Interviewer: So what are some of the common mistakes that people make that can make their case difficult to work with?
Do Not Delay in Consulting an Attorney
Phil Wormdahl: So I would say the number one thing is: don’t wait. Whether you know right off the back that you’re going to hire a lawyer, or you’re just contemplating it—talk to a lawyer immediately. Waiting days or weeks is probably the most detrimental aspect for me as a lawyer, when I’m trying to pick up the pieces.
You Must Request a Driver’s License Hearing within Ten Calendar Days
If I can get in immediately and start sending requests for evidence, get a driver’s license hearing request in—getting all that happening quickly is really important. In Utah you have to request a driver’s license hearing within ten calendar days, if you do not request it your license is gone automatically. The driver’s license hearing is a huge issue for me. I want to keep your driver’s license; I want to be able to get it back so that it doesn’t get suspended. I want to do that hearing to protect your privilege. That driver’s license hearing is so critical to the course of the case. This is because it’s my opportunity to talk to the police officer, to see what kind of witness he or she is. I can talk to them about every little detail of the arrest, everything that they did to find out if there are any mistakes.
The Driver’s License Hearing Is a Valuable Preparation Opportunity for the Defense Attorney
The unknowns are scary in a DUI case. If I handle a driver’s license hearing, knowing I’ve already talked to the cop and I know what he’s going to say when I cross-examine him in court because I’ve talked to him at driver’s license hearing, it makes those decisions so much easier and so much less stressful for my client. On the other hand, if we miss that driver’s license hearing because somebody waited too long to contact me or request a driver’s license hearing, or did their driver’s license hearing on their own and then realize they need a lawyer—then we’ve got problems. Then it’s a harder decision and I don’t have anything to go on in terms of anticipating what is going to be said by that officer when we get to the hearing in court.