Columbus OVI/DUI Attorney Blog

Articles Posted in DUI/OVI continuing education

‘Best in the Midwest’ has become one of the slogans associated with the annual DUI/OVI seminar presented by the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL). A speaker from another state poked fun at the slogan by asking, “isn’t this the only DUI seminar in the Midwest?” I’m sure there are plenty of other DUI seminars in the Midwest, but this is the only one I know of which is nationally recognized and approved for credit from the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) and the national DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA). The seminar is two-and-a-half days and draws speakers and attendees from around the country. Whether it’s the best or not, the seminar held last week in Columbus was outstanding.

OACDL 2015 DUI seminar brochure page 1The seminar’s theme this year was ‘trying cases post-Ilg’. State v. Ilg is the breath-testing case decided recently by the Ohio Supreme Court. In that case, the Court reiterated a defendant in an OVI case has the right to challenge the accuracy of the specific breath test result in his or her case. Ilg clarified the holding of State v. Vega, which had been subject to misinterpretation for the last 30 years.

Thursday’s presentations focused on scientific issues in OVI cases. Thomas Workman from Massachusetts discussed breath test data, explaining what data is maintained, what data is not being provided to defendants, and what should be done about it. Pharamacologist/statistician Robert Belloto and attorney Andrew Bucher presented a scientific and statistical assessment of the Drug Recognition Evaluation program. There was also a panel of judges discussing State v. Ilg and breath test challenges at trial. It was interesting to hear the different interpretations of Ilg and various predictions about the future of breath-testing litigation in Ohio OVI cases.

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Last week, I completed a short course in gas chromatography. Completing the course reminded me of what Stephen Covey used to say: “To know and not to do is really not to know.” He is so right. It’s one thing to know the law of blood and urine testing. It’s a very different thing to know the science of blood and urine testing. To know the science, you have to do the science, and lawyers typically do not have the opportunity to do the science. Now, however, lawyers get to do the science of gas chromatography in a short course presented by the Amercian Chemical Society.

The course, Forensic Chromatography Theory and Practice, is held in Chicago at the Axion Analytical Laboratories & Training Institute. Axion is the training arm for the American Chemical Society. The president of Axion, Lee Polite, Ph.D., is a leading authority in chromatography and serves as the primary instructor for the course.

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The 40-hour course consists of both lectures and labs. The lectures feature analogies which make chemistry understandable to even the least scientific lawyers. During the lectures, participants learn the scientific principles underlying the operation of the gas chromatograph. They also learn the parts of the instrument and the multitude of variables which must be set correctly for the instrument to produce an accurate result.

The labs are hands-on. Class participants run tests with known and unknown substances and learn to interpret the printed chromatograms. Students manipulate testing conditions to understand how those conditions affect results. Class participants also calibrate the instrument, use the associated software to program a calibration curve, and even take apart the injectors and columns.

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If you get a ride from an ARIDE officer, it’s because you’ve been arrested for DUI/OVI. The acronym stands for Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, and ARIDE is a course which some police officers complete to improve at investigating and prosecuting Ohio DUI/OVI cases involving drugs. To better understand what officers are learning at ARIDE, I recently completed the program myself, and I expect it to improve my effectiveness in defending cases involving driving under the influence of drugs.

ARIDE photo with certificateBefore an officer can take the ARIDE course, the officer must first complete the training program for DWI Detection And Standardized Field Sobriety Testing sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). I completed that program in 2005. That program explains the three phases of DUI/OVI investigations and includes hours of hands-on training for administering the three standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). The three SFSTs are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (follow the pen with your eyes), the Walk And Turn test, and the One Leg Stand test.

Field sobriety testing is the focus of the first part of the ARIDE course. Participants undergo updated training for administering the SFSTs and are introduced to two additional tests. The first new test, the Romberg Balance test has requires a subject to tilt his head back, close his eyes, and estimate 30 seconds. The second new test, the Lack of Convergence test, involves moving a stimulus close to the subject’s nose to see if the subject’s eyes cross. Course participants must pass an SFST proficiency test to continue to the second part of the ARIDE course.

