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DUI Information

A DUI offense can be charged three ways in Alaska:

(1) Driving under the influence, which does not involve a breath test. In this type of case, the evidence consists of the police officer’s observations of you. Typically, the evidence will consist of bloodshot, watery eyes, swayed balance, slurred speech and other signs of physical impairment. The evidence will also consist of bad driving and failure of the NHTSA standardized field sobriety tests: horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN,) walk and turn, one legged stand, and the optional alphabet and counting tests.

(2) A per se violation, which means a Datamaster (mistakenly referred to as a breathalyzer) result of .08 breath alcohol concentration or greater. Note: Blowing a .08 or above results in a presumption that you are under the influence. A BAC of .04 to .079 is neutral ground, which means that you can be charged with a DUI having that result. If you blow […]

By |September 26th, 2013|DUI Answers|0 Comments

DUI Consequences

Alaska has some of the harshest criminal penalties in the nation for committing a DUI offense. The following are minimum sentences for some of the offenses, and the minimums apply onlyif you have a low BAC and no other aggravating factors, such as an accident or harm to people or property:

 

1st offense:

Three days in jail mandatory, plus suspended jail time

$1500 fine, plus suspended fine

$330 cost of imprisonment

alcohol screening and evaluation (usually a couple of hundred dollars)

surcharges of about $125

90-day mandatory loss of license and five years of SR22 insurance upon restoration of driving privileges

CDL loss for one year

ignition interlock device for six months

license restoration costs

informal probation for a year or two

 

2nd offense:

20 days in jail (14 with automatic good time), plus suspended jail time

$3000 fine, plus suspended fine

one year […]

By |September 26th, 2013|DUI Answers|0 Comments

DUI Facts

By |September 26th, 2013|DUI Answers|0 Comments

Disadvantages of Using a Public Defender for Your DUI Case

I have a high regard for Alaska Public Defenders. They have a high caseload and work hard for low pay. However, there is one distinct disadvantage to having a public defender in DUI cases: The Department of Motor Vehicles Administrative hearing. The DMV hearing is a civil matter, and the Public Defender Agency handles only the criminal side of things. It means you either forego the DMV hearing or do it on your own.

 

I consider the DMV administrative to be a huge part of the case. Here is why: First, I review the police reports and the audio/video recordings. The police reports are usually insignificant, because DUI cases rise and fall on technical errors. If the police officer made an error, he or she won’t lie about it, but they won’t know they made a mistake … and thus it won’t be contained in the report. Mistake will show up in […]

DUI Myths

There is considerable misinformation about DUI cases, even among attorneys not particularly experienced in the field.

 

Fighting your DUI. In the past few hundred cases, not one of mine has had to go to trial. Trials are very expensive, and to challenge a breath test result invariably requires an expert witness at great cost. Moreover, the breath test is almost bullet proof, regardless of what you read on the internet from attorneys who love going to trial with your money. The effective way to challenge a DUI is on procedural technicalities, and I include those challenges in my base fee, not my trial fee.

 

Expungement. Alaska does not have expungement. At all. There is a provision for a ‘suspended imposition of sentence (SIS,)’ but it does not apply to DUI cases.

 

Breath test challenges. If the breath test is verified to be calibrated, and if it does not abort due to mouth alcohol […]

Fight Your DUI

I recommend without hesitation that you always hire a private attorney to defend your DUI case. I can also state forthrightly that, in more instances than not, the result will be the same. In the majority of cases, the police follow the rules enough that the DUI is a solid one.

 

I have defended many, many DUIs over the 36 years I’ve been practicing. I’ve seen what appear to be hopeless cases with high BAC results turn into dismissals. I’ve seen the opposite end, in which someone who blew right on the line was convicted, because the police did everything right. As I describe it, it’s luck of the draw.

 

DUI cases almost never go to trial. Despite what you read on the internet, breath test results are almost always bullet proof. If there is a challenge to the Datamaster result or procedures, that challenge comes by way of pretrial motion, not […]

After DUI Arrest in Alaska

Drivers Licenses

Upon a first conviction, you will lose your license for 90 days (one year for a CDL.) If you are convicted of DUI or lose your license administratively, you may not drive at all for 30 days. You may obtain a ‘limited/unlimited’ license after the first 30 days, provided you comply with all DMV requirements: complete an approved alcohol class, pass the written and vision, pay a reinstatement fee, obtain SR22 insurance, and have an ignition interlock device installed for the remaining 60 days of the 90-day revocation. You do not have to obtain a limited/unlimited. You may simply decide not to drive for the 60 optional days. But because you get credit for the costs of the ignition interlock device against any court fine, there’s no reason not to obtain the limited/unlimited.

 

You may then reinstate your license fully after 90 days from the start of revocation. You must (mandatory) comply […]

Field Sobriety Tests

Rule #1: You do not have to take the field sobriety tests. You must take the portable breath test in the field, or be charged with an infraction. You MUST take the breath test (Datamaster) at the police station or be charged with an A misdemeanor, Refusal to Submit, which carries the same penalties as a DUI.

 

You do NOT have to submit to field sobriety tests, and I always recommend that you tell the police officer: Thank you, but I am not willing to take the field sobriety tests. I want to talk with my lawyer immediately.

 

Stand firm on both those things: No field tests, and a request to speak with counsel

 

If you take field sobriety tests, this is a quick analysis:

 

All the time I hear my clients say, ‘And I passed all those tests.’ Then, when I listen to the recordings, it becomes apparent that my client must […]

How Do I Find The Best DUI Attorney?

Call around. Talk to people in the community. Call and speak with the lawyer. The good ones won’t charge for a consultation.

 

Here’s my take: Lawyers are like everybody else … There are a few really good ones, a few really bad ones, and a whole bunch in between.

 

There are two things you’re looking for: A lawyer who does a lot of DUIs, and a lawyer who cares about you. A lawyer who possesses only one of those qualities might be capable but could give a hoot, or he/she might be a fine person but not have a clue about DUIs.

 

Shop around. I value my reputation and always want my clients to feel comfortable with what I’m doing. I never promise results, but I work hard and care about what I’m doing.