never being arrested. This can happen in a number of different circumstances where the police officer didn’t actually see you behind the wheel or driving.
If you were in a car accident where you were sent to the hospital, then you would later receive an OUI citation, which is a criminal citation, and not be arrested. In other accident cases, if the officer comes upon the scene of the accident, but there are multiple people at the scene, and they can’t prove who was driving, you may be cited but not arrested.
It also can happen when a witness allegedly saw you driving erratically and called 911. The police may have tracked you and your car down to your home. Even if they spoke to you decided you were drunk, there may not have been definitive evidence you were the one driving the car, so they couldn’t arrest you.
What Happens After You Get a Criminal OUI Citation?
You have 4 days after receiving it to submit your citation to the courthouse to request a Clerk Magistrate’s hearing, or show cause hearing. You can mail it to the clerk’s office or bring it in person, just to be certain you submit it on time.
The purpose of the clerk magistrate’s hearing is to determine whether there is sufficient probable cause to charge you with a crime, in this case Operating Under the Influence.
I wrote a book on defending clients and winning cases at these exact hearings and I represent people facing many different crimes at clerk’s hearings, so we are fully prepared to protect your rights and fight for you at the hearing.
Can I win the OUI Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing?
It is very possible, yes, we have won a number of them. In accident cases, the hospital often does a routine blood test, and that blood analysis typically includes blood alcohol level. If we can establish that you were not drunk by means of medical records from a scientifically indisputable blood test, then we should win the case.
Winning at the Clerk Magistrate’s hearing is the best possible scenario. If the case is dismissed at the hearing, that means you were never formally charged with a crime at all.
We have also won a Clerk Magistrate’s hearing on an OUI marijuana case, where the client was alleged to have been seen smoking a joint at a rest area. Other witnesses disputed the officer’s claims in the police report, and there were insufficient facts to establish impairment by marijuana.
In another case, the police found my client by the side of the road, disoriented and having admitted to drinking. He received an OUI citation for drugs, however, we won that case at a clerk’s hearing as well. Read about these case wins here.
What Happens If We Lose the OUI Clerk’s Hearing?
Sometimes in these cases, the deck is simply stacked against us. The standard for sufficient probable cause is quite low. Even if the Magistrate thinks that the evidence is very marginal, they may be inclined to issue the criminal complaint anyway.
It is the “safer” decision from a political point of view. The Clerk Magistrate doesn’t want to be responsible for dismissing a drunk driving case completely, especially if the defendant is suspected of having an alcohol addiction problem, and goes on to get arrested for an OUI in the future.
In these cases, we proceed as we do with typical OUI defense, which is the decision whether or not to fight the charge or work out a deal to get your license back as quickly as possible.
What About a More Serious Charge, like OUI with Serious Bodily Injury?
If you cause an accident while allegedly impaired, the case is even more serious. It is still common to be charged with OUI via criminal citation in these cases since you were likely hospitalized. Whether the people injured were in the car you were driving, another vehicle or were pedestrians, you can be cited for OUI with serious bodily injury. You are facing jail time of at least 6 months up to 10 years, depending on how it is charged, or how serious the injuries were, or if the accident resulted in death.
This is not a charge that is likely to go away at a hearing, so we will need to prepare your defense immediately and deal with the best options to avoid the most serious penalties and jail time.
Please call us anytime for a consultation on an OUI charge. We can help you at every step of the process, whether you’ve already been you your arraignment, or haven’t even received a citation in the mail.
Call us today to get a confidential case evaluation on any OUI or criminal charge.