Supreme Court Rules GPS Tracking is a Search

A unanimous United States Supreme Court ruled on January 23, 2012 that the Government’s attachment of a GPS tracking device to a vehicle and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle’s movements on public streets constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In the case of United States v. Jones, the Government installed a GPS tracking device on a vehicle and monitored its movements for 28 days. The Fourth Amendment protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”. Since the Government did not have a valid search warrant for use of the GPS device, the evidence obtained from the GPS was suppressed.

Having a good Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney representing you is critical when important constitutional issues come up in your case. Call Daniel, Thom & Katzman, PC if you have questions about this or any other issue.

The Persistent Drunk Driving Act of 1998

As a consequence of The Persistent Drunk Driving Act of 1998, the Persistent Drunk Driving Committee formed in an effort to develop and implement programs aimed at deterring persistent drunk and drug-related driving.   The PDD Committee consists of several state agencies including the Colorado Department of Human Services, State Judicial Branch, Department of Transportation, and the Department of Revenue.  (According to Colorado state law, a persistent drunk driver is defined as someone who has two or more alcohol or drug related driving violations of someone with a BAC of .17 or higher—even if it’s the first offense.)

Recently, state agencies on the PDD developed and published a new website aimed at providing individuals the resources they need for answering question they may have concerning DUIs.  The website, www.NoDUIColorado.org, provides a wealth of information that can potentially help individuals make informed decisions regarding impaired driving and behaviors associated with substance abuse.  For example, the new website features an interactive Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) calculator and also provides them with an opportunity to find and compare DUI related information about the county in which they reside.

The PDD Committee launched the new website this past month in hopes of increasing the likelihood holiday partygoers that intend to drink plan their evening better than they might have otherwise.  To explain, the site suggests alternatives modes of transportation for partygoers—so that they avoid getting behind the wheel of a car.  The website also provides a sober party planning guide, downloadable BAC phone apps, and a list of tips on how to get home safely after an evening of festivities and celebrations.

Despite these efforts by the Colorado PDD Committee and its constituent state agencies, individuals still end up with DUI and DWAI charges, and while some of these individuals absolutely deserve the charges bestowed on them by law enforcement officials, many do not.  The unfortunate reality is that individuals sometimes end-up with DUI convictions or costly fines and other penalties that they could have avoided—had they shared their concerns with a Colorado DUI criminal defense attorney.  Should you suspect that a law enforcement official incorrectly charged you with a DUI—or even if you’ve received a DUI that you believe you did receive—you should contact a DUI criminal defense attorney immediately.  A simple conversation with an experienced and qualified professional can help you understand your options available and ensure you retain the rights afforded to you by law.

Alcohol Awareness Courses

Depending on the circumstances surrounding a DUI or DWAI charge, a court may sentence the convicted to mandatory alcohol awareness classes.  This type of sentence is often the case for plea bargains or deferred sentences for alcohol-related offenses.  Also, these mandatory classes usually serve as the condition for license reinstatement.  That said, however, some cases do exist wherein courts do not order those charged with DUIs or DWAIs to take alcohol awareness classes.  Depending on the type of circumstances, a court may require you to take alcohol awareness and treatment classes as offered by the Colorado Department of Behavioral Health.

Level I Education

Consists of 12 hours of DUI education over a minimum of a 2-day period.  With this education, not more than 6 hours can be conducted in one calendar day. This education typically occurs in a group or class.  Level I Education is not appropriate for someone who has had more than one impaired driving offense, or one offense with a high BAC.

Level II Education

Consists of 24 hours of DUI education over 12 weeks.  This education typically occurs in a group setting wherein theclass size is limited to not more than 12 regularly attending. Level II Education can be recommended by itself or may be followed by Level II Therapy.

Level II Therapy

Level II Education follows Level II Therapy.  This type of therapy can range in length from 5 to 10 months depending on the track assigned. Track assignment depends on whether a person has prior impaired driving offenses.  Also, the track assignment depends on the individuals BAC as well as other clinical indicators. The alcohol evaluator (probation) recommends this track changes, or—in the absence of an official evaluation—the treatment agency recommends them.

