False Positives And Other Outlandish DUI Arrests

Have you heard the one about the driver who was arrested for DUI because he had a caffeine high? Or about the state legislator who successfully argued that cough syrup and a breath spray caused a false positive DUI breathalyzer reading?auto-brewery-dui-300x169

While law enforcement officers and courts generally accept breathalyzer tests as proof that someone was driving under the influence, those tests can sometimes give false positive readings. As absurd as these stories sound, to the people wrongfully arrested for DUIs, these incidents are no laughing matter.

Betrayed by their bodies

A rare medical condition led a judge to dismiss a DUI charge against an upstate New York woman in 2015. Police pulled the woman over because she was driving on a flat tire and arrested her when a breathalyzer test revealed that she had almost four times the legal limit of 0.08 percent alcohol in her bloodstream. That’s considered life threatening, so police rushed her to the hospital.

What puzzled police, the hospital and her attorney, Joseph Marusak, was that the driver showed no symptoms of being under the influence. Plus, Marusak’s client claimed she had only four drinks over the course of six hours—not enough to leave her intoxicated.

Marusak ended up doing some investigating and eventually uncovered his client’s problem; she had auto-brewery syndrome, in which the body actually manufactures its own alcohol. Those with the disease have abnormal amounts of gastrointestinal yeast, which takes the common carbohydrates they eat and turns them into ethanol. The medical community has been aware of this condition since the early part of the 20th century.

The judge dismissed the charges against Marusak’s client, who is now on a yeast-free diet (no sugar, no alcohol and very few carbs, according to CNN).

Overzealous officers

Last December, ABC News 13 in Houston reported the story of a woman who was arrested for DUI and spent three days in jail. But Christie Lietzau claimed that the problem wasn’t that she was intoxicated, but that she was having an episode of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Christie Lietzau said she was driving her daughter to a fast food restaurant when she had an MS episode. The daughter, alarmed by her mom’s slurred speech and instability, called 911. When officers responded, they told the daughter her mother was impaired, not ill, and arrested her for DUI. Lietzau said the police didn’t give her a BAC field test, but a spokesperson for the Rosenberg Police Department said they followed all procedures.

The officers said that they drew blood and that the DUI charges stem from Lietzau being under the influence of prescription medicine. Lietzau admits to taking medication to control her MS, but says it doesn’t affect her driving ability. (There’s no word yet on how this case has been resolved.)

Prescription medicines can cause people to drive erratically, but one police officer in Statham, Georgia, has taken that a bit far, according to many locals. They allege that Officer Marc Lofton routinely arrests people who take prescription drugs—even those legally prescribed by physicians for diabetes, blood pressure and other medical conditions.

Stratham has a population of just over 2,500 people. Last fall, a group of 400 of those citizens—almost one-sixth of the town’s population—signed a petition calling for Lofton’s firing because of his allegedly overzealous actions. In November 2016, the Online Athens news site reported that a group of people “too large to fit inside the Statham City Hall without breaking fire code” attended a meeting of the City Council to demand that Officer Lofton be fired.

The angry citizens claim that Lofton is making these DUI arrests in order to boost the department’s (and the town’s) budget.

Statham Police Chief Allan Johnston has backed Lofton, although he admits that the officer needs more training in DUI. The Georgia Prosecuting Attorney’s Council, which investigated citizens’ complaints, said that the officer should take an Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement Class (ARIDE). When questioned by reporters for CBS46, Johnston said that Lofton had taken the class when he worked for another agency but failed it. (The CBS46 reporters didn’t find a record of that training, but found that Lofton had taken—and failed—a Lidar (radar) speed measurement class.)

Officer Lofton’s accusers were further outraged by the fact that his wife was arrested for DUI in 2015 after blowing a .204 on a breathalyzer. But when her case came to court, the prosecutor dismissed the charges. He claimed that the Winder, Georgia officer who arrested her had credibility issues and that his office was dismissing many other of the officer’s DUI arrests.

