I’m not crazy about cold weather, and autumn signals the inevitable temperature decreases in Ohio. On the other hand, autumn also means the O.S.U. football season, as well as the annual DUI defense seminar in Las Vegas. I have attended the seminar about 20 times, and this year I gave a presentation.
The National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) holds four seminars each year. The summer session is at Harvard Law School, the spring seminar is in New Orleans, the winter session is at a destination chosen by the Dean of the NCDD, and the fall seminar is in Las Vegas. The fall seminar, “DWI Means Defend With Integrity”, is presented by the NCDD in conjunction with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). The theme of this year’s seminar was “Practice Like a Pro”.
The Metaverse and Personal Contact
The metaverse refers to virtual worlds, augmented reality, and portable digital currency. Personal contact refers to real contact between two human beings. Having these terms in an article heading seems like a strange juxtaposition, but they were the subjects of two interesting seminar presentations.
‘Personal Contact’, in the context of the seminar, refers to one stage of the DUI investigation. Officers are taught, according to the NHTSA manual for ‘DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing’, there are three phases to a DUI investigation. First is the ‘Vehicle in Motion’ phase, second is the ‘Personal Contact’ phase, and third is the ‘Pre-Arrest Screening’ phase. Much attention is given to the third phase because it includes the standardized field sobriety tests. The ‘Personal Contact’ phase could be easy to overlook.
Instructor Anthony Palacios urged seminar attendees to not overlook the ‘Personal Contact’ phase. When an officer makes personal contact with a driver, the officer may observe ‘cues’ the driver is under the influence. Those cues include signs of the driver’s alcohol consumption, evidence regarding the driver’s mental faculties, and information about the driver’s physical abilities. The absence of those cues may be used as evidence the driver was not under the influence. Anthony Palacios was the instructor for my ‘DWI Detection and SFST Instructor’ course, and he knows his stuff, so I’m sure the seminar attendees benefited greatly from his presentation.
The Metaverse was one subject covered by Phil Hampton and Bill Ramsey in their presentation on technology for DUI attorneys. They explained the emerging metaverse is revolutionary, and companies which are early adopters of the technology can position themselves to thrive in the new digital ecology. I am not an early adopter of technology, but I was curious to hear their presentation. While I do not envision consumers needing DUI lawyers in a virtual world, Hampton and Ramsey explained how the metaverse could be used in the operation of a law firm. For example, witness preparation, meetings, and depositions could all take place in the metaverse. I can see how implementation of this technology in a law firm could assist with providing outstanding service to clients…someday. Hampton and Ramsey also gave many tips on technology which can be beneficial to a law firm immediately.
The Missing Link
This is not the missing link between the metaverse and personal contact. It is also not Big Foot. Instead, it’s the missing link between THC, field sobriety testing, and marijuana impairment. And it’s the title of the presentation I gave at the seminar.
Officers often testify they suspected a driver was under the influence of marijuana, the driver performed poorly on field sobriety tests, and that poor performance must have been due to marijuana intoxication. However, the field sobriety tests are only designed to predict a driver’s blood alcohol concentration are not correlated with marijuana impairment. A recent study commissioned by the United States Department of Justice confirmed field sobriety tests are “not sensitive to cannabis intoxication”.
Government toxicologists often testify that a driver had a certain concentration of THC (or its metabolites) in their blood or urine, and that level of THC would cause driving impairment. However, two recent publications by the United States government prove there is no correlation between THC levels and impairment. The recent study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice concluded, “Our work indicates that THC is not a reliable marker of cannabis impairment”.
It was an honor to speak at the “DWI Means Defend With Ingenuity” seminar in Vegas. It was also educational to attend other presentations. I always take away valuable information from NCDD seminars, which is why I am attending the winter session in January, which will be focused on defending clients accused of vehicular homicide.