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.
You have been charged with a DUI in California. You have a court date coming up. You were not driving at the time the office came up to you. How can you be charged with "driving" under th influence?
There are actually several ways this can happen. The most common way is that the officer was following you and observing your driving. You perhaps made some errors, swerving, driving too slow, no turn signals, or some other traffice violation. Perhaps there is a mechanical defect with your vehicle.
Another way to prove you were driving under the influence is if you were "called in" by another driver or pedestrian via cell phone. The officer will receive the tip, and then locate you. If you are still driving, he will follow you and make his own observations. If you have stopped, and the person who called you in is reliable or known, he will come up to your car and begin the process. At a trial, the person who called will have to be a witness in order to show probable cause for the officer to detain you and administer sobriety tests.
Finally, it comes down to location, location, location. Unless you can prove someone else was driving, your presence in the driver's seat with the car engine off on the side of the highway could be sufficient to prove you were driving.
There may be other ways to prove driving as well. It is the job of the District Attorney to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving. If it is an issue, don't handle it yourself. Contact a qualified California DUI attorney to tackle your case. If it can't be shown that you were driving, you can't be convicted of a DUI in California.
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.
Let's hear your DUI experiences or those of your friends or family, from the San Francisco California Bay Area! We can learn and grow from individual stories, and make the best defense even better.
I Want My Lawyer! If I'm not under arrest, let me go. Do not question me. I assert my 5th Amendment privilege. I DO NOT consent to any searches or entry into any property. I DO NOT consent to any tests except under DUI Implied Consent.
San Francisco and the Bay Area in California is experiencing a shortage of police recruits as the number of officers retiring has increased significantly in the last few years. This has created a need for the police force to curtail certain activities, including DUI sobriety checkpoints, as well as enforcement problems when DUI cases get to court.
Nothing has been proposed in the short term to deal with this problem. Any one else seeing this trend?
Here’s an interesting bit of news on DUI breath test results. A court in Washington State ruled that alcohol breath tests should not be admitted at trial. "Simply stated, without the reliable evidence that a correctly functioning breath test instrument can provide, the discovery of the truth in DUI cases suffers," the judges wrote. "The innocent may be wrongly convicted, and the guilty may go free."
The ruling cited problems with the patrol's toxicology lab, including the false certification of solutions used to verify breath tests, the improper rejection of data, mistakenly switched data and reliance on software that miscalculated data.
If this becomes a trend on the West Coast, look to California, San Francisco, and the Bay Area to follow suit, making it more difficult for prosecutors to prove their cases.
In today’s information age, a DUI arrest in the San Francisco Bay Area can haunt you for years. I spoke to a man—we will call him “Bill”—who told me a story of how he got his DUI in San Francisco. The San Francisco Police Department did not arrest him for his DUI; his arrest was at the hands of the CHP (California Highway Patrol). He got his DUI on Highway 101, but it could have been anywhere: Highway 80, Highway 580, or even Highway 280.
Bill’s problem was that the DUI that he got in San Francisco some years back now gave him a Criminal Record. That’s right, a DUI is a charge that gives you a Criminal Record that any prospective employer can find and use to deny you a job that you are completely qualified for. Because DUIs are so politically charged in the San Francisco Bay Area, an arrest can haunt you forever! But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you take action and have your DUI expunged, you can put an emotionally and financially difficult time behind you—permanently.
I told Bill that under California law his misdemeanor DUI conviction can be expunged, as long as Bill successfully completes the terms of his probation, which were imposed by the San Francisco Superior Court when he went to court for his DUI. If Bill had not been placed on probation for his DUI conviction, his record could be expunged one year after the date that he plead guilty or “no contest” to his DUI. Although successfully completing probation is always a requirement, San Francisco Superior Court does have broad discretion when it comes to expungement.
The moral of the story is that if, like Bill, you have a DUI conviction in the San Francisco Bay Area, your DUI means that you have a permanent criminal record. That is, unless you take action. If you don’t seek expungement, any employer can treat you as a criminal. A charge or conviction of DUI in California, and especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a serious threat to the quality of your life and must be treated seriously.
Tomorrow I will tell you what could be a happy ending to Bill’s DUI arrest in San Francisco.
