I asked Bob Keefer, a Harrisonburg, Virginia DUI lawyer to comment on the cheating by some Ohio State Troopers on their breath operator's license recertification. Was this a big deal or was the press making too much of a Trooper stealing the test answers, distributing the answers to others, in the presence of patrol sergeants who did nothing and getting caught in part because he missed simple questions. Here is what Keefer said:
Over a million Americans are charged with drunk driving every year. For most of them, this is the most serious criminal charge they will ever face in their lives. Most people charged with DUI have no previous criminal record whatsoever.
DUI charges now carry significant direct and indirect consequences. For example, many states require mandatory jail, mandatory loss of license, mandatory ignition interlock and mandatory alcohol education.
Automobile insurance rates are very high to insure convicted drunk drivers if the company will insure the convicted drunk driver at all. Some countries, like Canada, may even deny the convicted drunk driver admission into the country. Some health insurance providers will not insure the convicted driver. Some life insurance companies will not write policies for convicted drivers. Many businesses will terminate or not hire the convicted drunk driver. A DUI or DWI conviction may sink your security clearance if you need one for employment.
Being a convicted drunk driver is seen as a character flaw at the bare minimum.
In that light, we would expect that law enforcement officers would take their jobs seriously and learn how to properly test a subject’s blood alcohol level. In Ohio, in order to administer the breath test equipment the operator must have a permit. This permit must be renewed every year by passing an examination.
You would figure this exam to be pretty easy for Ohio State Police Officers who give these tests all year round. But that must not be the case since six troopers had to resort to cheating to pass. Moreover, five patrol sergeants knew about the cheating but did not stop it. Apparently they were not concerned about how well the cheaters could test the citizens.
Apparently, one trooper stole the test answer sheet and gave it to other troopers. Three sergeants were present in the room when Trooper Maroon distributed copies of the answer sheet to other test takers. Two other sergeants got the answers from Maroon before they took their test.
Maroon only missed two answers on his test; answers any senior operator ought to get right. All of the cheaters missed the same two answers; the same two answers that were wrong on the cheat sheet. And this was a pass/ fail test. When the investigation began, at least one Trooper was “less than truthful”.
Who is watching the watchers? How many other troopers have cheated over the years? How many innocent citizens have been denied justice because the test operator was a cheater and did not know how to do his job properly? If a trooper would cheat on a test would he lie to convict a citizen? Will the person testing you be a cheater?
Read full report below:
About Bob Keefer: Bob Keefer is an attorney in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He represents persons charged with DUI, reckless driving, speeding tickets and traffic tickets. He represents people charged with those offenses in Harrisonburg, Virginia; Rockingham County, Virginia; Staunton, Virginia; Augusta County, Virginia; Waynesboro, Virginia; Woodstock, Virginia; Shenandoah County, Virginia; Page County, Virginia; Luray, Virginia; Shenandoah Valley, Virginia; Bridgewater, Virginia; Dayton, Virginia; Verona, Virginia; Broadway, Virginia; Timberville, Virginia; Interstate 81.
What do they do with the cars? Well first they drive them and then they buy them for ridiculiously low prices.
In St. Louis, Missouri,like in many municipalities, the powers that be have legislatively enabled law enforcement to seize cars of persons suspected of DUI. If the vehicle is not recovered within a certain time by its true owner then law enforcement and their family members can purchase the seized vehicle at a cheap price, sometimes at 25% of the real value.
The city and the tow service split the loot from the towing. The "abandoned" cars become no cost rental cars to be driven for months without cost. In St. Louis, Aimie Mokwa, 33 years old, the daughter of Joe Mokwa, police chief, has helped herself to several cars on the cheap. Actually, it is a good thing the cars are so cheap as she has wrecked a Dodge Neon and a Ford Escort. She had a .17 blood alcohol content when she wrecked the Escort but somehow was not charged with DUI. Sounds fair to all concerned.
Before you get out on the roads in California, there are simple ways to avoid a DUI stop. The most common reasons for a California police officer to stop a vehicle are :
Being careful when you drive will significantly lower your chances of a DUI in California.
As a San Francisco DUI attorney, many clients inquire about how to avoid a DUI charge in the first place. I have discussed the "rules of the road" which give the San Francisco police officer or California Highway Patrol officer probable cause to stop your vehicle.
THere are other things you can do before you even go out for a few drinks, whether it's a road trip to San Jose, or a short trip to the Richmond District. Know your vehicle. If you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with your car, you are more likely to make mistakes. If you fit in this category, sit in the car before you leave. Take a moment to know where everything is before you start to drive. Simple things such as turn signal levers, emergency brake lights, headlights, high beams, windshield wipers and so on. Adjust the seat and steering wheel BEFORE you drive away.
