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Unconstitutional Blood Draws

There is a good deal of debate in the legal community about whether warrantless blood samples taken from DUI suspects are constitutional following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Missouri v. McNeely.  The core of this debate is whether “implied consent” laws constitute an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, or whether such consent is “involuntary consent” because it is based on the threat and imposition of a license suspension. The McNeely decision did not invalidate “implied consent” statutes ... Read More »

Can You Be Arrested for “Aiding and Abetting” a Drunk Driver?

Is it possible to be an accomplice to drunk driving – that is, to be convicted of “aiding and abetting” a person who was driving under the influence of alcohol? In one case in Maine, two men were drinking together in a bar.  When they left, the owner of the car had his friend drive since the friend was less intoxicated.  The two were stopped by the police, and the owner/passenger was taken to a police station — where he refused to take a breath test because ... Read More »

Did You Say Too Much To The Officer, Or Not Enough?

For years, criminal defense attorneys have cautioned people about the perils of talking to the police when they are suspected of violating the law.  It was sound advice, but now that admonition must be refined in light of a recent decision from the United States Supreme Court. The case is called Salinas v. Texas and it was issued earlier this year.  Berkemer v. McCarty is a much older case, and it essentially held that a motorist’s roadside statements are admissible at trial. Salinas goes further, ... Read More »

How Much is Too Much?

In order to prevent over-serving at bars, many states have adopted what is known as the Dram Shop Act. The Dram Shop Act allows victims and the families of victims to sue the bar or establishment that served alcohol to a drunken individual that subsequently injured someone in a drunken driving accident. These alcohol infractions are regulated by the Department of Revenue who will strip bars and bartenders of their licenses if found to be repeatedly over-serving. Georgia is one ... Read More »

Breath Tests and the “Mouth Alcohol” Problem

One of the most common causes of falsely high breathalyzer readings is the existence of mouth alcohol. The breathalyzer’s internal computer is making a major assumption when it captures a breath sample and then analyzes it for blood alcohol concentration (BAC): It assumes that the alcohol in the breath sample came from alveolar air — that is, air exhaled from deep within the lungs. Since we are trying to measure how much alcohol is in the blood, rather than in the breath, the ... Read More »

Try getting past this one!

Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines are just a few of the many different controlled substances that Swedish researchers have found can be detected by a commercially available breathing test device.  A control group of 47 individuals, who had taken a variety of drugs less than 24 hours prior, were tested to check the accuracy of the device. The test successfully detected drugs in 87% of the people. The device would allow police officers to test suspected drug users and DUI ... Read More »

How to Force a DUI Defendant to Prove His Innocence

The drunk driving laws make it a criminal offense to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or while having a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. It is not, however, a criminal offense to be under the influence or to have a BAC of .08% while taking a breath test in a police station an hour or two AFTER driving. So how does the prosecution prove what the BAC was when the defendant was driving? ... Read More »

Laws requiring breathalyzers in the cars of DUI offenders has reached 18 states and counting

Maine is the newest state to propose a bill that would allow first time and habitual DUI offenders to cut down on their license suspensions by having a breathalyzer installed in their vehicles. The breathalyzer, also known as the ignition interlock device (IID), is a device wired to a vehicle’s ignition that requires a breath sample from the driver before the engine will start. A photo of the driver is taken while the sample is being given and transmitted to ... Read More »

DUI checkpoints near baseball stadiums hits home for Angels fans

After celebrating the New York Yankees 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, Yankee fans left the stadium in a hurry in the hopes of beating the post-game traffic only to be stopped minutes later by the four police DUI checkpoints that were set up just blocks from the stadium. The Bronx police reassured fans that the checkpoints were not aimed towards Yankees fans but were part of a citywide effort to crackdown on drunk driving. An effort that Angels ... Read More »

If a police officer says it then it has to be true…right?

Jason Servo, an Oregon police officer who was arrested and subsequently fired for driving under the influence, has filed a $6 million lawsuit against the city of Gresham claiming that his firing violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The lawsuit alleges that Officer Servo was suffering from alcoholism at the time of the incident and should not have been fired as alcoholism is a recognized disability under the act. In January 2011, after enjoying dinner and drinks ... Read More »