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Articles Posted in Alcohol/Drugs education and/or treatment

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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