Archive for May, 2013

What Every Driver with a BAC of .08 Percent or Higher in a Kansas DUI Case Should Know

Friday, May 24th, 2013

 Most people stopped and arrested for DUI justifiably worry about their future, liberty and driving privileges.  While it is common to ask drivers to submit to a breath test to determine the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), these results can be compromised by the presence of “mouth alcohol.”  While some motorists in Kansas are familiar with the term “Mouth Alcohol Defense,” they may have questions about whether it is really an effective way to avoid a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction in Sedgwick County.  The presence of mouth alcohol can undeniably be an effective defense in Kansas DUI cases.

While the police officer is supposed to allow for a waiting period of twenty minutes before conducting a breath test to mitigate the risk of mouth alcohol issues, the officer is supposed to closely observe a motorist during this period.  The observation period is designed to ensure that nothing is ingested that may compromise breath testing results.  The officer also is expected to closely observe the driver so that the officer will be able to determine whether a burp, regurgitation or other similar type of incident may cause alcohol that has not been metabolized to become present in the driver’s mouth.

Although officers are expected to carefully monitor drivers during this period, it is very common for officers to become distracted and focus on paperwork or other matters.  The failure of the officer to properly monitor a DUI suspect during the observation period can be a crucial flaw that compromises the reliability of DUI BAC breath test results.  There are many sources of mouth alcohol that can contaminate a breath test like mouthwash, cough syrup, small amounts of alcohol consumed just before driving and other sources, but there are other sources of mouth alcohol that a simple delay will not allow to dissipate, such as:

  • GERD (acid reflux)
  • Burping or belching
  • Alcohol trapped in dental work
  • Vomiting
  • Regurgitation
  • Heartburn

If the officer is distracted, he may not notice when a driver belches alcohol back into his mouth.  Even if the officer is paying attention during the waiting period, the officer may not know that a driver suffers from GERD.  The presence of mouth alcohol is extremely important in a DUI case because breath testing devices are calibrated to determine the volume of alcohol in one’s blood based on metabolized alcohol in the breath of the deep lungs (referred to as “Alveolar Breath”).  When alcohol from the mouth is mixed into the breath sample, this can result is a significantly higher BAC level.

If you are charged with DUI based in part on a breathalyzer test result of .08 percent or above, experienced Sedgwick County criminal defense attorney Bill Cummings provides diligent defense to protect his clients from the harsh penalties of a drunken driving conviction.  We offer a free initial consultation that is absolutely confidential so call us today at 316-264-1548 to learn how we can help.

Why You Need a Kansas Criminal Defense Attorney before Criminal Charges Are Filed

Friday, May 10th, 2013

When people are arrested for the first time or otherwise lack experience with the criminal justice system, there is a natural tendency to want to cooperate in the hope that your candor and helpfulness will merit approval from police so that you can obtain your release.  This same urge to make the case go away rather than escalate the encounter can lead one to delay requesting a Kansas criminal defense attorney because a suspect is afraid that it will be perceived as being confrontational or an indication of consciousness of guilt.  The reality is that the earlier that refusing to answer questions until you have a criminal defense lawyer present will result in a much better chance you will go home quickly and avoid a criminal conviction.

When a Sedgewick County criminal defense attorney is retained early in the investigation process, the scope of the investigation can frequently be limited or influenced.  Kansas criminal defense attorney Bill Cummings may object to an area of inquiry or specific questions during interrogations or otherwise prevent the Constitutional rights of his clients from being violated by objecting to police taking a blood sample without sufficient legal basis.  We may even challenge the legality of a search warrant or seek exclusion of evidence after a search has been conducted in violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizures.  There are many ways that a suspect may compromise his or her rights inadvertently without legal representation, such as consenting to a search, agreeing to provide DNA samples or making incriminating statements.  Mr. Cummings diligently defends the rights of his clients so that his clients do not assist the prosecution and law enforcement in building their case against the accused.

In addition to influencing the direction of an investigation, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Kansas also may affect the prosecutor’s charging decisions.  Prosecutors often overcharge a case to put pressure on a defendant to plead the case out quickly and avoid exposure to a long prison term.  A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer will expose weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case during this investigatory phase and expose improper police conduct that may justify exclusion of critical evidence.  In some cases, the prosecutor may be persuaded not to file formal charges and to offer diversion or probation.  If this result is unrealistic even with early pre-charge intervention, the evidence discovered and arguments provided by a Kansas criminal defense law firm may still result in less serious charges or fewer charges being filed by the prosecutor.

While many assume that cooperation, candor and honesty is the best way to stay out of trouble, this natural instinct is simply not the best approach when you are faced with the ominous power of the state or federal government.  The most effective way to protect your freedom and future is to assert those rights guaranteed to you by the U.S. Constitution and other federal and Kansas laws.  One of the most powerful of these rights is the right to have legal counsel present during any questioning by law enforcement so suspects are well advised to take advantage of this right as soon as they are under a cloud of suspicion.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Kansas or you are merely under investigation, experienced Sedgwick County criminal defense attorney Bill Cummings provides diligent defense to protect his clients from the harsh penalties of a misdemeanor or felony conviction.  We offer a free initial consultation that is absolutely confidential so call us today at 316-264-1548 to learn how we can help.