Friday, March 20, 2020

OWI-1st Amended to Reckless Driving for Another One of Attorney Murray's Clients

JP was pulled over in his driveway for Speeding (65 MPH in a 30 MPH zone). Upon approaching the vehicle, JP denied drinking and then attempted to enter his residence. He was restrained and put in handcuffs. JP now explained that he did not have "much" to drink and refused the balancing field sobriety tests due to a back injury. He passed the alphabet and counting test and was then arrested. He refused the evidentiary test to check his blood-alcohol concentration. As a result, JP was charged with Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence-First Offense (OWI), Unlawfully Refusing a Chemical Test and Speeding. An additional citation for Operating Without Proof of Insurance was also thrown in.

By filing a formal legal challenge to an inaccuracy on the form created to advise individuals of the consequences for refusal an evidentiary chemical test, Attorney Murray was able to gain leverage for negotiations and work out an agreement whereby the OWI was amended to a non-alcohol related citation for Reckless Driving. The citation for Speeding was amended to a non-moving equipment violation for Defective Speedometer and the Refusal charge along with the insurance citation were completely dismissed. This was a great result and JP was happy to accept the offer.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Boating While Intoxicated Amended to Two Minor Boating Citations

JP was on a pontoon boat with his family when the boat was stopped by DNR wardens for having blue lights illuminated across the side of the boat at night, which is a violation of the law. They instructed JP to turn off the ignition as he was operating the boat. The wardens then boarded the vessel. They allegedly observed the odor of intoxicants coming from JP's breath and JP admitted to consuming two, three or four beers. JP was then run through field sobriety tests, which he allegedly failed and was arrested for Boating While Intoxicated.

Attorney Murray focused the attack on the field sobriety tests. The typical roadside field sobriety tests related to balance cannot be performed on a boat. For this reason, the wardens administered the Horizontal Gaze Nystgamus (HGN) test, which had problems with its administration, a finger to nose test, a palm pat test, and a hand coordination test. The problem with these tests (aside from the HGN) is that they are not standardized and supported by the studies the way roadside field sobriety test are. Knowing this, Attorney Murray challenged the relevancy of the supposed "failed" tests to the issue of intoxication and asked the judge to keep out this evidence.

The judge never issued a decision because the prosecution offered to resolve the case with citations for speeding and a lighting violation prior to the motion hearing, which JP gladly accepted.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Complete Acquittal in Municipal Court

According to the police report, officers were dispatched to a gas station for a report of a male who attempted to purchase beer, was turned away because it was past midnight and because the male was intoxicated and making a scene. That was allegedly our client, JO. The clerk said JO returned to this vehicle and fell asleep in the vehicle. Officers then arrived, observed signs of intoxication, put JO through field sobriety tests, which he allegedly failed, and arrested him for OWI. A blood draw was completed returning a result of .105.

When the prosecutor would not agree to reduce the charge, Attorney Murray and JO went forward with the municipal court trial. At trial, the prosecutor failed to call the gas station clerk as a witness and failed to question the officer regarding information provided by the clerk. As a result, the court had no information regarding when JO arrived at the gas station. Being aware of the lack of evidence, Attorney Murray did not ask a single question to avoid this information being put into the record. Attorney Murray then argued that the prosecutor had failed to prove that JO was impaired at the time of driving as they had not put any evidence into the record as to when JO arrived at the gas station. The judge agreed and found JO not guilty of both the OWI and the PAC citations. The prosecutor chose not to appeal.

Knowing how to spot issues and capitalize on them is what we do. This was a great outcome and would not have happened without JO choosing to fight the charges and hiring an experienced attorney to get the job done.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

OWI Based Upon Heroin Consumption with Minor in Vehicle Completely Dismissed

JR was called in by a citizen for swerving and varying speeds. When the officer got behind JR's vehicle, the vehicle continued to swerve and vary speeds. A traffic stop was initiated, but the officers did not notice any signs of impairment other than the driving behavior. They performed the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test and did not see any nystagmus. JR was then put back in his vehicle and told he could leave. Just as this happened, the more experienced of the officers decided to conduct the remaining field sobriety tests just to be sure JR was not impaired. JR performed poorly on those test and was arrested for OWI with a Minor in the Vehicle due to JR's minor child being in the vehicle. JR then admitted to having snorted heroin prior to operating his vehicle and the subsequent blood draw returned the presence of heroin.