Level II Therapy Track Guidelines

Track A: 42 hours over 21 weeks – for first time offender with a BAC below .17;

Track B: 52 hours over 26 weeks – for first time offender with BAC of .17 or above;

Track C: 68 hours over 34 weeks – for offender with prior DUI, and a BAC below .17;

Track D: 86 hours over 43 weeks, usually for someone with a prior DWAI/DUI, and a BAC of .17 or above.

Alcohol awareness classes play a critical role in rehabilitating individuals charged with DUIs or DWAIs, and without such programs, law enforcement officers might see a greater number of instances of alcohol-related driving offenses.  Unfortunately, though, those charged with DUIs often end-up receiving sentences to take these mandatory courses, when the facts of their cases—had they been argued correctly—could have received them a much lighter sentence than the one they got.  If you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWAI, then you should contact a qualified Colorado DUI criminal defense attorney without delay.  By discussing the details of your particular DUI charge with a DUI criminal defense attorney, you potentially reduce the likelihood you receive a sentence you don’t deserve.

Alcohol Testing: Knowing your PBTs and EBATs

While you may already be aware that law enforcement officials have an array of devices at their disposal for measuring the amount of alcohol in your blood stream, you may not be aware that—during DUI related incidents—officials use these various devices quite differently, at different times, and for different purposes.  Furthermore, while you may believe you don’t have a pressing need to understand the differences among these devices (to the extent that a DUI criminal defense attorney might), even having at least a cursory knowledge of these devices and their appropriate uses can help your cause in ways you didn’t even know.

To explain, if you’ve been pulled-over or if you’ve been stopped at a DUI checkpoint and an officer suspects you’ve driving under the influence, then he or she will more than likely administer a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) or Preliminary Breath Testing (PBT).   A PAS or a PBT are usually smaller, portable devices that provide law enforcement officials a relatively reliable indication as to whether or not an individual has been driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

Despite their usefulness, however, these preliminary tests typically do not provide officers with enough evidence to make a DUI charge yield a conviction.  As such, after transporting suspected individuals to a nearby station, law enforcement officials then administer another more accurate test generally referred to as an Evidential Blood/Breath Alcohol Test (EBAT).  The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment explains that Colorado law enforcement officials use EBAT devices to determine breath alcohol content.  These devices are usually much larger than the PAS or PBTs, and the measurements they take typically provide enough evidence to convict DUI suspects.  They work by measuring an individual’s breath-alcohol content, expressed in grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, and an example of an EBAT device in Colorado is the Intoxilyzer 5000EN.

Based on the above description, you may be thinking that an EBAT is the “end all, be all,” so to speak, when it comes to blood/breath alcohol testing.  However, devices of all kinds can malfunction.  Furthermore, officers can sometimes fail to properly maintain these devices—resulting in errors—or they may even administer them correctly.  As such, if you’ve been charged with a DUI or DUI per se, you should go ahead and get in touch with Colorado DUI criminal defense attorney without delay.  A qualified professional has the resources and experience with regard to these devices to make sure you don’t receive a conviction you don’t deserve!

Holiday Parties and DUI’s

This weekend is expected to be a very busy one for office and holiday parties. If you are going to be at a function, Daniel, Thom & Katzman urges you to drink responsibly. An average person can easily become impaired after a couple of drinks at a party.

Should you be stopped by the police, remember that any field sobriety tests are completely voluntary. You are not required to submit to these tests. You may be asked to perform a chemical test of either your blood or breath. If you take a breath test, your results will be known immediately and if the result is .08 or higher, the police officer will take your driver’s license. The results of the blood test may take 2 weeks or longer to come back and the police officer will not take your driver’s license at the time of your arrest. You may get a letter from DMV revoking your license several weeks after your arrest. You also have the right to refuse the chemical test. If you refuse, you may lose your driver’s license for1 year on a first-time refusal and you will not be allowed any restricted privileges to drive to work or for any other reason. Before refusing the test, please remember that the consequences to your license may be much more serious than if you took a blood or breath test.

