This week we celebrated Presidents Day, and we were reminded that honest Abe Lincoln could not tell a lie. However, there is a big difference between telling a lie and not talking and remaining silent. I often tell my clients that Handcuffs are Silver but “Silence is Golden.”
When you make a statement, several things can go wrong. You may innocently say something that makes it look like you are admitting to something. But more importantly, it is not always what you say but rather what the police officer, insurance company investigator or adjuster, “thought they heard you say.” Sometimes it is even what a doctor or nurse thought they heard you say.
I recently had a case where a very good friend of mine, who had been in an auto accident, wanted to see his own doctor rather than the one I suggested. Apparently that doctor’s nurse had a hard time reading the doctors notes, when she was assisting in preparing the medical report. She thought the notes said that my friend fell and hit his head on a rock rather than being rear ended in a car accident. The doctor refused to make any changes and this decreased the value of the case substantially.
Accident and Drunk Driving cases have a lot in common with respect to what clients should or should not do. In both instances Silence is Golden. As a rule the less you share the better off you are. Don’t admit fault in an accident or admit guilt with a DUI.
The ideal situation is to hire a lawyer asap, and then you have an excuse not to talk. I tell my clients to use me as a strawman and explain that they would be happy to talk and give a statement.
However, I tell them to explain that their lawyer asked them not to talk without his/her permission. Then they can honestly say, “please call my lawyer to get permission to talk and I will be glad to do whatever you want.”
With a DUI don’t even take any of the field sobriety tests which are all OPTIONAL. Just tell the officers you are willing to do anything that is mandatory. A breath test at the scene is optional. But a breath or blood tests is mandatory at the station. Remember it is not always what you say but what the other side THOUGHT YOU SAID.
Clients should also take down social media and continue to remain silent! Investigators for the DA or Insurance Company can save a lot of money by just checking Facebook sites. Some accident victims post that they are going skiing or entering a marathon right after an accident. This is after they complained to the doctor how much they hurt and of all the things they cannot do because of the pain. Arguably if the alleged victim can play a sport then they may not have been that injured in the accident.
A Drunk Driving client shouldn’t post that they were lucky not to have been stopped the day before when they were even drunker or any other post about their drinking habits etc. It is a good idea to also hire a local attorney who will know the judges and court employees and that should be done ASAP.
Once an alleged DUI driver or accident victim has a lawyer, they can no longer be contacted by an investigator or adjuster on either type of case. Thus they will continue to remain silent. There is a difference in what a lawyer might tell the police or insurance adjuster and what a client might say. A client can be impeached by prior inconsistent statements. However a good lawyer can argue s/he must have misunderstood the evidence and what their client said.
Though you should remain silent it is still a good idea to preserve evidence by writing things down. Your memory of the facts of the incident is a lot better shortly after than it might be 6 months or several years later.
“TOP LAWYER” – California’s Prestige Magazine, Palm Springs Life (PI/DUI) 2011-20
“TOP LAWYER” – Inland Empire Magazine 2016- 2019
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“DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE OR TEXT AND GET A DUI OR ACCIDENT… CALL A TAXI, LYFT OR UBER….THEY ARE A LOT CHEAPER THAN CALLING ME”
Ideas for future columns contact Dale Gribow 760-837-7500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.