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Romberg balancing test

Romberg balancing test

You might have heard of the “walk-and-turn” and other standardized field sobriety tests, but police officers also sometimes utilize the “Romberg balancing test” to determine a person’s sobriety. Developed in 1853 as a balance assessment examination for disease diagnosis in Germany, ear specialist Moritz Heinrich Romberg’s tool is now widely used by officers in addition to their typical testing procedures. An experienced Orange County DUI lawyer can help you understand the protocol involved in such testing and how officers use results to make their case.

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Creating a baseline for testing

Originally designed to help diagnose diseases, the Romberg test is still used today to detect neurological dysfunction and inner ear problems. Outside the clinical setting, the test was changed to fit the needs of law enforcement.

While a “baseline” is usually established for persons undergoing the Romberg test, law enforcement officers will not ask you to perform the test with your eyes open first, as you might see in a clinical setting. Despite the importance of establishing a baseline, this is simply not possible when an officer encounters someone who is already inebriated. Instead, your performance will be compared to the normal range of performance. Your Orange County DUI lawyer can help you evaluate your own performance.

Performing the test

In a law enforcement setting, the Romberg test requires a subject to stand in one place with their feet together, their hands at their sides, with head tilted back and both eyes closed. Other variations, such as the “modified position of attention” or the “sharpened” Romberg, require subjects to use other positioning; this can consist of holding the arms out from the body, placing the feet in a different position, or waiting 30 seconds before attempting to touch one’s nose with one’s finger.

In any case, an officer will observe the subject for signs of movement or “degree of sway.” If the subject sways, the “degree of sway” can be used to determine a problem. For law enforcement, this will help determine the level of intoxication. Clinicians will use the degree of sway or complete loss of balance to study and diagnose a patient’s age, drug issues, degree of fatigue, stress-related issues, injuries, or illness.

If you have been cited for a DUI, consider speaking with knowledgeable Orange County DUI lawyers Coffey & Coffey. You can reach them at (800) 706-7888 to discuss your case and schedule an appointment.

The Theme of Your Case

The Theme of Your Case

What is your case theme? In other words, what is the “story” behind your case? The jury will have to accept the story of either the defense or the prosecution. Accordingly, your Orange County DUI lawyer will develop a strategy for your defense and take every opportunity to tell your story to the jury.

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In a trial, the prosecution presents its case first. So it’s important that your case approach has already been set up before the trial, in the prior phase of jury selection. Your attorney will lay out a persuasive theme and theory of your case and advance that approach throughout the trial, not waiting till closing arguments to state a summarization of the case.

Developing Reasonable Doubt

It may seem effective to have a “defensive” defense strategy, that is, to allow the prosecution to present its version of the facts and then refute each point. Many DUI defense attorneys take this approach, and shift gears and sum up with numerous theories to raise doubts about each piece of evidence presented.

The goal here is to extensively cross-examine witnesses, and address each piece of evidence—regardless of whether it was particularly helpful to the prosecution’s case. Yet this approach by itself is not a powerful position for an argument. Instead, it is a scattered defense designed to instill reasonable doubt in the jurors’ minds.

Targeted Defense

Your experienced Orange County DUI lawyer may avoid this unorganized approach, knowing that it is unlikely to succeed. More effective is a targeted defense, focused on the important issues in your case. A great lawyer gives the full context of the facts in a meaningful, memorable way that makes jurors relate. Jurors don’t need speeches about drinking and driving, but they are there to hear about your case in particular. What happened to you? What is your story?

If you need an Orange County DUI lawyer, consider those at the law firm of Coffey & Coffey. They will know how to approach not just the facts of your case, but also the theme that will give you the strongest defense. Call them at (800) 706-7888.

