Don’t Just “PGAC” to DUI - Always File Motions!

Posted by Daniel J. Gerl | Feb 03, 2014 | 0 Comments


We've recently had two DUI cases where the prosecutor would not budge on plea negotiations. In both cases, the client had been charged with a DUI charge for the first time and had been active in getting an alcohol assessment in addition to enrolling in treatment. In each case, the prosecutor's best "offer" was "Plead Guilty As Charged (PGAC)."

That is not how we do things here at Gerl Law. While there are occasions in which it may make sense to plead guilty as charged, this is rarely the best option on a first offense case – and certainly not without arguing motions to suppress evidence. That is exactly what we did for these two clients.

In the first case, my client was stopped for speeding. During the court session, I was able understand from the police officer that he could not attest to the reliability of his radar device. It was raining; he admitted that might have affected the radar reading. He also stated that he was unsure how far away the driver was when he clocked him. As I gathered this critical information, learned only because we had chosen to file and argue motions, I was able to present the case to the judge in such a way that prosecution failed. Case dismissed!

In the second case, the officer stopped my client after he had committed several traffic infractions. On paper, the case looked bleak. However, during the motion hearing the officer in question painted a different, far less incriminating picture. The officer admitted that rather than inquiring if the driver would be willing to perform the field sobriety tests (FSTs), he had stated that he wanted the driver to perform them. As performing FSTs are not required by law, but rather up to the discretion of the driver, I was able to demonstrate that the driver had been coerced into performing the field sobriety test.

This same officer confessed that he tells drivers who refuse to take the test that they are ‘making things difficult' for him. Such confessions, clearly intended to coerce drivers, prompted the judge to begin further questioning of the officer, which rarely occurs during a motion hearing. This vital information would not have been brought to light without arguing motions.

The hearing is still underway but valuable information has already been gathered so far and the prosecutor's case is (in my opinion) much weaker now than before we started the hearing.

In a typical DUI case, there is always evidentiary issues that give rise to potential motions that the attorney can argue. A skilled and experienced DUI defense attorney will know how to spot these issues; a DUI attorney without experience probably won't.   Did the officer have a legal basis to stop the driver? What did he see, hear or smell when he first made contact? Did he ask if the driver wanted to do the field sobriety tests, or did he coerce the driver into performing them? Were those FSTs performed in the standardized manner? Was there “probable cause” when he made the arrest?

If the driver spoke a primary language other than English, was he offered an interpreter? Did the officer properly read him the Implied Consent Warnings? Did he agree to do the breath test (BAC), and if so, did the officer follow the requirements in performing it?  If there was a blood draw, did the officer get a search warrant and follow the required protocol?

If you've been arrested for DUI, make sure your DUI defense attorney is aware of everything that happened between you and the officer. Ask your attorney whether or not they recognize any evidentiary issues in your case that are favorable for you. And if your attorney advises you to plead guilty as charged, and hasn't filed motions, ask him to explain WHY.

Arrested for DUI? We Can Help.

If you've been arrested for DUI, or are facing another criminal charge, call Gerl Law now at (206) 799-3579. We CAN help you.

About the Author

Daniel J. Gerl

Dan Gerl is a former prosecutor with over ten years of experience handling DUI, criminal and traffic cases throughout Western Washington. Dan handled hundreds of traffic infractions, avoiding negative impact on driving records over 98% of the time . If you are cited with a traffic or speeding infraction, and you want to keep your record clean, Puget Law Group is your best defense!


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