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Category Archives: The Law

police being awarded unfairly

Law enforcement officers awarded for DUI arrests

Last month in Columbia, South Carolina, police officers were awarded for their crack down on drunk driving. Local officers were awarded for various accomplishments. One officer was awarded “Rookie of the Year” for registering nine DUI arrests. A local highway patrolman was also awarded for having 109 DUI arrests under his belt. This begs the question, is it appropriate to give police officers public awards for doing their job?

Drunk driving is a serious offense, but with varying laws and regulations from state to state it is important that police officers and the public alike see eye to eye on such a serious issue. As a populace are we comfortable with officers receiving a bonus for one particular type of arrest over another? Even more alarming is in the same Columbia area, local law enforcement agencies have set-up a live drawing with DUI arrests being the ticket in, for two new fully equipped police vehicles. The public must be aware of local DUI laws, as well as search and seizure rights, because law enforcement agencies are spending more time pursuing drunk driving. It would not be too much of a stretch to wonder if such “raffles” for new police vehicles or awards for DUI convictions are going to affect an officer’s ability to remain fair and unbiased.


 

Read the original article: http://www.midlandsconnect.com/news/story.aspx?id=880553#.UctC2vlO-So

community caretaker DUI

“Community Caretaker” DUI

Under state law, there is a general requirement that warrantless detentions must be based on a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a crime has taken place or is about to take place. However, the community caretaker doctrine is an exception to this requirement, whereby the courts have given the police the authority to act (in certain cases) to help distressed citizens. A knowledgeable Orange County drunk driving defense attorney can further advise you with regard to the specifics of the doctrine as it relates to your case.

With respect to drunk driving cases, the implementation of the community caretaker doctrine has been specifically demonstrated in a variety of cases, such as the case in which a defendant was sleeping on the side of the road with the engine still running and the headlights turned off. The officer knocked on the window; however, the defendant did not wake up. As a result, this caused the police officer to proceed to enter the vehicle by opening the car door, at which time he realized that the defendant was, in fact, in a drunken state.

Given those set of facts, state supreme courts have found that the police officer’s imposition in those types of cases was lawful under the community caretaker doctrine. Courts have clearly expressed a three-pronged standard for reviewing community caretaker investigations. First of all, provided that there are objective, specific, and articulable facts whereby a veteran officer would believe that a citizen needs his or her assistance or is in danger, then that officer has the right to stop and investigate.

Next, if the officer deems that the citizen does need assistance, he or she may proceed to take the appropriate actions needed in order to provide the necessary assistance or mitigate the danger.

Finally, you should note that once the police officer has ensured the citizen’s safety and believes that he or she is no longer in need of assistance, any actions that the officer takes beyond that point will constitute a seizure. If you need an experienced Orange County drunk driving attorney, please call the DUI Law Offices of Chad Maddox today for a free consultation.

How to cross examine a police officer at a DUI trial

Cross Examination of an Officer on Blood Shot Eyes

Police officers often claim that a person’s bloodshot eyes indicated that he or she was under the influence of alcohol. An experienced Orange County DUI lawyer can successfully counter this claim by conducting a good cross-examination of the arresting officer.

Here is an example of how that cross-examination might proceed.

Attorney: Officer, you stated that at the time of the arrest, the defendant’s eyes were bloodshot, correct?
Officer: Yes.
Attorney: Did you ask the defendant when he had last gotten sleep?
Officer: No.
Attorney: Officer, surely you have had times when you have had bloodshot eyes after not getting much sleep, correct?
Officer: Yes.
Attorney: In fact Officer, isn’t it true that there have been many different reasons why you have had bloodshot eyes?
Officer: Yes.
Attorney: And that in most of those situations, your eyes were not bloodshot because you were intoxicated?
Officer: Yes.
Attorney: So isn’t it fair to say that just because a person’s eyes were bloodshot is not reason enough to conclude that a person was under the influence of alcohol?
Officer: Yes. That reason alone is perhaps not enough.