Presenting the theme of your DUI case

Presenting the theme of your DUI case

Much like in all criminal trials, the prosecution presents their case first in a DUI trial. The first opening statement, the presenting of the first witnesses and evidence, and the first closing argument are also made by the prosecutor. As a result, before your Orange County DUI lawyer is even able to present his or her opening statement, the prosecution has advanced their story and set the tone for the case. Nevertheless, your Orange County DUI lawyer has opportunities to present your story to the jury well before the prosecutor has given his or her closing arguments. The fact is that many jurors begin to form opinions about a DUI case from the very beginning. Therefore, a smart DUI attorney will use every opportunity to set forth your persuasive case theme throughout the trial and even before the trial begins during jury selection.

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Establish DUI defense theme

Sometimes DUI lawyers do not establish a defense theme. Instead, they choose to attack everything and argue every possible theory with the hope that the possibility of reasonable doubt will be present itself. No matter how insignificant a fact may be, or how overwhelming the proof is, these attorneys contest every issue. Every witness will be aggressively cross-examined, even the very minor ones. Every piece of evidence is challenged, even if the defense is not necessarily hurt by it. Then, during their closing arguments, unrelated facts will be presented to the jurors, asking them to pick and choose what they can to create reasonable doubt.

An experienced Orange County DUI lawyer realizes that seldom is a hodge-podge defense such as this effective. However, your attorney knows that a targeted and specific attack on the particular issues that are crucial to your DUI case, when presented within the confines of a persuasive and competent case theme, will be much more effective. Your knowledgeable Orange County DUI attorney will develop a defense theme that centers on the specific aspects of your case and avoid a general, unrelated synthesis on drunk driving.

If you have been charged with a DUI and would like to discuss a defense theme for your case, please contact an experienced and competent Orange County DUI lawyer at Coffey and Coffey by calling (800) 706-7888.

The Ideal Jury for Your DUI Trial

The Ideal Jury for Your DUI Trial

During jury selection, your Orange County DUI lawyer will seek out potential jurors who are most likely to sympathize with your circumstances. Your lawyer’s strategy will depend on the specific details of your case, such as the following:

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  • Beliefs Led to Refusal

If you refused to cooperate with law enforcement because you believe (correctly or incorrectly) you have the right to do so, your Orange County DUI lawyer will seek to seat jurors who have trouble with authority, who believe in individual liberty, or who believe that government is too large and too involved in our individual lives.

  • Cases Involving Drugs

There exists no legal limit for any drug above which an individual is believed to be driving under the influence.Therefore, a DUI case involving drugs is based less on the concentration of the drug in the defendant’s bloodstream than on the opinions and perceptions of the jurors and officers involved in the case.

Your Orange County DUI lawyer wants to find potential jurors who will not automatically accept what the officer says.Your lawyer wants individuals who will question the officer’s opinions and perceptions, listen with an open mind, and draw their own conclusions based on their individual determination of the case.

If illegal drugs are involved in your case, your Orange County DUI lawyer will have to take this into account when selecting jurors.Your attorney must make the jurors understand that your illegal drug use is not an issue to be considered in the case.To do so, potential jurors may be asked questions similar to the following:

  • Do you understand that Rick is charged with driving under the influence of marijuana?
  • Do you understand that the fact that Rick used marijuana is not before you as an issue in this case?
  • Would you be agreeable to letting Rick go if you found out that even though he smoked marijuana, he drove just fine?
  • So the fact that Rick smoked marijuana, which is not before you in this case even though it is illegal, will not affect your decision one way or the other?
  • Do you understand that the prosecution chose to bring only the DUI charges today and not the drug charges?
  • Do you understand that even though there may be several reasons for this, none are relevant here?
  • How does knowing that make you feel?

Please contact Coffey and Coffee at (800) 706-7888 if you would like to discuss your DUI case with a knowledgeable and experienced Orange County DUI lawyer.

The Jury Selection Process

The Jury Selection Process

Your Orange County DUI lawyer will do everything possible to ensure that your DUI trial goes smoothly and places you in the best possible light. Your lawyer’s objective throughout jury selection will be to identify jurors who are most likely to sympathize with your particular situation, given the details of your case.

