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What are Your Chances of Being Convicted for DUI?

Police Car DUI

If you’re reading this and you’ve been arrested for a DUI, stay calm. These are serious charges, but panicking won’t help.

You’re probably wondering, “what’re the chances I’ll be convicted?” and “what will happen if I am convicted?” Those are tough questions to answer. Getting results after a DUI arrest depends on a number of factors, including the evidence against you, any prior convictions you might have, the prosecuting attorney, and your defense attorney.

Before I go any further, remember that no matter who you choose as your attorney, any case has the possibility of a conviction, acquittal at trial, or plea negotiation. That’s just the nature of our criminal justice system.

Your DUI Case is Unique

First, know that every single DUI case is different. I’ve watched many hundreds of videos of field sobriety tests. I’ve also reviewed the results of hundreds of breath samples and blood tests. And I’ve found that while they may have shared common elements, each DUI case is truly one-of-a-kind.

Let me tell you more about your how to improve your chances of avoiding a DUI conviction, as well as what to ask when looking for a lawyer to handle your DUI case.

Plea Agreements and Reduced Charges

Why are some people offered plea agreements to offenses that are not DUI’s, while others don’t?

It depends heavily upon your choice of lawyer.

Judnich Firm PictureExperienced DUI defense attorneys like those at the Judnich Law Office know how use their expertise and the tools available to them to persuade prosecutors to dismiss cases or reach an acceptable plea agreement for a lesser offense. This only occurs after years of trying cases against those prosecutors and achieving results.

There’s No Such Thing as a Cut & Dry DUI

As I mentioned earlier, all DUI cases are unique. Don’t believe people who say that you’re either guilty or you’re not. The law isn’t black and white. There are plenty of grey areas and anyone who says otherwise isn’t worth listening to. In almost any case, you could be convicted if represented by one attorney, yet acquitted in the very same case with a more experienced DUI defense attorney. The difference is the attorney.

And There’s No Such Thing as Magic

Additionally, be wary of any attorney who claims to have a magic formula to winning a DUI case or getting a good result from any case, for that matter.

However, there is such a thing as hard work and sometimes that can seem like magic. The truth is, the more hard work that an attorney puts into a case the more likely he or she is to achieve great results.

Your DUI Attorney is an Investment

Most people realize that experienced attorneys with a good track record when it comes to DUI defenses can cost a lot of money. But this is an investment in your personal future, not an unrecoverable sunk cost.

A positive outcome in your DUI case can save you from missing out on thousands of dollars down the road when it comes to future employment opportunities, not to mention the upfront costs of a DUI conviction. Investing significant amounts of money into a top-tier DUI defense attorney increases the amount of time they can devote to your case.

Do you want your attorney giving your case the bare minimum attention it requires or do you want them to research and explore every reasonable option? Do you want evidence, including police dashcam footage, reviewed for hours or just a few minutes?

Do you expect your attorney to interview the arresting officer? Do you expect your attorney to be able to identify and understand the officer’s training and any biases that may have caused mistakes in your investigation?

An attorney who devotes extra time to your case costs more money than one who isn’t as thorough. Think about it. You wouldn’t want to work extra hard for extra long hours for no money at your job would you?

The Judnich Law Office Difference: Pretrial Dedication

We’ll spend a minimum of 2-3 hours simply dissecting the videotape of our client’s encounter with law enforcement officers. This is the main evidence that prosecutors use at trial, so that is what must be scrutinized.

Our DUI defense attorneys look at everything from the reason an officer pulls a person over, to how they conduct and evaluate field sobriety tests and breath tests. A single viewing isn’t enough. We watch videos over and over, devoting massive amounts of time to extracting the evidence that benefits our clients.

An interview with the arresting officer is almost always necessary. This helps determine exactly what the officer did and did not do. This is important because every law enforcement officer in the United States is supposed to conduct every DUI investigation in exactly the same way.

However, very few officers follow the DUI stop protocols as closely as they are required. Only experienced DUI defense attorneys with access to law enforcement training methods and experience with similar cases can identify and use those facts to their client’s advantage.

