The Importance of a Good DUI Lawyer in Montana

In State v. Gieser, the Montana Supreme Court recently reversed conviction on charges of DUI based on ineffective assistance of counsel. But this case is really about how important it is to get professional representation in a DUI case. Many lawyers view DUI cases in Montana as basic, and the type of thing that anyone can handle. So many without experience or expertise take a dip. Sometimes, their clients pay the price.

Here, Gieser’s attorney made a number of critical mistakes. First, she failed to object to testimony regarding the HGN test (the test where an object is moved horizontally in front of your eyes). Well established Montana law clearly states that the results of such a test require a showing that the test was properly administered by the officer along with expert testimony demonstrating a scientific basis for the reliability of the results. The prosecution failed to present expert testimony, and Gieser’s attorney failed to object.

Then, Gieser’s attorney did not object to evidence of his Blood Alcohol Content which was determined by an out-of-certification Portable Breath Test apparatus. Montana has strict requirements for the maintenance and certification of PBT machines. The fact that this one was uncertified would have meant that the results were inadmissible. Instead, the jury relied on its results as though they were scientifically accurate and possibly convicted him based on faulty data.

The importance of a qualified DUI lawyer can’t be emphasized enough. These are serious, criminal charges, and need to be dealt with by someone who knows the law. Talking to an attorney is good, talking to an attorney who specializes in DUI defense is better.

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