Pot problem

One problem that DUI enforcement officers face is the lack of a credible test for marijuana intoxication. Many states, including Georgia, have reacted by training more officers to become Drug Recognition Experts, who learn how to detect possible drug intoxication by evaluating drivers’ behavior and reactions. The problem is some officers don’t get it right… and then they’re reluctant to admit that they may have been wrong in their assessments.

An investigative report by Atlanta 11 Alive news team found that one officer in Cobb County, T.T. Carroll, received a silver medal for making 90 DUI arrests in 2016, even though in at least three cases he apparently misread the signals.

Carroll charged Bartender Katelyn Ebner with DUI despite the fact that she passed a BAC field test and denied ever smoking marijuana. Carroll insisted that he could tell she was pot-impaired. Carroll spent the night in jail, lost her alcohol server’s permit and ended up spending thousands to clear her name. The drug tests, which police had said would prove her impairment, came back negative.

In a similar case, a college student named Princess Mbamara went to jail on Carroll’s accusation of marijuana intoxication. Her test results came back positive only for a local anesthetic that is found in anti-burn, anti-itch and similar over-the-counter medicines. Another unnamed Auburn University student had a similar experience; the prosecutor eventually dismissed the charges against the defendant, noting that the student had done fine on the field sobriety evaluation and that the blood and urine tests were negative.

Playing politics

Politics also sometimes plays a role when determining who gets charged and convicted of a DUI. In June 2016, a judge acquitted Florida Senator Terry Burton, the President Pro Tem of the Florida State Senate, of the charges of DUI against him. The Scott County judge decided that Senator Terry Burton’s BAC reading of 0.10 at the time of his arrest was a false positive. He accepted Burton’s explanation that the reading was the result of his taking cough syrup and using breath spray.

Burton had hit a traffic sign around 10 p.m. on the evening of May 14, 2016. He said that he had a coughing spell after the airbags deployed and drank some Nyquil because he had nothing else in the car. He then used the breath spray because his mouth was dry.

Burton admitted to drinking alcohol earlier in the day but insisted that he had stopped drinking in the afternoon and was not under the influence when arrested. The judge ruled that the BAC reading was a false positive and dismissed the charges against Burton.

Source: False Positives And Other Outlandish DUI Arrests — Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Blog — July 19, 2017

A bear walks into a bar…

A bear walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a beer. The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t give beer to bears in bars.”The bear replies, “If you don’t give me a beer, I’ll eat that lady over there.”The bartender says, “Go ahead.”So the bear eats the lady and asks for a beer. The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t give beer to bears on drugs.””What do mean,” asks the bear. “I’m not on drugs.””Yes, you are, that was the bar bitch you ate.”

Source: Funny Jokes | Walks Into a Bar… Bears on Drugs Joke | Comedy Central

Woman who crashed car used 2 bags of heroin



A Trout Run woman driving this car admitted that she “used two bags of heroin” minutes before she crashed into a guardrail in the 7500 block of Route 15 in Lycoming Township about noon Thursday, according to Old Lycoming Township Police Chief Joseph Hope. The woman’s juvenile son, riding in the vehicle, escaped injury, Hope said. The woman was taken to a local hospital and later released. Her name will be released when charges are filed, Hope said. About 10 minutes before this crash, another woman suffered a suspected heroin overdose as she crashed her Honda Element into a parked van on Boyd Street, city police said. She too was taken to the hospital and released. Charges are pending against her as well, police said.


Police Are From The Same Cloth As All Court Witnesses

Fairfax Northern Virginia criminal lawyer/DWI attorney pursuing best defense

Police are from the same cloth as all court witnesses, drawn from the general population that ranges from the angelic to the amoral to the sinister. Neither the law nor good sense merits cloaking police with any more presumption of believability nor honesty, than any other witness.

