During the NFL Playoffs, you’ll want a Rochester DUI defense lawyer on your roster. Here’s why: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s annual DUI enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over1, will be in full swing during February.
Keep a DUI Defense Lawyer in Mind After the Super Bowl
As the 2021 NFL season winds down, many teams have a realistic shot at the Super Bowl. Therefore, as the playoffs begin, many local fans will drown their sorrows or celebrate intensely depending on the outcome of each game. As outlined below, Rochester DUI lawyers have several options when these cases go to court.
During Selective Traffic Enforcement Programs (STEP campaigns), departments redeploy officers to certain parts of town and instruct them to issue lots of DUI or other citations. Grant money covers officer overtime and other expenses. So, many departments, and thus many individual officers, feel extra pressure to issue such citations.
Authorities aren’t just more aggressive in the field during STEP campaigns. They’re also more aggressive in the courtroom. Prosecutors vigorously pursue DUI cases, even if the evidence is weak. The state has almost unlimited resources in these cases. Only an aggressive Rochester DUI defense lawyer can level the playing field in most cases. Usually, there are three critical points in a Super Bowl DUI matter.
1. Reasonable Suspicion for a Stop
Outside STEP campaigns, this portion of a DUI case is usually straightforward. Ordinarily, officers pull over motorists for objective reasons, like an expired tag or speeding. Then, they look for evidence of intoxication, like slow reflexes.
During STEP campaigns, officers often reverse this process. First, they look for evidence of intoxication, such as weaving inside a lane or driving far below the posted limit. Then, they follow the motorist until s/he commits a traffic violation. These low-speed pursuits usually don’t last long. Most people cannot travel more than three or four blocks without committing at least one such infraction.
Most jurors supported such pretext traffic stops back in the day – as long as officers did nothing overtly illegal. Today, many jurors have different attitudes. If officers follow drivers for several blocks, jurors often think they are unfairly targeting them.
Legally, reasonable suspicion is basically an evidence-based hunch. That’s different from a hunch based on evidence, a subtle but significant distinction. Criminal cases are often won or lost based on such subtle details.
2. Probable Cause for an Arrest
Police officers often take shortcuts during these STEP campaigns as well. Information about alcohol consumption, such as the famous “I only had a couple of beers” line, don’t establish intoxication. Instead, officers typically use the walking-a-straight-line test and the other Field Sobriety Tests.
The defendant’s performance on these tests usually is irrelevant, at least at this juncture. Officers invariably testify that the defendant “failed” the tests, even if they performed them almost flawlessly.
Evidence issues often arise if the officer skips the tests. Officers commonly take this shortcut during STEP campaigns. After one or two tests, officers often stop to make arrests faster and get back out on the street.
Probable cause is a relatively high standard. Poor performance on one test, as opposed to the entire three-test battery, might be insufficient. That’s especially true if the test was an unapproved one, like the reciting-the-ABCs test or the finger-to-nose test.
3. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt in Court
About 80 percent of New York DUIs involve chemical tests. From a technical standpoint, high enforcement campaigns during the winter months are very hard on Breathalyzers. So, this evidence is weaker than usual.
Modern Breathalyzers are very touchy devices. The more use they get, the more maintenance they need.
Frequently, law enforcement agencies don’t adjust their Breathalyzer maintenance schedule to account for this uptick.
Additionally, Breathalyzers are temperature sensitive. This sensitivity includes the air temperature and the subject’s body temperature. The air temperature in New York often drops rapidly, especially around sundown. As for body temperature, every one-degree increase usually increases BAC levels by about 8 percent. Temperature and calibration issues are critical in .08, .09, and other borderline BAC cases.
Our Rochester DUI Defense Lawyers Are Here For You
Enjoy the Super Bowl and be safe this year. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester DUI defense lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Home, after-hours, and jail visits are available.
Criminal defendants in New York never got a second chance for many years. A criminal conviction was a permanent addition to your permanent record. Things are different today, at least to an extent. After a substantial waiting period, most former defendants are eligible for help with expungement through record sealing.
In a nutshell, expungement deletes all law enforcement and judicial records relating to a particular offense. It’s like it never happened. Sealing preserves the records but hides them from public view. If employers, landlords, or pretty much anyone else inquires about prior criminal convictions, defendants with sealed records can legally check the “none” box. Only law enforcement agencies, courts, and employers who require workers to carry firearms can view sealed records.
Record sealing is just one of the options available to a Rochester expungement attorney. Criminal convictions weigh people down in many ways. If you have a stain on your permanent record or are afraid of getting one, you owe it to yourself and your family to thoroughly investigate all possible options, including getting an attorney’s help.
Frequently, the best way to handle any problem is to take the bull by the horns. That’s usually true in this context. Proactive pre-judgment expunction eliminates the need for more complex post-judgment options.
Monroe County has an extensive pretrial diversion program. As the name implies, the ATI (Alternatives to Incarceration) initiative aims to keep defendants out of jail and, if possible, off the probation rolls. In general, ATI programs stress rehabilitation and treatment instead of retribution and punishment.
Even some DUI offenders, most nonviolent offenders are eligible for standard pretrial diversion. Program requirements vary in different courts. Generally, the defendant has about six months to perform community service, pay restitution, and complete self-improvement courses. If the defendant jumps through all the hoops, prosecutors often dismiss the case.
On a related note, alcohol and drug treatment is an ATI option in many DUI and drug possession cases in Monroe County.
Prosecutors are especially willing to offer pretrial diversion if a defense is available. ATI disposition eliminates the conviction record, but the arrest record remains. However, most people know there is a big difference between an arrest and conviction. So, they only care about conviction records.
Most nonviolent and non-sexual offenders are eligible for statutory record sealing. The specific requirements are:
- The 10-year waiting period has elapsed,
- No new convictions during that period,
- No currently pending cases,
- Fewer than two convictions on your record, only one of which can be a felony, and
- No more than one prior record sealing.
The judge will dismiss the application out of hand if the defendant doesn’t meet all these qualifications or other technical errors on the petition. There are no exceptions. At a subsequent hearing, the judge must consider several factors before granting the petition, such as:
- Effect on rehabilitation and re-entry into society,
- Any statements made by the alleged victim,
- Impact of the petition on public confidence in the justice system,
- Independent rehabilitation efforts (e.g., getting a job or finishing school),
- The severity of the offense,
- Any extenuating circumstances, and
- Amount of time that has elapsed since the conviction.
The prosecutor’s agreement, or lack thereof, is often crucial in these matters. If the state endorses the petition or does not oppose it, a Rochester expungement attorney can usually convince the judge to grant it.
Most recent Presidents granted about 10 percent of the pardon applications they received. So, although the odds of success are slim, they are a lot better than winning the lotto. A pardon is usually like an expungement. An executive pardon from the governor (state offense) or the president (federal offense) essentially destroys all relevant records.
Furthermore, executive pardons have no limits or eligibility requirements. Anyone can request one at any time.
Timing, presentation, and a hook are often the keys to success in this area. Most governors are more likely to issue pardons as their terms expire, and they would not face much backlash. As for presentation, a Rochester expungement lawyer usually needs to direct the petition to a chief of staff or someone sure to read and forward it. The governor is more likely to grant the request if it jives with the person’s political agenda. For example, Barack Obama pardoned thousands of people sentenced under harsh 1980s and 1990s drug laws.1
Our Experienced Law Office Will Help You With Expungement
A brush with the law does not always stain your permanent record. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester expungement lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Convenient payment plans are available.