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Crime.Justice & America - DUI and DWI - You and The Law - By Dale Gribow

"Better education means better justice. Better education means a higher standard for government to insure proper prosecution and incarceration. Better education means reduced recidivism, and in turn, less financial burden on society".

 You and The Law - By Dale Gribow

You and The Law - By Dale Gribow

As a practicing criminal attorney for over 30 years, the most commonly asked question I receive is “I just got arrested for drunk driving, I’m guilty, so why do I need an attorney?”   I explain, “As a criminal lawyer, I make a distinction between someone committing an act and someone being guilty in the eyes of the law”. In order to be guilty of an act, the prosecution must be able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, all the elements of the criminal act. In reality drunk driving is really not even a proper criminal charge. It is sufficient that a driver be merely under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Being drunk is a greater degree of impairment and is not a requirement for a charge to be made.

With a drunk driving, there are often defenses that an experienced specialist can find. For instance, was there probable cause for the stop? Are there any other explanations for red eyes and slurred speech? Do you wear contacts? Could that have caused your eyes to be red? Do you have a speech impediment or an accent from being from another part of the country?

If you were involved in an accident at the time of the arrest for driving under the influence you face substantially more severe consequences. You also have additional defenses that may be available to you.

For instance, were you wobbly when you got out of the car because of the alcohol or because you hit your head on the steering wheel? Did you have trouble with the field sobriety tests because you were just not coordinated or was it cold and windy at night, or were you just nervous and had black and white fever. Most women are asked to either take the field sobriety test in their high heels or remove their shoes and thus walk barefoot on concrete, which often has pebbles on the road. Did these pebbles or rocks cause the defendant woman to not be able to walk the line as well as she would normally walk the line?

With respect to the tests, did you take a blood or breath test? If a blood test, we can subpoena a sample of your blood from the Department of Justice and have it examined by an expert of our choice. If a breath test, were all of the legal requirements met? Did the officer wait the appropriate amount of time to administer the test? Did he watch the entire time? Did you belch or burp? Do you have some type of reflux or hiatal hernia problem? Do you have dentures, or did you have some other type of dental work that could have trapped your alcohol, so that when you blew into the breath machine, you were blowing pure alcohol not deep lung air? Has the breathalyzer machine been calibrated recently? Can we subpoena the maintenance records of the breath machine to determine if it had been faulty shortly before or shortly after the date of your testing?

These are just some of the questions that a lawyer would look into with respect to a driving under the influence, to determine if the prosecution could meet their burden of proof. Naturally, the facts of each case are unique, so these suggested avenues of approach are only the initial analysis.

There is another important reason to hire a lawyer, even when you are guilty, and that is with respect to working out a plea bargain. If you go into the arraignment court and just enter a plea of guilty to the charge, the Judge can then impose whatever sentence he wants.

Some Judges are hanging Judges and will put you in jail on a criminal case that could be plead down to a straight probation and a fine. On May 20, 2003, I got just such a call from a defendant who had never been arrested before and was arrested for a DUI. She went to court herself and the Judge gave her 12 days in jail. Clearly, experienced counsel can usually arrange an effective compromise to the court’s initial thoughts and proposed sentence. If, as in my firm, the lawyers have familiarity with the court because of their daily appearances, these lawyers can more effectively determine the best approach to an effective plea bargain.

Many years ago Robert Shapiro, the lawyer in the O.J. Simpson trial, invited me to meet him in his office before we went out to dinner. Because we were close friends and colleagues he invited me to sit in on one of his criminal interviews. I heard him explain to a client that there are different degrees of success. If I go into Court and they are asking for a year in jail, and I can get you 6 months, that’s success. If I go into Court and the District Attorney is asking for 6 months and I could get you 2 months, that’s success. If the DA is asking for 60 days in jail and I can get you 10 days in jail, that’s success. If the District Attorney wants 10 days in jail and I can get you a weekend or straight probation and a fine, that’s success.

Ever since that night, some 25 years ago, I’ve explained to my clients that there are different degrees of success and that I could not tell them what we could reasonably expect until I saw the police report, reviewed the criminal record, if any, of my client, talked to the District Attorney and determined who the judge will be.   You have to coordinate a case so that you have the right factors present before you plead your client to anything. If you have a Judge that wants to put your client in jail and the District Attorney is willing to give him a break, you have a problem. If the District Attorney wants jail, but the Judge is willing to give him a break, with straight probation, you still have a problem. You have to get both the Judge and the prosecution to agree to the same terms before you can dispose of the case. That often involves continuing a case for a period of time. As much as the client and the lawyer would like to dispose of the case right away, a case often takes some massaging before you can dispose of it in a favorable light for your client.


Dale Gribow is an award winning attorney, who has been practicing criminal law for over 30 years. He practiced in Beverly Hills for 20 years, had a 30 person law firm, and 10 years ago moved to Palm Desert, where he now has a 17 person law firm.

Joining Dale Gribow on criminal matters is Jon Landau and Bob Levy. As one of the best and brightest criminal trial lawyer in Riverside County, Jon has been practicing criminal law exclusively for 23 years, was Phi Beta Kappa at USC and a Fullbright Scholar at Oxford. He. Jon is a member of Mensa, the group for people with a genius IQ, and has a totally photographic memory. Bob Levy was a supervising Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney for 28 years, has tried over 100 felony trials, against some of the premiere defense lawyers in the state such as Johnny Cochoran and Howard Weitzman.

Dale is prominently listed in over 20 Who’s Who and has been Man of the Year five times, most recently for the City of Palm Desert for 2002-2003, and the City of Hope as well as the 2003 Businessman of the Year for the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Business Advisory Council. The Law Office of Dale Gribow is one of 3 law firms listed in the Bar Register of Pre-Eminent Lawyers for all of Riverside County.

Contact Dale Gribow at the Law Offices of Dale Gribow, 73-255 El Paseo, Suite 19, Palm Desert, CA. 92260. You can also phone him or email him at 760-341-4411 or Dgribow@Gribowlaw.com.

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