After doing some research the other day, I found out that I may be one of 20 attorneys nationwide who is certified by Draeger in the proper operation and administration of the Alcotest as well as by NHTSA in the administration of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test.
When I went through this intense training, I had envisioned a time when I would be in trial, cross examining a witness. I was confident that with this training I would be able to recognize and jump on mistakes made by the police officers and Alcotest operators as they testified to the events while on the stand.
Well, several years later, I have realized that vision on numerous occasions and have the trial victories to prove it.
On a recent occasion, during a trial in a Somerset County municipality, my cross examination of the arresting officer was so detailed that the prosecutor objected on the basis that I was offering expert testimony. The judge disagreed immediately and allowed me to continue.
The fact of the matter is that the Alcotest and the Field Sobriety Test are scientific test. As such, there is an exact and precise protocol that must be followed. During a trial, it is my job to raise every bit of doubt possible to discount the credibility of the testifying witness, whether it be a big or small issue.
Just because the prosecutor is unaware of the issue or the issue is difficult to understand does not make it objectionable. In fact, an articulate and well-crafted cross can educate the court and raise reasonable doubt.
Maybe most importantly, I don’t jack up my legal fees even with my trial success and specialized training. Some lawyers are trying to get $5000 or more for first offense DWI (and probably don’t have the credentials). But even with the credentials, this is a ludicrous number. I keep it reasonable and usually have a tiered fee structure so you are not paying up front for what may never happen (like trial).