Articles Posted in Alcohol/Drugs education and/or treatment

On Thursday, the nation was transfixed as the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh.  Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault by Ford and a number of other females when they were in high school and college.  All of the complaints say that Kavanaugh was extremely inebriated at the time.  However, when Kavanaugh was asked about his drinking habits he became very defensive and refused to answer the questions, although he did admit to on occasion drinking too much and liking beer.  At all costs, he had to deny his alcoholism, if he suffered from it, because that would lead to questions of whether he drank to the extent of experiencing blackouts, a symptom of heavy drinking, where the person has no memory of their conduct while drunk.  If he experienced blackouts, then his denials would be much less credible.  Although the senators’ questions for the most part avoided touching on his alcoholism, it appears evident that his alcoholism or lack is central to the case.

In drunk driving cases, all clients represented by attorney Leonard Stamm are referred to a program approved by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to determine if the client has a drinking problem and to receive an appropriate level of education and treatment.  A directory of programs nationwide can be found here.

Clients are assessed to determine if they have a drinking problem using a number of psychological screening tests.  The most well known is probably the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test also known as the MAST test.  Clients are give a score based on their answers.  A higher score indicates a likely drinking problem.  Other tests include the Alcohol Use Disorders Test or AUDIT test.

On Wednesday, September 12, 2018, Leonard Stamm appeared in the Court of Appeals to argue the case of Owusu v. MVA.  Owusu was arrested for drunk driving and taken to the police station.  At the police station he was read the DR-15 Advice of Rights Form.  This is a form police officers are required to read to DUI suspects advising them of the penalties for refusing or failing a breath test for alcohol.  In Owusu’s case he was read the form and told that if he failed the test he would lose his driver’s license for 180 days, but that if he refused he would lose his license for 270 days.  Additionally he was told that since he had a commercial driver’s license or CDL, that if he refused the test his CDL would be disqualified for one year.  The one year disqualification meant that he not be able to perform his job as a bus driver for one year.

Immediately after reading the form, that contained a lot of other information as well, to Owusu, the officer tried to be helpful.  He told Owusu that since he was a bus driver he would be out of work for 180 days if he failed the test and 270 days if he refused.  Although probably well meaning, the officer’s statement was false. Critically, the officer did not tell Owusu he would be out of work for one year if he refused as a result of the one year disqualification of his CDL.  The one year disqualification was huge because it means Owusu will have to retake the CDL knowledge and skill tests with it, but not with a 270 day suspension.  Owusu testified at the hearing that after the officer advised him, he was not aware he would lose his CDL, and that, if he had he would have submitted to the test.

As Stamm had argued in the MVA hearing and again in the Montgomery County Circuit Court without success that the giving of the false advice failed to comply with the relevant law requiring the arresting officer to “fully advise” the driver of the administrative penalties and also violated Owusu’s due process rights.  Stamm also unsuccessfully argued in the hearing and appellate court that the DR-15’s form’s advice of a 270 day suspension on a refusal, and eligibility for a restricted license, without telling drivers that the required period of interlock restriction is longer, one year, violated his statutory and due process rights.

The National College for DUI Defense held its Winter Session in Atlanta this past week.  The program was titled “Prescription for Disaster” on the topic of defending DUI cases involving prescription drugs.  The speakers included Tony Palacios and Ron Lloyd on “Learn What the Cops are Taught: Drugs That Impair Driving & ARIDE Overview for Lawyers;” Jay Tiftickjian on “What if it Becomes Legal in My State? Navigating Through the Haze of Prescription and Legalized Marijuana;” Dr. Fran Gengo on “An Expert’s Opinion: The 3 Most Important Things Lawyers Need to Know About Prescription Drug DUI Cases;” MIchael Nichols spoke on “Not Your Father’s DUI: Unusual Aspects of Defending DUI Drug Cases;” Erin Gerstenzang spoke about “Ethically Avoiding the Personal & Professional Disaster: Client Management Before, During and After Court;” Dr. James O’Donnell spoke about “How to Investigate and Prepare to Challenge the State’s Expert in a DUI Drug Case:”  Dr. Randall Tackett spoke about “The Opioid Crisis in America;” William C. “Bubba” Head spoke about “Waking Up to Disaster: Defending the Ambien Case and other Sleep Driving Issues;” Doug Murphy covered “Challenging Drug Recognition Experts;” and Flem Whited spoke about “Dr. Whited’s Rx to Win a DUI Drug Case.”