Questions along these lines can be used to persuade the jury to discredit the officer’s statements regarding bloodshot eyes. Your Orange County DUI lawyer must skillfully demonstrate that many variables, besides alcohol, may exist to cause bloodshot eyes.

The cross-examination of the arresting officer gets even better when he comes to court with bloodshot eyes himself. This is not uncommon. Officers, who normally work late nights making DUI arrests, may not get much sleep before coming to an early morning trial. Then, your Orange County DUI lawyer can weave in cross-examination questions specific to the arresting officer’s own bloodshot eyes to further drive home this point to the jury.

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence and are facing trial, do not hesitate to retain the services of a skilled and dedicated Orange County DUI lawyer. Call the law office of Chad Maddox, an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer, today at (714) 695-1500 for a free initial consultation regarding your DUI situation.

DUI Mobile Command Units

A new method to curbing drinking and driving incidences has been popping up all over the country. Law Enforcement officials all across the nation have been utilizing more mobile command units than ever before.

Mobile Command units typically range anywhere from 100,00 to 150,000 dollars and they are being pursued because they give local law enforcement the availability to have DUI response teams set up in more immediate and efficient places to stop drinking and driving. More and more people are seeing these “Command Units” set-up at public events such as fairs or concerts. The main goal of law enforcement officials running the DUI Mobile Units is to have the ability to process intoxicated individuals at the scene of the drinking before they get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

These mobile command units are built to do a number of things. Those who are intoxicated can be brought into the unit where officers can run various inspections such as: giving a breathalyzer test, taking blood tests, and having urine tests completed as well; while these are not the only examinations that can be given to determine whether a person is intoxicated or not, they are the most likely to be administered.

These Mobile Command Units are gaining popularity because the simple sight of them deters drinking and driving. Law enforcement is supportive of such tactics because they make not only the processing of drunk individuals faster, but also easier, as these command units contain many more tools than any one single patrol car can.

The mobility of these DUI Command units is also helping their popularity. They are easy to move from one side of town to the other, and do not require nearly as much work as normal checkpoints do.

When drinking in public, it is important to realize that these mobile units are there to deter drinking and driving. If you are in the vicinity of a DUI Command Unit make sure to be aware of your rights. These DUI Command Units are gaining in popularity and seem to be here to stay.


While the irony of this suspected DUI crash can be found comical, it only goes to reaffirm the need of these DUI mobile command centers in the eyes of law enforcement, and remind us all how serious a matter drunk driving is.

drunk driver crashed into dui mobile command center

States moving toward stricter DUI laws

In Kentucky, DUI laws are being reviewed. Rep. Dennis Keene has made a motion in an attempt to change current DUI legislation and make it a requirement to install ignition interlock devices on the vehicles of all persons convicted of a DUI. House Bill 286 states that the ignition interlock device, or IID, would require the driver to breathe into the device which would then measure the alcohol in his breath before starting the car. Any traces of alcohol detected when testing, will prevent the vehicle from starting as well record the presence of alcohol, which is a probation violation in most cases.
Keene was reported as saying, “This is just a simple bill that will save lives. States that have imposed the interlock system have cut drunk-driving deaths in their states by 33 percent.” While IID costs could range from $3-4 dollars per day, Keene states that the convicted offender would pay all costs to keep the device active. Keene has become an outspoken proponent of DUI legislation changes after his daughter was nearly killed in a DUI crash in 2002.

In Tennesse, Mother’s Against Drunk Driving has recently been attempting to enact similar legislation, forcing the installation of Ignition Interlock Devices in the vehicles of all DUI convicts. They took their cause to the State Capitol February 11th to make their case. MADD supporters have voiced their opinions that it would save lives. Tennessee Senator Maw Beavers was reported quoting the same IID statistic as Keene, “They have proven very successful in many of the states that have the .08 and above law. It has reduced fatal crashes. I believe I read the statistic is 33 percent.”


