A Wrongfully Charged DUI
I’m a retired personal injury attorney living in Chicago. Back in the day, I spent most of my time filing lawsuits and winning settlements for my injured clients. On a Friday night in 1982, I found myself on the other side of the law. The Chicago police pulled me over and charged me with driving under the influence.
Was I guilty of speeding? Yes. Swerving a little? Probably. But the police charged me with a DUI with no solid evidence to support the case. Because I practiced civil law in Illinois and not criminal law, I had to hire a criminal defense attorney. Chicago Trusted Attorneys was there for me when I needed them most. I was so frustrated with the situation that I needed a lawyer with a level head to assess the situation.
Getting My Charges Dismissed
Even though my DUI was a first-time offense, I would have faced significant penalties if I had been convicted. A first-time DUI conviction in Illinois can result in up to one year in jail, up to $2,500 in fines, and a one-year license suspension.
Because I was innocent, I knew I needed to avoid a conviction at all costs. The breath test I took at the scene of the accident showed that I was sober. The police still assumed I was under the influence of alcohol or drugs because they saw me driving erratically.
What they didn’t know is that I had almost fallen asleep at the wheel when they pulled me over. So, maybe I was driving negligently by mistake, but not illegally! There was no evidence to support the DUI charge, and my lawyer pointed this out in court. Thankfully, the judge believed it and dismissed the charges.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Civil law differs from criminal law, but I learned something new from being on the other side. Unlike personal injury cases where you have to prove negligence, criminal cases are about creating reasonable doubt.
To dismiss my charges, I didn’t have to prove my innocence. I had to create enough doubt about me being guilty. The courts don’t want to take the chance of penalizing an innocent person. The innocent until proven guilty concept is the only way to uphold the justice system.
I was wrongfully charged for a DUI in Chicago that night. Thankfully, my lawyer helped get my charges reduced. I can’t help but think about the innocent people who don’t have the luxury of a good lawyer by their side. Or, the guilty people who might get off because they do.