On January 3, 2018, Leonard Stamm gave presentation to the Prince George’s County Public Defenders in Hyattsville on “Drug Recognition ‘Experts.'”

If you are charged with a state or federal traffic or criminal case, call 301-345-0122 for a free consultation.

Apparently yesterday two judges in Montgomery County were imposing interlocks as a condition of probation in DUI first offense cases.  So major traffic dockets in Rockville 413 and 414 were not good places to be yesterday.

The Washington Post recently reported that State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, John McCarthy, has instructed his prosecutors in Montgomery County to request an interlock in most first offense DUI cases.
This is apparently a reaction to the compromise reached by the Legislature this past session where, despite me being vastly outnumbered at the House and Senate judiciary committees, Noah’s law was amended to require interlocks on convictions under § 21-902(a), and under § 21-902(b) or (c) where the defendant has refused a test, and test readings of .15 or higher, but not on tests of .08 or more and under .15 or on PBJs.  So the legislative intent was to not require first offenders who appear to be social drinkers to get the interlock.

The National College for DUI Defense (www.ncdd.com) just completed its annual summer session held in Cambridge Massachusetts.  The session featured large lectures, small lectures, breakouts, and small elective seminars.

Topics covered included Cross-Examination of the Arresting Officer by Marj Russell of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer’s College; Cross-Examination break out; Handling the High Profile case by Tony Coleman; immigration law by Brad Williams; postconviction, writs of error coram nobis by Professor Byron Warnken of the University of Baltimore Law School; plea negotiations and ethics by Assistant Professor Rishi Batra from the Texas Tech. School of Law.

We had small elective seminars (discussion groups) that were a new feature of the summer session and were very well received with the following topics: Win at the Initial Appearance, taught by Andrew Mishlove and Pat Maher; Suppression Motions: Winning it All Before Trial, taught by Jim Nesci and Steve Oberman, Leonard Stamm and Andy Alpert, Andrew Mishlove and Pat Maher, Don Ramsell and Michelle Behan, and, Mike Hawkins and George Flowers;  Getting What You Want-Creative Approaches to Obtaining Discovery, taught by Bell Island and Lauren Stuckert; How to Use Social Media Effectively and Ethically, taught by Bill Kirk and Brad Williams; Federal DUIs: Reinventing the Wheel? by Leonard Stamm and Andy Alpert; Don’t Let Your Military Client Go Down with the Ship by John Hunsucker and John Webb; Picking the Winning Jury by John Hunsucker and John Webb, Mimi Coffey and Ryan Russman, and Paul Burglin and Lynn Gorelick; Preparing for Plan B, Sentencing in Serious Cases, taught by Mike Hawkins and George Flowers; Follicles, IIDs, ETG and SCRAM: The Hairs, Airs and Other Snares of DUI, taught by Doug Murphy and Richard Middlebrook; Just Say NO to Losing Your Client’s Commercial or Professional License, taught by Virginia Landry and Steven Epstein; Turning the Tide with Treatment, taught by Paul Burglin and Lynn Gorelick; Using Technology to Win Your Case, taught by Joe St. Louis and Lawrence Koplow; Managing a Practice from the Stone Age to the Digital Age in 10 Easy Steps, taught by Bruce Edge and Matt Dodd; Writing Winning Appeals, taught by Don Ramsell and Michelle Behan.

