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Common DUI Misconception: The Effect of a 0.08% BAC

The number 0.08% is important in South Carolina DUI (driving under the influence) prosecution.  That is true.  However, the state of South Carolina can and will aggressively prosecute a DUI against an individual who had less than a 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC).

The state will do this because DUI requires, not a 0.08% BAC, but

  1. presence of alcohol or other intoxicating substance in the body, and
  2. impairment of ability to drive safely.

If an individual is physically impaired at the time of arrest, as evidenced in the police car video, the audio recording, or the officer’s testimony, a jury can, and some juries will, convict individuals who blow far less than a 0.08%.

The SC DUI Attorneys of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower

No matter what your blood alcohol concentration was, if you have been charged with DUI, you need experienced DUI representation.  At Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, you can trust that you will get the representation you deserve from attorneys with extensive DUI experience.  When you need help, call us at 877-374-5999, or contact us at this link, for a free, private consultation.

 

Action 9 News Makes Inappropriate Election Year Attack on the Judiciary

News channel Action 9 continued the media onslaught on the independence and fairness of the judges yesterday by openly questioning the judgment of Judge Kimberly Best-Staton. Characteristic of attacks on judges, the story focuses on simple results, rather than fair application of the law.

Apparently, police officers and state troopers had come to the Action 9 Investigative team to complain that a local judge was being partial to defendants accused of DWI.  The Action 9 Investigative reporter Mark Becker then aired a story based on these ill-defined complaints, some inflammatory statistics, and two pieces of anecdotal evidence.  DWI prosecution is like all criminal prosecution complicated.  When a person’s liberty and rights are at stake, Americans should and do take due process of law seriously.  This supposed investigative journalism failed to do that by ignoring the complex, interrelated issues at hand.

True “drunk driving” is a problem in Mecklenburg County, but that is no reason to sidestep the law and individual rights.

The story showed a fundamental lack of respect for the law and individual liberty with opinion questioning Judge Best-Staton’s “judgment,” instead of whether she was applying the law fairly to each case.  The story never attempts to give the public an explanation of why the judge’s judgment was being questioned, and the story failed to give an example of where the judge did not apply the law.

The evidence presented that was supposed to be so fatal to the “judgment” of Judge Best-Staton was that so far this year she found only 33% of those accused of DWI brought in front of her guilty.  The story ignores the innumerable reasons why defendants are found not guilty and the individual cases brought to her.

The public might have rightly wondered whether Judge Best-Staton was fairly applying the law, but Action 9 certainly didn’t tell them.

What we really have here is a mind set where principles of “innocent until proven guilty,” “adherence to the law,” and “liberty” are being disregarded in favor of crass embrace of judicial activism when it would allow more individuals to be found guilty, especially of pet crimes like DWI.

For what it’s worth, let’s remember that it is not a crime to merely be charged with DWI, nor is it a crime to merely have a wisp of alcohol in your system when stopped.  When a judge finds an individual not guilty of DWI, she may just be doing justice.

The DWI Lawyers of Reeves, Aiken & Hightower

If you have been charged with a DWI or any other crime, contact the attorneys at Reeves, Aiken & Hightower.  Review our credentials, make sure that we are right for you, and call us at 877-374-5999, or contact us here, for a private consultation.

SC DUI / NC DWI Attorney – Iginition Interlock Devices Coming Soon to New Vehicles

