There are many sobriety field tests (SFTs) that police will use on someone such as repeating the alphabet backwards. What many people don’t know is that this test among others, are not the standardized tests recommended by NHTSA.
There are only three scientifically reliable tests: the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (follow the pen with the eyes), the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test.
Virginia police have been known to make mistakes during a DUI arrest. For example, in the one-leg stand test an officer should not test people who are 50 pounds overweight or are physically impaired. Also, the SFTs were designed to predict a .10 level or above and the legal BAC limit is currently .08, leaving room for error. Another defense in a DWI case is the reliability of the breath testing machine itself.
If you have taken one of these field tests, there are many possible defenses available for DUI charges. An experienced Virginia DUI attorney can help you if you have been wrongfully accused of driving under the influence.
The article “Is It Possible to Get Out of a DUI or DWI Charge” has more information on this topic.
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback David Macklin was arrested for drunk driving in Newport News, Virginia on March 13, 2009.
State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller confirmed Macklin was driving a 2005 BMW west on J. Clyde Morris Boulevard and was initially pulled over around 3:30 a.m. Friday morning for illegal window tint.
Reports indicated that a police officer approached the vehicle and the smell of excessive alcohol was apparent. The Virginia State trooper proceeded to give Macklin several field sobriety tests, in which he performed poorly.
“Further investigation determined that the driver’s blood alcohol level was in excess of Virginia’s legal limit of .08,” stated trooper JR Street. Macklin’s blood alcohol test actually showed a level of .11 BAC.
Macklin’s hometown is Newport News, Virginia, where he played basketball and football for Menchville High School. He went on to play football at Penn State and was drafted into the NFL in 2000. Last season he played cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The charges Macklin was arrested for are having illegal window tint and DUI, a first-time misdemeanor offense. He was held at the Newport News city jail and was released after he posted a $2,500 bond. His hearing is being held Monday, March 16 at the Newport News General District Court.
Macklin’s arrest is one of many that has occurred during this St. Patrick’s Day holiday weekend. Virginia is cracking down on dangerous drivers. The cities of Richmond, Lynchburg and several surrounding jurisdictions in the state of Virginia have launched campaigns to keep the roads safe this St. Patrick’s Day. Every year, hundreds of people die in alcohol related accidents, and several cities in the sate of Virginia are trying to do their part in decreasing this statistic.
If you are pulled over for a suspected DUI in Virginia, there is a good chance that you will have to do a horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, as part of a series of field sobriety tests. Police officers use the HGN test in Virginia to help determine if you are intoxicated. Even though scientists believe the HGN test is reliable, there are my factors that can alter the results.
Nystagmus is defined as an involuntary movement of the eyeball that occurs when there is a disturbance of the inner ear system or the oculomotor of the eye. Consuming alcohol is supposed to hinder the ability of the brain to control the eye muscles, which is where the HGN test comes in to play. The more alcohol that is consumed, the great amount of involuntary movement of the eyeball.
During the HGN test, a police officer will be looking for movement in the eye when you look to the side. The officer will most likely ask you to follow an object with your eyes, such as a pen or penlight. Generally, the object is held about 12 to 15 inches from your face and at a slightly higher eye level. It is important that the police officer is able to clearly see your eyes, if not, the results could be wrong.
There are many causes of nystagmus, besides alcohol consumption. Neural or muscle activity, brain damage, eye strain, brain tumors, inner ear diseases and other health problems can all result in nystagmus. If a police officer is not properly trained in administering the HGN test, the results could be skewed.
If you have been arrested for a Virginia DUI charge, it is crucial that you contact and an experienced DUI attorney who can review the details of your HGN test and other field sobriety tests.
The article, “The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test Used in DUI Arrests,” has more information on this topic.
Albemarle County Police kicked off a campaign to nab intoxicated drivers on Super Bowl Sunday in Central Virginia.
Before the Super Bowl, Corporal Ken Richardson explained, “We are going to have heavy patrol from the roads during the time of the Super Bowl to look for intoxicated drivers.”
