A lawyer who handles traffic DWLS cases sent us this email and requested we post it. Here it is. Well done.
I am a traffic lawyer. About 40% of my cases are DUIs. About 40% are DWLS cases, and 20% are other infractions.
Here are my concerns about the plan announced by the SAO and Judge Slom.
1) The traffic lawyers who handle about 80% of the DWLS cases were not consulted. With all due respect to the FACDL lawyers who met with Judge Slom, they do not handle a large amount of DWLS cases. One doesn't handle any of them.
Why does this matter? For us it matters because we spend the money on advertising. We spend the money on staff to process the cases, calendar them, and keep in contact with the clients. And we spend the time to fix the licenses that are fixable. Therefore, since we do a majority of work, we need to have our concerns and problems properly represented. In this plan, they were not. We did not have a seat at the table.
2) Is the 60 day plan workable? Not it many cases.
It is true a large percentage of cases involve paying a few tickets and getting a D-6. 60 days is doable on those cases.
However, a certain percentage (probably 20-30 %) involves some time consuming work. Here's an example: A person with two DWLS priors gets arrested in Broward for DWLS and pleads at a jail arraignment calendar for time served to get out of jail. That gets them a 5 year revocation. As we all know Broward doesn't give a damn about DWLS 5 year revocations (the more the merrier in their opinion) so now I have to work on the two Dade DWLS cases. I need to pull transcripts or audio files and get case files. I end up finding that the client was unrepresented on the other two cases and took withhold of adjudications, when one continuance and paying one ticket would have gotten them a license. Remember, most Judges still tell unrepresented clients that a withhold is NOT a conviction.
I pull those two cases, file motions, and one Judge grants the motion. To their credit, most county court Judges and ASAs are sympathetic when I tell them that if the court grants this motion, I can clear the 5 year revocation and get them a license. With the order signed, I now need to deal with the DMV and Tallahassee to update the person's driving record to reflect that one conviction has been removed. That takes two weeks minimum.
The point is- this is how I earn a living. And not only my living. But I employ several lawyers on a full or part time basis and 5-7 secretaries and support staff on a full or part time basis, some of them with benefits and health insurance. Is that a bad thing in these tough times?
More importantly, this is how I help clients. And I am good at it. I know this, because many of the felony lawyers reading this blog send me their DWLS cases. Under the new proposal, I will no longer be able to do this on many cases.
3) The new proposal will in the end create more DWLS cases. More people will end up pleading guilty and the long term result will be that more licenses will be suspended and revoked. The SAO/Slom plan plants the seeds for more cases in a system already over burdened.
4) Lets give credit where it is due. The SAO and the County Court Judges never had to agree to dismiss a case where the person gets a license. We acknowledge we have no right to this benefit. But that doesn't mean it is a bad thing. It was and is a good philosophy. It benefits everyone. The lawyers benefit because it creates work for us and allows us to help clients (rather than just holding their hand during a plea) and it benefits clients because it gets them back their license.
5) What we want: To sit down with the SAO and Judge Slom and revise this plan. What we pledge is to come to the table acknowledging that Judge Slom and the SAO have a legitimate if not overriding interest in clearing the large backload of cases and making sure it does not occur again.
In exchange for meeting the needs of the SAO and the Court system, we want a workable plan that gives us the time we need to do our job. This rigid attitude of saying "60 days or bust" is neither workable nor fair, nor reflects the spirit of decades of cooperation that has existed in this county.
In the comments section to yesterday's post, many lawyers noted Broward never dismisses a DWLS upon the client getting a valid license.
Is that what we want? Do we really want to become Broward?
Thanks for the Vine Rumpy.