While breath testing is part of every DUI arrest, most don’t know what to expect. As a result, we explain proper breath testing guidelines.
Proper Breath Testing Procedure
Because a BAC level is important to the State, proper breath testing procedure is also important to us. While we question any BAC reading, not following manufacturer’s testing guidelines can suppress the result. Here in South Carolina, we use the DataMaster DMT machine manufactured by National Patent Analytical Systems, Inc. And like most breathalyzers, it is a box containing a computer motherboard and a printer. During testing, breath somehow turns into a number. Just how it becomes a number is something of a mystery that no one can fully explain. But here is what we do know.
In order to get a valid sample, the manufacturer’s manual directs a steady blow of air. In addition, the manual states to not “blow hard.” However, that guideline has changed as being “not helpful.” So what is the proper breath testing procedure now? Rather than guess, we still go with the slow, steady blow. After all, it’s just common sense that forcing additional air under pressure will change the outcome. Furthermore, we are already dealing with very small numbers (0.01). Therefore, any significant change in input could affect output. And that can create reasonable doubt as to the result.
BAC Reading or Video Evidence
Because we trust our own eyes and ears over any machine, we rely on video evidence. In addition, we see too many cases where the client’s behavior on video does not match a high BAC. Rather than just argue the machine, we also focus on how someone looks and sounds. Hence everyone knows how people act when “drunk” or “impaired.” So at trial, we create reasonable doubt when the BAC and video conduct are different. And that’s how juries decide guilt or innocence. Call now and let’s start your defense today. You’re going to feel better after we talk.
Commercial Truck Accident Liability Insurance | How Much is Needed for Injuries Caused
Whether you drive a car or a big rig, tractor trailer truck, you have to carry liability insurance. It’s the law. The only question is how much. Every state has minimum limits but can vary significantly. For example, here in South Carolina, the minimum amount required is $25,000 / $50,000. In North Carolina, by comparison, the minimum insurance necessary is $30,000 / $60,000. The first figure is how much coverage is available for any one injured party. The second number is how much coverage is available in total, no matter how many individuals are involved.
Semi trucks are heavily regulated by both federal and state laws. Currently, the minimum truck accident liability insurance required for a commercial truck is $750,000. There was a bill introduced by Representative Cartwright seeking to dramatically increase that coverage. If passed, the new minimum limit would be $4.4 million. That is quite an increase which Congressman Cartwright asserts is justified as the current level has not changed in over 34 years. It is expected that such proposal will be fiercely debated by trucking companies and the trucking industry at large. There are interesting arguments on both sides of this issue. Certainly, as tractor trailer accident attorneys, we see the immense harm that an overloaded truck in conjunction with an overly tired driver can cause. In many serious accident cases, there is insufficient insurance coverage available. However, on the other hand, such a dramatic increase in premiums will have the unintended effect of forcing many small trucking companies and/or independent owner/operators out of business altogether. More disturbingly, the fear is that maintenance and other costs will have to be offset to pay for any required increase in insurance. This potential outcome could make the roads even more dangerous with overloaded trucks with less maintenance. There is never an easy answer, but this issue clearly needs to be addressed and intelligently considered. We certainly place our hope and trust in our elected officials to make the best decisions for the right reasons.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Licensed Semi Truck Driver?
The answer will both surprise you. In a recent truck driving school email trying to solicit new semi truck driver recruits, there are ten (10) basic questions answered about getting “your Class A Commercial Drivers License.” Most of the questions deal with the “severe shortage of qualified drivers right now” and the “steady income, excellent job security, flexibility…” However, to show just how easy it is to become a licensed tractor trailer operator, the truck driver training school offers a “structured 3 week, 154 hour schedule, taught Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm and one evening of nighttime driving.” This training school even goes on to openly admit “[w]e want you to pass your CDL test and begin to drive in as short a time as possible.” That’s correct. They want to put commercial truck drivers on the road with the rest of us, perhaps driving an overloaded truck like the one depicted in the photo to the right, “in as short a time as possible.”
This truck driver training facility is correct when it decries a “severe shortage or qualified drivers” but putting unskilled and poorly trained drivers on the highways and interstates is not the answer. One of the most common causes of tractor trailer or semi truck accidents is poor training and supervision. Despite high unemployment among younger workers, there is little interest in driving a truck long distance. The pay is certainly good by comparison, but drivers are on the road and away from friends and family for days, if not weeks, at a time. More seasoned truck drivers will attest to the strain being a “trucker” can have on marriages and relationships. It is also “lonely” on the road, and you can only listen to the same CDs so many times. Consequently, it is expected that the truck driver shortage nationwide will only worsen as older drivers retire or leave the road.
Where does this leave the other driving public? Well, our safety is put at extreme risk when heavy, overloaded trucks are driving down the highway at interstate speeds. Physics come into play, and bad things can happen quickly when loads shift or a driver has to try to stop thousands of pounds to avoid a crash. The answer is fairly straightforward. We need to attract more short haul drivers who can pass their load onto other truckers and get back home to their family and friends. It will certainly require more effort to coordinate schedules, but that’s what computer systems can easily manage. Simply putting more improperly trained and inexperienced drivers on the road is a formula for disaster. We already know where that plan takes us. Innocent lives should be better protected by the trucking industry. If they take risks with our lives, they should be held to account when bad things happen.