Albemarle County Police added seven traffic patrol units that Sunday to watch county streets before the official kickoff into the early hours of Monday morning, said Richardson.
Richardson said that they were looking for any unusual driving habits that people were doing, such as crossing the lines.
Central Virginia bars also helped out in the efforts to keep drunk drivers off the roads in Albemarle County. Kiersten Kaufman of the Wild Wing Café in Charlottesville said that her staff was prepared to cut off fans who had enough to drink. “We train our staff very, very well to know the signs of when someone is a little too intoxicated, and often times those signs present themselves before they’ve gotten to that point,” said Kaufman.
Some of the signs that Kaufman said to watch out for that would indicate someone had too much to drink include slurred speech, not walking properly, putting their head down or slowing down as far as drinking.
Richardson said that he hoped everyone would have come up with a plan to get home safely from Super Bowl parties. One of the ways that people could prevent an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) was by designating a driver.
Based on a proposed bill, if you have been convicted of DUI in Virginia, you would be required to install an ignition interlock even if your BAC was below 0.15 percent. The bill, known as House Bill 2041, would revise the current state law that requires only repeat DUI offenders and drivers with a BAC above 0.15 percent to install these devices. This bill is being discussed for the second year in a row and many Virginia legislators are concerned. If it passes, Virginia would join eight other states that have similar laws.
An ignition interlock system is a small handheld device that attaches to the dashboard. Before a driver can start the car, he or she has to blow into the device, which will measure BAC. The driver is also required to blow into the device at designated times while driving. The engine will only start if the driver’s BAC is lower than .02 percent.
According to a member of the House Courts of Justice committee, the cost of obtaining and installing the ignition interlock system is estimated at $455.
Del. Sal Iaquinto R-84 is the sponsor of the bill and believes that if passed, it will deter repeat DUI offenses. He said that there is a 64 percent decline in DUI recidivism after the ignition interlock system is installed.
Critics of the bill are concerned that it could negatively impact people who need to drive for their jobs and people with multiple vehicles. Del. G. Manoli Loupassi, R-68 said that since so many people rely on company vehicles for their jobs, the proposed bill could have “desperate impact on a large number of people.”
If the bill is passed, it will go into effect January 1, 2010.
Sheriff Tommy Thomas has been accused of being racist due to some emails that were discovered.
You decide for yourself: http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/feature?section=news/13_undercover&id=6231156
As you may remember from other blogs, the Harris County Texas Sheriff has been criticized and sued.
Thanks to Harrisonburg Virginia DWI Attorney Bob Keefer, www.BobKeeferLaw.com, for keeping me informed of this apparent abuse of police power.
Harrisonburg Virginia DUI Lawyer Bob Keefer recently wrote a blog post about a DUI Road Block in Harrisonburg, Virginia conducted by the Harrisonburg Police Department that produced absolutely zero drunk drivers. So, not a single driver was "wasted;" the only thing that was wasted was the taxpayer's money and the time of the sober drivers who were delayed for no reason!
If you have been arrested for DUI at a sobriety checkpoint, there are many possible defenses based on the set-up and implementation of the checkpoint. All of the Virginia DUI Lawyers on DUIanswer.com are experienced in investigating and raising these issues and other issues relating to Virginia DUI Laws for you at trial.
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.
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.
The Harris County Sheriff's Department had to know that conducting surveillance on Plaintiffs in a civil rights violation suit was wrong.
The Ibarra brothers, a local business owner and a Judge sued Harris County.
Business Owner Loyd Henderson was a plaintiff; his security camera showed Henderson being shoved to the floor and cuffed without warning by a Harris County Sheriff's Deputy.
Henderson had called the Sheriff's Departmetn for help after a robbery.
Municipal Judge April Walker was also a Plaintiff in that suit; Judge Walker was arrested after calling the Sheriff's Office for help.
The Deputy that was called to help calm a neighborhood dispute threw Judge Walker to the ground and handcuffed her.
Judge Walker was charged with impersonating a public officer and assault on a police officer.
The Ibarro Brothers, as mentioned in an earlier blog, were arrested while videotaping the arrest of a neighbor.