Recent examples that police include those to heavily beware of include:

– Two weekends ago, a Minneapolis police officer shot dead Justine Ruszczyk, a 911 caller who reported a possible assault in progress. No video footage exists of the incident, the police officer who shot the caller has apparently remained silent (which of course is his right, as much as police often act berserk when their own suspects do not talk to them), and the Minneapolis police chief has resigned in the midst of this scandal.

– Praised be the Maryland Public Defender’s Office for making public a video from earlier this year seeming to show Baltimore police planting illegal drugs in a residential area. The related prosecution got dropped as a result.

– Speaking of Baltimore, two veteran Baltimore police detectives — Evodio Hendrix and Maurice Ward — on July 21, 2017, entered guilty pleas in federal court over charges involving robbing arrestees, claiming non-existent overtime pay, and forging documents.

Material mis-steps by police are not isolated incidents, even if the above examples are among the more extreme police mis-steps. Police work under extraordinary pressure, often exhausted working when most people are sleeping, often too quickly dashing off incident reports that become their gospel (so that they may return to the street or end their shift), and are bound to make serious errors. Their badge and uniform do not shield them from such mis-steps.

What can the population at large do about this state of policing affairs? We can start by acknowledging that the public over the decades has allowed the criminal justice system to get overgrown and overly harsh, abdicating our own role in looking out for each others’ welfare as opposed to seeking a policing and prosecutorial solution to even minor claimed ills that do not need police and court intervention. In community after community in the United States, millions of Americans greenlight what has become a police state, with police trolling for those with marijuana, for those minding their own business enjoying several cold ones without any car keys nor intention to drive, drivers possibly over the alcohol drinking limit, and the list goes on. Too many politicians cower about possibly lost votes if they stand up for a smaller, more manageable, more sensible and humane criminal justice system rather than the current state of affairs that allows too many presumed innocent people to be detained without bond pending their trials, too many people to be racially profiled, too many non-violent convicts to suffer overly-severe mandatory minimum sentencing, and too many innocent people to be convicted.

Of course, we want police to humanize all people, and one way to accomplish that is for us to humanize police. Plenty police mean well, but how many police who mean well stand up when they witness colleagues who violate their oath of office, stand up to orders that disserve the public, and stand up for them to have the resources and time to minimize getting the wrong people arrested, convicted and harshly sentenced? For a police officer to stand up in that way, the officer needs to be ready to risk losing his or her police fraternity, his or her job, and all the substantial pay, overtime, pension, and other benefits that come with the position.

Prosecutors, judges and jurors do a gross disservice to criminal defendants and the rest of the public to cloak police with any more a presumption of honesty and reliability as witnesses than they do with civilians. We all are humans, all with the potential and ability to do great and abysmal things. Police are far from Übermensch immune to such failings.

Northern  Virginia criminal defense attorney Jon Katz has been fighting for thousands of criminal defendants since 1991. For a confidential appointment, please call Jon’s staff at 703-383-1100. 

Police are from the same cloth as all court witnesses

Troy police arrest woman suspected of driving under influence with infant in car

Troy police arrested a 25-year-old Royal Oak woman for operating a vehicle while under the influence of narcotics with her 10-month-old daughter in the back seat.Officers responded to the area of Livernois and Maple roads at about 5:45 p.m. Sunday, July 23, on a report of a gray 2002 Mercury Sable being driven erratically.Officers saw the car enter the Citgo gas station at 1654 Livernois and spoke with the woman. Police say the woman was unsteady on her feet and had slurred speech. She had the prescription drugs Xanax and Norco in her purse.Officers asked her to perform several field sobriety tests and reported that she performed poorly.She was arrested and taken to the Troy lock-up facility where she agreed to submit to a blood test.She was charged with child endangerment and operating a vehicle while under the influence of narcotics, pending laboratory results.

Source: Troy police arrest woman suspected of driving under influence with infant in car

In Florida, a Fourth Conviction for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Results in a Permanent Suspension

In Florida, the DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) laws come with minimum mandatory penalties for a conviction.  These penalties increase for each successive DUI a person gets.  One benefit of a criminal defense lawyer getting the state to amend a DUI charge to a reckless driving charge is the reckless driving charge does not count as a DUI conviction that increases the minimum penalties if the person gets one or more additional DUI convictions.

