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DUI Answers

Types of Criminal Cases I Handle

Alaska Drunk Driving Attorney
DUI, misdemeanor and felony

Drug cases, misdemeanor and felony

Assault, misdemeanor and felony

Sexual abuse and sexual assault

Domestic violence

Manslaughter

F & G violations

Theft, Burglary, Robbery, Criminal Trespass, Criminal Mischief

White collar crimes

All other criminal cases

 

My Philosophy About Drug Cases

I passionately believe that people should not be put into prison for possession or sales of drugs. There are, I suppose, exceptions, such as drug cases involving violence or sales of hard drugs to children. However, virtually all of my clients have been substance abusers or sellers/growers of marijuana.

 

It is my absolute belief that drugs should be legal and regulated; that substance abuse should be addressed through treatment, not prison.

 

For that reason, I put a great deal of time and energy into defending drug cases. As with all my cases, I cannot ethically make promises about results. Drug cases are prosecuted and punished hard in Alaska. But I have a passionate belief in defending drug cases.

Circumstantial Evidence

I am frequently told by clients arrested for DUI, ‘The police didn’t see me drive! I was inside my house when the came in and arrested me! They can’t convict me.’

 

Untrue.

 

If the police or a witness actually see a person driving under the influence, that is known as direct evidence.

 

However, a person can be convicted with circumstantial evidence. For example: If a police officer is in pursuit of a vehicle and loses sight of it for 10 seconds, then pulls up and sees a man standing beside the driver’s door, keys in hand … there is a logical inference that the man standing beside the vehicle was the driver.

 

Each case turns on its own facts, and there is no firm rule about whether circumstantial evidence will stand up or not. A good lawyer will examine circumstantial cases with a critical eye.

Sitting Behind the Wheel DUI

Alaska, like virtually all other states, criminalizes three ways you may be convicted for driving under the influence:

 

1. If you are actually driving;

2. If you are ‘operating’ a motor vehicle; or

3. If you are in ‘actual physical control’ of a motor vehicle.

 

The general public doesn’t realize that you may be convicted of DUI for sitting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle with the engine running. In fact, in one case, Conley, a woman was convicted for opening the door to her car, keys in hand, without starting the car. The court determined that her conduct was so dangerous as to constitute a DUI. [Just for comparison: If a person intended to rob a bank, stood on the steps to the bank, gun in hand but was apprehended before going inside, he might be convicted of attempted bank robbery but not an actual robbery. DUI is the exception to the rule, where there […]

Out of State Prior Convictions

Out of state convictions can be used to enhance a present Alaska convictions.

 

It is essential that your attorney investigate any out of state prior convictions. I have seen instances in which an attorney did not do so, and it had a huge negative impact on the case.

 

First, it is up to the State to provide proof of the out of state prior conviction. The State cannot simply rely on the NCIC rap sheet printout. By law, you have the right to make the State obtain authenticated copies of court records to prove the prior conviction. If the State does not, the conviction cannot be used.

 

Second, the out of state conviction must have been under a similar law to Alaska. Over the years, I have mounted many successful challenges to out of state prior convictions because of differences between Alaska law and the other states.

 

 

By |September 27th, 2013|DUI Answers|0 Comments

Priority: The DMV Administrative Hearing Request

YOU HAVE 7 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF ARREST TO REQUEST AN ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING.

I prefer to do this for my clients. If a request is not made within 7 days, you not only automatically lose your license with DMV, you forfeit the right to subpoena the police officer and cross examine him. I consider the DMV hearing to be a crucial part of the process.

When you either submitted a breath sample or refused to take the breath test, the police officer seized your drivers license. (Occasionally, for different reasons, they don’t.) He or she gave you a form entitled ‘Notice and Order of Revocation.’ This is your temporary license, and it spells out the necessity of requesting an administrative hearing.

The DMV hearing is completely separate and independent from the criminal court proceedings.

 

By |September 27th, 2013|DUI Answers|0 Comments

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.

DUI Arrest Rights

DUI First Offense in Alaska

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Free Consultation – Advice From an Experienced Attorney

I do not charge for an initial consultation to discuss the basic facts of your case, the general laws of DUI, as well as the possible consequences.

 

It is important to me that you feel comfortable and confident with me as your attorney, and I’m willing to take some time at no cost to you in order that you may evaluate me as a lawyer.

 

One note: I am frequently asked to give a quick opinion as to whether a case is defensible, or I’m asked to quickly read the police reports and give an opinion. Any lawyer who gives an opinion about the merits of a DUI case based on what you recall of it or based on a cursory reading of the police reports isn’t a lawyer of merit. Police reports give very little information that might help you. All the substance of a DUI case is contained in […]

Answers about DUI Defense In The State of Alaska
Defending DUI in the State of Alaska is an art form that requires great technical skill and expertise. In 33 years of practice, I have defended well more than 1,000 DUI cases from first time offenses, to felony DUI’s and related DUI offenses.

Some of the common issues and questions I encounter when defending DUI cases in Alaska are these…

  • Did the police officer have reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop or make contact?
  • Did the police officer have probable cause to make an arrest based on field sobriety tests and other common indicia of being under the influence?
  • Were there phone call requests and issues?
  • Did the officer properly conduct the 15 minute observation period?
  • Did the officer conduct a thorough mouth check?
  • Was there a proper advisement of the implied consent warning?
  • Was there any breath test interference?
  • Was the Datamaster calibrated correctly and within the lawful time frame?
  • If applicable, was the Refusal after proper warning, and does the defense of subsequent consent arise?
  • Did the officer correctly read or explain the Notice of Right to Independent Test?

These are just some of the most common issues that arise. Another common issue is whether, if there are prior out of state offenses, those offenses meet constitutional muster in Alaska. I have had many cases in which the prior out of state offenses did not count, and it made a considerable difference in the outcome.