Court Overturns D.U.I. Conviction Of Deaf Defendant

William Kral’s inability to hear made it very difficult for him to communicate with his attorney when he was charged with D.U.I. in the state of Washington. At his arraignment, he was assisted by an unqualified sign language interpreter that led him to believe the document he was signing was a continuance. The document was really a waiver of his right to a speedy trial. Six years later, Kral’s conviction was finally overturned, as reported by The News Tribune.

When a defendant is charged with D.U.I. (called O.V.I. in Ohio), one of the rights the defendant has in the court process is the right to a speedy trial. The right to a speedy trial can only be waived if the waiver is made knowingly and intelligently. Kral argued on appeal that the waiver of his speedy trial rights was not made knowingly and intelligently because he didn’t know he was waiving his rights.

Kral’s ordeal lasted for six years. During that time, he served a nine-month sentence, including three months in an alcohol treatment program. He also lost his job and paid $4,600 in fines. Kral reported that his court-appointed attorneys ignored or mishandled his case. Kral’s appeal was ultimately successful: the appellate court overturned the conviction and ordered the case back to the district court to be dismissed.

This case illustrates the significance of Constitutional rights. It also illustrates the importance of having a good D.U.I. lawyer to ensure those rights are protected. The reversal of Kral’s conviction is a victory for the deaf and a victory for Constitutional rights.