Every DUI Attorney has gotten that phone call in the middle of the night from either a former client, a friend of a friend, or someone who found your name in the phone book. Typically this occurs when somebody has been arrested for a DUI and they request an Attorney. Because of the nature of these calls, the time of day, and the limited amount of information that can be discussed its important to have specific questions in mind, and a script that should be followed.
Whenever I get one of these phone calls I usually like to speak with the arresting officer first. I ask them why the person was stopped? Whether they performed any field sobriety tests? Was a Portable breath test offered? If so, what were the results? Does the individual have a valid license? Are there concerns of drug use? Lastly will they be released or booked into custody. Most experienced Officers will automatically start providing this information, but if they don’t make sure to always ask.
After I have spoken with the arresting officer then I ask to speak with the suspect. Since most people are freaking out, or they are emotional, or even sometimes they are impaired. Its best to find out a little information about them and then inform them of their rights. Sometimes people want to start going off about how the Officer falsely arrested them, or they are not drunk, or whatever it may be. This all may be true, but its not an effective use of time and there is a lot of information the suspect needs to be aware of.
First I ask them if they have ever been arrested for DUI. Then I ask if they have a valid drivers license or whether they have a commercial drivers license. After this background information is provided I try to ask about the incident. Whether they were drinking? How much? Whether there were any witnesses? Whether they felt impaired? Etc. Sometimes people are reluctant to give this information over the phone so then I just move on.
After their background and the incident is discussed I start to inform them of their rights and consequences with regards to the breath test. What will happen to their license if they take it and it’s over the legal limit, what will happen if they decline it? I also discuss the possibility of getting an independent blood test after they are released.
Once they are clear on what the consequences are and what their rights are I tell them to put the arresting officer back on the phone. I then inform the officer the individual will not be answering any more questions, and they will not submit to any further field sobriety testing.
When taking these phone calls its important to not only thoroughly explain everything to the suspect, but also take notes. Take notes on the suspects answers, but also take notes on their quality of speech, their ability to understand the conversation. All of these details are important if the suspect decides to hire another Attorney than these observations can be provided to that Attorney with a release of information.