Interviewer: What are some factors that someone should be looking for in an attorney when it comes to a case as sensitive as a drug related DUI case.
Sam Sachs: Every attorney that does this thinks they know how to handle these cases or at least think they can learn after they get the client. Drug DUIs are very different than alcohol DUIs. You frequently need expert witnesses. You need to have medical records. You have to analyze it to see whether there is a defense that you can use. Just because they find drugs in someone’s system doesn’t mean they’re under the influence. You have to know how to work the case. It’s like anything else. Sometimes you can become very competent after a short period of time like changing an automobile tire and for other things like being a thoracic surgeon, you need more time to reach the top of your game.
A Lawyer May Be Good With Defending Alcohol Related DUIs but May not Be Very Proficient at Handling Drug Related DUIs
It’s the same thing with defending these cases. You may have someone that’s really good at alcohol DUIs, but doesn’t have much experience with drug DUIs. You need to have the experience. You need to know how to present the cases in general and specifically how to work a drug case. There is analysis done at the lab you have to evaluate. For that analysis I work with an expert who knows the laboratory procedure for analyzing the urine. Lots of times I’ll have him review the lab work, or if there’s a blood test I’ll have him see whether the laboratory did the proper analysis in the proper way according to the proper protocols.
Some Drugs Do Not Cause Intoxication Even Though They May Be Controlled
I also have medical experts that I work with sometimes. Just because a drug is in your system you may accommodate to it and you’re not under the influence of it anymore. Some drugs don’t cause intoxication even though they may be controlled drugs. You need to know how to present those cases and that comes with experience. Unfortunately, many times hiring of the legal profession has in general become an issue of “how much are you going to charge me” instead of “how much do you know.” When people say “I got a DUI, what do you charge?” I tell them they’re asking me the wrong question. First, I want to know a little bit about the DUI, and then what they need to ask me is what’s my experience is with handling them, and then we’ll talk about what the fee is. If all they care about is the fee, then they’ll find some kid out of law school, or some inexperienced lawyer that will take the case for a fraction of what it takes to properly handle a case.
The Difficult Aspects of Handling a Drug Related DUI Case in New Jersey
Interviewer: What would you say is the most difficult aspect of working with a drug related DUI case?
Sam Sachs: The uncertainty of the outcome because the evidence is not hard evidence. When you have a situation where they have an admissible alcohol reading or they take blood from somebody and the alcohol reading is admissible that’s a per se violation and they’ve pretty much got you. Lots of times, I’ve been able to knock the blood or the breath test out, but if it’s admissible, it’s pretty much over with. With drugs it’s never a slam-dunk for the state. There is no per se case. They have to prove it by all the subjective and objective factors and that’s where there is room for a defense and you have to know how to do it.