by David W. Bate
As a criminal defense lawyer in Bangor, ME, I have been practicing for over 20 years and it still surprises me every time: Ordinary people charged with drunk driving are devastated by the prospect of facing real criminal charges with real criminal consequences. You are afraid to face family and friends. Through mere negligent conduct, getting behind the wheel when intoxicated, you are thrown in with other criminal defendants who intentionally committed their crimes: thieves, burglars and murderers. And you don’t know what to expect.
I think it helps speaking to a Bangor, ME criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to alleviate the misconceptions and get a clear picture of what’s coming. Even if it seems to you that the State’s case is rock solid and a guilty plea likely, a well-focused analysis and review can alleviate the anxiety of the unknown. For some cases, a defense lawyer’s scrutiny of the police reports can unearth a complete defense or at least an argument that can reduce the charges and penalties.
License suspensions (150 day minimum in Maine) wreak havoc on drivers and their families and friends, especially in rural states without public transportation. Driving is one of the most important conveniences in life, one that we all take for granted. The stress of a suspension can cause job loss, friend loss, even loss of family. A defense attorney may be able to avoid or minimize your suspension to reduce this unexpectedly burdensome penalty.
Jail undoubtedly is the most daunting prospect of a drunk driving charge. You may have had a taste of jail during your arrest. It is a bad place with bad people. Although most states. Like Maine, have alternative sentencing programs designed to place you in camps in classes instead of behind bars, it often takes a defense attorney to navigate the complex rules behind these programs.
Some employers equate a drunk driving conviction with a loss of trust and reliability. Even if your job does not involve driving, your employer may see you as less likely to show up for work, question your sobriety, question your judgment, and pass you up for raises and promotion. A defense lawyer is your best option for avoiding conviction and, at times, will be able to convince your employer that the charge or conviction, if unavoidable, have made you a better employee.
Lifetime Criminal Record
A criminal record will be public and will stay with you a lifetime. A conviction will be scrutinized at awkward moments by potential employers and even friends and family. Some see any criminal conviction as a permanent black mark against your character. Although some states have procedures for pardoning drunk driving convictions (Maine does not), most have waiting periods and a stingy attitude toward A defense attorney obviously is your best bet against this life long stigma.
Thanks to our blog contributor, David W. Bate, of David W. Bate Law Office, PC, for his insight into the consequences of drunk driving charges.