Most people have heard of the roadside tests administered for DUI investigations. But interestingly enough, the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) do not directly measure reaction times at all. Why Are Fast Reaction Times Important for Driving? Driving a car may seem simply enough, but it's actually a complex task. In addition to hand-eye-coordination, driving also requires foot-eye-coordination in order to apply acceleration and braking. A driver must be able to swerve or brake quickly to avoid collisions. To do this, the driver needs to be able to have an awareness of distance, speed, and the amount of time needed to slow a vehicle safely without overreacting. How Does Alcohol Affect Reaction Times? Alcohol is a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant. Because alcohol is water-soluble and can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, the nervous system is a particular target for the negative effects of alcohol. Alcoholism and sustained use of alcohol can have an even greater effect on the brain. Alcohol slows reaction times. Why Don't DUI Field Sobriety Tests Gauge Reaction Times? The three field sobriety tests that are most commonly used by the police in DUI investigations do not specifically test for reaction times. Two of the tests are primarily focused on balance. For example, the Walk and Turn test is very similar to the challenge of walking on a balance beam. Most people can't do this without raising their arms slightly for balance. On the One Leg Stand test, the test subject is supposed to stand on one foot while holding the other leg out in front. Most people can't do this without raising their arms slightly for balance. For both the Walk and Turn and One Leg Stand tests, raising arms for balance [...]
Nika Elise Larsen, a forensic scientist and crime scene investigator for Oregon State Police Crime Lab, faced a federal court on Aug. 15, 2016. Larsen pled guilty to tampering with evidence and theft of Schedule II type drugs through direct access to evidence in lockers while working out of Bend and Pendleton Oregon Crime Labs since 2008. Sentencing will commence on Dec. 12, 2016. The prosecution and the defense are recommending a three-year prison sentence. Due to Larsen’s tampering, around 1,500 cases are being reviewed by John Hummel, District Attorney for Deschutes County, Oregon, and by several Deputy District Attorneys. Reportedly, Larsen’s mishandling and tampering of evidence occurred with her own cases and those which she might have accessed in her eight years of employment at OSP. This case is one of several which have cropped up in the last eleven years through mismanagement and lack of oversight at OSP Crime Labs. Jeff Dovci allegedly overstated evidence in a 2005 criminal trial before he retired from the Central Point Oregon Crime Lab in 2013. He is now a private forensic consultant. OSP did an internal investigation and John Hummel found that Dovci had, “overstated scientific findings and minimized things that could have hurt the state’s case.” After reviewing the two cases that came into question, Hummel found that the convictions in question still stood on solid ground. A previous OSP forensic scientist, Kristopher Kyes, missed drugs and other substances in urine he tested at the Clackamas Oregon Crime Lab, which led to a review of 120 cases, 10 of which had potential discrepancies. This led investigators to reevaluate those 10 cases. The troubling trend of misconduct continues with OSP evidence technician, John D. Parrish, who was indicted on June [...]
With the widespread use of cell phones and digital cameras, many people want to know, "Can I record the police in Oregon?" Generally, the answer is "yes," but there are some considerations if you intend to record police officers. Can I video-record a police officers? Yes. Oregon law does not prohibit the video recording of anyone on public property if they do not have a reasonable expectation of personal privacy. There are exceptions that prohibit recording of nudity and sexual activity (see ORS 163.701 "Invasion of personal privacy in the first degree" and ORS 163.700 "Invasion of personal privacy in the second degree"). Can I audio-record police officers? Yes, but Oregon law required that the person being audio-recorded be notified. They do not need to consent. See ORS 165.540 "Obtaining contents of communications." Can I record the police officer when pulled over for a traffic stop? Yes, but you must notify them if you intend to audio-record. Also, see the other considerations below. Can I record the police officer during protests? Yes, but you must notify them if you intend to audio-record. Also, see the other considerations below. Can I record the police officer during other encounters? Yes, but you may also choose to simply walk away. Law enforcement can only detain you if you are suspected of committing a violation of law or a crime. If for some reason you choose to converse with the officer rather than leave the scene, you must notify the officer if you begin audio-recording. Also, see the other considerations below. Other Considerations when Recording the Police in Oregon As a citizen of the United States and Oregon, you have constitutional and statutory rights to take photographs, video-record, and audio-record anything in public (except as provided in ORS [...]
