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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

North Carolina DWI/DUI- Fourth of July Operation Firecracker

Do you have plans for Fourth of July? The North Carolina Department of Transportation does- Operation Firecracker, a week long crack down on impaired driving in North Carolina. If you are in Wilmington, NC tomorrow and don't have plans, you can attend the media event for Operation Firecracker!

Included in the Booze and Lose It campaign, Operation Firecracker is stepped up enforcement against DWI drivers in Mecklenburg County. During the Fourth of July holiday weekend in 2009, North Carolina Troopers charged 1,340 people with DWI. This number does not include Charlotte Mecklenburg's Police Department arrests for DWI that same weekend. Here is a link to News14 Carolina story on Operation Firecracker.

Drive safely this weekend. Call a cab or have a designated driver. Interestingly enough, the 1,340 number cited by state troopers is the number that were charged, not convicted. Be aware that troopers/police officers will arrest people below .08, it happens all the time. So even if you believe you are below a .08, use one of the unreliable drink wheels that says you are under .08, don't get in the car. The stakes are too high.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thank You For Reading

I write this blog mostly in the evenings and on the weekends. I do read other legal blogs. I wish I could write as often as they do, the length that they do and address all the great topics they find in the news. Time does not always permit this for me. I do try to write a blog that provides some interesting information. I don't want this blog to turn into a legal advertisement with Google key search terms in every paragraph.

As I am not a computer master, I often find myself emailing/calling Judy Helfand at Webconsuls, the company that keeps my blog and website up and running. I have never met Judy in person, but she is such a nice person and pleasure to work with. I called Judy this past week to ask her about uploading videos and we ended up having a conversation about those who read our blogs. I told her I am always happy to receive an email that says "there is a new comment on your blog." Judy asked me if I ever commented back when someone left a comment. I thought about this and said no. Her example was perfect- if someone walks into a room and tells you they like your shirt, do you say thank you or do you ignore it?

Perhaps in today's world of internet and blog madness, we have lost our ability to communicate some gratitude. So for all those who read this blog, I thank you. For all those who have left a comment, thank you. It is very much appreciated.

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DWI Breath Tests- Over 400 Improper Convictions

Last March I wrote a post about the investigation into faulty breath samples surrounding DWI/DUI arrests in Washington DC. The results are in and according to a  Washington Post article, all 10 breath machines used by the police department gave incorrect results. Breath results were 20% higher than they should of been for those who submitted to a breath test after a DWI/DUI arrest.  Here are some staggering statistics- 400 people were improperly convicted. 1/2 of these people served approximately 5 days in jail!




People often believe these breath machines are technologically perfect. However, these breath machines are calibrated by humans. They are still prone to human error. In DC the mistake occurred when the person calibrating the machines improperly set the baseline level. Do highly trained scientists maintain and calibrate these machines? In North Carolina, the North  Carolina Division of Public Health calibrates all breath machines located in county jails. If you are arrested and taken to Mecklenburg County jail, be assured your breath test machine is being maintained by the Division of Public Health!

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Resist/Obstruct A Police Officer- A Life or Death Decision

Sometimes you read about a pending criminal case in the news and you can't help but say- you can't be serious. I read this story on the Simple Justice blog and my hands flew to my head in frustration. Ryan Daniel Snodgrass, a raft guide in Denver, Colorado was arrested resisting and obstructing a police investigation after jumping into the water to save a 13 year old girl who had fallen out of his boat. The girl had been missing for over 45 minutes when the police told Snodgrass that he was interfering with an official police investigation. According to the Denver Post article, Snodgrass did not wait for the police to set up ropes, rafts and rescuers. He jumped into the water, swam over to the girl and rescued her. Fortunately, Snodgrass' boss applauded his employee's efforts-
To leave a patient on the side of a river while you get your gear out of the car and set up a rescue system you read about in a book, is simply not good policy....Making contact immediately with your victim is essential. It's not about who is in charge. It's about the safety of a 13 year old girl. You are going to do everything in your power to insure the safety of your guest, and if that means in Idaho Springs you get arrested, well I guess we'll get arrested.

The police arrested this young man for doing what many would view as a heroic act. I do hope the District Attorney in this County will do the right thing and dismiss this case. Otherwise, there will be a line of criminal defense lawyers lined up to take this resisting and obstructing a police investigation case to jury trial. Let 12 members of the Publish Post community hear this case and send a message that society still applauds selfless acts. What if he had not jumped to save the girl and the girl ended up drowning. Sometimes the decision to resist or obstruct a police officer become a life or death decision.

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Eyewitness Identification- People Make Mistakes

If you or someone you know has a criminal case pending that involves an eyewitness identification- be very afraid. Eyewitness identification is one of the most problematic, error filled areas in criminal law.  Criminal defense lawyers consistently hear about eyewitness identification cases gone array. Innocent people are convicted. You don't need to read all the published studies that prove that people make mistakes. Just Google the name Ronald Cotton. Watch the video below to test yourself.




How did you do? Thanks to the Koehler Law Blog for finding this great video.

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