You were charged with an OUI after a car accident. Does that mean you can not win the case?
Yes, you can still beat the charge. An auto accident does not mean a case is impossible to win.
However, if you were in a car accident, it may make fighting an OUI case more difficult.
When there is an accident, a judge or jury may infer that the defendant’s driving was dangerous or impaired, or they wouldn’t have gotten in an accident in the first place. Also, if you hit somebody or hit another car and there was some damage, there may be a natural human tendency for a judge or jury to think that because something bad happened, they may be more inclined to find someone guilty or feel the need to blame someone.
Explanations for Failed Tests or Erratic Behavior
There are completely reasonable explanations for “failing” field sobriety tests after an accident. These tests measure balance and coordination, which are bound to be disrupted after a car accident.
- You were very shaken up after a traumatic event
- You may have been hurt
- Did the airbag has gone off? That can cause minor injuries and balance issues.
With all that adrenaline pumping through you, you may be in no condition to do field sobriety tests. The stress and shock of the accident may explain any unusual behavior observed by the officer or witnesses, that they may have mistaken for you being drunk or impaired.
A Recent Case I Won
I had a case recently where the incident started with my client taking a left turn in front of a car and getting in an accident with a pregnant woman. This testimony was certainly not the best way to start off a trial. Part of my defense was that reason he didn’t do perfectly on the field sobriety tests was that he was in an accident and he was shaken.
That client was found not guilty of a 4th offense OUI, so just because my client had an accident doesn’t automatically mean he was screwed.
As in any OUI case, we always point out all the things you did correctly, that are not consistent with being impaired. In that case, the prosecutor tried to make a big deal about the fact that he didn’t pull over right away right after the accident, he pulled 30 or 40 feet slightly off the road and into an apartment complex.
In every case that I fight, I like to point out everything that my client did that was right or that points to sobriety or showed good judgment. What I argued in that case was that pulling 30 or 40 feet away actually made perfect sense because he pulled away completely away from the line of traffic in a place that he wasn’t obstructing anyone.
Get legal help with an OUI accident case.
I handle all kids of OUI and criminal driving cases, including hit and run charges so I understand the full range of issues, from avoiding a criminal charge to getting your car fixed after an accident that you caused.
Drunk driving cases with accidents are always more complicated. Give me a call to discuss the specifics of your case, and I’ll go over the facts with you, and explain how I can help, and how likely it is that I think we can win the case.
Russell Matson is the founding attorney of The Law Offices of Russell J. Matson, PC a criminal defense law firm in Massachusetts. His web site is http://madrunkdrivingdefense.com.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)