As a whole, the OWI defense bar in Louisiana is woefully inadequate. This stuff is complicated. OWI is so much more than viewing a video and reading a police report. First, there is the legal morass of implied consent, refusals, driver’s license suspensions, administrative hearings and petitions for judicial review. Next comes the actual criminal process, which most lawyers would have you believe involves an arraignment (guilty/not guilty), a couple of court appearances and, unfortunately, most often times a plea. What most lawyers fail to do is evaluate things like NHTSA certification and compliance, RADAR and tuning fork calibration, reasonable, suspicion, probable cause, blood warrants, strict adherence to the relevant Administrative Code protocols, the science – oh the science, … and the list goes on and on! Finally, there is expungement and record clean up, all the while remaining cognizant of the many policy and statutory provisions affecting certain professional licensing issues.
Compared to our counterparts in our neighboring states, we are amateurs as a when evaluated as a whole. That needs to change and we need to raise the bar. Raising the bar must necessitate standards of excellence. Paying dues to organizations that magically deem one a premier DUI attorney (in Louisiana the correct term is OWI – that should be a clue) or a DUI/DWI specialist (there is no such thing in Louisiana) does not qualify. There is a movement among a select few attorneys in this state, including us, that is seeking to raise the OWI defense bar. We are focused on specific skills, experience, and training. We are emphasizing the addition of value-added members as opposed to numbers. We are teaching judges. We are learning scientific principles. The vast majority of criminal defense lawyers (and law enforcement and judges too) are failing to grasp that so much of an OWI conviction is about science, or the lack thereof. We are focusing on issues and challenges and are strategically sharing, dividing and conquering to get the best possible result in the right jurisdictions.
If you have the misfortune of being arrested for an OWI offense, you should and must demand high level training, experience and knowledge. Your life depends on it.