One good reason not to drive with a mask on
by Jessica Towne
Police need a good reason to pull you over, such as noticing your broken tail light, or watching you fail to stop at a stop sign, or observing you texting while driving. While wearing a mask is perfectly legal in most cases, police could make the argument that wearing one while driving obscures your vision and gives an officer all the reason he needs to pull you over. Once he has you on the side of the road, he'll look into your car with his flashlight. If he observes anything that worries him, such as an empty beer can, or smells alcohol on your breath, you can expect that stop to last a long time.
Here is how you should handle a road stop.
And remember, even if the cop hasn't told you that anything you say may be held against you, it will be.
Here is what you need to know about your Miranda rights.
What the police don't want you to know about Miranda Rights
By Jessica Towne
Miranda rights are back in the news. The New York Times Science Section under "Well" on October 14, 2014 had an eye-opening article on juveniles and police interrogators. Researchers determined that the brains of adolescents are different than adult brains, and teens don't necessarily understand the implications of telling the police what their involvement in a crime may or may not have been.
It's not just juveniles who quickly waive their Miranda rights.
What are Miranda Rights?
These are very important rights that many of us have heard on TV, in the movies, and perhaps live and in person.
Read more: What the police don't want you to know about Miranda Rights
The scandalous practice of privatized probation
By Jessica Towne
The American Bar Association Journal just doesn't have the buzz around it that a Comedy Central late night show has, has but its article on privatized probation is just as scandalous as John Oliver's report on asset forfeiture. Perhaps Mr. Oliver will take this up next.
Georgia, as well as about a dozen other states, has privatized probation, partly in an effort to minimize state costs. It is not working out the way the government thought it would. It is, however, playing out pretty much the way criminal defense attorneys thought it would.
Read more: The scandalous practice of privatized probation
Georgia State Patrol's New I-20 DUI Task Force
Georgia State Patrol is now targeting the 21 counties that run along Interstate 20 from Conyers to South Carolina with extra patrols specially trained in DUI. Their goal: to deploy once a month in different counties along I-20 and set up sobriety checkpoints.
The troopers assigned to the new task force have all had training in spotting DUI drivers, including Standardized Field Sobriety Training (S.F.S.T) and Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement Training (A.R.I.D.E.). Four troopers have also been trained as a Drug Recognition Experts (D.R.E.) and one as a D.R.E. Instructor.
Consider this a heads up.
Troopers with this kind of training are eager to use it and put it to the test. Now is a good time to review what to do if you are stopped by a well trained officer. You need to make sure you know your rights before this happens.
Why Josh Gordon plead guilty to DUI and why you shouldn't necessarily
I always say: " 'Winning' a DUI case depends on the needs of each client." What is possible for one person is not even thinkable for another. Pro-footballer Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns illustrates my point nicely.
With the NFL changing its policy on DUIs and drugs, he and his lawyer decided it would be a great idea to pled guilty to DWI in North Carolina. In his case, it makes sense.
1. Mr. Gordon is already in a year-long ban for multiple violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy. Mr. Gordon can't afford to miss more games.
2. Under current NFL rules, a DUI/DWI will cost a player up to $50,000 but no suspension. If Mr. Gordon waits for the new rules, it will cost him an automatic 2 game suspension. Of course, he still has to face North Carolina's punishments: a 60-day suspended sentence, a $100 fine and $290 in court costs, and submit to a drug assessment as part of his guilty plea.
What happens if you aren't an NFL player? Should you plead guilty to a DUI?
I can list many professions where if you did that, you'd be out of a job. Airline pilots and commercial truck drivers definitely lose their jobs as do those whose careers involve access to prescription narcotics. People who are seeking jobs miss out on interviews when their background check reveals a DUI conviction, especially for jobs requiring security clearance or access to confidential information. Potential doctors and lawyers cannot sit for licensing exams while on probation for an alcohol or drug-related offense. Some colleges expel students who have an alcohol or drug-related conviction.
You can lose a lot with a DUI. If you've been charged with a Gwinnett or Forsyth County DUI, make sure you consult with a local DUI lawyer before you decide how to plea. At the very least, download my free book "What You Should Know About Georgia DUI Laws" so you know exactly what you are facing. After all, a "win" in your case will look different than a win does for Josh Gordon.
Nasty court room tactic
As a criminal defense lawyer who has spent hundreds of hours in front of juries, I know jury verdicts can be surprising. But when a courtroom deputy disparages a jury's decision, I get upset.
A jury is supposed to reach its verdict based upon evidence in the courtroom, independently of outside sources. Regardless of what the verdict is, no one is allowed to question it. Even on appeal, (and despite what you may see on court room reality shows) it would be unusual to interview jurors about their decision. Jurors are never required to talk about their deliberations. It is also improper for jurors to use independent research and investigation to reach their decision, and jurors should immediately report this to their bailiff if they think one of their peers has done this.
When is it OK to ask the Jury why they voted the way they did?
Read more: Nasty court room tactic
DUI? Blame your liver!
By Jessica Towne
Must be 50 ways to love your liver....
As you enter your 40s, most people find they can’t drink as much as they used to. As busy working folks who rarely have time for a drink, most don’t even notice this until after having three drinks at a celebration and wondering why the room is spinning. In past blogs, I discussed how changing tolerance and body composition affect your ability to drink. Today, I’m sorry to report on your liver.
Read more: DUI? Blame your liver!