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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26011
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I am disabled and have been so for a year now. In June of

Customer Question

I am disabled and have been so for a year now. In June of last year I was arrested for DUI. I gave blood and no alchohol was detected. I have been unable to get to court because of my serious medical issues I am dealing with currently. I was wounded in Iraq buy a mortar blast that left me with a partial frontal lobe injury and burns to parts of my body. I suffer from PTSD. There is a warrant for my arrest. I need an attorney to arrange for the warrant to be recalled and for some arrangement for me to take care of this matter asap keeping in mind my medical needs with also the courts need to adjudicate this matter.
Thank you
Matthew Sage
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

In order to answer your question, can you tell me whether you were injured before or after your DUI arrest. Are you presently ambulatory? Can you obtain documentation if necessary that the medical condition you had would have made it impossible for you to have come to court? If not, what exactly would the documentation say? What does the frontal lobe injury keep you from being able to do or not do.

What was alleged to have been in your system as the blood test was negative for alchohol?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

My military injury was before my dui arrest. I am ambulatory but need the assistance of a cane. The medication I take (which is alot) makes it difficult for me to be completely cognative, especially the coumadin i am on which thins my blood because I have a blood clot in my arm that they are affraid of it traveling to my heart or brain. Yes I can obtain all the hospital records that show my condition.

I had all the medications that are legally prescribed in my system. Oxycodone, xanax, and methadone. I had not taken any of these medications yet on the morning of my stop, and of course, they would be in my system because those kind of medications have to build up in your system so you get a therapuetic effect.


Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

I was just trying to get a full picture here of why you didn't come to court. Obviously, if you could drive, the court is going to be less sympathetic to your never having appeared than if your DUI occurred, say, while home on leave and you got injured later on. And you are probably not going to have a great defense to the DUI, as even if the medication was taken lawfully, they can affect your ability to drive. So while your problems are serious, I'm sure, they are unfortunately unlikely to qualify you for a free pass on your case.

Still, it sounds like a lawyer should still be able to vacate the warrant on your behalf and then cut some kind of a deal that you could come in and take, which would get rid of the warrant and not subject you to a jail sentence.

It would seem to me that if are able to retain counsel, you might want to shop for one who was a former district attorney. Former DAs in general tend to have a greater degree of credibililty within the DAs office than other criminal attorneys as well as having some inside knowledge of who the best person in the DAs office would be to approach with your medicals on your behalf.

JA experts can't represent customers on their matters as it's not allowed by the site's terms of services. But you can get a referral for a one-time, inexpensive ($50 or less) consultation with a criminal lawyer who is guaranteed to be an active member of the California Bar in good standing by going through the California Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service. You could find out what exactly the lawyer could do for you and after the consultation retain the lawyer if you wanted. If you didn't want to hire him, however, you'd be under no obligation.

If because of your medical problems you are unable to pay for representation, it will be trickier. I would not recommend going back to court without a lawyer in order to get the warrant lifted because the court's first inclination would be to put you in jail, and you'd also want to have money available before you returned to court in case the judge set bail on you.

Technically, the public defender's office has to wait for a judge to assign them to a case, but they have been known to bend their rules when people in emergency situations walk in off the street. You might be able to convince them to let one stand up with you on the return of the warrant. And you certainly would be able to get an idea from the public defender what kind of bail you'd likely be looking at as he'd have experience with both that court and the particular judge you'd be coming in front of.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
So are you saying to me that the court can lawfully prosecute me for DUI if I had levels of the medication I am suppose to be taking?
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

Yes, the court can lawfully prosecute you for driving while under the influence of drugs in the same way that they can prosecute someone for driving while under the influence of alcohol. The drugs in your system weren't illegal if they were prescribed for you, but alcohol is not illegal either if you're over 21. So just because what you took is not illegal doesn't mean you're entitled automatically to drive and drink or drive while on certain types of medication.

All an officer needs to arrest you, and all a prosecutor needs to file the case against you is probable cause. Probable cause is a very low standard of proof. It's just a reasonable belief on the part of the officer that a crime may have been committed and that you may have committed it. You were driving with drugs in your system. That's enough to give the officer and the prosecutor probable cause.

In order to convict you of this, however, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your driving was impaired by the drugs. That's a much, much heavier burden. And there's where your medical history, and how you were directed to take the drugs, and whether you took them in the appropriate amounts, and how long after one takes them can you safely drive and when not, all become a factor. But meanwhile, the state is entitled to try to prove its case, and the apparently want to do so. That's why they issued the warrant -- so that they could get you back before the judge and resolve your open case.