How Has Your Experience Been In Handling DUI Cases?
In the early 1990s I went to a seminar in Las Vegas for no particular reason other than it was in Las Vegas for the masters of DUI defense at that time. Listening to attorneys from all across the country who concentrated in this area was an amazing experience. It opened up my eyes to many things. For example, the inaccuracies of breath testing, how they are inaccurate, why they are inaccurate, how to effectively cross examine police officers as well as handling jury trials with great success. Based on that experience, I then did further research and study. I got my hands on as many legal treatises and scientific journals as I could. I consumed all of them.
The very first case I tried after I learned the correct way on how to defend people arrested for DUI, the client had a .22 and I believe he hit a curb when he made a turn. After the jury trial, the jury came back with a finding of not guilty on both driving under the influence of alcohol and driving on a 0.08 or greater. So not only was it a successful verdict but actually I thoroughly enjoyed the trial itself using the tools that I learned at that national seminar. Coincidentally, 2 years after I went to that seminar, I was one of the featured speakers at that seminar and my career has pretty much taken off since I tried that first DUI case with the knowledge that I had and won that case.
What Specifically Attracted You To DUI Defense Practice Area?
Prior to concentrating on DUI defense in California in general and in Southern California in particular, I was handling all kinds of criminal cases from simple assault to murder. The interesting thing about DUI is that the nature of the clientele is such that these are pretty much average everyday people who have never been in contact with the police before. Our clientele runs the gamut from kids in high school or college through housewives through men and women both who are working full time or part time in and out of the house, athletes, celebrities, as well as heads of corporations, CEOs, people who work for the government both in and out of law enforcement, lawyers, doctors, CPA’s, nurses and just about anyone licensed by a state agency. Also people who have top security clearance, military personnel and former military personnel are part of our clientele. So the nature of this type of practice is totally different from a traditional criminal defense practice where we used to represent drug dealers, bank robbers and car thieves, various types of people who wouldn’t necessarily be your next door neighbor or the average person’s next door neighbor. So it’s a good experience and a good interaction with good people who from time to time may have made a mistake. But that also leads into the fact that most people who are drinking or doing drugs legal or otherwise don’t necessarily know when or if they actually are impaired even though there’s breath testing and blood testing and on occasion urine testing.
Just because it’s the government’s machine used in detecting the amount of alcohol or marijuana or prescription medicine or other drugs in the system doesn’t necessarily mean that either a) it’s accurate or b) the person is in fact impaired by alcohol or drugs
How Is A DUI Defined In California State Law?
In California, a person can be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of combined alcohol and drugs or driving under the influence of drugs. Under the influence is defined by being impaired for purposes of driving in California. Also driving with a 0.08 or greater of alcohol in the blood is what’s called the “per se” charge.
What Are The Top Misconceptions People Have about A DUI Arrest?
One of the most common misperceptions are people who are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs being marijuana. In almost every case, every client tells us that they have a medical marijuana card. Oftentimes they think that merely having a medical marijuana card is somehow a defense to driving under the influence of drugs. Not only is it not a defense, it’s not even relevant. The officer will usually tell somebody who is driving under the influence of marijuana that they are not even interested in their medical marijuana card. So that’s a huge misconception. Another misconception is driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Oftentimes people who are taking medication don’t realize that the medication that they are taking can in fact, cause them to be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs even though the medication themselves may not be impairing them.
In addition, sometimes people who are taking medication also drink alcohol and don’t necessarily realize that between the mixture of the two, they can in fact be prosecuted for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I don’t know if it’s a misconception but the most common comments that I hear from our clients are,” Mr. Berman, I’ve heard about you for years. I’ve listened to you in the media and I never thought I would need you.” Another misconception that most people have is they think that because they were arrested and because a breath test indicates a 0.08 or greater which is a legal limit in California that they may in fact, must be guilty when in reality breath testing is not accurate at all in my opinion.
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