Attorney Murray filed a motion challenging whether the officers had a reasonable suspicion to extend the initial detention as the officers had not noted any signs of impairment and had even at one point told JR he was free to leave. The judge agreed after a contested motion a hearing and the State chose not to appeal the decision. The entire case was dismissed and JR could not be happier.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Two More Amendments for Attorney Murray's Clients

Case # 1: .13 BAC First Offense Amended to Reckless Driving

CW was traveling on a motorcycle when his brother, who was on a bike in front of him, wiped out. CW called for an ambulance and despite his good intentions, ended up being arrested for OWI after allegedly failing the field sobriety tests. The allegations were six of six clues on the HGN test, three of eight on the Walk-And-Turn, and three of four on the One Leg Stand test. A preliminary breath test resulted in a .147 result and an evidentiary chemical test of CW's breath, the report was. 13. Attorney Murray filed various motions challenging the evidence in CW's case and the prosecutor ultimately agreed to a resolution whereby the OWI would be amended to a Reckless Driving citation.

Case # 1: OWI-Third Offense with .337 BAC Amended to Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle

KK was found asleep in the driver seat of her vehicle, in a ditch, with a half-consumed bottle of vodka next to her. The recordings received from law enforcement were awful. However, because the State had a problem proving whether KK drank before or after going into the ditch (they also did not know when the vehicle had last been operated on a roadway), they agreed to an amended charge. While KK agreed to be placed on probation as part of this agreement and id have to serve some jail time, the jail time imposed was approximately 160 days less than the sentencing guidelines called for on the OWI, KK never lost her license and she will not have to deal with the ignition interlock device requirement at all. Moreover, she is not subject to the .02 lifetime restriction that accompanies OWI-Third Offense convictions.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Attorney Murray Obtains Not Guilty Verdict on OWI-First Offense and Complete Dismissal of Companion Refusal Charge

According to the deputy, KW made an abrupt turn onto a lesser traveled county highway and was traveling at a high rate of speed. He then went onto the gravel shoulder as he turned left onto another county highway with the deputy behind him. He then allegedly drove down the center of the roadway, then weaved within his lane and touched the center line. Upon approaching the vehicle, KW admitted that he drank a few beers. When pressed on what that meant, he said "enough" and then admitted to six, seven or eight beers. He then failed all three field sobriety tests and registered a .196 on the preliminary breath test. After being arrested for OWI, he then refused a blood test and was also charged with Unlawfully Refusing a Chemical Test. On top of this, the Deputy also issued Failure to Maintain Control of Vehicle and Operating Left of Center citations.

Attorney Murray filed several pre-trial motions and the prosecutor ultimately agreed to dismiss the refusal charge because the deputy failed to properly read the Informing the Accused form. Immediately before trial, the prosecutor also dismissed the Failure to Maintain Control of Vehicle citation as they did not believe it could be proven. While the facts of this case seem very bad, Attorney Murray was able to create a picture where the deputy was following KW for no reason, nit picking his observations, not administering the field sobriety test correctly and that sober individuals would have difficulty with the tests. KW had a lot of difficulty with the field sobriety tests. By law, the fat that the preliminary breath test was administered is not admissible at trial. Because the officer failed to comply with the implied consent law, the fact that KW refused was also inadmissible.

It took the jury 45 minutes to find KW Not Guilty of the OWI with no dissenting juror. While KW was convicted of the Operating Left of Center citation, he could not be happier and neither could we.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Attorney Murray Obtains Outstanding Results in Seven First Offense Cases

Case # 1: OWI/PAC-First Offense with Accident Amended to Reckless Driving

DM was driving home when he turned left at an intersection and struck the side of an oncoming vehicle. When police arrived, the officer alleged that he noticed DM initially pulled out a credit card instead of his driver's license, had slow and slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, a moderate odor of intoxicants coming from his breath and that DM was slow to respond to questions. DM allegedly failed the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus and One Leg Stand field sobriety tests, but passed the Walk and Turn test. However, one of the more difficult facts was that DM initially told the officer that he had two beers over two hours. Later, he changed his story and stated that he had been drinking for about three and a half hours and that he had three mixed drinks during this time. The Intoximeter EC/IR II test result of .09 g/210L did not help either.

By focusing on the one passed field sobriety test, that DM had no balance issues other than during the One Leg Stand test, that the weather was bitter cold, that DM was cooperative, etc., and by providing an expert report demonstrating that at the time of driving that DM would have actually been below the legal limit of .08, Attorney Murray was ultimately able to convince the prosecutor to amend the charge. DM was very pleased but it did not stop there.

The Reckless Driving ticket carried six demerit points, which would have put DM into a demerit points suspension with the Department of Transportation. Knowing this, Attorney Murray was able to go back and reopen DM's most recent speeding ticket with a different court and had it amended down, saving DM's license. This kind of dedication is what you can expect from our firm.

Case # 2: OWI-First Offense Amended to Reckless Driving Ticket

Officers were dispatched to a residence after the caller stated that BB showed up in his truck, had been drinking and would not leave. The caller said that BB had called and texted so frequently that day that she blocked him and that his snapchats showed him holding red solo cups with bottles of alcohol in his possession and some of the messages stated that he was going to drink the night away.

