As I have stated many times elsewhere, one of the many unique challenges in being a statewide lawyer within any legal endeavor is the reality that each and every county may have different policy stances as to legal punishment. Although the framework of the law operating in may very well be the same as all other counties within the state, the practical imposition of potential pre trial settlement options within that legal framework may differ significantly.
Within the Wayne County Superior Court 3 in Richmond, Indiana, Judge Dolehanty has put in place a program of options that serve as a base level of what the court will accept in the resolution of first offense dui cases. Under the heading of the “OWIP” program (Operating While Intoxicated Program) a very rigid criteria of obligations must be imposed upon a first time dui offender should that individual choose any and all means by which to avoid the imposition of jail time.
No matter where the individual arrested for a dui resides, the Defendant’s age or the individualized circumstances of the person sentenced, in order to participate within the program the Defendant sentenced must participate treatment on a weekly basis within Richmond, Indiana. This reality can prove quite an obstacle for out of county, much less out of state individuals who have no practical means by which to travel to Richmond on a weekly basis.
Over the course of three months participating individuals must attend at least two hours of treatment once a week within the approved Richmond facility. Should the treatment be completed successfully the period of probation formerly imposed can be terminated. Unfortunately, until such time as probation has been terminated (many times at least 180 days) the individual’s driving privileges would remain suspended. As a result, in order to reasonably be in position to consider this particular program in Richmond an individual, a) must be able to secure transportation to and from the Richmond alcohol treatment facility once a week, b) reside close enough to the Wayne County area to be able to participate in the program, c) be willing to endure a license suspension for what could amount to six months or more depending upon the time it takes within which to seek early termination of probation upon successful completion of the OWIP requirements.
For those seeking the best alternatives where participation in the Wayne County OWIP program is not feasible, there are significant pros and cons to pre trial settlement alternatives for the Richmond dui offender.
In the present best case scenario, those first time offenders who choose to put themselves in position to reinstate driving privileges far earlier than those within the OWIP program can choose to spend seven days within the Wayne County jail. Thereafter, the individual stands a good chance to avoid any remaining probationary terms altogether and as formerly stated can receive reinstatement of his or her driver’s license far quicker.
There is no, “correct” answer as to which option if more advantageous when navigating dui cases at the present time within Richmond Indiana. For some, the prospect of being able to eliminate probation (usually one year in most cases for a first time dui offense) in return for at least 7 days in jail is one of great benefit not usually available within other county jurisdictions. To others, the prospect of doing any time in jail is one to be avoided at all costs no matter how intrusive an impediment the OWIP program may be or other terms of probation may become.
As an attorney it is always my aim to seek as little ambiguity as possible as to the obligations to be imposed against one of my clients toward the successful satisfaction of any term of probation. As I have counseled to those I have helped in Richmond, it is always somewhat of a risk to leave an assessment as to satisfactory performance on probation to third parties. No matter how unreasonable such third party alcohol treatment obligations may become, neither myself, prosecutor or judge typically has much say as to adjusting the recommendations of these treatment professionals, no matter how onerous or unreasonable they may become.
The lesson to be learned is that the practice of dui defense no matter the county is always a fluid process. Different county judges even within the same county may very well have divergent policy stances toward the punishment of dui offenses. As a result, whether we choose to agree with those policy positions or not, it is incumbent upon all attorneys who endeavor to practice dui defense at the highest level to fully recognize all settlement options tailored to the relevant legal jurisdiction at hand.
The present unique standards for settlement of dui cases within Wayne County are but one of many examples illustrating the need to recognize that though laws may be the same, the successful defense of a client is often predicated upon a keen understanding as to how laws are applied within the legal venue one is working within.