Do Some Minor Drivers Feel They Are Guilty and Should Plead Guilty to Alcohol-Related Charges?
Interviewer: Have you ever had clients that feel guilty and therefore feel they should just plead guilty?
Minors Unfamiliarity with the Law Could Result in a Guilty Plea to a Charge That Should Have Been Reduced
Matthew Nebeker: There are many occasions when they first call me or they first meet with me, they may understand or they may have gotten the test result and says that, “Well, I did have alcohol because the test indicates this”
If it’s any detectable amount, they think that they’re DUI or they’re going to get in trouble. Sometimes I’ve seen it where the officer somewhat overcharges. The person will blow a .03 and he’ll charge them with the DUI. They’ll come in to my office. They’ll show me the citation and I’d say, “Well, this DUI, I’m about 99% sure this DUI is going to go away because you weren’t over the limit.”
You might have been violated the Not a Drop and you might suffer some driver’s license consequences, however you’re not DUI. You may have illegally consumed or possessed alcohol.
The Difference in the Amount of the Fine for DUI and Unlawful Possession Is Approximately One Thousand Dollars
It’s those seemingly small actions, such as getting that charge reduced from a DUI to just unlawful consumption, that’s huge in a person’s life. If they would have just plead guilty to the charge and no one would have pointed that little issue out, they would have had a DUI on their record. They would have suffered the consequences for DUI, and the fine difference between a DUI and unlawful possession or consumption is about a thousand dollars.
Can You Afford Not to Retain an Attorney? Most Times, an Attorney Will End up Saving the Defendant More Money than They Paid to the Attorney
That’s just in the fine. There are numerous collateral consequences that are associated with the DUI like the ignition interlock device and probation. Just by coming in and seeing me, I probably saved them more than the money that they paid me.
That’s why I always say, “All attorneys or most attorneys have a free consultation. I know I do. You can schedule an appointment to come talk with me.” I’ll take the information that they have.
Most times, they won’t have a lot of information. They may just have the citation but sometimes I can make a quick call while they’re in my office or help them get started putting the case together and seeing if there’s a defense. Sometimes the defense is simple to point out, like the example that I just gave. Other times we have to dig a little deeper, but it’s always been official to go in there with an attorney and not just plead guilty.
A Parent Is Still the Guardian of an Individual under 18 Years Old
Interviewer: What about when you’re working with parents?
Most Parents Are Concerned about Charges Staying on the Permanent Record
Matthew Nebeker: I do work with a lot of parents especially on the cases where the client is under 18 and who are in the juvenile court. This is because the parent is still their legal guardian and I have to talk to the parent in most cases. The biggest issue that I see with the parent is, “I don’t want this to go on his or her record like this. Is this going to stay with him? How long is this going to stay with him? Are they going to do jail time?”
Just a lot of the normal concerns, but I would say the top of the list for concerns is, “They’re young, they’re starting out, how long is this going to be on their record? Can we get it reduced? Could we get it stricken from the record? Can we get their record sealed?”
It is the same with the clients who are 18 to 21, that’s the biggest concern for the parent is, “How are they going to get in to college with this conviction on their record? How are they going to get a job to pay their car insurance with this on their record?” If they’re going to apply for a job some employers will run their background and see a DUI conviction or some kind of a drug charge and there’s no way they’re going to want to hire this person because of that. That is a very valid concern.
Many Employers Will Not Hire an Individual with a Drug or Alcohol Conviction
Interviewer: What are the chances that employers will run a background check?
Matthew Nebeker: Most of them, nowadays when you apply for any job, they’re going to run the background check. They’re going to see that there’s some kind of drug or alcohol conviction, and this person is a young individual, it really makes them wonder, “Has this person fixed their problem? Am I going to deal with these issues if they’re going to work for me?”
“Is it going to be a liability for me and my business, and hurt my business in some way?” That’s the way employers look at it.
Universities May Be Reluctant to Accept an Applicant with a Drug or Alcohol Conviction
Matthew Nebeker: Some schools perceive if you have something on your record, it means you’ve been dealing with drug and alcohol issues and you haven’t been thinking about your future. They think, “Do we really want someone coming to our school that is going to be more focused on partying and having a good time than academics?” Because schools are ranked by how many graduates they have and their GPAs. Those convictions really can impact employment, school, and their future.