The National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) just concluded its second annual Serious Science seminar Saturday in Ft. Collins, Colorado.  Attended by 21 lawyer students, the five day seminar featured a day and a half of lectures by the nation’s leading experts on forensic blood alcohol testing, Jimmie Valentine, Ph.D., Carrie Valentine, Ph.D.Janine Arvizu, NCDD Regent Joe St. LouisPatricia Sulik, Ph.D. and Robert Lantz, Ph. D., followed by a tour of a working forensic laboratory, Rocky Mountain Instrumental Laboratories. Rocky Mountain Instrumental Laboratories in Ft. Collins, Colorado, is run by Patricia Sulik, Ph.D. and Robert Lantz, Ph. D.

The science portion was followed by three days of lectures and breakouts on trial techniques  taught by by two veteran faculty members of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, Marjorie Russell, and Francisco “Paco” Duarte.   The TLC website says:

Trial skills are only part of being a force in the courtroom. The trial lawyers’ power originates from within. Knowledge of oneself gives the lawyer the capability to know others and to connect with each person in the courtroom including the witnesses, the judge and the jurors. The power of TLC’s methods come alive through creative, spontaneous, outside-the-box innovations that capture juries and move them to justice.

The Maryland House of Delegates took the courageous step of passing Noah’s Law, HB 1342, with substantial amendments.  The amendments make the bill a much more rational and humane way of encouraging sober driving while not unnecessarily punishing social drinkers or putting them out of work.

The law deals with test failures and refusals before court and the effect of convictions after court.

Under current law a person who submits to a test and has a reading of 0.08 or more and less than 0.15 faces a 45-day suspension for a first offense and 90-day suspension for a second or subsequent offense.  On a first offense or a second or subsequent offense more than five years after the first the suspensions may be modified by an administrative law judge to allow restricted driving for purposes of work, school, alcohol education or treatment, or medical treatment for the licensee or family members.  Noah’s Law changes this to increase the suspension periods from 45 to 90 days and 90 to 180 days.  The proposed law also eliminates the work etc. permit provision and requires these offenders to get an ignition interlock for the period of suspension.  The House amendments restore the work etc. permit but leave the increased length of suspensions in place.

Today the New York Times featured on its front page a story about a Baltimore woman who had to endure a $25,000 bond, numerous court appearances, a suspended drivers’ license, and 34 days in the Baltimore City Jail for a first offense DUI with a 0.09 BAC reading: On Probation Lives Can Run Far Off Track – A Maze of Fines, Court Dates and Penalties by Shaila Dewan.  The judge assumed the defendant was a problem drinker without first getting an evaluation and ordered three AA meetings a week as well as required permission for her to move.  Failure to request permission before attempting to move was the first alleged violation of probation.  The failure to provide proof of all of the required AA meetings landed her in jail for 34 days with a $5000 bond she couldn’t afford, before she saw a judge.  The judge gave her a conviction which led to a six month driver license suspension.

The article quoted Leonard R. Stamm.

For a woman of Mrs. Hall’s weight, assuming drinks were consumed over a four-hour period, the difference between 0.06, considered “neutral,” and 0.09 would have been about one glass of wine, according to Leonard R. Stamm, a Maryland defense lawyer who specializes in drunken-driving cases.

Clients charged with drug or alcohol offenses frequently ask why we recommend they submit to an evaluation and take an education and/or treatment class if they are presumed to be innocent. Doesn’t that make it look like they are guilty? The answer is no. It makes it look like they are dealing with a potential problem responsibly.

There are a number of good reasons why education and/or treatment is necessary when one is charged with a drug and/or alcohol offense. The first thing to consider is whether the person may be abusing the drug or alcohol that is the basis of the charges. If yes, then education or treatment may help to minimize the chance that the person will get in future trouble, as well as help them to cope with what could be a very challenging problem. The arrest is an intervention for many drug or alcohol abusers that forces them to confront an issue they might prefer to avoid confronting. It is not unusual for concerned family members to support attempts at getting treatment. A serious drug or alcohol problem can cause more than just legal problems, the health and well being of the client and his or her family or friends may be in jeopardy. Treatment can help.
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