Rock Hill / Fort Mill / Indian Land Workers Comp Lawyer
While there are many attorneys in York County, there are relatively few lawyers that focus their practices on workers’ compensation here in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, or Indian Land. Before deciding which law firm to hire, it is critically important to carefully compare actual credentials and experience in the area of law. We invite you to consider the firm of Reeves Aiken Hightower & Burns LLP and our workers comp lawyer Robert J. Reeves. Mr. Reeves has over 25 years workers compensation experience. He is a former Registered Nurse (RN) who understands complex injury cases. He is also a former workers compensation insurance defense attorney who knows how carriers value cases and what defenses to prepare against. We maintain offices in Baxter Village which serves our clients in Fort Mill and Indian Land. We also have an office in Rock Hill to meet with clients there by appointment.
Before choosing a workers comp lawyer here in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, or Indian Land, we believe you should expect certain qualifications from any lawyer you are considering. If they do not have these credentials, we respectfully suggest you look at hiring another firm. The following list below is what we term the Workers’ Compensation Client’s Bill of Rights:
1. You have the right to expect that your workers comp lawyer has actually read Title 42. If they don’t know what Title 42 is, move on.
2. You have the right to expect that your lawyer has actually tried cases before the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. Hopefully, at a minimum, they have tried at least 50 cases tried to completion. If not, you should keep looking.
3. You should expect your workers comp lawyer to have argued appeals before the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Full Commission. Being able to debate workers’ compensation law makes your attorney better able to prepare cases for hearing when they can anticipate insurance company defenses.
4. You have the right to expect your lawyer will actually meet with your personally to review your case and options. Too many “mill” law firms utilize “intake” persons or paralegals to meet with clients. This is unethical behavior and not respectful to their clients. If it is not worth the lawyer’s time, they are not worth your time.
5. You should expect your workers comp lawyer to read your medical records in full. The most valuable part of any workers compensation claim is the medical treatment. Money is secondary. Getting the best possible medical care and recovery is the most important aspect and should be your lawyer’s primary concern. Of course, it helps if your lawyer has any medical training or experience to know what they are actually reading. It is also important when it is necessary to take doctor’s depositions or send letters to establish necessary medical causation.
6. You have the right to have your lawyer actually return your phone calls or emails. Paralegals are great, and they do a fine job with most workers compensation claim tasks. However, they work for the lawyer. Your lawyer works for you. That’s why when you need to get answers, you should be able to speak with your lawyer. If they won’t return your calls, you need to call another lawyer.
7. You deserve a lawyer who will actually fight for you and your family. It is always easier to settle a case than to prepare and go to trial. However, that is not always the best course. If your lawyer seems more interested in settlement or argues with you about taking the “easy money,” you should consider hiring someone else. It is “always safer in harbor, but that’s not what fighting ships are built for.”
8. You should expect your workers comp lawyer to fully answer all of your questions and give you options in your case. If a lawyer cannot answer basic workers compensation questions, you can conclude that lawyer does not really know what they are doing. If they cannot clearly articulate options with pros and cons, you should keep looking for an experienced workers compensation attorney.
9. You have the right to expect your lawyer to belong to organizations that reflect their commitment to an area of practice. Mr. Reeves has been a member and proud supporter of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Educational Association since 1989. Workers’ compensation cases are different from regular negligence actions and have unique filing requirements and deadlines. Lawyers who only “dabble” in workers compensation cases often stumble through the process and make critical mistakes. Insurance defense firm lawyers limit their practice to workers compensation and do it everyday. Better make sure your workers comp lawyer knows what they are doing to balance the playing field.
10. You should demand your workers comp lawyer know and keep up with changes in the law. Somewhat surprisingly, there are regular appellate court decisions affecting workers compensation cases. Each month, there are several new opinions which further clarify and sometimes alter what is required in presenting workers compensation cases before the Commission. If critical evidence is not preserved or objections made, they are lost forever if the case is later appealed. Serious injury cases are vigorously defended and often result in an appeal to the Full Commission and sometimes further to a Circuit Court or even the South Carolina Supreme Court. Mr. Reeves has argued numerous Full Commission appeals during his 25 year career and is published in an appellate decision at the South Carolina Court of Appeals.
As you can see from the above list, you should have a number of basic expectations from the lawyer you choose to represent you in a South Carolina workers compensation case. As you consider your choices, we encourage you to take this Workers’ Compensation Client Bill of Rights with you as you interview different workers comp lawyers and ask them the “hard questions.” With these requirements in mind, you will quickly be able to separate those attorneys who know workers compensation law and those who are just “posers.” You know this is serious, and you need a serious workers comp lawyer to take care of you and your family. After you have met with others, give us a call before you decide. You can reach Mr. Reeves directly on his mobile phone 803-554-4157. Call him now for answers and options. You can also download our eBook for a basic overview of South Carolina workers’ compensation law and what to expect.
