How Can a Defense Attorney Help Reduce My Penalties and Fines?

By Colin Maher

A dedicated and hard-working Columbus traffic defense attorney will pursue three basic strategies when trying to make sure you do not face harsh penalties and high fines. These strategies boil down to arguing that the charges should never have been filed, proving your innocence, and/or negotiating for a plea deal to a lesser offense.

Let’s look at how each strategy might be pursued in common cases involving serious traffic violations like reckless driving and DUI.

A Defense Attorney’s Basic Approach to a Traffic Ticket Case

For this example, picture yourself facing a reckless driving charge. In Columbus Ohio, where I practice as a traffic violation attorney, drivers accused of what state law calls reckless operation must appear before a judge for sentencing because jail time and a license suspension are possible penalties.

Should the Charge Have Been Filed?

Just as with serious alleged criminal offenses, a police officer or state trooper must have a reason for pulling over a driver and issuing a traffic ticket. In Ohio, this legal principle is written into traffic laws that require a law enforcement officer to use a mechanical device like a radar gun or Lidar to track a driver’s speed before pulling a vehicle over to write a speeding ticket.

If the only reason the officer or trooper ticketed my client for reckless driving is that he thought the driver was going too fast, I will ask the judge to dismiss the ticket for lack of sufficient evidence to prove recklessness.  Something more than just speeding is necessary to prove reckless driving.

Is My Client Innocent?

Having to go to trial gives my Columbus, Ohio, traffic violation client the right to see and question all the evidence collected by police. This allows me to check the device used to record my client’s speed for accuracy and damage. I can also question the officer or trooper about how he used the device.

If the prosecution’s evidence does not stand up to scrutiny and analysis, the traffic court judge should have no choice but to dismiss the reckless speeding charge or declare my client not guilty.

Does Taking a Plea Deal Make Sense?

In Ohio, a reckless charge indicates that the police officer or state trooper tracked a driver exceeding a speed limit by an extreme amount and/or was weaving in and out of traffic or some other driving behavior that may result in damage to persons or property. When some evidence does exist that my client was being reckless, I will then attempt to negotiate a lesser charge with the prosecutor.

Entering a plea to the lesser offense may not be my client’s first choice, but doing so may help them hold onto there license, avoid jail, and keep a larger number of penalty points off her driving record.

Defending a Client Accused of Driving Under the Influence or OVI

OVI is one of the most common cases I handle as a criminal and traffic defense attorney in Columbus, Ohio. The OVI charge indicates that police and prosecutors believe my client was operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.

Should the Charge Have Been Filed?

The first question I ask myself when determining if the charge should have been filed is did the police have a valid reason to pull my client over?  Next, I ask myself if the officer had sufficient reason to ask my client to do field sobriety tests.  Finally, I ask myself if the officer had enough information to believe my client was impaired.  If the answer to any one of these questions is no, I will have a constitutional argument to dismiss or reduce the OVI charge.

Is My Client Innocent?

As you know, people talk, walk, and act differently from each other.  Upon meeting someone for the first time, it is only natural to make certain judgements.  For police officer’s, this judgement is different.  If your vehicle smells like alcohol or marijuana, they assume a person is impaired.  Speaking with an accent is often noted as having slurred speech, being tired is often noted as being sluggish, having dry eyes that appear red become having bloodshot glassy eyes caused by consumption of alcohol or drugs, and leg injuries are noted as being unsteady.

If you don’t know the person, how can you say that their voice doesn’t always sound that way, they always walk that way because of an old football injury, or that their eyes are always red because they work nights and don’t sleep well during the day.  The reality is that you can’t.

Does Taking a Plea Deal Make Sense?

Securing an OVI conviction requires showing that the defendant knowingly consumed alcohol or drugs, they were impaired by the alcohol and/or drugs, and that they were operating a motor vehicle. Reducing the charge, penalties, and fines can be done by convincing the prosecutor to acknowledge that their case may not be as strong as the officer originally indicated.

The scenarios I present are just two hypothetical — and extremely general — discussions of how a criminal defense attorney can help a person accused of a crime or traffic violation avoid stiff penalties and unpayable fines. The same principles will apply to most cases.  Do not face a criminal charge and judge without advice and representation from an experienced lawyer.  Call The Maher Law Firm now at (614) 205-2208 to speak to a Columbus criminal and traffic defense attorney.  You can also reach us online by filling out our contact form.