If your license is taken by the police officer, you have 7 days to request a DMV hearing to challenge the revocation of your driver’s license. The revocation goes into effect automatically unless you request the DMV hearing.

If you have the misfortune of being charged with a DUI, you need the help of an experienced DUI attorney. There are some very important deadlines that can result in the waiving of important rights unless you act right after your arrest. Please call us so we can discuss your rights and evaluate your case.

We at Daniel, Thom & Katzman wish you a safe and happy holiday

CSPD and other Government Agencies Turn Up the Heat

In an effort to curb the number of instances of DUI and DWAI instances, police departments and other governmental agencies have started pairing-up and combining their forces.  For instance, the Colorado Springs Police Department and the Colorado Department of Transportation often pair together during the CSPD’s Heat is On programs.  These programs typically run during holiday weekends (e.g., Fourth of July weekends) and involve both sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols.  Also, while the CSPD often pairs with the Department of Transportation, it has also paired with other governmental agencies such as the Pikes Peak Regional DUI Task Force and the National Highway Transportation Safety Association.

Characteristics of an Effective Sobriety Checkpoint Program

-Persistent Program that Deters Impaired Driving

-Program that Provides Legal Support

-One that Abides by Existing Departmental Policy

-Effective Site Selection

-Unique Warning Devices

-Visibility of Police Authority

– Logistics for Chemical Testing

-Contingency Plans

-Implementation of Techniques for Detection and Investigation

– Briefings of Operations

-Program that Provides Comprehensive Public Information and -Education Programs

-Means of Data Collection and Evaluation

As indicated by the City of Colorado Springs’ government website, the Colorado Springs Police Department institutes sobriety checkpoints and programs such as “Heat is On” for the purpose of deterring impaired drivers and reducing the number of alcohol-related vehicular fatalities each year.   Also, as indicated by the above list of characteristics of effective sobriety checkpoint programs, the CSPD and other agencies make every effort to ensure that these checkpoints adhere to both recent court rulings and the Colorado State Constitution.

Unfortunately, however, instances where in law enforcement officers do not adhere to guidelines and statutory regulations do exist.  Consequently, you’ll want to make sure you’ve done everything within your power to protect yourself legally, should you find yourself with a DUI or DWAI charge.   If you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWAI, then you’ll need to seek out a professional with both the experience and expertise to provide you with a fair defense.  A qualified Colorado DUI defense attorney has the resources to help ensure you’ve done all you can to avoid costly fines, community service, DUI classes, a revoked license, or even time in jail.

BAC Machines in Colorado Springs

Many of us had, at one point or another, found ourselves at a restaurant or out at a bar at night after an evening full of friends and a few drinks.  And many of us, in this situation, have been faced with the question of whether or not we should get behind the wheel of a car and drive home.  Unfortunately, by the time most of us reach the point in the evening where we’re asking ourselves—“Am I too drunk to drive?”—we’re already much too intoxicated to safely operate a vehicle.  By this point, the alcohol consumed earlier in the evening has already seeped into our systems and begun impairing our ability to make responsible decisions.

Consequently, many people have begun to feel that a convenient and objective method of determining sobriety should be available at bars and restaurants.   Indeed, some groups of people now content that simple, easy to use sobriety tests at restaurants and bars will significantly impact the number of drunk-driving incidents by reducing the number of impaired drivers on the road.   For instance, David Tweedy, former police officer and now owner of the breathalyzer company National BAC, believes that the breathalyzer machines his company sells will have a “positive impact on DUI statistics around the region.”  In 2010, Tweedy installed one of his machines in a local Colorado Springs watering hole—Southside Johnny.  While the machines themselves cost thousands of dollars, patrons pay only a dollar for each test.