It’s only a matter of time till more states move to pass laws such as this. It’s not hard to imagine IID being wide spread and common for people convicted of a DUI.
What do you think about mandating Ignition Interlock on Devices on the vehicles of DUI recipients?
If IIDs save lives, why haven’t made them a stock feature of all cars?

The One-Leg Stand Test

The one-leg stand test is one of three field sobriety tests that have been standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to determine whether a driver is suspect of a DUI. In order to be considered valid, the test must be administered in accordance with specific procedures. If you are ever subject to the one-leg stand test, you should try to remember all of the details of how the test was administered so that your Orange County DUI attorney can explore whether the officer who stopped you complied with the procedures.

Below are some of the rules an officer should follow when administering the one-leg Stand test:
• The test must be administered on a hard, flat surface in a safe location.
• If you have a sufficiently serious physical impairment or are overweight, the test should not be administered to you.
• The officer must clearly explain the test to you and demonstrate the steps.

If the officer who arrests you fails to follow the above procedures or any of the other mandatory procedures for the one-leg stand test, your Orange County DUI defense attorney may be able to obtain a ruling excluding evidence of the results from your trial. Even if he or she is unable to get the results excluded, your DUI attorney will argue the jury should not give the results significant weight because the test was administered improperly.

If your Orange County attorney convinces the jury that your field sobriety test results are not valid, you will be positioned to obtain an acquittal from the DUI charge against you.

To speak with an Santa Ana, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, or Anaheim DUI defense attorney free-of-charge, please contact the DUI Law Offices of Chad Maddox at (714) 695-1500.

Non-Standard DUI Tests

Handwriting

According to a research study, the consumption of alcohol, at any level, results in objective changes in a person’s handwriting. However, this conclusion alone is insufficient to measure accurately the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the person providing the handwriting sample, as your Orange County DUI attorney can explain.

In fact, there may be some doubt as to whether or not handwriting is a reliable indicator of alcohol consumption on any level.  For example, one study measured a sampling of 35 individuals who had provided writing samples both before and after the consumption of alcohol.  The researchers’ conclusion: handwriting can not be used as a measure of the BAC of the writer.

Hand pat

This test involves placing one hand in front of you, palm up.  The other hand is placed on top of that hand, palm down. You are instructed by the officer to then:

1. Pat the bottom hand with the top hand;

2. Rotate the top hand so the back of the top hand faces the bottom hand and pat again;

3. Keep doing so alternatively, all the while increasing the speed as instructed until told to stop.

An Orange County DUI attorney understands this is a test that is designed to fail.  Even a completely sober individual may eventually double pat or roll their hand instead of patting one time smoothly as the speed of the rotation increases during the test.

Picking up coins

As with the hand pat test, picking up coins does not involve balancing on a person’s legs, and therefore may be employed if the subject has told the officer he or she has some back, knee, or leg affliction.

It involves instructing the subject to use one hand to pick up multiple coins from a flat surface, such as the hood of a car.  This test, just as the hand pat test, has earned no scientifically validated support as an accurate prediction of sobriety or BAC.

Chad Maddox, an Orange County DUI attorney, can provide counsel and advice to explain your rights if arrested for a DUI.  Mr. Maddox may be reached at (714) 695-1500.

Gender & GI Tract

As with any criminal defense, there are a number of time-tested DUI defense tactics that your Orange County DUI lawyer can employ to help save you from hefty fines and extensive jail time. If you were recently charged the crime of driving while intoxicated, we encourage you to contact one of our experienced Irvine DUI attorneys as quickly as possible in order to get started on your case. By commencing your DUI defense as soon as possible after the arrest, all witnesses will have the events fresh in their minds and will be able to recall the night in question more easily than would be possible by waiting many months.

