One of my recent cases shows why it is so important to consider filing a “Motion to Suppress” in every Driving Under the Influence (DUI) case. Many attorneys structure their fees to always include a motion to suppress. I don’t normally do this, because there may be some cases where even a motion to suppress is not called for, and in those cases, a defendant may pay more than necessary to resolve their case.
That being said, however, in MOST DUI cases it might be worth the money to consider filing a motion to suppress.
What is a Motion to Suppress?
A Motion to Suppress is a legal pleading which asks the Court to either throw out the case or throw out (suppress) evidence such as the State Breath Test. While the vast majority of motions to suppress are not granted, the mere fact of forcing the State’s witnesses to show up for court always renders the possibility of good things happening for a Defendant.
I tell my clients there are three potentially positive outcomes of going forward with a hearing on a Motion to Suppress:
- The State’s witnesses don’t show and you either win the case or force the State to offer a reduction of the charges.
- The State’s witnesses do show, and you are able to cross-examine them just like you would at a trial, which opens the possibility for some or all of the case to be thrown out.
- Even if the Court denies the Motion, it can sometimes show the State that their witness doesn’t testify as well as perhaps they would like, which gives the State pause to consider whether to go forward with the charges or offer a reduction.
How a Motion to Suppress Helped My Client
On this recent case, I had filed a Motion to Suppress which included a request to exclude a breath test due to 4th Amendment search issues. While the “stopping” officer did appear at the hearing, the arresting officer and breath test operator failed to show up. The Court indicated that it would not grant the State’s request for a continuance, meaning that if the hearing went forward, the State would not be able to prove the officer had “probable cause” for the arrest, and the entire case would be thrown out. Of course, the State could have also dismissed the case and re-accused the client within six months.
Based on the above, my client accepted an offer to plead to a reduced charge, which kept him from losing his job and also kept his license from being suspended.
A lawyer should consider a Motion to Suppress in every DUI case, although quite frankly, many attorneys rarely file these motions. That is why it is so important to hire a lawyer who is qualified and experienced specifically in DUI defense.