So you subpoena the arresting officer to a DOL hrg and they show up, now what?
The other day I was talking with a Seattle Police Officer about a recent DOL administrative hearing he did for a DUI arrest in Seattle that he made. He told me that he was served a subpoena to appear to the telephone hearing. So when the DOL called him he answered and appeared for the hearing. But when he was connected to the DUI Attorney, the Attorney didn’t ask a single question and instead told the DOL he didn’t have any questions for the Seattle Police Officer. Here is why that DUI Attorney was an idiot and completely wasted their clients time and money.
It’s no secret that if you get arrested for a DUI in Washington State then you’re most likely facing an administrative license suspension from the DOL. Unfortunately the odds are against a driver if they find themselves in one of these hearings. Statewide the average dismissal rate is around 25%. Here at Leyba Defense PLLC we have a dismissal rate closer to 38% due to how we approach these hearings. But I digress.
Because the DOL hearings following a DUI arrest are so dang hard to win often times a DUI Attorney will employ the hail mary if they have no other options. And that is to serve a subpoena on the arresting officer and hope they don’t appear. It’s a last line of defense and is often a strategy I hope for myself to be honest with you. But I have news for you. Most of the time these DUI police officers will appear. After all they get paid time and a half to do so. If you were a police officer wouldn’t you appear. I mean all they have to do is answer the telephone in their bed and answer some questions about their DUI arrest. It really is not that difficult for them.
So let’s say that you have a crappy DUI case. There are no legal issues. Everything appears to have been done properly by the DUI police officer during the DUI arrest. So you decide to subpoena the DUI officer to appear and pray that they don’t show up. But then the DUI police officer does, what do you do?
As a practicing DUI Lawyer in Seattle I will tell you what you don’t do. You don’t tell the DOL you excuse the DUI police officer and have no questions for them. That is a complete waste of time, and honestly is borderline malpractice. Although it doesn’t surprise me that DUI Lawyers do this. I mean after all this is a business where a lot of so called “DUI Lawyers” aren’t interested in fighting for their clients, but only collecting a pay check by doing as little work as possible. It doesn’t get any easier than not asking a single question at a DOL hearing and then telling the client there was nothing you could do since the DUI police officer appeared.
So what do you do if the DUI police officer shows up? You ask them questions. A DOL hearing is a free deposition of the police officer without the Prosecutor present. You can ask anything you want. You can find out what observations the officer made. How they administered the field sobriety tests. Whether they followed the proper protocol during the breath test. Ask away, and guess what it is all recorded. If the DUI police officer says something that is inconsistent with their police report, or you catch them in a lie it is all recorded and it can be used in the criminal trial.
I can’t tell you how many times I had a crappy DOL case. But I served a subpoena on the arresting officer. They showed up and I proceeded to find something out that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I then used that in the criminal trial to either get the DUI dismissed or reduced. It happens quite often and the so called DUI Lawyers that just hang up when the Cop appears never get that benefit.
About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in the Seattle Bellevue area of Western WA. He has been repeatedly named a Rising Star in the field of DUI Defense by the Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive. Additionally he is rated as a 10/10 Superb DUI lawyer by Avvo.com