Pleading Guilty: 3 Common Mistakes to Avoid

An arrest for driving under the influence is not the same as a conviction. Before assuming you have no option other than to plead guilty, stop and think about what you are doing. There may be factors that would allow you to enter a different type of plea. With the aid of your legal counsel, it's possible to avoid these three mistakes and work for a better outcome.

Not Requesting Another Test

The roadside breath test that you took may or may not be accurate. Perhaps it was administered incorrectly. Maybe the equipment itself was malfunctioning. That could mean the blood alcohol level recorded during the test is wrong. Even something as simple as an error in interpreting the results could mean that your alcohol level is below the legal limit.

Asking for another test that is conducted under controlled circumstances will provide more a more accurate reading. While many law enforcement officers will ask you to undergo a series of testing that includes observing movements as well as a breath test administered by an expert, you always have the right to make the request yourself.

When your legal counsel arrives and discusses the series of events with you, tell the lawyer if a second test has already been requested. If not, the advice is likely to ask for that second test and discuss what sort of testing will take place. Based on the results of that second test, you and your Toronto DUI lawyer can determine how to proceed.

Exploring the Matter of Reasonable and Probable Grounds

One of the questions your lawyer will ask is what motivated the police officer to approach you in the first place. Were you driving erratically? Perhaps the officer observed you approaching the vehicle and noted you seemed to be having trouble walking. Maybe something else caught the officer's eye and raised suspicions. Until you and your lawyer look over the officer's account and compare it to what you were told during that first contact, you don't know if there is more to the story than you already know.

Given the serious consequences of drinking and driving in Toronto, your lawyer will want to confirm there was just cause for the officer's actions. That must be done before you enter a plea of guilty. Waiting until later would complicate the case and weaken your defense.

Going Over the Officer's Procedures

Provincial law requires police offers to follow specific procedures when approaching someone who may be under the influence. Before you plead guilty, your lawyer will want to review the officer's actions step by step. The goal is to determine if everything was done in order and if any violations of your rights occurred. That review begins with the moment the officer approaches you and continues through the minute your lawyer walks into the police station. Any irregularities in following those procedures could be grounds for pleading not guilty and having the charges dropped.

Until you have consulted with your legal counsel, do not enter a guilty plea. Insist of talking with your lawyer before making any statements. That includes having a lawyer present while you are interviewed. Rest assured that your lawyer will explore every aspect of the arrest, note any detail that seems questionable, and provide you with options of how to proceed. That includes determining the most appropriate plea to enter based on what took place.