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I’m afraid of heights. I passed on the opportunity to go on the 450′ observation wheel, and I steered clear of the zip line starting at the 50th floor of the hotel. For me, just getting to the 50th floor was challenging because it required riding up an external glass elevator. While others took in the sights of the city on the way up, I faced the door and repeatedly read the maximum capacity of the elevator (30 people and 4,500 pounds). The ride was worth it: I enjoyed a great meal and an amazing view from the Voodoo Lounge. What a great way to wrap-up my annual trek to Las Vegas for the seminar presented by the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD)

WP_20140914_014.jpg The yearly seminar, “DWI Means Defend With Ingenuity”, always recharges my batteries. Although I truly enjoy my practice, and there is no work I would rather do, everyone needs an occasional break from the routine. The Vegas trip is an opportunity to ‘sharpen the saw‘.

It’s also an opportunity to learn from some of the best DUI lawyers in the country. I teach other Ohio lawyers about DUI/OVI defense, and I always learn something from the other speakers at the statewide seminars. I’ve heard it said, however, if you really want to be one of the best in your area, you need a benchmark of world-class colleagues. The speakers at the NCDD seminars are world-class.

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It won’t win a Pulitzer Prize, it will not be mentioned with the New York Times best sellers, and it will not be at the top of readers’ ‘wish lists’. In fact, most people may not find it very interesting. If you are charged with a DUI/OVI in Ohio, however, this book suddenly becomes a must-read. I’m talking about the new book: I Was Charged With DUI/OVI, Now What?!

I wrote the book to answer the questions most commonly asked by people charged with OVI.Cover image from book.jpg After answering those questions for 17 years, I recently came to the realization there was not a published book designed for individuals charged with OVI in Ohio. I thought it would be helpful to create a book which explains ‘what you need to know before going to court and before hiring an attorney for DUI/OVI in Ohio‘.

The book, published a couple weeks ago, is divided into four parts. The first part reveals what prosecutors need to prove for a person to be found guilty of OVI and outlines the potential consequences of an OVI conviction. The second part addresses the evidence used in OVI cases, including field sobriety tests and blood/breath/urine tests. The third part discusses the court process and its various stages. The fourth part addresses how to find a good OVI lawyer.

The book is available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The suggested retail price of the paperback is $9.95, and the e-book costs about half that. With the percentage I receive in royalties, I may buy a few cups of coffee…. The book is obviously not designed to be a money-maker for me. In fact, I will email a pdf version of the book to anyone who requests it, and I intend to make the paperback available in central Ohio libraries.

The book is designed to help people charged with OVI. People in that position need help, and one way I can help is providing this book. I can’t represent every person who contacts me after being charged with OVI: I typically only accept one new client per week. I certainly can’t field calls from every person who has questions about Ohio OVI laws. I can, however, answer those questions in the form of this low-cost book. I hope the book provides valuable information which is helpful to many people charged with DUI/OVI in Ohio.

Last week was the annual DUI/OVI seminar hosted by the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL). The three-day seminar, held at the Westin in downtown Columbus, has become nationally recognized and is one of the few state seminars approved for credit from the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD). The theme of this year’s seminar was ‘what you need to know if you handle DUI/OVI cases’. There is a lot a lawyer needs to know, so the conference did not deal with substantive law: cases, statutes, and regulations. Instead, outstanding lawyers and experts from across the country taught about science, litigation, and presentation.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 2014 OACDL DUI Seminar brochure page 3.jpgOn Thursday, the seminar focused on the science involved in DUI/OVI cases. Jim Nesci (AZ) outlined what lawyers and judges need to know about breath testing. His presentation was followed by Al Staubus (OH) discussing the Intoxilyzer 8000 breath-testing machine and Chuck Rathburn (IN) discussing the Datamaster breath-testing machine. Cleve Johnson (OH) gave a thought-provoking lecture about the science behind decision-making. There were also presentations about blood testing (Justin McShane, PA) and forensic laboratories (Ron Moore, CA), as well as field sobriety testing and drug recognition evaluations (Tony Corroto, GA). For the first time, the conference on Thursday included a Q&A session between a panel of judges and the presenters/experts.

On Friday, the seminar focused on litigation in DUI/OVI cases. John Saia (OH) gave a presentation about the legal framework for DUI/OVI trials, and Tim Huey (OH) presented on trials with breath tests. I spoke about the Lancaster case in Marietta: the case in which the judge excluded the Intoxilyzer 8000 because we proved it is unreliable. The Intoxilzer 8000 and the Lancaster case have been the subject of previous posts in this blog (does that make me a one-trick pony?). Joe St. Louis (AZ) and Kim Frye (GA) demonstrated first-person opening statements, and Jay Ruane (CT) discussed timing and graphics in closing arguments. Justin McShane (PA) showed how he cross-examines expert witnesses, and Deandra Grant (TX) did jury selection with ‘team innocent’. Jury selection was also the topic for Joe Low (CA), which transitioned to the next day’s Trial Skills Academy.

