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Not Triggered:

State of Ohio v. Rawnsley WL 5319863 (Ohio App. 2 Dist. 2011)

A drunk driving suspect was taken directly to a hospital by police instead of jail, and the officer testified the suspect was not under arrest when the implied consent admonition was read and a blood sample was drawn. Held: The blood test evidence was excluded on the basis of invalid consent and no exigent circumstance for not seeking warrant.

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State of Utah v. Houston , ___ P.3d ___, 2011 WL 4865169 (Utah App.), 2011 UT App 350

A deputy made a traffic stop based on a statement from a fellow deputy that the driver had a revoked license until 2012, and that he had verified the same “a few days" earlier on a Driver’s License computer data system.

Notwithstanding the possibility of a glitch in the computer data system, or that the driver had just gotten the license reinstated, the Court affirmed the denial of a motion to suppress evidence. The deputy’s basis for reasonable suspicion included the collective knowledge imparted to him by the fellow deputy (the “collective knowledge" doctrine), and the “few days" gap did not eliminate his reasonable suspicion.

State of Montana v. Cameron , - P.3d - -, 2011 WL 5353102 (Mont.), 2011 MT 276

Though driving on the centerline several times was not a violation of law per se , it did constitute sufficient grounds for an experienced DUI officer to stop a vehicle at night.

Note : if there is one common theme that can be drawn from the plethora of cases on the subject of stops, lane lines and weaving, it appears to be as follows: While a brief momentary crossing of a lane line may not be a violation of the improper lane usage law (when there is no danger to others on the roadway) and hence may not form a reasonable basis for a vehicle stop, continuous weaving (taken in conjunction with other facts such as time of day) can be a stand-alone basis to stop a vehicle as reasonable suspicion of impaired driving.

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State of Kansas v. Peach , Slip Copy, 2011 WL 4440184 (Table) (Kan.App.)

The driver passed a police cruiser parked on the side of the road which may have had its headlights on or just the parking lights. When the driver did not dim his brights as he passed, the officer made a u-turn and detained him.

The detention was held unconstitutional because the subject statute only requires the dimming of bright lights when a motorist is approaching “an oncoming vehicle within 500 feet..." Since the police cruiser was parked on the side of the road it was stationary and not oncoming.

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Posted on in DUI

Adam Liptak is the Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times.A version of this news analysis appeared in print on May 6, 2012, on page SR5 of the New York edition with the headline: Are Oral Arguments Worth Arguing About?

SUPREME COURT advocacy is not usually a spectator sport, so it may have surprised Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. when the reviews of his defense of President Obama’s health care law started to roll in.

“Donald Verrilli makes the worst Supreme Court argument of all time,” a blogger at Mother Jones wrote. A month later, Mr. Verrilli was back at the court, now asking it to strike down parts of Arizona’s tough immigration law. The Drudge Report’s assessment: “Obama’s lawyer chokes again.”

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Following is an article I wrote recently for a guest op-ed column in the Marin Independent Journal. http://www.marinij.com/opinion/ci_20552333/marin-voice-helping-people-avoid-drunk-driving?source=rss

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Marin Voice: Helping people avoid drunk driving

ALLOW ME to share my perspective on how to reduce recidivist drunk driving. It's based on 27 years of representing individuals criminally charged with this offense, and 20-plus years of personal recovery.

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San Francisco DUI Lawyer Paul Burglin offers this case example:
Expert Testimony Concerning Physiological Variability Affecting Breath Testing Improperly Excluded
People v. Vangelder (2011) ___Cal.App.4 th ___ (Fourth Dist. COA – Docket No. D059012 (Note: Petition For Review has been filed and the decision is not yet final)

Defendant appealed the trial court's exclusion of physiologist Michael Hlastala's scientific criticisms concerning the reliability of the data produced by breath test machines which assume the breath samples measure only alveolar (deep lung breath) air. Defendant's offer of proof was that the assumption is not always valid due to a series of physiological factors (e.g., individual breathing patterns, body temperature, blood hematocrit, and breath temperature) that may affect the transmission of alcohol in gas form, from the bloodstream to the lower and upper portions of the lungs, to the trachea and mouth and back again, thereby making such breath measurements unreliable, and undermining, in turn, the application of the standardized partition ratio calculation for converting breath levels to blood-alcohol levels.

