Let me introduce myself. I am Attorney Teresa DiNardi, better known around courthouses all over Connecticut as “Lady DUI”. I have handled every type of DUI case in Connecticut, from arraignments all the way up to the Connecticut Appellate Court. Also, I have been featured in The New York Times for my defense work. Since 2006, I have devoted my practice to the defense of the drinking driver. I have developed my reputation and name as Lady DUI through my aggressive and educated defense of my clients. You are probably reading this book because you need help. I wrote this book for one purpose: to help my clients understand exactly what happens when they are charged with a DUI.
During my three years of law school, I often thought about what type of attorney I would become. It might sound corny, but the truth is that I entered law school because I wanted to help people. I realized very early on that I wanted to be the type of attorney that put people first. I am a fighter, and fighting legal battles for my clients is what I enjoy most. My clients are underdogs. They stand alone against the power of the state of Connecticut to prosecute them with extensive resources. I love standing shoulder to shoulder with my clients. I love doing everything I can to protect and defend them against criminal charges. Also, I passionately believe in our criminal justice system. I believe in the defendable rights granted by the Constitution of the United States.
Finding My Way
When I began my first year of law school, I quickly discovered its many stressful and frightening aspects. There are thousands of pages of incredibly dry reading and intense, competitive examinations. Then there is the latent fear of most law students: being called on to speak in front of your peers. I have always been comfortable with public speaking and tend to enjoy the spotlight of speaking in court. But, the one common struggle I did have was choosing my life’s calling in the practice of law. I needed to find what area of law best suited my personality and my ambition. I would bet money that many first-year law students have no clue what they are going to do professionally once they graduate and pass the bar exam.
For me, the desire to be a successful attorney was always there. But, I wasn’t sure what type of law I was going to practice. Some law students fall in love with a certain branch of law and never want to practice anything else. I took the same classes as everyone else my first year of law school. Through this, I began to develop an interest in tax law.
My first professional experience was an internship with the IRS. I enjoyed learning about the field of tax law. But, I couldn’t envision being glued to a cubicle in a corner of an office building, sifting through the tax returns for huge corporations or the federal government. So, I started looking into the possibility of criminal law. I knew a little about this because my father was a police officer. I really enjoyed learning about it in class. But, I wasn’t sure if the daily practice of criminal law was for me.
I can remember one night getting home from my internship with the IRS and watching the film Twelve Angry Men. It is a classic piece of American cinema and a favorite of many law students. But ironically I had never seen it. The film takes the viewer into the deliberation of a jury. It shows how decisions about a defendant’s fate take place in the real world. The practice of criminal law never really stuck out for me before. But watching that movie really got me thinking about what I could do to help regular people facing a legal system that often gets things wrong. The more I learned about the practice of being a defense lawyer, the more I began to envision myself as a champion of the underdog. Slowly but steadily, I began to gravitate as a professional towards criminal defense.
During his 27 years as a police officer, my father was a hostage negotiator for the Town of Newington. He helped many people in difficult and life-threatening situations over the course of his career. The seriousness of his job was expressed to me every day when he would take off his bulletproof vest and place it on the kitchen table for the next day of work. Police officers live by the motto of “To Protect and Serve”. I take the same mentality when it comes to my clients. I want nothing less than to get the best possible results for every client.
My interest in writing this book was the experience of representing thousands of clients in Connecticut for DUI charges. So much of the time, clients are confused while dealing with their brush with the criminal justice system. By investigating so many cases, and carefully questioning my clients, police officers, and witnesses, I learned that many people needed more information about how the process works and how they can obtain a better result. Sometimes people feel that they were in a more sober condition than indicated by the breath testing machine; these machines are frequently subject to error. My clients will often admit to certain facts to the police. This basically assures a DUI arrest and potentially a conviction on their record. Please remember that the police don’t need any additional help in prosecuting you for DUI.
The criminal justice system is strongly favored towards the government, which has pressure from groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) demanding that legislators, prosecutors, and judges deal harshly with people accused of driving under the influence. There is no doubt that alcohol has played a role in many motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and even deaths. However, the Constitution does provide rights to all persons charged with crimes. Despite the best efforts of some to remove these rights, they still exist albeit with the odds in favor of the government. Understand that the government has an easier time convicting a person accused of DUI today that at any other time in American history.
Written for You
Please keep in mind that this book was written for non-lawyers. It represents a large amount of my knowledge regarding this area of Connecticut law and is adapted specifically for regular people like you who are caught in a confusing criminal justice system. Oftentimes, lawyers speak in the technical jargon of legalese, which effectively prevents clients from being able to fully understand the legal complexities surrounding their case. The field of law has its own vocabulary and there are terms used in the context of litigation that are complex; there is no simple way around this. (“Due process,” for example, eludes a set definition but can be best explained as “fair play.”) A clearer understanding of the process is the aim of this book, and hopefully its serves you well.
Throughout the course of the book, I will guide you through the process facing you in the coming weeks and months ahead. Most importantly, it is necessary to state the obvious: this book is not a substitute for a trained, licensed, and experienced DUI lawyer like myself. I may be biased, but I encourage you to retain an attorney who focuses their practice on defending people accused of DUI.
Most likely you are anxious or perhaps even scared about your arrest and the implications for your family, reputation, and your career. The allegation of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not one that most people want to face alone. In this book, I will show you what I have learned during my career practicing law, that hope is not a strategy.