According the article below, it looks like the federal government is taking a real interest in mandating ignition interlock devices be installed in new vehicles in the future. Such devices are already required in parts of Europe. At least the comments made by the quoted legislator make a distinction between the “drunk driver” and the person who simply has a drink with dinner or a beer with a friend. Unfortunately, the current technology can produce false results and may inhibit otherwise sober drivers from getting their car to start and be left stranded. Oh well. That’s the price the majority of responsible drivers seemingly will have to pay for the sins of those who cannot be trusted to drive safely. Seriously, state DUI laws and now federal intervention are beoming so intrusive that it is simply not prudent to have any alcohol outside of your home. Perhaps this result is the end game goal. However, perfectly safe to drive individuals are being falsely arrested and prosecuted in the current DUI hysteria. We have effectively “thrown the baby out with the bath water.” Let’s be clear. Obviously, no one wants truly “drunk drivers” on the road. However, at some point, we have to have an effective balance so that innocent drivers are not branded with a DUI conviction on their permanent driving record. And, in this very difficult economy, the fines, court costs, alcohol programs, and SR-22 insurance can destroy a family’s finances as they try to “make ends meet.” All a reasonable person wants here is more selective arrests by police and more considered discretion by prosecutors. In the final analysis, it should be remembered that not everyone who has the “smell of alcohol” is guilty of drunk driving. If you or your family member have been arrested for a SC DUI or NC DWI, you should immediately consult an experienced DUI attorney and see what options are available to you before your driving record is ruined by a false charge of “driving under the influence” or “driving while impaired.” We hope that you will consider our firm after you review our credentials and experience in this complicated area of criminal law.

At Reeves, Aiken & Hightower LLP, our seasoned attorneys have over 70 years of combined trial experience in both civil and criminal courts.  We focus our criminal practice on DUI and DWI cases in both South Carolina and North Carolina and are available by mobile phone in the evenings, on weekends, and even holidays. Our lawyers are licensed in both states and are aggressive criminal trial attorneys.  We are not afraid to go to Court and often do. Don’t settle for a lawyer who only wants to reduce your DUI charges to reckless driving. We welcome the opportunity to sit down and personally discuss your case. Compare our attorneys’ credentials to any other firm. Then call us today at 877-374-5999 for a private consultation. Or visit our firm’s website at www.rjrlaw.com.

Washington Examiner by Paul Bedard

Not satisfied with putting federal restrictions on driver distractions like cellular phones, the federal government is pursuing technology to prevent cars from starting if drivers are legally drunk–even if they don’t have a DUI record.

Urged on by anti-alcohol groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Senate on a bipartisan vote OK’d a little-known amendment to the just-passed highway bill to provide $24 million over two years to study the “Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety,” a Transportation Department project to put booze detectors in all new cars this decade.

The inevitability that the government will get its way is so great that car makers tell Washington Secrets that they are already planning how to introduce the voluntary systems, likely fingertip sensors on steering wheels or start buttons. The French already require a Breathalyzer system in new cars.

The American Beverage Institute, which represents thousands of restaurants, has mounted a campaign to kill the provision in the House version of the bill. ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell said while the goal of ending drunk driving is admirable, bad readings by the system in tests show that an estimated 4,000 sober drivers a day won’t be able to start their cars, potentially scaring diners from restaurants.

But others in the alcohol industry have jumped on board and were able to block the Senate legislation from making the systems mandatory. One industry official said it’s more likely the system would be an option on cars, though some Transportation Department documents suggest it will be standard equipment.

A spokesman for Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., a sponsor of the initiative, cautioned that installation of car alcohol detection systems are years off and that the plan now is to simply find the easiest and most accurate technology. What’s more, he said that the goal is not to stop responsible drinkers from downing a beer at dinner, but target drunks responsible for thousands of deaths annually.

SC DUI / NC DWI – “Best Breathalyzer”?

While researching current updates on breathalyzers, I came across this sales pitch for a “personal” model. Frankly, it is difficult to imagine a market for such a device. But, the sales information was very revealing as to how utterly unreliable these “alcohol breath testing” machines really are.  I have highlighted those sections which are essentially disclaimers. See for yourself. Here’s the article I found:

“If you’ve been searching for the best breathalyzer to suit your personal alcohol tester needs, here are a few considerations you should keep in mind before buying.