If you normally drive a car with a clutch, acclimate yourself to an automatic transmission. Drive the vehicle for a while before you make your trip.
Another thing you should do is make sure everything works in the vehicle. All the lights are in good working order, the registration tags are current, and so on. Avoid being stopped simply because your tail light is out, or broken.
Taking the time to go over the car itself can make your evening more enjoyable, and avoids an arrest for a vehicle infraction while you're driving home in San Francisco. Don't make the officer's job easy.
As a San Francisco DUI lawyer, I have clients come into my office from all over the Bay Area with their DUI citation. Once I get the police report, I become frustrated by the statements made by the client to the police officer. The problem is that most people do not know that they have the right to refuse to answer questions that might incriminate them before they are arrested.
It is important to know that everything you say from the point you are approached y the officer until you are released from custody can, and most likely will, be in a subsequent police report, and it may be used against you at trial. You do not have to say anything to the officer other than your name and insurance information. Do not offer information such as "I only had three beers" or "I'm upset because my boyfriend broke up with me." Don't make jokes to the officer. Don't argue with the officer, or swear at the officer. You will later regret it.
While it is possible for a DUI attorney to get the statements thrown out, it is possibly that a judge may leave them intact. They will then be intact for a jury to hear.
So remember, be quiet, give out only essential information, and hope for the best.
After a night out with your family in the Mission District of San Francisco, where you had too much to drink at dinner, you are stopped by a San Francisco police officer. The embarassment of being arrested for DUI in front of your family is humiliating. You get released the next day, and figure all you need to worry about is the DUI charge, and trying to keep your license at the DMV hearing.
Wrong. As any San Francisco DUI attorney can tell you, there are potential enhancements and additional charges that can come out of that family night out. The most serious is a misdemeanor child endangerment charge. You were driving, under the influence, with your young chidren in the car with you. This can add jail time and fines to your DUI charge. It potentially could involve the child welfare department, depending on the circumstances, and the blood alcohol level.
Obviously a DUI, and a loss of license privileges, will create even more problems for your family. In addition, potential jail time, enhanced by the child endangerment charge, will cause havoc for you and your family. While a good DUI attorney can work to reduce the impact of the child endangerment charge, including dismissal of the charge, it is something to keep in mind when you go out with your family, and consume alcohol.
You are applying for a new job. You are asked if you have ever been convicted of a crime. You remember back to that DUI you got when you were out on the town in the Richmond District in San Francisco three years ago. You have to admit that you have a DUI. Say good bye to that job. Even if the question isn't on the application form, your potential employer will run a criminal background check, and that DUI will be there.
What do you do? One option is to expunge your DUI record from your criminal history. If you have successfully completed probation, paid all your fines, committed no other crimes (other than traffic infraction tickets) you can petition the court to expunge or erase the conviction. When the Court grants your petition, you can mark "No" on an employment application asking for criminal conviction.
The expungement does not free you from future enhancements if you get another DUI, nor does it prevent you from admitting to a conviction that was expunged for certain California licenses and immigration applications. But it does allow you to lessen the burden of a prior conviction to let you get that job you want.
A qualified San Francisco DUI can explain the process of expungement and its benefits, and prepare your petition.
Harris County Texas Sheriff's Deputy Craig Miller was killed in an unfortunate motor vehicle collision on February 21, 2008.
Deputy Miller was on his way to relieve another Deputy conducting surveillance on a suspected criminal activity.
Jose Vieyra, driving a box truck, pulled out onto Katy Freeway in Houston, Texas, in front of Deputy Miller.
Deputy Miller did not attempt to brake as there were no skid marks in his lane; Miller passed away at the scene.
Vieyra was charged with criminally negligent homicide.
Now the Rest of the Story:
- Deputy Miller was not wearing his seat belt,
- Deputy Miller had a .27 blood-alcohol content,
- Vieyra had a valid driver's license at the time of the accident,
- Vieyra had no criminal record,
- Initially Sheriff's Dept. indicated that the .27 would not effect Vieyra's charge,
- Charges against Vieyra, in light of Deputy Miller's .27 bac,were dismissed,
- Vieyra may be deported as his papers had expired.
Harris County is known for its surveillance efforts:
Thanks to Harrisonburg DWI Lawyer Bob Keefer, www.BobKeeferLaw.com, for providing us with this information.
Once you've been stopped by a San Francisco police officer for a possible DUI, the officer has already made a decision that he or she has probable cause to stop you. As you roll down your window to talk to the officer, and the officer smells alcohol on your breath, the likelihood that you can leave at that point is slim. And then you begin to speak.
The most damaging evidence in a DUI case are the statements you make to the officer. Admissions of drinking, the amount you've consumed, and other responses to questions the officer is asking you. A San Francisco DUI attorney is going to try to determine if these damning statements can be suppressed under Miranda.