Simple, easy to use BAC tests, such as National BAC’s, have yet to reach many bars or gain in popularity among bar and restaurants patrons in Colorado, and unfortunately, not all of these devices take into account BAC levels that indicate a DWAI (driving while ability impaired).  Should you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWAI, you should seek out a Colorado DUI defense attorney as soon as possible.  He or she will need to know every particular detail about your incident.  A qualified DUI defense attorney will provide you with the defense you deserve and help you avoid incurring costly fines, community service, or even time in jail.

Getting the Proper Defense for a Vehicular Assault Charge

In many instances a vehicular assault charge occurs in conjunction with another potentially serious charge, like a DUI or reckless driving, which makes having a qualified Colorado defense attorney on your side even more important.  Each of those charges alone could bring about serious consequences, but when a driver faces multiple charges together there is a serious need for a well constructed defense.

An experienced Colorado defense attorney should be contacted immediately following your arrest for DUI or vehicular assault so the focus of your defense strategy can be immediately developed.  Your Colorado defense attorney will be able to use their knowledge and experience to reveal the necessary details of your case that could be used to cast doubt on the charges levied by the prosecution.

If the arresting officer did not follow proper procedure or if there are any discrepancies evident in the detail of the prosecution’s case, your experienced Colorado defense attorney will be able to identify them and use them in order to build your defense.

When the charges filed against you are as serious as DUI and vehicular assault, the potential penalties that you could face if convicted are very severe.  If there are multiple charges filed against you and the evidence of the prosecution is very strong a good Colorado defense attorney may be able to help you reach a plea bargain that will result in penalties that are less severe.  The best way to walk away from very serious charges like vehicular assault and DUI with a favorable outcome is with a very strong defense built by an experienced Colorado defense attorney.

Reducing DUI Penalties with a Colorado Defense Attorney

With one look at the potential penalties that you’ll face from a DUI conviction in the state of Colorado, it’s very easy to see just how much your life can be affected. Heavy fines, jail time, suspension of driving privileges and the requirement for carrying an expensive auto insurance policy can wreak havoc with your personal, financial and professional lives.

The best way to approach your defense in a DUI hearing is by enlisting the help of an experienced Colorado defense attorney.  Many drivers feel as though they are already potentially behind the eight ball will the potential financial repercussions of a Colorado DUI and hope that they’ll be able save money by defending themselves, but this is often a serious mistake.

Constructing the best possible defense against a Colorado DUI charge requires and in depth and intimate knowledge of DUI law.  DUI cases can be complex and confusing and a poorly constructed defense is can easily lead to a conviction that will force you to face the fullest extent of possible penalties.

Having an experienced Colorado DUI attorney on your side will ensure that you’ve got the necessary knowledge in your corner to limit the possible punishments you’ll face.  A good Colorado defense attorney will most likely be able to save you much more in potential fines and increased insurance premiums then their services will cost.  If you have been arrested for a DUI in the state of Colorado, it’s imperative that you reach out to an experienced Colorado defense attorney in order to begin constructing your defense.

A Colorado Defense Attorney Can Help Minimize Penalties Faced from Drug Charges

Drug charges can come in a wide variety of forms, but the end result is almost never favorable.  Even a seemingly simple marijuana possession charge can result in serious fines and have a negative effect on you for the foreseeable future and as the charges become greater, so do the potential penalties. If you are facing any type of drug charges, even if the potential penalty for a conviction or guilty plea doesn’t seem too severe, you should enlist the help of an experienced Colorado defense attorney.

A drug conviction can stay on your criminal record and affect you in the future when trying to get a job, when trying to secure a loan or when trying to obtain financial aid.  If fail to fight the charges with a solidly constructed defense or if you take a guilty plea in order to simply try and put the event behind you without having to sit through a lengthy trial, your future could certainly suffer.

An experienced Colorado defense attorney may be able to immediately cast doubt on possession charges based on the available evidence.  A good Colorado defense attorney will be fully aware of the most effective methods of defense in cases where charges of drug possession are filed.  Having that experience and knowledge at your disposal is the best possible way to ensure that your future is not negatively effected by the potentially serious penalties that often go along with charges of drug possession.