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Subpoenas and Ohio DUI/OVI Charges

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How Do Subpoenas Work?

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Ohio, the use of subpoenas can be very important in defending against your DUI/OVI charge. A subpoena, meaning “under penalty,” is a document that legally orders a person to give their testimony regarding the case or to provide documents, videos, or other tangible objects for use in a court case. When compelling the appearance of a person to testify as a witness in your case, a “subpoena” is used while a “subpoena duces tecum” is used to compel the production of evidence for use in your case. These subpoenas have the legal authority of a court order with the full weight of the law behind them, meaning that the failure of some person to obey the subpoena can result in that person facing legal penalties such as a “Contempt of Court” charge for their failure to cooperate with the subpoena.

What Can Subpoenas Be Used For?

When fighting a DUI charge in Ohio, the most common use of a subpoena will be to acquire information concerning any breath tests, blood tests, urine tests, or field sobriety tests that were administered to you by the police officer who arrested you. Generally, these tests are the key evidence being used by the prosecution to convict you of the DUI/OVI offense. By using a subpoena to obtain information such as the maintenance, calibration, or administration of various devices or tests, your DUI defense attorney can find weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you to exploit in an effort to either have the charges against you reduced or even dismissed. Some possible uses of this information gained through the use of subpoenas include looking to see if the device used to test you has had skewed or inaccurate results in the past, especially regarding breath test devices. The information may also be used to show that protocols were broken in the maintenance, calibration, or administration of the device, leading to an inaccurate result.

Who Can Be Subpoenaed and What Will Their Impact Be?

Aside from using subpoenas to acquire information that can help your defense, subpoenas are also commonly used to require witnesses to come testify at trial. The two groups of people who are most commonly subpoenaed in a DUI case are (1) eyewitnesses, such as a person who was in the vehicle with you, observed your driving when you were stopped, or were with you and can testify to your sobriety or the police officer’s lack of probable cause to stop you, and (2) witnesses relating to the tests administered to you who can testify about the proper maintenance of testing devices, the calibration of those devices, and the proper administration of the tests. These technical witnesses can testify as to whether any protocols were broken during the process that could have led to an inaccurate result. Your attorney will be especially likely to subpoena eyewitnesses to testify at your trial if you were involved in a car accident prior to being arrested for driving under the influence. However, the prosecution may also subpoena eyewitnesses to testify against you if they will provide testimony such as that they saw you weaving, driving erratically or recklessly, or behaving like you were intoxicated in some way prior to the accident.

Witnesses who are subpoenaed to testify at your trial can have various impacts. In terms of witnesses subpoenaed by the prosecution to testify, they may provide additional evidence that you were driving under the influence when you were stopped or when you were involved in a car accident. This testimony both strengthens the officer’s probable cause for stopping you or arresting you for a DUI offense as well as strengthens the evidence against you that you were in fact intoxicated at the time of your arrest. For witnesses subpoenaed by your DUI defense attorney, they could perhaps be enough to convince the jury that you were not intoxicated at the time of your arrest and that the officer wrongly stopped you and arrested you. Defense witnesses may also be able to show that tests were improperly administered to you or the testing machines were otherwise defective, meaning that the positive test showing you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs should be discredited and not believed by the jury.

What if I am Subpoenaed?

If you have been served with a subpoena to testify in a DUI trial, you must be a third-party witness with some knowledge that is relevant to either the prosecution’s or defense’s case. If you have received a subpoena, you should talk to a lawyer first before you give your testimony. You cannot simply ignore the subpoena but must respond and follow your lawyer’s instructions to avoid any legal penalties such as fines or even jail time. If you do not understand the subpoena or its demands, ask a lawyer, especially when it may be necessary for a lawyer to represent you by helping you prepare the necessary information that was subpoenaed or to help you prepare to testify in court. You must remember that you will be placed under oath to give your testimony and that you will be subject to criminal perjury charges should you be dishonest with your testimony in any way. The legal significance of a subpoena is why it is so important to speak with a lawyer about how to handle a subpoena and your testimony. If you have some conflict that may prevent you from attending the court date, contact an attorney that can help you try to come to an arrangement that allows you to follow the subpoena while resolving the potential conflict. Regardless of how you respond, you must make sure that you respond to the subpoena, and do so properly, which is why an attorney can provide such vital assistance.

Your subpoena will include the date, time, and place you are expected to go and provide your testimony as well as what will be expected of you when you appear in court to testify. The subpoena may require you to come give oral testimony in court about things you witnessed, such as the defendant’s driving or signs of intoxication, or about any other knowledge you may have that is relevant to the case, such as technical knowledge about the devices used to test the defendant’s breath, blood, or urine. You may also be required to produce some documents or other tangible evidence that may be relevant to the prosecution’s or defense’s case.

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI/OVI offense in Ohio for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you need to speak to a qualified attorney who is experienced with successfully defending against DUI charges in Ohio. Using subpoenas can be a very complicated process, and it is important to hire an experienced attorney who will know how to use them strategically to present your defense. By effectively using subpoenas and the other strategies at an attorney’s disposal, your attorney may be able to either lower your charges through a plea deal with the prosecution or perhaps even have the DUI charges against you dismissed. Even if you are just a third-party witness who has received a subpoena to testify or produce documents, you should still speak to an attorney to decide how to properly respond.