In a situation where you have been "arrested" the officer must give you your Miranda advisals: telling you that you have the right to remain silent, seek advice of an attorney, that anything you say can be used against you. The question becomes "when" you've been arrested. In a DUI case, the officer most likely has determined you are under the influence based on errative driving, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, and other usual factors. Additional questions are asked in an effort to further allow you to incriminate yourself, and have the statements used against you in court. Without the advisals.
A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney will determine which statements are "spontaneous" and thus allowed into a trial, and those which are solicited after you are technically under arrest. Those statements can be suppressed because they were made without the Miranda advisal.
Beyond the obvious advice, which is to say nothing other than your name during an arrest, sometimes that advice goes out the window when you are in a panic, or are attempting to get out of a DUI at the road stop. It doesn't work. If you remain silent, there are no statements to suppress. If you talked too much, hire a DUI attorney to get those statements thrown out.
What can you do when you are pulled over for a DUI by the San Francisco Police Department? Here are some basic things you can do, and have the right to do:
1. If you see the police lights, try to pull over carefully, but not too carefully. Show you are in command of your vehicle. Turn on your turn signal. Slow down and brake gradually.
2. How do you look? Is your shirt tucked in, do you look ruffled or disheavaled? Is your makeup smeared? Make adjustments accordingly before you roll down the window.
3. Remember that the police officer is noting EVERYTHING you do and say. The first impression is most important. In other words, be nice to the officer, be cooperative, and not defensive.
4. Before you go out for the evening, put your car registration and insurance in an easily accessible place in your car. Make sure you can easily find your driver's license. It saves you searching your vehicle while you're nervous.
5. You should remember that you do not have to submit to a preliminary breath test. This test is used by the officer to determine whether to arrest you. You also do not have to submit to the field sobriety tests. Will this get you out of an arrest? Probably not, but these tests are unreliable, and will be used against you.
6. Other than your name and address, you do not have to talk to the officer about your activities. Invoke your right to an attorney during any questioning.
A qualified California DUI attorney can help advise you regarding your rights during a stop, and if you have been stopped and subsequently arrested, the DUI attorney can evaluate the circumstances of the stop to determine if anything was done improperly.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in San Francisco or the Bay Area, there is the tendency to simply admit you're guilty, and avoid the costs of hiring a qualified DUI attorney. In some criminal cases, such as traffic tickets, that may be the case. In a DUI, it is not, especially in California.
The DUI arrest itself has already created chaos in your life for you and your loved ones. Having an experienced attorney on your side will minimize the stress related to a DUI.
This is especially true when you are looking at your second or third or more DUI charge. The punishments go up incrementally each time. Also, if there are extentuating circumstances in your case that could increase the punishment, such as driving under the age of 21, having minor children in the vehicle, or having a high BAC. You need to hire a qualified DUI lawyer.
If you are in an accident, and someone, even you, have been injured, there are a multiitude of reasons why you need an attorney, not only for the DUI, but also the tangent consequences of the injuries, including a possible civil lawsuit.
The results of a DUI conviction can be costly to you and your loved ones. You could lose your job if you lose your license. You could spend time in jail. You could pay large fines and penalties. An experienced lower can reduce or minimize these consequences, or get rid of the DUI charge all together.
In other words, i you don’t know what you need to do, or what steps you need to take, hire a DUI attorney. A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can walk you through the steps of the entire DUI process at the criminal level and the Department of Motor Vehicles. The attorney can review the facts of your case and challenge the charge in a trial, or plea bargain a better dea.
Can you control the breath test? In other words, can you fool a breathalyzer into showing a lower BAC reading? The answer is No.
There are a lot of people who believe certain myths regarding a breathalyzer and BAC. For example, sucking on pennies does not lower a BAC reading. Breath mints? No. They only mask the odor of alcohol, they do not change the alcohol content being measured. Indeed, you don’t have to drink alcohol to get arrested for a DUI, because the human body produces its own supply of alcohol naturally on a continuous basis. Therefore, we always have alcohol in our bodies and in some cases, some people produce enough to become legally intoxicated.
Are breathalyzers are always accurate? No, and many errors are made in tests because they lack precision. The police or sheriff department official administering the test can also affect the results of a test.
So what can you do? A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can examine the test procedures, as well as the accuracy of the results. The attorney can determine if there were errors, or if there are other factors effecting the final read out. Don't assume the BAC taken at the police station is accurate. You may not be able to control the results of the breathalyzer, but your attorney can control how those results are used. In some cases, the results can be voided.
4 points in 12 months, or
6 points in 24 months, or
8 points in 36 monthsA qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can explain the point system to you, and determine how best to proceed with your DUI keeping in mind your license record.