I’m either trying a DUI case, defending a DUI case, having a pre-trial or conference or something else related to a DUI case, or learning about new DUI test methods through my membership in the National College for DUI Defense. We might have seminars at Harvard or Las Vegas with respect to that, or through training with NHTSA, which is called NHTSA training and is specialized training in DUI defense.
When it comes down to it: with our law firm, you’re going to get comprehensive legal knowledge with a focus on DUI law. That’s really important because we are generally good at looking at nuances.
Second thing you’re going to benefit from is a staff that’s dedicated to being able to help you with your DU charge. It’s not just me, on my own, in the office doing all of the cases. I have a staff that, if you call and say, “I’ve only got one day left to be able to challenge a hearing, or get my administrative hearing,” they can mobilize in 30 minutes or less and get your challenge prepared and that will get you a temporary license to be able to drive with.
It may very well save your job. Our staff is also dedicated to DUI. They’re constantly trained on being able to assist with DUI cases and customer service. The third and final aspect that you will receive if you’re using our law firm is you’re going to get the benefit of experience.
I possess over 15 years of experience working on criminal cases and defending DUI cases. My experience lends itself oftentimes to better results because I know what I’m doing and I know what I’m looking for when I am building a defense.
These are three benefits that you’re going to get above and beyond what you might get with a normal law firm that is just a generalist.
According to state law, I can’t use the word “specialist” at all in South Carolina. We can use focus, we can use concentrate on, we can’t use specialist and we can’t say that we, as defense attorneys, are experts.
The National College of DUI Defense
Interviewer: What is the National College of DUI Defense? Why is it good for you to be a member?
Freddy: National College of DUI Defense is a group of lawyers who are dedicated to advancing the field of DUI Defense. Therefore, you are likely to get a good result with someone who is a member of the NCDD.
This generally helps my clients obtain a good result because they have a better informed attorney. This is simply because they’ve gone through so much training and they really know what they’re talking about. That training generally translates into better results for a our clients.
Interviewer: So, once a year, the National College meets for a seminar?
Freddy: They meet several times a year. Then they meet for a comprehensive in-depth seminar once a year. The last one was held at Harvard Law School and it’s similar to going back to school all over again. You have to learn and you graduate from that program once you’re selected to attend.
You first had to be selected for the National College, then you had to be selected in the program and then you have to actually graduate. You end up getting quite a bit more specialized training and knowledge.
Attorney Training to Examine Blood Evidence and Breathalyzer Results
Additionally, NCDD members have been trained on examining blood evidence and they’re trained on Breathalyzer testing and they’re trained on the function of the machine itself.
Oftentimes, they have much better training than the judges and the prosecutors and any of the officers that they come against. That training translates into better results for our client.
Interviewer: Tell me some of the most specific and useful tips you’ve learned from the National College.
Freddy: I learned blood evidence at the National College of DUI Defense. One of our college members is an expert in blood evidence. He learned everything from the absorption rate of alcohol in a person’s system to what effects that alcohol may have in someone’s system. We also learned about the Breathalyzer test and the potential flaws in the Breathalyzer test.
We learned why the machine might register a false-positive result. Why eating bread may actually increase your alcohol content as opposed to not having bread and just drinking all night. We learned a lot of very detailed things about blood evidence and breath evidence that we can use in a trial to help defend our clients. In my experience, this education is really a great asset.
Why Education Can Help Your Attorney Prepare a Better Defense for Your DUI Case
Interviewer: How useful, personally, has this education been in defending some of your recent client cases?
Freddy: It has been very useful. A case in point is that I had a client that the police claimed had a very highly elevated blood alcohol content level. The client at this particular time had a predisposition to alcohol in his family. He even had a predisposition to the retention of alcohol in his body. He had a drug that he was taking that was a prescription drug that actually led to high-level breath evidence, and can lead to an abnormal, higher blood testing result.
Where, under normal conditions that person might have a blood alcohol content of zero, with the prescription medication in their system that blood alcohol content may have been a 0.12. This is solely because they had an interaction with the drug. Unless you’re a doctor or a surgeon, you may not know drug interactions, but if you’re a member of one of these groups that I’m a member of, you learn about that sort of blood evidence.
When you learn about that sort of breath evidence, you’re going to actually have a much more specialized knowledge, or much more detailed knowledge than a regular prosecutor or a judge that tries or presides over the case.
Interviewer: Any other specific case examples of knowledge you gained at the National College that you put to use recently?