Can you refuse Field Sobriety Tests? Field Sobriety Tests in Oregon are considered a search, and you can decline or refuse a search in Oregon. However, your refusal may be used against you in some circumstances. Should I refuse a Field Sobriety Tests? In most cases, yes. This is a complex area of DUI and search and seizure law, but in most cases, a police officer requesting Field Sobriety Tests has already made their mind up. You're going to be arrested for DUI, and therefore they are only gathering more incriminating evidence of the crime of DUI with the FSTs. The FSTs are very difficult tests to perform without error, and anything you do incorrectly or poorly will be used against you to suggest you were drunk. Can you refuse a breathalyzer test? Do I have a right to refuse a breathalyzer test? Yes. Should I take the breathalyzer test? This is a complex area of DUI criminal and administrative law. If at all possible, you should speak with an attorney before refusing a breath test after a DUI arrest. However, if an attorney is not available, the most conservative thing to do is to take the breath test. If you have never had a DUI before, if you do not have a Commercial Driver's License, and if you are otherwise eligible for Oregon's DUI Diversion Program, the criminal charge of DUI will ultimately be eligible for dismissal. Therefore, the BAC reading of your breath test is not terribly important for a first DUI. However, if you have a prior DUI, a CDL, or are otherwise ineligible for diversion, you may want to decline the breath test, limit the government's evidence against you, and preserve any rights you have to challenge [...]
The New York Times published an article November 9th, 2014 that highlights police misuse of civil forfeiture laws. Originally intended to seize guns, cars, cash, and other fruits of criminal activity, civil forfeitures around the country are being used aggressively by law enforcement as nothing more than a shopping list for police departments to obtain items they want, and items that can be sold quickly for cash to fund the departments. This phenomenon has been well-known by criminal defense attorneys for years, but the video in the article is priceless. The seminar video is of a city attorney essentially boasting that his civil forfeiture techniques can get departments whatever they want. This article from the Lost Coast Outpost is interesting because it appears to be an example of someone actually fighting back. Most people would be satisfied with the return of 90% of their unlawfully-seized money, but these two men appear to be fighting the good fight to protect their civil liberties: they are demanding 100% of the return of their seized money, and suing the police for damages.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Patrol Sergeant Charlie Eipper of the Wichita Falls Police Department believes that God, Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures support his use of a rifle and sniper scope to kill anyone he finds threatening, and he's written a book called "Jesus Christ on Killing." Eipper is quoted as saying, “When Jesus comes back, he will be the man of war. When he comes back, there will be a whole lot of killing going on. Scripture says that (Jesus) is going to be the one doing it. Our Savior will be going to battle. Finally, Israel will see their national salvation occurring.”
In October of 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Zohydro ER (hydrocodone bitartrate) for patients with pain that requires daily, around-the-clock, long-term treatment that cannot be treated with other drugs. The active ingredient in Zohydro is the opioid hydrocodone. However, unlike Vicodin, Zohydro can be taken without the threat of severe liver damage, which can occur with medications that combine hydrocodone and acetaminophen. The drug has reportedly been approved in large part on the claim from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in a report titled "Relieving Pain in America, A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research" that "100 million people suffer from chronic pain." However, Forbes, MedPage Today, and the Wall Street Journal have all questioned whether that number is accurate, or whether it's exaggerated and misleading. Approximately half of the experts on the IOM panel that produced that report had connections to companies that manufacture narcotic painkillers. From a DUI standpoint, central nervous system depressants like opioids present a problem when the effects of the drugs prevent a driver from being able to operate a vehicle safely. Symptoms or side effects such as drowsiness, respiratory depression, nodding off, and slower reaction times can all increase the risk of an accident, serious physical injury, or even death. From a criminal defense standpoint, this new drug also presents a very high risk for abuse. It's been described as "heroin in a pill." Unlike other prescription opiates, it does not contain safeguards or countermeasures designed to prevent users from crushing the pills for snorting or injecting in a liquid solution. It's unfortunately quite common for some patients addicted to prescription opiates to turn to non-prescription opiates (namely heroin) when either the prescription opiate no longer provides relief (due to tolerance or increased pain), or the [...]
Gawker and The Smoking Gun report that on Sunday March 30th, 2014, in Corvallis Oregon, Ross McMakin, 21, was arrested and accused of drunk driving, reckless endangerment, harassment, and strangulation. Unfortunately for him, his mugshot shows a T-shirt that reads, "Drunk As Shit."
An article in The Atlantic magazine asks the question: Does getting drunk make you funnier?
FoxNews reported March 11, 2014 that Justin Bieber's Florida DUI trial is set for May 5, 2014. More here.