Montana v. Zimmerman: Right to a Speedy DUI Trial

Posted by Steven Eversole | Jul 09, 2014 | 0 Comments

Our Alabama DUI defense attorneys understand that excessive delays in the prosecution of a DUI case can lead to increased anxiety and uncertainty for clients. It may also be difficult to find a job or keep your current job while facing criminal charges. While some delay cannot be helped, unreasonable delays caused by the prosecution may constitute a violation of your rights to a speedy trial.

In Montana v. Zimmerman, officers observed a speeding pickup truck and initiated a traffic stop. Upon making physical contact with the driver, the officer became suspicious that he was drunk and conducted a DUI

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investigation. After concluding that there was sufficient probable cause for a DUI arrest, the suspect was booked and charged with felony driving under the influence (fourth offense) and additional misdemeanor charges.

The driver refused to submit to a chemical breath test (breathalyzer) and had his driving privileges revoked.

After three days in jail, the driver was able to post bond and was released. He was ordered to remain alcohol free and, to maintain this release condition, he could either report twice a day to take a breathalyzer or wear an electronic alcohol-monitoring bracelet. He chose to wear the bracelet, which is formally known as a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM).

He was required to pay nearly $60.00 a week to the monitoring company prior to trial. Due to repeated delays by the prosecutors, he was forced to wear the SCRAM for over 10 months. His DUI defense attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case for violation of his constitutional rights to a speedy trial.

In addition to paying thousands of dollars to the monitoring company, he was also significantly hindered in his ability to earn a living. He worked as a carpenter and could not be around substances that contained alcohol, such as certain construction adhesives, paint thinners, industrial solvents and other work related chemicals.

The trial court found that the financial hardship and restraint on his ability to work caused him a substantial prejudice that warranted dismissal of the case and the charges were dismissed. The prosecutor appealed this dismissal and the intermediary appeals court reversed the dismissal. Ultimately the Supreme Court of Montana agreed with the trial court and dismissed the case for violation of the right to a speedy trial.

In Alabama, Rule 8 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure governs the right to a speedy trial. The court shall look to the rights to a speedy trial under both the Constitution of the United States and the Alabama state constitution. The court must also consider whether the defendant is in custody, the seriousness of the offense charged, and the complexity of the case.

The right to a speedy trial is guaranteed to all criminal defendants including those charged with a DUI. However, obtaining a dismissal for violation of the right to a speedy trial is far from guaranteed. As the facts of every case are different, you should discuss your right to a speedy trial with an attorney who regularly represents people charged with a DUI.

Contact Birmingham DUI defense lawyer Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

Additional Resources:

Montana v. Zimmerman, July 3, 2014, Supreme Court of Montana

More Blog Entries:

Can You Beat a Breathalyzer?, June 27, 2014, Birmingham DUI Defense Lawyers Blog

About the Author

Steven Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama


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