Held : The trial court prejudicially erred in refusing to allow scientific testimony to be presented that would have raised doubts about the reliability of the EC/IR and PAS breath testing devices, with respect to the physiological variables that can affect the sample of breath or air taken.

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State of Texas v. Christensen , Not Reported in S.W.3d, 2011 WL 2176656 (Tex.App.-Dallas)

San Francisco DUI Lawyer Paul Burglin offers this case example: One may be charged in Colorado with DWAI (driving while ability impaired) or DUI. While the former is a less serious offense requiring a lesser showing of impairment, the element of impairment is defined much the same as what is required in Texas for a DUI conviction. Hence, a DWAI conviction in Colorado is considered a prior DUI in Texas.

Editor’s Note: The key to assessing whether Colorado’s DWAI may be properly considered a prior DUI/DWI in another state, is to compare the elements of proof required for a Colorado DWAI conviction with what is required for a DUI/DWI conviction in the other state. California, for example, has found it insufficient for use as a prior in the criminal court but acceptable for use in administrative suspension actions by the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. See McDonald v. Dept. of Motor Vehicles (2000) 77 Cal.App.4 th 677.

Out-of State Alcohol-Related Reckless Driving Conviction Considered A “Prior" OWI (DUI) In Wisconsin

State of Wisconsin v. Malsbury , Slip Copy, 2011 WL 2201190 (Wis.App.)

Defendant appealed a determination that he was a second offender, based upon his prior conviction in another state (Washington) where the original charged was amended/reduced from DUI to reckless driving.

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Day v. Judge Bruce Haskell , - N.W.2d - -, 2011 WL 2505052 (N.D.), 2011 ND 125

After jury empaneled and sworn, Defendant, bailiff, and jurors engaged in conversation about pheasants while judge and lawyers were in chambers. Court quickly ruled that any such conversation automatically required mistrial, but the North Dakota Supreme Court held that a mistrial was not manifestly necessary and that a retrial was constitutionally barred by the Double Jeopardy clause.

A mistrial is not automatically required when the jury is exposed to improper communication; rather, the court must consider the circumstances of each case and determine if there is a manifest necessity for a mistrial. See United States v. Melius , 123 F.3d 1134, 1138–39 (8th Cir.1997) (the trial court's decision to grant a mistrial when there is a claim of possible juror bias is entitled to deference but the court's decision is not beyond review and the court must act responsibly and deliberately considering the defendant's interests). The trial court's decision to terminate a criminal proceeding after jeopardy has attached should not be taken lightly. Linghor , 2004 ND 224, ¶ 22, 690 N.W.2d 201. In this case, the trial court did not consider any alternatives and the decision was made quickly and without sufficient reflection. The trial court did not engage in the “scrupulous exercise of judicial discretion" required before making its decision.

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The “community caretaking exception," justifies an otherwise unconstitutional warrantless search of an automobile where the search is conducted by law enforcement in an attempt to protect the general public from harm, as opposed to a search conducted during the course of a criminal investigation.

Paul Burglin, a DUI Attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area presents this case as an example:

Alford v. State of Texas , - S.W.3d - -, 2011 WL 3505698 (Tex.App.-Dallas)

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State of New Jersey v. Brackin , - A.3d - -, 2011 WL 1661381 (N.J.Super.A.D.)

Defendant was pulled over after he was stopped at a green light for 10 seconds and then pulled away without incident.

The Court held that the pause at the green light “was not of sufficient length to have raised community caretaking concerns, particularly in circumstances in which defendant's driving after commencing to proceed through the light was unexceptionable. Officer Tobin could not have had a reasonable belief that a traffic law had been violated…because as he testified, no cars followed defendant's, and thus there was indisputably no traffic to obstruct. Thus, we adhere to our conclusion that a reasonable, articulable suspicion that a motor vehicle violation had been committed was not established."

