Your Rights at a DUI Checkpoint

Fair DUI FlyerDespite the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that DUI checkpoints do not count as a violation of a person’s fourth amendment rights, the legality of these checkpoints has been constantly challenged by drivers, attorneys, and privacy advocates since the ruling. Earlier this year, Florida attorney Warren Redlich gained some attention after creating the fair DUI flyer, which provides a legal method of getting through a DUI checkpoint by without speaking to the police or even opening the window. According to Redlich, aside from the clear violation of protection from unlawful search and probable cause, it can have unfair consequences for innocent people. For example, in 2013, a sober driver in Arizona was pulled over and charged with DUI even after the breathalyzer revealed a BAC of 0.00.

Although the flyer worked successfully in the video he posted last year, Redlich cautions that it does not work in every instance or state, depending on the law. For example, in California, V. C. Section 2814.2 states that drivers must stop and “submit” to a sobriety checkpoint inspection when there are displays requiring a stop, but doesn’t elaborate on whether showing a license through the window qualifies as compliance. Therefore, with the complexity of the law and lack of consistency when it comes to DUI checkpoints, what rights do drivers have when they get pulled over?

In most cases, an officer needs reasonable cause to pull you over, such as reckless driving behavior or a broken taillight, but DUI checkpoints are an exception to that rule as stated above. Once you have been pulled over or approach a checkpoint, an officer may start asking you questions. According to criminal lawyer George Gedulin in San Diego, while you may not be legally required to answer these questions, not complying may lead to even further evaluation or even arrest. If you suspect that you are over the legal limit, it is far better to say nothing than lie because it can be used against you later in court.

The officer may ask you to step out of the vehicle for a field sobriety test, but you are not required to take any field test. Not taking a field test may lead to an arrest; but again, it could also save you from incriminating evidence down the road. Officers are also prohibited from searching your vehicle, but any shady activity may give them reasonable suspicion to pat you down or inspect your car. If you do refuse to take a test and are arrested, even an affirmative blood test may not be enough evidence to secure a DUI conviction because any mistake that either law enforcement or forensic analysts make can impact the credibility of evidence.

While DUI checkpoints advocate for a noble cause, it’s easy to see how invasive they can be, especially if you have done nothing wrong. Compounded with loose definitions of what constitutes probable cause, reasonable suspicion, and lawful search, an officer can seemingly overstep their bounds at will. If you or a loved one has been arrested on suspicion of DUI, be sure to contact an attorney who can protect your rights under the law.

Five New York Students Charged in Connection with Hazing Death

According to authorities, five fraternity brothers face third-degree murder charges in the wrongful death of a New York City college student. The five Pi Delta Psi members also face charges ranging from hindering apprehension to providing false information to law enforcement in connection with the 2013 hazing death of Baruch College freshman Chun “Michael” Deng, Pennsylvania police said. Additionally, charges are pending against 32 other frat members, as well as the Pi Delta Psi fraternity, including assault, hazing, and criminal conspiracy, officials stated.

Deng, 19, died two years ago from “complications of traumatic brain injury” during a hazing incident in the Poconos, according to court documents. He was fatally injured while participating in a fraternity ritual known as the “glass ceiling” in which a pledge navigates toward someone who calls his name while blindfolded and wearing a backpacking containing a 30-pound bag of sand. Other fraternity brothers then physically prevent that from happening by repeatedly tackling and hitting the pledge.

According to police, Deng fell backward, struck his head, and was unconscious and unresponsive immediately following his fall. “A minimum of at least two hours went by before he actually received any type of medical care,” Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis said after the incident. Forensic analysis found that the delay in treatment “significantly contributed to the death of Mr. Deng” and resulted in neurogenic shock, police said. Upon his arrival at the hospital, Deng remained unresponsive and was in critical condition. According to the district attorney’s office, physicians determined he had suffered major brain trauma.

“Michael was a wonderful, beloved young man, and, in his honor, the family will also continue pursuing its wrongful death case against the fraternity to cause it and other fraternities to change so that other parents will be spared the loss of a precious child,” his family said in a statement. If somebody you love has been the victim of a traumatic brain injury, contact a Kansas City personal injury attorney for a free case evaluation.