Police stopped BB's vehicle down the road a ways and BB denied that he had drank anything in the last six hours. THe officer alleged that he noticed the moderate odor of alcohol and red, bloodshot and glossy eyes, as well as an unusually relaxed demeanor of BB. BB then allegedly failed the field sobriety test and a preliminary breath test returned a result of .099. However, the Intoximeter EC/IR II test result came back at .06 g/210L.

Unfortunately, this was the reverse of DM's case above because the prosecutor's argument was that BB would have been above the legal limit at the time of driving as confirmed by the preliminary breath test and his statement that he had not consumed any alcohol in six hours. Regardless, rather than slugging the case out in court with Attorney Murray, the prosecutor agreed to amend the OWI to a ticket for Reckless Driving. Another happy client.

Case # 3: OWI-First Offense Completely Dismissed

This was an easier case. The Intoximeter EC/IR II result was .05 g/210L. While there were some difficult facts that led the arresting officer to issue the OWI charge in the first place, rather than accepting some type of amended charge, Attorney Murray was able to have the charge completely dismissed. SS could not have received a better result. 

Case # 4: OWI/PAC-First Offense with .142 Blood Test Amended to Inattentive Drivng for Client with Commercial Driver's License

This was not an easy case. JT left a festival in his pickup truck and an officer noticed he did not stop at the red flashing lights at an intersection. The officer went to turn around and lost sight of the vehicle momentarily, but then heard a loud crash. When the officer turned around a corner, he saw a tree had been badly damaged and saw JT's truck continuing down the road with the bumper dragging along the ground. JT failed the field sobriety tests. The preliminary breath test result came back at .133 and the evidentiary blood draw came back at .142. 

After approximately seven months of fighting the charges and shortly before the trial, it was discovered that the arresting officer had moved to a different state. While the prosecutor could have issued a subpoena to bring the arresting officer back to court for the trial, the case ultimately settled with the OWI charge being amended to Inattentive Driving and the remaining charges of Operating a Motor Vehicle with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration-First Offense and Hit and Run were dismissed. JT was thrilled and hopefully learned a valuable lesson.

Case # 5: OWI/PAC-First Offense with Accident and .248 Blood Test Amended to Ordinance That Does Not Show-up on Driving Record

This was also a difficult case. A sheriff's deputy came upon DS' vehicle in the ditch at the intersection of two county highways. DS told the deputy that he swerved to miss another vehicle and DS was visibly impaired on the squad video in addition to the many observations of the deputies. Moreover, DS refused to do the field sobriety tests, instead telling the officers to just put the handcuffs on him. DS also made some statements to the effect that he was coming from a bar down the road. After arresting DS, he was taken for a blood test which returned a result of .248.

Despite all of this evidence, Attorney Murray seized upon the one thing that was never investigated: the time of driving. While DS made various statements that made it seem like he had just come from the bar, the timing of everything was never discussed and after filing motions and pushing the issue, the prosecutor agreed to amend the charge to "Disorderly Conduct with a Motor Vehicle," which is a local ordinance that does not appear on a person's driving record. DS could not be happier. 

Case # 6: OWI/PAC-First Offense Amended to Reckless Driving Ticket

CW was pulled over for traveling 55 MPH in a 25 MPH zone and weaving in and out of the bike lane. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer alleged CW had difficulty producing his driver's license and that he could not remember his address. Slurred speech was also alleged. CW also admitted to drinking three "Laughing Clown" 9.8% beers. Aside from the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus field sobriety test, CW did surprisingly well on the balancing field sobriety test, but did not do well on the alphabet test. The breath test could not be conducted because CW had GERD, so a blood draw was conducted hours after the arrest returning a result of .108. 

Attorney Murray went to work. Viewing of the scene was very important in this case as the bike lane had been faded to the point that you could not see it at night, even with headlights on. Also, a simple review of the squad video showed that the officer was exaggerating the speed, although CW was probably speeding. Moreover, CW had a documented speech impediment and was dyslexic, providing an explanation for the slurred speech and the failed alphabet test. The biggest hurdle seemed to be the high blood test result and the fact that it was hours after the stop, making it difficult to argue that CW was below the legal limit at the time of driving. However, due to the higher alcohol percentage beer that CW was drinking, it was theoretically possible that he was below .08. Rather than go to trial, the prosecutor ultimately agreed to amend the charge to a Reckless Driving ticket. 

Case # 7: OWI/PAC-First Offense Amended to Absolute Sobriety Violation and Failure to Keep Vehicle Under Control tickets

KE, who was under the age of 21 at the time, put his truck in the ditch when he swerved to miss a deer. He allegedly failed the field sobriety tests when officers arrived and provided a preliminary breath test of .101. The Intoximeter EC/IR II test came back at .09 g/210L.

The prosecutor was very stubborn in this case and we fought the charges for literally years. Never backing down, after several rounds of pretrial motions, the prosecutor finally agreed to come off the OWI/PAC charges. A very nice result for a very nice young man.