Q: I have been charged with DUI, due to being on prescribed medications. I was arrested and charged only after an officer pulled up behind me because I had a flat tire. My public defender is now refusing to meet with me prior to the morning of my trial date to go over the state’s evidence. I was told that I would have the opportunity/right to go to the PD office to see the discovery, including the officers dash cam video. I’ve requested to make an appointment with my PD and she has refused. What can be done about this and is this illegal? I’ve been on the same prescribed meds for over 10 years and I even have notes from my prescribing doctors stating that they have never witnessed me act or appear “impaired” in any way and that I have always abided by their necessary drug testing and so forth. Even my Psychiatrist and Physician are shocked that I’ve been charged, especially since I wasn’t pulled over for appearing/driving impaired. I have absolutely no prior record at all and this situation just doesn’t seem right or fair, especially the refusal of my public defender to meet with me, prior to my trial date, to go over evidence I to subsequently build a fair and proper defense for my case.
A: You have the absolute right to see the evidence including the video and your attorney should obtain this evidence through discovery and take time to review it with you. The way you describe this, it sounds like you may have a defense. If the officer cannot say you smelled of alcohol, the Commonwealth must either 1) have an expert to say that the blood test revealed an amount of prescribed drugs in your system that was beyond the medically prescribed therapeutic level, and/or, 2) have the officer testify that your behavior and mannerisms rendered you incapable of safe driving. The dash cam video should shed some light on your behavior. If I was your counsel I would have your prescription information ready and your doctor as a witness. I would request to review the Commonwealth’s medical expert’s report. If you cannot hire private counsel, persist with your Public Defender. If she is not helping you, be polite, but insist on speaking with her supervisor.