Interviewer: Couldn’t an attorney help minimize court fees?
Eric Sachs: Absolutely. Obviously, my position as the attorney is to help you. So as long the client can help me, and presents an impression that they are responsible individual, then my job is to convince the Judge that our client has been cooperative, has done everything they need to do, has shown the court respect, and should get the absolute minimum fine or the minimum punishment. Absolutely, your attorney can help minimize the court fees and the fines. We cannot do anything about surcharges but a good attorney a lot of times can help the person pay less money and get them more time to pay that money.
Interviewer: In a scenario where someone does not hire an attorney and tries to go ahead with the trial, or maybe they have a public defender versus someone hiring a private attorney for the same charge, even if they hired an attorney, would they still be paying more money than the other individual?
Eric Sachs: Yes. I think statistics have shown, and we did a survey, about how much they could spend if they do not have an attorney who knows what is going on with DWIs. Costs just continue to rise and rise and rise. So the money they save on not hiring a lawyer, they can anticipate paying a higher court fines or from an insurance problem license fees that may linger for years. For instance, a person pleads guilty to a charge that he should not have pled guilty to, the DWI attorney would have said,” Hey, you know something? I think we can defend this. There is a reason that you have these issues.”
Not Retaining An Attorney Ends Up Significantly Increasing the Cost of a DUI Charge
I had a case where a client of mine was on his second DWI. When I met with the family, they told me that the client blew a 0.25 at the breath machine. They originally were represented by the Legal Aid Society and legal attorney said, “Wow, you blew 0.25, which is three times the limit. There’s not much we are going to do. Let me just try and cut a deal for you.” The lawyer got them started about a year then got them down to 10 months in jail.
I asked the people the right questions. I asked the family, “What were the circumstances of the first DWI?” They told me the circumstances of the first one. When I met with the client I said, “What do you do for a living?” The person was a laborer and they install and remove flooring, carpeting, and tiles. They deal with acetone and other chemicals. I asked them, “When you took the breath test here, had you been drinking?” The person had explained to me that they had just been drinking the day before. I said, “That is not a physical possibility that someone could blow a 0.25 under those circumstances.” So I asked him, “What did you blow in your first DWI case?” The person said, “A 0.25.”
What are the chances of a person blowing a 0.25 two times in a row? Again, the difference between being a trained DWI defense lawyer and not is that there is a lot of science and chemistry that goes into these cases. So we had the person tested. Because of the chemical that the person uses everyday at his job, he inhales the fumes and the chemicals get on his skin and get absorbed into his system. He had this acetone in his blood. So what that means is that even if he did not have anything to drink, he would still blow a high number on the breath machine, having nothing to do with alcohol. So we were able to successfully show this to the prosecution, having taken a series of blood tests and breath tests to show that under controlled circumstances, that the machine was not able to distinguish between an alcohol vapor and a chemical vapor that was there and what the machine was coming up with was a number related to the acetone chemical as opposed to alcohol and we were able to get the guy off of this case as opposed to doing 10 months in jail.
So we tell everybody is there is a big difference between having no lawyer, having another lawyer, and having a DWI-trained lawyer. There is a big difference. Nobody should ever fail to pay for the expert attorneys and miss out on the coverage and the precision that they need to protect themselves and defend their DWI case.
Most of the Time, An Attorney Will Prove His Worth
Interviewer: In your opinion, do you think that you get what you pay for with an attorney?
Eric Sachs: Most of the time, yes, I think you do. There is also a lawyer out there that will fool people. There may be the lawyer who does not really know what he is doing or still charge a lot of money. For the most part, though, I do agree that you get what you pay for. Those of us who spend our time training and learning how to defend these cases, who are more experienced in these cases and are better able to handle these cases, will probably charge you a few dollars more than somebody who cannot. It has always been my opinion that there is always going to be somebody who is cheaper than me but there is not going to be somebody who is better than me. You do get what you paid for. If you were going to go to a surgeon, you would want to go to a specialist as opposed to going to a general practitioner or even a new doctor. I would rather somebody who has been doing this surgery for many, many years and is more of a specialist than that. I think that is the way it works with DWI cases also. I think we are different than just regular criminal attorneys.
If the person is looking to save money by not hiring an attorney or hiring just somebody who is cheap, then ultimately they are going to pay the price for it. They can find themselves with a record that would not have necessarily been there otherwise, paying higher court fees and fines, having more driver’s license and insurance issues over the course of the next several years that would far exceed what they would have paid to an attorney to properly represent them in the first place.
By Eric Sachs