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State of Wisconsin v. Devries , Slip Copy, 2011 WL 1844721 (Wis.App.)

Defendant was found guilty of drunk driving and sentenced as a 5th timer based on the inclusion of Arizona and California drunk-driving matters as prior “convictions" under the Wisconsin statutes. WIS. STAT. § 340.01(9r) defines a “conviction" as including: a “fail[ure] to comply with the law in a court of original jurisdiction"; and a “violation of a condition of release without the deposit of property."

EDITOR’S NOTE: Under Apprendi , all matters that enhance a penalty (except prior convictions) must be proved during trial beyond a reasonable doubt. Plus, the defendant normally has the right of confrontation. How SCOTUS would treat this type of prior “conviction" remains to be seen.

State of Georgia v. Davis , - S.E.2d - -, 2011 WL 1843166 (Ga.App.)

The State's breath test results were suppressed on the basis of a failure to reasonably accommodate the defendant's request for an independent test.

In rejecting the State's argument that Defendant withdrew her request for an independent blood test after the officer advised her that she would have to pay for the test but failed to allow her the opportunity to make other payment arrangements, the Court noted:

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People v. Varela , - Cal.Rptr.3d - -, 2011 WL 1126036 (Cal.App. 2 Dist.), 11 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 3771

CVC 415 defines a “ ‘motor vehicle’ [a]s a vehicle that is self-propelled."

CVC 473 defines a “ ‘pocket bike’ [a]s a two-wheeled motorized device that has a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, and that is not designed or manufactured for highway use."

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Open Container – No Chemical Test Required To Establish Alcohol

Derosiers v. District of Colombia , - A.3d - -, 2011 WL 1894854 (D.C.)

Circumstantial evidence held sufficient to support a conviction for possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, even in the absence of a chemical test of the liquid in glass jar that allegedly contained alcohol. Police officer observed and smelled liquid and recognized, based on his experience, distinctive smell of vodka emanating from clear liquid inside glass jar found next to defendant, smell of alcohol emanated from defendant and vehicle containing jar, and defendant, who was asleep in front seat of parked vehicle, appeared to be intoxicated at time jar was found next to her.

Police Officer’s Opinion Of Guilt

State v McLean 205 N.J. 438 (N.J. 2011)

The NJ Supreme Court reversed a drug conviction which had been partially based upon use of the so called "lay opinion rule" where the police officer testified based upon his training and experience as to what constituted intent to distribute.

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Destroyed Or Lost Video Tape

People of Illinois v. Aronson , - N.E.2d - -, 2011 WL 941306 (Ill.App. 2 Dist.)

A video tape was made on the very issue disputed by the parties (i.e., whether reasonable grounds existed for the officer to believe defendant was driving while intoxicated). Although the officer’s testimony was deemed credible and no finding was made of intentional or willful destruction of the tape, the trial court’s decision to rescind his license suspension was affirmed on the basis that the lost tape, coupled with the defendant’s testimony, outweighed the evidence in the State’s favor.

State of New Jersey v. Burns, Not Reported in A.3d, 2011 WL 1584364 (N.J.Super.A.D.)

Court rejected a licensee's contention that the State must 'prove-up' the admissibility, accuracy, and reliability of the breath test equipment before finding a “refusal” to submit to it. 

The Court noted that a similar contention concerning the qualifications of a breath test operator was previously rejected, citing In the Matter of John Ferris, 177 N.J.Super. 161 (App.Div.1981), certif. denied, 87 N.J. 392, (1981).

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U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Chemical Test Result In DUI Case Is Inadmissible At Trial Unless Lab Technician Who Performed Analysis Is Subject To Cross-Examination By Defense In Court

Decision Trumps Prior California Decisions


Declaring that “[t]he Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause confers upon the accused ‘[i]n all criminal prosecutions, . . . the right . . . to be confronted with the witnesses against him,’” the United States Supreme Court reversed a drunk driving conviction where the accused was denied the opportunity to cross-examine the actual lab analyst who completed, signed and certified a forensic laboratory report concerning his purported blood-alcohol level. Bullcoming v. New Mexico - Case No. 09-10876.

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