Ignored Inmate is Awarded $15.5 Million

New Mexico man Stephen Slevin, now 59 years old, was held in solitary confinement for nearly two years following an arrest of driving under the influence and receiving a stolen vehicle. He went into custody a solid, healthy man and came out weak, undernourished and traumatized. He will soon be a multimillionaire for his pain and suffering.

Slevin, who was imprisoned for 22 months, suffered various serious medical complications that were left untreated. He had an infected tooth which he was forced to yank out himself, fungus growing on his face, toenails that grew around his foot and endured four to five anxiety attacks a day. Slevin wrote letters about his excruciating pain, demanding medical treatment. His complaints were documented with little urgency or concern and he never received any medical attention during his time in solitary confinement.

Not only was this a failure of the Dona Ana, New Mexico prison, it was a major failure of the legal system. No trial date was set during his entire time locked up, nor did he receive any attorney consultation. Slevin was separated from other inmates due to his history of mental illness, however during his time behind bars he “disappeared into delirium, and his mental illness was made worse by being isolated from human contact and a lack of medical care,” said attorney Matthew Coyte.

Slevin’s charges were dismissed and Dona Ana County commissioners agreed to drop their appeal of the jury’s verdict if Slevin accepted the lesser amount of $15.5 million rather than the originally promised $22 million.

In the pre-trial stages of Slevin’s case the county denied any allegations of lack of medical care. The county no longer denies the maltreatment. “In the wake of this large settlement, we can say definitively that we have learned from the past,” its statement said. “We can also say with confidence that we are leading the way for the future.”

Las Vegas Deadly Shooting and Wreck

A fiery car crash and shooting came together at 4:30 on the morning of Thursday the 21st, leaving three people dead on the lively Las Vegas Strip. Police immediately launched a manhunt to find the person who was responsible for the shootings that led to the fatal crash, and on Monday authorities determined the prime suspect to be 26-year-old Ammar Harris.

The target of the shooting was aspiring Oakland rapper Kenneth Cherry Jr., whose rap name was Kenny Clutch. The fatal incident occurred when Cherry was shot at while driving his Maserati. The dispute appeared to have stemmed from an argument at the valet area of the Aria resort-casino. Cherry sped into incoming traffic to avoid the gunshots, and slammed into a taxicab driven by 62-year-old Michael Boldon. The cab lit up in fire and smoke upon impact, causing Boldon and his passenger to be killed. Cherry died at a nearby hospital from a gunshot wound to the chest. A total of five vehicles were involved in the crash; the passenger in the Maserati was wounded in the arm and four people from four other vehicles treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The shots were fired from a black Range Rover at the center of the strip, by whom authorities, after working around the clock, now believe to be Ammar Harris. The Range Rover was found only a couple of blocks away from the incident, but police Captain Chris Jones says that Harris’ location is unknown. Police released a photo of Harris that was taken after he was arrested last year in Las Vegas on pandering, kidnapping, sexual assault and coercion charges. Police consider him to be armed and dangerous. He has numerous tattoos, including a small heart-shaped one below his right eye and an owl that covers his neck and part of his chest.

Kenneth Cherry Sr. has shamed media reports, saying “I don’t like the way that some of the media stations are portraying my son, because he was black, (like) he’s a criminal. My son was a good boy.” Cherry has no known police record and leaves behind three children.

The Las Vegas law firm Koch & Brim, LLP want to express their sincere condolences to the families of those that were lost in this tragic accident.

Florida DUI Penalties

A DUI conviction in the state of Florida can lead to serious penalties, fines, and imprisonment.  According to criminal defense attorney, Michael J. Griffith, after a DUI, “Your life has changed and it may change further. You probably have questions that need answers. The situation may seem confusing at best.”  Confusing seems to be exactly the right word.  The list of consequences for the charge is long and can be difficult to make sense of.  Still, it’s good to know what sort of negative action you may be facing.

What BAC level constitutes a DUI charge in Florida?