Bedsores or Decubitus Ulcers Are Always Preventable If Proper Care is Given
As a former Registerd Nurse (RN), attorney Robert J. Reeves used to treat patients in the Intensive Care Unit who were clinging to life from a Stage IV decubitus ulcer, or bedsore. This is a critical care situation where there is massive tissue, muscle,and even bone loss. After a bedsore begins, immediate and aggressive treatment must be undertaken to prevent more damage from blocked circulation and resulting infection. If the infection gets into the person’s bloodstream, they become “septic” and will die if the infection cannot be controlled and then reversed. The body suffers extremely high fevers, and the immune system is overwhelmed by infection. Blood cultures are drawn repeatedly, and massive doses of antibiotics are given to try and save the patient’s life. So how does such a life threatening condition begin? It starts when an immobile or bedridden person is not given proper hydration and nutrition and is not turned properly to prevent bedsores from forming.
In most situations, we see nursing home residents and patients with head injury or paraplegia cases. In elderly patients, inattentive care by staff can allow residents to become malnourished and dehydrated which sets up a perfect scenario for bedsores to start. They tend to become less mobile and even bedridden. If not encouraged to ambulate or left in bed or a wheelchair for several hours, skin breakdown can occur. If not detected promptly or skin care measures not employed, decubitus ulcers can quickly deteriorate, often within days. At that point, aggressive inpatient medical treatment will be required in an already immunosuppressed patient. If sepsis develops, many elderly patients simply cannot overcome the infection and will pass.
With head injury cases, these patients are being care for in hospitals and by specially trained professional staffs. They have specifically designed beds that constantly “move” in an attempt to prevent decubitus formation. The staff monitor fluid intake, usually by IV, and nutrition is supplied through a tube directly into the stomach. Many of these patients are on ventilators to breathe and are fighting to recover from a traumatic brain injury. If properly monitored and turned regularly, bedsores never get a chance to start. On reddened areas, skin integrity must be maintained by applying lotions and regular massaging to maintain proper circulation to the area.
Paraplegia and quadraplegia patients are, of course, the most vulnerable to bedsore formation and must be protected by hypervigilant care. Special care must be given at all times but especially during transport by ambulance for procedures and followup care. I have a recent case where a paraplegic patient was left on a hard stretcher for several hours waiting for an MRI scan. During that relatively brief period, the patient was not turned or repositioned. Several “reddened areas” in the usual “pressure points” were not detected, and skin breakdown started in just a few hours. People who are paralyzed already suffer from decreased circulation and are chronically under nourished and borderline dehydrated. As a result, bedsores quickly deteriorate without immediate and aggressive medical intervention. In this case, the patient died in her thirties after just a few days. How can this happen so fast? It is the deadly combination of inadequate hydration, nutrition, systemic circulation issues, and lowered immune response. No matter what the excuse given, bedsores are completely preventable in all cases. The more frail and vulnerable the patient; the more care is required. When proper care is not given, deadly results can occur quickly.
Felony DUI Arrest
Being charged with any DUI offense is always serious, and a conviction will result in a permanent criminal record. But, a DUI is a misdemeanor and usually only requires payment of fines, ADSAP, SR-22 insurance, and loss of driving privileges for six (6) months, subject to a provisional license. However, if you are drinking while driving and someone is seriously injured or killed, you can be charged with a felony DUI that could result in years of time in state prison, up to 25 years. No one ever expects something really bad to happen. It is all too possible for an average, law-abiding citizen to find themselves in serious legal trouble from just one bad mistake in judgement. This is why you should never get behind the wheel if you have been drinking. A DUI can be the least of your worries if you become in an accident on the way home, even if someone else hits you. Even if it is a passenger in your car, you could be charged with felony DUI if anyone is seriously injured as a result of an alcohol related accident.
I am reminded of a real case out of Charleston, South Carolina. It involved a young woman who was just starting her life as a Registered Nurse (RN). She had recently married and was beginning her nursing career helping others. After work one afternoon, she and several fellow nurses went out for a drink before heading home. She had only consumed two (2) alcoholic beverages and had a relatively low BAC level. While driving home, she was in a hurry and made the fateful decision to try to pass another car on a curve. As she began her pass, she struck another vehicle head-on and killed several people inside, including a child. She was also very seriously injured but survived the crash. Because she had a blood level of 0.07%, she was charged and plead guilty to felony DUI. She was sentenced to ten (10) years in prison. Her life, while not completely over, was substantially put on hold. Her nursing career was over. Her marriage may not last for the ten years she will be away. All of this pain for a moment of bad judgement. She was a nice girl from a good family. She had never been in any legal trouble before in her life. Now, she will spend years in a women’s prison. She could not believe it. Her husband and family could not believe it either. But it happened to her. And it can happen to anybody. Even you.