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  • Poor Performance during a Field Sobriety Test

Putting it bluntly, your Orange County DUI lawyer knows that if your performance on the field sobriety tests was poor, individuals who are physically unfit, i.e. the elderly, the overweight, persons with back problems, etc., will most likely be the best jurors for your DUI case.Jurors of this type would most likely perform poorly on field sobriety tests themselves and will sympathize with your own poor performance.

  • Cases with Rising Blood Alcohol

The concept that a blood alcohol test obtained some time after driving does not accurately reflect the driver’s actual blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of driving is labeled a “rising blood alcohol” defense.It centers on the fact that the driver’s BAC at the time of the test may be higher than when the driving occurred because it takes time for alcohol to be absorbed into the bloodstream.During the time your body is still absorbing alcohol, your actual blood alcohol level will be significantly lower than your breath alcohol reading.If your Orange County DUI lawyer is using this defense, potential jurors who are just getting over a cold or feeling sick might be receptive to your case.Your attorney can equate the effects of alcohol on a person’s system with the comings and goings of a cold.

  • Confusion Led to Refusal

Your Orange County DUI lawyer may base a defense on the premise that the defendant refused to cooperate,(refused to produce identification or take a test) as a result of confusion or by a deliberate act of libertarianism.If your attorney bases your defense on confusion you will seek potential jurors who would be able to envision how overwhelming all the activity at the scene of an accident is, and who would feel emotion and sympathy for the defendant.Quite often jurors with less life experience and education are desirable.Potential jurors who may assume that a driver should easily understand an officer’s instruction, and who seem cold and mechanical, should be avoided.This includes most military and law enforcement-oriented people.

If you would like to discuss your DUI case with a competent and experienced Orange County DUI lawyer, please contact Coffey and Coffey at (800) 706-7888.

Important Variables to Consider when Assessing the Effect of Alcohol on Driving

Important Variables to Consider when Assessing the Effect of Alcohol on Driving

Your Orange County DUI lawyer realizes that individual circumstances lend a great deal of variability to the mechanics of alcohol absorption, distribution and elimination.Such things as driver characteristics, driving ability and driving behavior should also be considered when evaluating the effect alcohol has on driving ability and the possibility of impairment.

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Thus, a key objective in each case evaluation consists of gathering as much information as possible.Every Orange County DUI lawyer has his or her own method of accumulating this information.

The following is a recommended list of data your Orange County DUI lawyer should obtain to approach your case from a toxicological standpoint:

General Information about the Individual

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Ethnicity
  • Occupation
  • Workplace exposure to chemicals
  • Beginning drinking age
  • Alcohol use frequency
  • Alcoholism diagnosis
  • Visual attributes (near-sighted, wears glasses etc.)

Medical Information

  • Diabetic?Last use of insulin
  • Surgery on stomach or intestines
  • Epilepsy
  • Injury or illness
  • Currently under care of dentist or doctor
  • Medications – prescription or non-prescription.Dosage and time used
  • Date and amount of hours last slept

Timeline

  • Observed driving time and date
  • Date and time drinking began for that period
  • Time drinking stopped before driving was observed
  • Quantity of alcohol consumed during drinking period
  • Size in ounces, type, and concentration of alcohol in consumed drinks
  • When drinks were consumed
  • Alcohol use in the 1.5 hours before driving observation
  • Alcohol use after driving observation and before arrival of officer
  • Food consumption at or near time of drinking period
  • Amount and type of food consumed

Driving Features

  • Identity of the vehicle’s driver
  • Time driving began
  • Driving behavior observed by the officer
  • Amount of time officer observed driving
  • Vehicle mechanical problems
  • Possibility of distractions in vehicle causing observed driving behavior
  • Road or route familiarity
  • Documented driving behavior contradictions

If you have been charged with a DUI and have questions concerning your case, please contact an experienced and knowledgeable Orange County DUI lawyer at Coffey and Coffey by calling (800) 706-7888.