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Last week, I attend the annual DUI seminar presented by the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). I attend the seminar nearly every year, mostly because it’s a great seminar, and partly because it’s held in Las Vegas. Before this year’s seminar, I decided I would do something different. Although it violates the rule about what happens in Vegas, I’m sharing it here.

Red Rock Canyon.jpgBefore the seminar, I decided I would spend a little less time in the casinos and a little more time in nature. I rented a car, researched hiking opportunities, downloaded hiking trails, and planned a day trip at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Then, the federal government shut-down began one day before my trip to Red Rock. It was like the movie Vacation when the Griswold family arrived at Wally World to find out it was closed. There were park rangers at the park entrances turning people away because there were no funds to pay the park rangers. The irony, of course, was that the rangers were working to tell people the park was closed. So, I found a nearby state park and was able to hike in Red Rock Canyon after all. The scenery was great, and the hike was memorable.

A Buddhist proverb says, “When the student is ready, the master appears.” For three days last week, D.U.I. lawyers from across the state, and across the country, convened in Columbus for ‘The Premier Ohio D.U.I. Defense Seminar’ sponsored by the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL). The students were ready, and the masters appeared.

logo_oacdl_navy.pngContinuing education for lawyers is crucial. Law school is not the end of our education; it’s only the beginning. The law is constantly changing. Our understanding of science continually develops. There are never-ending improvements of lawyering techniques. There is a lot to learn.

One great way to learn is to find out what other lawyers are doing throughout the state and throughout the nation. One of the best educational sources for D.U.I. lawyers is the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD). NCDD members are required to regularly attend NCDD-approved seminars, and the Ohio DUI Defense Seminar is one of the few seminars in the country that qualifies as an NCDD-approved seminar. This year’s seminar featured several outstanding presentations on Thursday and Friday, as well as a “Trial Skills Academy” on Saturday.

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Last week was the annual seminar sponsored by the National College for DUI Defense in Las Vegas. I have attended the seminar for years, and it is consistently a great seminar. It doesn’t hurt that it’s in Vegas, but what really makes it great is the caliber of presenters.

The seminar is co-sponsored by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), and current NACDL president Steven Benjamin gave a great presentation about the report from the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) report: “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward”. Other outstanding speakers included Troy McKinney on the topic of blood testing discovery and William “Bubba” Head on the issue of winning the unwinnable case by proving police perjury.

The highlight of the seminar for me was the presentation by F. Lee Bailey. Bailey is literally a living legend, having defended such high profile clients as Sam Sheppard (“The Fugitive”), Ernest Medina (the My Lai Massacre), Patty Hearst (bank robberies after being kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army), and O.J. Simpson (no parenthetical explanation required!). He touched on some of those cases as he delivered an outstanding presentation about taking command of the courtroom. A surprising part of his talk was that Bailey (age 79) discussed the importance of technology in the courtroom and even gave specific recommendations for tablets, apps, and projectors.

F. Lee Bailey was the superstar of another great NCDD/NACDL DUI seminar in Vegas. I plan to incorporate some of the seminar’s material in my D.U.I./O.V.I. practice, including the recommended apps and projector!

For some lawyers, attending continuing legal education seminars is like going to the dentist; necessary, but not something you look forward to. For me, I actually look forward to many of the seminars I attend, and there are a few I have repeated. One I just attended for the second time is the “summer session” of the National College for D.U.I. Defense.

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The NCDD summer session is inspirational, educational, and intense. The seminar is held at the Harvard Law School, and settings for academic excellence don’t get much more inspirational than the historic Austin Hall. Some of the best D.U.I. lawyers from around the country attend the seminar to hear from the ‘best of the best’. The topics included breath testing, gas chromatography (for blood and urine testing), and field sobrietytests.

A focus of the seminar is trial skills, so speakers discussed advanced techniques for jury selection, cross examination, and closing arguments. After lectures, we met in small groups for workshops to improve skills on the techniques discussed in the presentations. Following a long day of lectures and workshops, the education continued on the patio of the Charles Hotel, where one can learn nearly as much from the informal conversation as the formal lectures.

The summer session is the gold standard for seminars and is a must for serious D.U.I. lawyers. I returned with re-charged batteries and a renewed enthusiasm for my practice. I look forward to using improved techniques to help my clients with O.V.I. cases in Columbus and the central Ohio area.