  • Driver Under 21 –       .02
  • Driver 21 and over –   .08
  • Commercial Driver  – .04

Fine Schedule

  • First Conviction –  $500 – $1000    BAC of .15 and over or with a minor in the vehicle  $1000- $2000
  • Second Conviction –  $1000 – $2000    BAC of .15 and over or with a minor in the vehicle  $2000- $4000
  • Third Conviction – $2000 – $5000    BAC of .15 and over or with a minor in the vehicle  not less than $5000

Community Service and Probation

  • 50 hours of community service or additional $10/per hour of assigned community service
  • Probation and incarceration cannot exceed one year for first conviction

Incarceration

  • First Conviction –  Not more than 6 months.  9 months with a BAC of .15 and over or with a minor in the vehicle
  • Second Conviction – Not more than 9 months.  12 months with a BAC of .15 and over or with a minor in the vehicle
  • Third Conviction – Not more than 12 months if the convictions were at least 10 years apart.  If within 10 years, a mandatory 30 day

Impounding

A DUI charge will result in impounding of vehicle, unless the family of  defendant has no other means of transportation.  Impoundment can not occur concurrently with imprisonment.

  • First conviction = 10 days;
  • second conviction within 5 years = 30 days;
  • third conviction within 10 years = 90 days.

If  the vehicles are operated solely by the employees of the defendant or any business owned by the defendant, the court may dismiss the order of impoundment.

License Revocation

  • First Conviction – 180 day minimum to 1 year maximum
  • Second Conviction within 5 years – Minimum 5 years with hardship eligibility after 1 year.
  • Third Conviction within 10 years – Minimum 10 years with hardship eligibility after 2 years.
  • Fourth Conviction – Mandatory permanent revocation with no hardship eligibility.
  • DUI Manslaughter – Mandatory permanent revocation.  If no other DUI convictions, maybe hardship eligible after 5 years.

The list of penalties here is merely a sample and is by no means exhaustive.  For more information and a full list of DUI penalties go to the Florida Department of Highway Safety website or speak with a Florida DUI attorney.

Bay City Woman Accused of Having Sex With Minor

Bay City, TX– 25 year old Kacie Smith recently lost her husband, 34 year old Scott Smith, a week before christmas 2012. Kacie is now facing charges of two counts of sexual assault of a child and five counts of indecency with a child. She is currently out on a bond after being in police custody. Neighbors reported the activity and provided police with text messages from Smith about the relationship. Neighbors notices the young man frequenting the residence and began to talk amongst themselves and eventually figured out what was going on.

Sexual acts with a minor can carry very hefty consequences if you are convicted. It is recommended that she seek the help of a sexual assault defense lawyer in the Houston area to properly defend her reputation and freedom. Selecting an accredited attorney is highly important. Knowing that the person in charge of defending your rights is well respected and skilled in their profession should help put your mind at ease.

 

 

 

 

Should You Refuse A DUI Test?

Many people have questions of what to do when they are pulled over for a potential DUI. For instance, should you agree to take the test? Should you wait till you get back to the station? Should you refuse all together? The short answer- just cooperate.

In Nevada, the “implied consent” law states that a person who is lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause that the suspect has been driving under the influence is required to take a blood, breath, or urine test upon request. The test must be given within two hours of when you were last driving and an officer is allowed to give up to four tests. If there is any discrepancy in the first three tests, then the fourth and final must be a blood test.

Additionally, the implied consent law says that even before a lawful arrest, you also consent to a preliminary breath test which works like a field sobriety test. Upon these results, the officer can then establish probable cause and arrest you for driving under the influence. Shall you refuse to engage in this preliminary test, the officer will take your license, arrest you anyway, and take you to a reasonable place- hospital, police station, etc.- for a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine.

Furthermore, the question still looms, should you refuse to take a mandatory DUI test all together? The answer is a stern no and here is why. In Nevada, an officer is allowed to use reasonable force to make a suspect take a DUI test. Should you continue resist and make reasonably force ineffective in obtaining a test result, then prosecution can use this refusal to argue on the grounds that the reason you rejected the test is because you were intoxicated and guilty of a DUI.

Moreover, your cooperation during these frustrating times could be key in reducing your penalty in the event you are convicted of a DUI. However, what is also key is having a skilled DUI attorney fighting in your corner to defend your rights. Not only can they further minimize the repercussions, but the more familiar your attorney is with the related law and specific process, the better chance you have of them being able to get rid of these consequences completely.

DUI charges are unlike other traffic related charges. They require an experienced lawyer and can involve life-changing outcomes. React as such and retain the right attorney.  Ben Nadig is the founding partner of the Law Office of Benjamin Nadig and a dui defense attorney located in Las Veags, NV with extensive experience successfully handling a wide range of different criminal defense cases including DUI cases.  If you or someone you love has been charged with a DUI in the Las Vegas area contact Ben Nadig for a free legal consultation.