The story of San Francisco resident Adrian Gonzales is an extreme illustration of an important point about DUI law in California and elsewhere. While it’s unlikely that a given person will suffer the kind of legal trials and tribulations that Mr. Gonzales underwent, it throws into relief the kind of bureaucratic rigmarole that those accused of a DUI—many of whom are entirely innocent—will have to endure. Even more importantly, it demonstrates the supreme important ensuring that our records don't diminish our freedom or quality of life.
Mr. Gonzales, after being pulled over for a routine traffic violation, was told by police that he was wanted for DUI in Pomona County, outside Los Angeles. Mr. Gonzales, who had never been to Pomona, was understandably surprised. The officers then confiscated his driver’s license and impounded his motorcycle. The next day Mr. Gonzales returned to the police station in the hopes of clearing up this obvious misunderstanding. Unfortunately, his efforts to exonerate himself just got him arrested.
Thankfully, the police promptly took his fingerprints and compared them to those of “Adrian Gonzales”—his southern California drunk driving doppelganger—which convinced the officers that they were dealing with a case of mistaken identity. Expecting a swift resolution, Mr. Gonzales instead learned that the police couldn’t return his driver’s license until the DMV agreed to wipe his driving record clean. Despite having a letter from the police department testifying to his innocence, the DMV took months to expunge the DUI from Mr. Gonzales’ record. In fact, his record was only expunged once a local news reporter contacted the DMV and inquired about his case.
When Mr. Gonzales went to reclaim his motorcycle, convinced that this would be the end of an unpleasant ordeal, he was informed that it had been sold. It took about a year and a half—and yet another intervention by the local news on his behalf—before he received fair compensation from the city of San Francisco.
To your average person, this story exemplifies the kind bureaucratic black hole that one can fall into. While few of us have had to deal with a scenario this extreme, each of us have had a run-in with the maddeningly slow and apparently irrational nature of bureaucracy in all its forms. But to a DUI attorney, the meaning of this story is more specific. First, it demonstrates a little known reality: the relationship between the legal system and the DMV, when it comes to DUIs, is complicated and confusing. (For more information, read our article entitled “The DMV hearing and drivers license suspension.”)
Second, Mr. Gonzales’ ordeal illustrates the supreme importance of our records, whether they are our criminal records, our DMV records, or whatever else. Our records are what determine the amount of freedom, privileges and opportunities we are given by our government, our employers, our banks and our society. For us to be in control of our lives, we must take control of our records. That’s why we recommend that, if you have been arrested of DUI—even if the charges were dropped—you seek legal help in expunging your records. No less than Mr. Gonzales, you deserve a clean slate.
That we now live in an “information age” is something we’ve all heard. Aside from the obvious fact that technology is getting more advanced and more widespread, it’s not always clear what this oft-repeated phrase actually means. It’s not always clear what kind of “information” we’re talking about.
What can sound like an airy abstraction, in reality, refers to a very real state of affairs. Think, for example, of the growing importance of a person’s credit score. A credit score is a bit of information that can have a tremendous impact on a person’s opportunities and quality of life. Companies are making a great deal of money helping clients improve their credit scores, and people are happy to pay.
Living in an “information age” means that our standing in society—our freedom, opportunities, and quality of life—is to a great extent determined by certain pieces of information about each of us. Our medical records can determine whether we get insurance; our credit score can decide whether we receive a much-needed loan. Reducing a person’s life—or, to put it another way, reducing a person’s character and reliability—to a few numbers or bits of information is a marvelous way to increase efficiency in making the kinds of decisions that employers, insurance providers, and banks have to make. The costs, however, are high, especially to those whose records are unfairly blemished.
And there is no mark more damaging, more limiting, than a criminal record. A criminal record—even if it’s just an arrest record for a DUI, without a conviction—can mean that a person is permanently treated like a criminal. And criminals, it should go without saying, have a hard time finding jobs and getting loans.
Living in an information age has tremendous advantages. But it is important that people have the resources to ensure that their records do not mean a life sentence. But this isn’t something that most people can do alone, nor should they have to. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI, whether you’ve been convicted or not, it’s important that you talk to an expert about getting your record expunged. As minor as it may eventually seem once time has passed, it is impossible to anticipate when your record will eventually reemerge and the effect it will have. Expunging your record is not only a guarantee that your past doesn’t determine your future, but is one of the best ways of giving yourself some closure. It is the best way, in every sense, of putting your DUI behind you.