How Alcohol Tolerance Develops

How Alcohol Tolerance Develops

A driver may feel, and outwardly appear to be sober, but this does not necessarily indicate a blood alcohol level (BAC) that is below the legal limit. Your Orange County DUI lawyer can explain the many possible factors that contribute to alcohol tolerance, and how this affects your driving abilities and your case.

How Alcohol Tolerance Develops

Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain alcohol tolerance.

  1. One hypothesis takes into account the mechanism of alcohol action on the membranes of cells.Nerve cell impulse transmission requires sodium and potassium channels that may have been interfered with by alcohol.The activity of the enzyme responsible for activating the sodium and potassium channels is then increased by alcohol consumption over long periods of time.This helps compensate for the interference of alcohol.
  2. One hypothesis states that when alcohol exposure occurs repeatedly, cell membranes become more rigid because the cell’s amount of saturated fat or the cholesterol content of the cell membrane has been increased.
  3. Another hypothesis states that when alcohol consumption is prolonged, neurotransmitters, GABA and serotonin, and brain alcohol dehydrogenase activity are all changed.

Tolerance Consequences

Whatever the mechanism behind alcohol tolerance, your Orange County DUI lawyer knows that one thing is clear: drinkers become desensitized to the effects of alcohol so that larger amounts are necessary to achieve the same effect as a previous time.Heavy drinkers may have more stimulant effects and less sedative and aversive subjective effects than beginner drinkers.

Alcoholics progress to tolerating alcohol at extremely high blood alcohol concentrations (BACs), even at levels usually considered to be potentially fatal.Even in the event some symptoms and signs of impairment are observed, for those individuals with high tolerance there is no real correlation between performance and BAC.

Your Orange County DUI lawyer knows that usually when drinkers with high tolerance have a BAC between 0.08% and 0.10%, they have less probability of an accident than infrequent drinkers at the same levels who have low tolerance.This means that between two drivers with the same exact BAC, the driver with the smallest daily consumption of alcohol will be more likely to have a driving accident.

If you have been charged with a DUI and have questions for an experienced Orange County DUI attorney, please contact Coffey and Coffey by calling (800) 706-7888.

Alcohol Absorption Factors

Alcohol Absorption Factors

Popular misconceptions about alcohol and the chemistry of intoxication likely lead to many DUI convictions each year that could have been avoided through education and diligence. For instance, many people believe there to be an exact maximum number of beverages they may consume before driving, or that if no signs of intoxication are outwardly visible, they must be okay to drive. Your Orange County DUI lawyer will explain that multiple other factors affect your level of intoxication, so that you can watch out for them and continue to drive safely.

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The Chemistry of Intoxication

The chemistry of alcohol distribution, absorption, and elimination is complicated and changes from person to person.A number of genetic and environmental factors contribute to this variability, including gender, food consumption, body composition, liver volume, and ethnicity.The type of alcohol that was consumed also contributes to the variability.

Your Orange County DUI lawyer knows that the time of day, dosage form, drinking pattern, concentration of alcohol in the beverage, and the presence of food in the stomach can all influence the degree and speed of absorption of alcohol from the small intestine.

A Lot Depends on Your Stomach

The most direct and measureable effect on the rate of alcohol absorption is made by the amount and type of food present in the digestive tract.Any material present in the stomach can behave like a sponge and slow the movement of alcohol into the small intestine where the bulk of absorption takes place.Food in the stomach not only slows the emptying of alcohol, but also reduces the availability of alcohol in the blood stream.The result is that the volume of alcohol reaching the duodenum and liver is greatly variable.

Peak blood alcohol concentration is lower when the stomach has food than when it is empty.A person with a lower peak alcohol level will clear alcohol from the body faster than one who has a higher peak level, because the maximum concentration reached is less.When alcohol is consumed with food, the alcohol clearance may increase by 1 to 2 hours, and the rate of alcohol metabolism may increase by between 36% and 50%, compared to alcohol consumption without food.