When searching for a DUI defense attorney, here are two questions you must ask:

  1. First, do they have the training manuals officers use and are trained on?
  2. Next, ask to see them.

If a prospective attorney says no to either question, move on. A thorough understanding of and access to these training manuals are vital to winning a DUI case.

Our Advantage in the Courtroom

courtroom

Photo: Clyde Robinson on Flickr

Too many attorneys take DUI cases, then plead them out to whatever deal they can get, and never see a trial. This isn’t the best way to get great results for clients. Only attorneys who are willing to take cases all the way to trial receive the best deals from prosecutors.

Do you think a prosecutor is intimidated by an attorney that pleads all of his/her clients out and never goes to trial? Or does intimidation come from attorneys who never accept a bad offer, who are willing to go trial, and who win once they are in the courtroom?

At Judnich Law Office, our attorneys fight for you in the courtroom and we typically obtain great results for our clients.

Choosing the wrong attorney can mean the difference between being convicted of DUI and acquittal.
Do your research, and get in touch to see if experienced DUI defense attorneys like those we have at the Judnich Law Office are the right choice for you.

Is Your Auto Insurance Ripping You Off?

auto insurance form

You did your research. You went out of your way to make sure you have “good” insurance on your car. So you think you know what’s really in your policy, right?

Unfortunately, probably not. Many insurance companies try to dupe you in the fine print.

Unless you’re an expert in insurance, I am going to assume you haven’t read every line of your insurance policy. Most people don’t.

How do insurance companies get away with this? Let’s look at an example.

Your Declarations Sheet

Most people receive and review their Declarations sheet and assume they know what they have in their policy. The Declarations sheet is the first page of your policy. It’s supposed to be a clear, concise, and accurate summary of your coverage that does not mislead you. Here’s an example of a USAA Declarations sheet:

usaa auto insurance declaration sheet

If you find it confusing, don’t worry. Most people have a difficult time figuring out exactly what is on this “summary” sheet. Here is what it says:

  • There are two vehicles that are insured: A 1995 Dodge and a 1996 Olds.
  • There is $100,000 of liability coverage per person and up to $300,000 for a total claim value in the event that you are at fault for a crash and other people are injured by you.
  • There is up to $50,000 of property damage coverage.
  • There is up to $25,000 in Medical Payment coverage per person (note that this only costs $6.98 per 6 months).
  • There is Lost wages benefits up to $2,000 per 30 day period.
  • There is Uninsured Motorist coverage up to $100,000 per person up to $300,000 per incident.
  • There is Underinsured Motorist coverage up to $100,000 per person and up to $300,000 per incident.
  • There is a $500 deductible for comprehensive and collision coverage to fix your own vehicle.

By most standards, this should be pretty good coverage. But look a little deeper and you see a different picture. USAA doesn’t tell you about the ridiculous restrictions they place on these coverages. The most egregious is the Medical Payment coverage. This person paid for up to $25,000 in medical payment coverage. What USAA doesn’t tell you is that there are severe limits on this coverage.

car accident insurance

Photo: Natloans

USAA Restrictions

Let’s go through them one at a time.

1. They will only pay your medical bills for one year.

If you need medical treatment, USAA will refuse to pay for any bills after the one year deadline. So, whether you pay for $10,000 in coverage or $100,000 in coverage, it is all only good for one year.

The vast majority of people take longer than one year to fully recover from a serious crash. That means this coverage will not cover all your bills in an average case.

2. USAA decides what medical bills are “necessary and appropriate.”

So, if they decide that any medical treatment wasn’t necessary and appropriate, they won’t pay for it. This tends to be more the rule than the exception.

3. USAA will decide on their own when you have had enough treatment.

If they feel that you are taking too long to get better, they will have one of their own doctors look at your medical records. They will almost always say that you are over treating, and they will not pay for additional treatment.

4.They will let bills go unpaid.

Unless you dispute their denials and really push them on a refusal to pay certain bills, they will simply deny them, and if you don’t do anything, they will remain unpaid and potentially go to collections.

What Should You Do?