One important defensive argument involves producing facts relevant to alcohol absorption rates in women versus men. If you happen to be female, alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream at a much faster rate than males, thus leading to a higher blood alcohol content which may not be indicative of your inebriation or how many drinks your consumed. These differences are attributed to variations in size, weight and body composition. It has also been suggested that the enzyme “dehydrogenase” responsible for breaking down alcohol is lower in women than men.

Since alcohol is absorbed through the stomach, a DUI defendant with stomach or intestinal issues may wish to raise these arguments in defense of a finding of intoxication. Any number of physiological changes such as stress, fear, disease or surgery could lead to faster-than-normal absorption rates and a blood alcohol content reading which does not accurately depict the suspect’s alcohol consumption. Those with ulcers or other stomach ailments could have an impact on your blood alcohol content as the alcohol will absorb faster than it would in a person not facing such issues.

If you would like to meet with an Irvine DUI lawyer to discuss your case, contact the law office of Chad Maddox today. We can review the facts of your charge and arrest and help you determine the best course of action for your DUI defense.

Finding a Great Orange County Drunk Driving Defense Attorney

Many people use the Internet to easily compare the experience and specialty of local drunk-driving attorneys. Most attorney websites should provide answers to the following questions:
• How long has the attorney been practicing criminal defense?
• How long has the attorney been representing drunk driving defendants?
• Does the attorney specialize in drunk driving cases?
• Does the website show that the attorney specializes in drunk driving cases? Look for things like membership in bar associations, board certifications, and publishing or speaking engagements about drunk driving cases.

Referrals from people you know, other attorneys, and court employees may also be useful.

You can represent yourself, but it is not recommended that you do so. It is usually not wise to represent yourself because:
• The prosecutor will have no motive to make a fair plea bargain;
• You don’t know anything about the court’s procedural rules; and
• You may not be able to appreciate whether you have a good or bad defense.

When you first meet with your Orange County drunk driving defense attorney, be sure to discuss in detail all the financial arrangements, such as:
• What is the attorney’s fee?
• What does the fee cover?
• Does the fee cover any hearings regarding your driver’s license?
• Does the fee include trial, appeal, or post-conviction relief? If not, what will the fee for those be?
• Does the fee cover the situation where the case is dismissed and the prosecution refiles the charges?
• What additional out-of-pocket expenses apply?

A drunk driving arrest is a serious matter. For the best advice about your case, contact experienced Orange County drunk driving defense attorney Chad Maddox today for a free initial consultation.

Techniques Your Attorney May Use to Deal with Evidence

If you have been charged with drunk driving because you performed poorly on a field sobriety test, your skilled Orange County drunk driving defense attorney may be able to diminish its bad affect by drawing a contrast with something far more harmful that did not actually happen. For instance, if you stumbled while you were attempting to “walk the line,” your attorney might make inquiry of the officer with questions such as, “Did Mr. Smith grab you for support?” or “Mr. Smith simply had a misstep, right?” These reduction methods give your attorney a means by which he or she can approach unfavorable or bad evidence.

Another technique that your attorney may choose to utilize involves the use of impeachment evidence. If your lawyer has such evidence, he or she may decide to introduce it early on when cross-examining of the arresting officer. Doing so will decrease the officer’s credibility for the rest of his questioning.

Additionally, your attorney may propose to the jury that there is possibly police officer bias; he or she will question the officer about whether or not he gets paid overtime for his testimony. If the particular officer at your trial has a track record of arresting DUI suspects in questionable cases, it is highly likely that those cases will be asked about in court, which means more overtime for the officer.

Keep in mind, though, that convincing a jury of officer bias will be a difficult task; thus, your attorney will most likely only hint at this. Still, even if the jury does not believe that the officer is possibly biased, making the inquiry about the officer’s overtime pay will at least reduce some of the impact when your expert is asked the predictable question about his or her fee.

If you need an experienced Orange County drunk driving defense attorney, please call Chad Maddox today for a free consultation.