The best breathalyzer for any individual who wants to test their blood alcohol content (BAC) on a regular basis is one with a fuel cell sensor. The fuel cell sensor technology is normally found on professional breathalyzer devices. The reason a fuel cell model is considered the best breathalyzer technology is due to it’s superior accuracy over other breathalyzer sensors such as the semiconductor. While the professional breathalyzer is created for professional use by law enforcement, clinics and other professional environments, many models are FDA 501(k) approved for sale and use by the general public.

Generally speaking, the fuel cell breathalyzers range in price from approximately $120 to upwards of $400. Although with that said, the better semiconductor models are near the $100 price level so it may, in some cases, make more sense to go with the professional grade breathalyzer.

The greater accuracy of the professional, fuel cell (or best) breathalyzer is partially dependent on the sensor’s ability to detect the difference between alcohol and higher acetone levels which can be found in individuals with diabetes or those on low-calorie diets. Also, professional breathalyzers feature the ability to give the same result on the same individual when testing repeatedly. In other words, if the same person blows into the mouthpiece in test after test, the results will be similar more often from a fuel cell sensor than a semiconductor model.

The best breathalyzer for your needs will also depend on the device’s ability to pull in an adequate deep lung breath sample. Many professional and personal breathalyzers feature a built “fan” of sorts that will pull the sample in and thus assure the proper deep lung sample is acquired. Many will also beep or otherwise alert the testing individual if the sample is incomplete and testing needs to be repeated.

Finding the best breathalyzer for your needs may also depend on recalibration requirements. The majority of both personal breathalyzer and professional breathalyzer models need to be returned to the manufacturer after a number of tests so that they can be re-calibrated and shipped back. This is usually done ever 1,000 tests (some don’t require recalibration for 1,500 tests) at a cost of about $30-$50. For individuals, it’s likely that the recalibration needs will be a lot less than those devices used for professional use. Either way, it is important, for the greatest accuracy that the devices are re-calibrated and that testing is done as directed by the manufacturer.”

As you can see, the manufacturers tell the buying public that their devices are not fool-proof.  In fact, the results are very dependent on a number of variables.  And this is with a brand new breathalyzer right out of the box.  With these very difficult economic times, almost every county and city police department budget is under review.  There are simply no funds for new equipment, and I fear not enough money for proper maintenance of the equipment they have.  Nevertheless, courts and legislatures currently allow breathalyzer results into evidence and treat them as absolutely accurate without serious question.  I am reminded that “lie detector” tests were similarly accepted for years but are no longer deemed reliable enough for prosecution. I hope that one day the “breathalyzer” will go the way of the “lie detector.”  The only truly accurate test is a blood alcohol test performed by a licensed health professional and certified lab facilities.

If you are arrested for suspicion of drunk driving (DUI / DWI), ask for a blood alcohol test and then consult an experienced DUI / DWI attorney. At Reeves, Aiken & Hightower LLP, our attorneys have over 70 years of combined trial experience in both civil and criminal courts.  We focus our criminal practice on DUI and DWI cases in both South Carolina and North Carolina and are available by mobile phone in the evenings, on weekends, and even holidays. We are not afraid to go to Court and often do. Don’t settle for a lawyer who only wants to try to reduce your DUI charge to reckless driving.  Compare our attorneys’ credentials to any other firm. Then call us for a private consultation of your case. www.rjrlaw.com

Fort Mill SC Attorney Robert J. Reeves admitted to National Trial Lawyers

The National Trial Lawyers is a national organization composed of the top 100 trial lawyers from each state. Membership is obtained through special invitation and is extended only to those attorneys who exemplify superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature, and profile as civil plaintiff (accidents, workers’ compensation, brain injury, wrongful death) or criminal defense (DUI, DWI, felonies) trial lawyers. It is the mission of The National Trial Lawyers to promote excellence in the legal profession through practical educational programs, networking opportunities, and legal publications that deal with current issues facing the trial lawyer. Mr. Robert J. Reeves of the firm Reeves, Aiken & Hightower, LLP, has been invited to join this group from South Carolina for 2012.