At the end of the day, insurance companies try to get you to pay a larger deductible every month by promising better and more coverage. But that may not be what you’re really getting. They are tricking you with the fine print by refusing to pay bills and claims that they are duty bound to pay.

Don’t sit back and take it! Have a talk with your agent today about terms like this and see if your insurance company is ripping you off.

If you think your insurance company has illegally refused to pay your bills, I can help.

Call me for a free consultation at 406-721-3354.

 

Will Your Headrest Protect You in a Crash?

headrest protection car crash

I bet 9 out of 10 drivers have an incorrectly adjusted headrest.

Why is this important?

Because getting rear-ended is the most common type of car collision in the world. When you get rear-ended, your head is initially thrown backwards and your neck can be massively extended. Contrary to popular belief, your headrest isn’t there so you can snooze while stuck in traffic. Headrests are designed to protect your head from moving too much when you get rear-ended.

The problem is that most people don’t adjust the headrest at all, or if they do, they adjust it for comfort and not protection.

Chances are that you’ll be in at least one car crash in your life. (Statistics say you’ll be in a car accident every 18 years.) It’s time to do everything you can to protect yourself in advance. First, get adequate liability insurance. Then make sure you’re correctly using your car or truck’s safety features.

How to Adjust Your Headrest: Pull It Up

The seat headrest usually can be adjusted up and down (height) as well as tilt front and back. So how do you actually use these adjustments correctly? Adjust them so there is little to no space between the back of your head and the headrest. Most people I see have their headrests pushed all the way down to the seat. This is usually not only incorrect, but can actually cause you additional harm in a crash.

The first adjustment is the head height. You should sit in your seat as you normally do, then pull the headrest up so the top of it is as the top of your head. (The easiest way to do this is to have someone help you.) You might have to press a button on your headrest to adjust the height.

properly adjusted headrest car

A high enough headrest will stop your head from forcefully jerking back during a collision. The cushion will do its job and protect you. If your headrest is too low, you could get whiplash or worse.

wrong way to adjust car headrest

The picture above is how most people have their headrests; I bet yours is like this. This is bad and incorrect. If you imagine your head violently being forced back in a crash, you can see there is a lot of room for the head to whip backwards. Your head will touch the top of the headrest instead of the flat/front part it’s supposed to contact. This can cause more significant injures than the crash itself and is responsible for a lot of neck injuries. As you can see, this headrest needs to be pulled up at least six inches to the top of her head. This is why it is useful to have someone else help you do this in your car.

Move It Forward

The second adjustment you should make to your headrest is moving it forward so your head is right next to it. You should be able to rest your head on the headrest if you just push back slightly when driving. The correct adjustment is shown below:

right way to have car headrest

It may seem unusual to drive like this at first, but it is the correct and safe way.

With the headrest adjusted to proper height and distance from the back of the head, you can see that it actually creates a cushioned wall against the back of your head. That is what they are designed to do. They are supposed to stop your head from whipping back at all. Below you can see why an improperly adjusted headrest creates space between the head and the headrest.

wrong way to put headrest car

Having space between your head and the headrest (above) defeats the purpose. The height is correct in the photo above, but with a gap, your head can snap back and slam against it during a crash.

You can adjust this a few ways. First, the driver’s seat should not be reclined. These days, too many people slouch in their car. Instead, tilt your seat so it’s mostly vertical. Then your head will be closer to the headrest.

Second, most headrests also have a tilt adjustment that can angle the headrest toward your head more. Chances are that if the gap between your head and your headrest is like the one in the photo, your seat is reclined too much.

Conclusion

Try driving with your seat and headrest positioned properly for a week — I bet at the end of the week, your back will feel better. Plus, you’ll have peace of mind that you’re protecting yourself in the case of a rear-end collision and lessening your chances of a neck injury. Every single client of mine would pay all the money in the world if they could just not have been injured in a crash. Don’t find out the hard way that a little prevention can help you for the rest of your life.

If you’ve been in a car accident and need a lawyer, we always provide free consultations. Call or email us today.

 

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Judnich Law Office | 2419 Mullan Road Missoula, MT 59808 | Phone: (406) 721-3354
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