If you have been charged with a DUI, consult an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer at Coffey and Coffey. Call (800) 706-7888 to schedule an initial consultation today.

Informant Identification Impacts DUI Cases

Informant Identification Impacts DUI Cases

Courts give more credence to witnesses and informants who identify themselves than to anonymous tipsters. Your Orange County DUI defense attorney would like you to know about this important legal concept. People who identify themselves are more likely to be truthful so their testimony is often more valuable. In addition, giving their names would open them up to legal penalties if they lied. Consider these case examples from around the nation:

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  • Arkansas: A tipster witnessed criminal activity and gave his name and address. The observations were also confirmed by the police and the resulting detention of a defendant was upheld.
  • Kansas: An informant supplied her name and address when describing a suspicious car. Arrest of the suspect was upheld because the citizen provided her identity.
  • Missouri: A witness reported an SUV driving erratically. The report was made face to face with a police officer, resulting in an arrest. The police action held up in court as lawful.
  • Florida: A restaurant manager called 911 and reported a suspected DUI. A responding officer took down details about the car, including the plate number. Since the caller also provided her name, address and location, the subsequent stop that the officer made was upheld.
  • Massachusetts: A similar scenario as the above took place when a citizen identified himself and the account was found credible in a court of law.

Identification Is Not a Guarantee of Validity

Not all cases are cut and dried. For instance, a DUI stop in Utah was thrown out when a woman had a fight with her boyfriend and reported that he had been drinking before driving away. In this case, the arrest was not upheld in part because she did not explicitly say in her report that her boyfriend was intoxicated, nor did she let the officer know how much alcohol he consumed.

It takes an experienced lawyer to know how to argue cases involving informants. If you’re unsure of the validity of the accounts in your DUI case, or if you would just like a free consultation with Orange County DUI defense attorneys, call Coffey & Coffey today at (800) 706-7888.

Walk and Turn Test Administration

Walk and Turn Test Administration

If you have been charged with a DUI, it is likely you were asked to perform the walk and turn test prior to your arrest. This test is subjective, and it is possible to perform adequately on the test and still be arrested. You may want to consult with an Orange County DUI lawyer if you were arrested after this test was administered.

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The walk and turn test is a field sobriety test commonly administered in California, and one of the three field sobriety tests standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The officer will have you walk heel-to-toe in a straight line, rotate 180 degrees, and walk back.

How Is The Test Administered?

At the beginning of this test, the officer should tell you to do the following:

  1. Put your left foot on a line.
  2. Put your right foot on the same line in front of your left foot, heel-to-toe. The officer should demonstrate this position.
  3. Keep your arms at your side for the duration of the test.
  4. Hold that position for the rest of the instructions and do not start walking until she tells you to do so. The officer must ask you if you understand.
  5. Step heel to toe. The officer will demonstrate.
  6. Pivot on the ninth step and walk back in the same manner. The officer should demonstrate this as well.
  7. Count the steps out loud, keep your arms at your side, look at your feet, and do not stop walking until the test is finished.

The officer will ask you one last time if you understand and then instruct you to begin. If the officer failed to give you the proper instruction and subsequently arrested you, talk to an Orange County DUI lawyer about possible defenses in your case.

What Is The Officer Looking For?

According to California Highway Patrol’s DUI Manual, the officer is looking for the following signs of intoxication:

  • You can’t maintain your balance during the instructions.
  • You start too soon.
  • You stop while walking.
  • You miss placing your heel to your toe.
  • You step off the line.
  • You use your arms to balance.
  • You do the turn improperly.
  • You take the wrong number of steps.

Because the walk and turn test is subjective, you might have done fairly well and yet still have been arrested. The experienced Orange County DUI lawyers of Coffey and Coffey can help you better understand your case and arrest. Call (800) 706-7888 today for a consultation.