Freddy: I had a client who had absolutely nothing wrong with them at the time. They refused a Breathalyzer test and then they were forced to give a blood test. When they were forced to give a blood test they involuntarily submitted to that blood test. However, the authorities wanted to knew the results of that test to show that this person could have been intoxicated.
What I learned in one of my seminars was that if a person has refused this test, if there was no accident involved, if there was nobody else involved and it’s more of a traffic stop, the police do not have a right to be able to collect blood evidence. They can request to have blood evidence, but they don’t have a right to collect it.
It was actually illegal for the authorities to collect that blood evidence. We were able to file a motion to suppress the evidence, saying that the evidence they obtained was illegal. Therefore, since the evidence that they obtained was illegal, the results that they got from that test are inadmissible. They didn’t have enough results to be able to call that person guilty and we obtained a not guilty verdict on that case by way of a directed verdict.
A directed verdict is where the prosecutor’s put up his case. The defense attorney has introduced motions as to why that case should not go forward and why the prosecution has not met its burden. The judge can decide that, “Yes. They’re correct,” and hand down a directed verdict on behalf of the client that allows that client to deemed not guilty. That’s what happened in this case.
Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program
Interviewer: What is ADSAP? What does the acronym mean?
Freddy: ADSAP is the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. The ADSAP class is commonly referred to as the alcohol class or ADSAP class, or drug class. That is a series of classes that a person goes through to be able to learn about drinking and driving, primarily why they shouldn’t be drinking and driving.
What it really does is it provides money for the state and money for state agencies. For example, they made attendance mandatory in certain convictions. You must attend ADSAP. What does that mean? That means when you’re attending ADSAP the state is going to require you to attend classes from 8 to 26 weeks, which is half a year.
How DUI and DUA Convictions Add to State Revenue
These classes are not complimentary. You will spend between $540 and $2,500 for that class. That’s state revenue. Additionally, you have to procure SR22, Bad Driver’s Insurance, and you have to pay reinstatement fees to the DMV. Again, these are costs that add to state revenue. The state is really making their money off of those people who have been convicted for a DUI, DUS or DUAC case.
I always tell my client that they don’t want to plead guilty because of the real cost of a DUI case. If you were arrested and pleaded guilty, and you didn’t have an attorney, the total cost you would ultimately pay would be $20,000 over three years.
Why retain an attorney? You could pay a fraction of that fee6, have good legal counsel and have a chance of winning the case. The ADSAP program is another way for the state to raise revenue through taxing people who have been convicted of a DUI or a DUA.
Obtaining a Temporary Driver’s License
Interviewer: What if, as part of your conviction, you lose your driver’s license? How do you get to these classes?
Freddy: When you sign up for the ADSAP classes, they will send a form to the state capital in Columbia, South Carolina. That Columbia office will send paperwork back to you that indicate you can now receive a temporary license and that temporary license will allow you to be able to drive while your case is ongoing.
If you are either convicted of a DUI, a DUS or a DUAC, you can get a temporary license during the suspension period, which is six months for a DUAC to one year for DUI. Alternatively, you can request an administrative hearing and challenge the revocation of your license and get the license back while the case is pending. We do handle a lot of those hearings.
The Reason for the ADSAP Classes
Interviewer: What happens in the ADSAP classes? Is it really useful information? What do they teach you?
Freddy: The ADSAP classes consist of telling you not to drink and drive and the reasons why you shouldn’t and consequences for drinking and driving. One of the classes’ goals is to get you not to drink and drive. That is a secondary goal. The main goal is to raise revenue for the state, in my opinion.
Interviewer: Are there tests that you have to take in the classes? Can you fail them, or you just have to attend?
Freddy: You have to attend, and attendance is mandatory. If you miss one of the ADSAP classes, you can be thrown out of the program and as a result, it would be that much harder for you to ever restore your driving privileges.
Interviewer: You said they meet twice a week, so at a minimum you’re going to 16 classes in the eight week program, but if it’s up to 26 weeks, you’re going to 52 classes?
Freddy: You’re going to those classes and you have a mandatory attendance policy. It’s going to be very difficult for you to be able to attend and somebody’s going to have to drive you there, if you don’t have a license. If you do have a temporary license, it is only valid to drive to the ADSAP class. It’s still going to be hard for you to attend because it’s as if you’re going back to college and in many cases, also holding down a full-time job.
By Freddy Woods