One of the minimum penalties that comes with a DUI conviction is a suspension of the person’s driver’s license.  The suspension can be as short as six months for a first DUI conviction or as long as ten years for a third DUI conviction that is within ten years of the prior conviction.  The DMV does allow people to get hardship licenses which permit people to drive to work, school and other necessities, but there may be a period of time before a person can apply for a hardship license depending on the case.

If a person gets a fourth DUI conviction in Florida, that person’s driving privileges will likely be revoked forever.  That is mandated by statute in Florida.  However, not all convictions count.  In a recent DUI case from Jacksonville, Florida, the DMV attempted to permanently revoke a person’s driving privileges based on four prior DUI convictions.  However, it was noted that one of prior DUI convictions was a violation of a city ordinance, rather than a Florida state statute.  The criminal defense attorney appealed the permanent suspension.  The court agreed and held that a DUI conviction that is a violation of a city or municipal ordinance does not count as one of the four prior DUI’s that can result in a permanent driver’s license suspension.  The prior convictions must be violations of state DUI laws.  The conviction at issue was an old DUI conviction that related to an old city ordinance.  However, the DMV can go back as far as they want to count prior DUI convictions.  If a conviction is 40 years old, it can count, as long as it is a state DUI violation.

Additionally, the DMV in Florida can permanently revoke a person’s driver’s license if one or all of the prior DUI convictions are from other states.  The state in which the prior DUI conviction(s) occurred is not relevant.  However, if the DMV is using a prior DUI conviction from another state, it is worth looking into to make sure it is not a city ordinance type of violation.  In fact, all of the prior DUI convictions should be reviewed to make sure they legally count as prior DUI convictions that can result in a lengthy driver’s license suspension, or, in the case of a fourth or more DUI conviction, a permanent license suspension.

Posted in: 

Comments are closed.

Source: In Florida, a Fourth Conviction for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Results in a Permanent Suspension But Not All Convictions Count — Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer Blog — May 14, 2017

Illinois License Hold for 4 DUIs

I have 1 DUI in Ca. in 197 3 in Il. 93 95 2007. In Il. I must do treatment and show proof being of being sober for 3 years.Can I get a permit or reinstatement in Colorado if I have a hold in Il. I am moving there soon. can you help what do I need to do. thanks

We can help you.

Three Men Walk Into a Bar… 

Three men walk into a bar. The barman tells them, “If you can sit in my basement for a day, I’ll give you free beer forever.”The first man walks out after five minutes and says, “It’s impossible, you got a swarm of flies in there.”So the second man tries his luck, but can’t take more than an hour.Finally, the third man goes down. When he returns a day later, the others ask him how he did it.He says, “Easy! I took a dump in one corner and sat in the other corner!”

Source: Funny Jokes | Walks Into a Bar… Basement Challenge Joke | Comedy Central

Jefferson County DUI patrols bust 12 impaired drivers in one night

“Drive impaired, expect to be caught, Jeffco agencies will be out in force,” the CSP warned Saturday.

The Heat Is On in Jefferson County tonight !! Multiple agencies are coming together to make your roads safe.

Less than two hours later, officials said they’d already caught two people suspected of driving under the influence.

“Two people already in custody for DUI/D. You start early, perfect, we will find you,” the CSP tweeted.

By the end of the night, officials said they’d stopped 13 impaired drivers — including one who had a child in the car.

Monday afternoon, the CSP said the final count was nine arrests for DUI, three arrests for DUID and six arrests for misdemeanors.

“We all worked hard to keep Jeffco safe,” the CSP said.

The saturation patrols involved the CSP, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Lakewood and Golden police departments, and the Foothills Fire Department.

Jefferson County DUI patrols bust 12 impaired drivers in one night