The National College for DUI Defense

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on March 11th, 2008

Until a few years ago, attorneys attempting to defend a client against drunk driving charges were general practitioners who had little, if any, understanding of the nature of the offense. They were unfamiliar with such DUI investigatory methods as field sobriety tests, and there was an almost complete lack of seminars on how to defend these clients. Most importantly, defense lawyers were completely ignorant about the complexities of forensic alcohol analysis — whether of blood, breath or urine. How does this breathalyzer work? What is infrared analysis? Gas chromatography? How is alcohol metabolized in the human body? What is Widmark’s formula? Hematocrit? What is retrograde extrapolation and how does it work? Are there  physiological variables in alcohol metabolism between individuals? What medical conditions can effect a breath reading and how? How does radio frequency interference affect a breat test? What happens if blood samples ferment or coagulate?

Chemical analysis of blood, breath or urine involved knowledge of such highly technical fields as physiology, organic chemistry, physics, biophysics, electrical engineering — subjects far beyond the experience and training of lawyers.

Then a few years ago twelve of the most prominent DUI defense attorneys in the country met in a hotel conference room at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Over the following three days they hammered out plans for a new professional organization: The National College for DUI Defense. They created this as a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of the DUI Defense Bar, primarily through providing educational seminars. An important secondary purpose of the organization was to address the problem of insularity in the profession — the isolation of lawyers; the College would be a medium through which attorneys across the country could share information, ideas and experiences.

I am proud to say that I was one of those twelve original founders, and have since served as Dean and on its Board of Regents. For each of us, the College was a true labor of love.

The first national seminar was held at Harvard Law School. It was an intense 3-day series of lectures, demonstrations and workshops, featuring a faculty of 22 of the top lawyers, scientists and forensic toxicologists in the field. The experiment was a huge success, and has been repeated every July at Harvard for the past 14 years. In fact, the College’s governing Board of Regents soon expanded this educational effort by creating an annual 2-day seminar in the winter as well. This proved another resounding success: in the recent session held in Las Vegas in October, 2007, there were over 600 lawyers attending from all over the country.

The National College for DUI Defense also created an internet website, along with an email discussion group where attorneys nationwide could share information and ideas. There are currently hundreds of members across the country using this forum — and discovering that what one lawyer in Texas has found effective in dealing with field sobriety tests can be helpful to another in Oregon.

Having provided the means to develop greater skills in this demanding field, the College next addressed the need to recognize those lawyers who had achieved the highest levels of competence. Within recent years, they began certifying attorneys as specialists in DUI defense. In order to be Board-certified, an applicant must satisfy demanding requirements of practice and trial experience, as well as pass intensive written and oral examinations. Subsequently, the College’s accreditation process was recognized by the American Bar Association for a new legal specialty: DUI Defense. After considerable study, the A.B.A. went further and recognized the National College for DUI Defense as the sole organization authorized to certify attorneys as specialists in this new field.

The College maintains its headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama, and currently has a membership of over 900 attorneys.

  • jim

    the bottom line with dui is, if the judge and prosecutor want you convicted of dui, it doesnt matter what the defense is or what the evidence is, you will be convicted.

    in nj now a lot of prosecutors will trial cases without the alcotest bac, even though they can enter it will it being challangable by the defense because of the chun order of jan 10 2006, simply because they know no matter what the evidence is, the judge is going to rule guilty 99.999% of the time.
    i would like someone totry to convince me otherwise.

  • jim

    i mean, the alcotest bac number , since the jan 10 2006 nj supreme court order, the chun order, can be entered into evidence and it can not be challanged by the defense.
    and even with this slam dunk, …most prosecutors are now going to trial without the bas number, because they dont want the headaches of a later chun order after chun is ruled on, and they know that they can get a conviction without out 99.999% of the time.

    municipal court judges generally overwelmingly ifnore the defense evidence , the cdross, and everything else, and the rule the defenddant guilty no matter what

  • jim

    the dui college for defense is a good thing. Defense Attorneys are educated in how to defend a dui case from every possible angle.

    however, i think all it does is raise bad blodd between defense lawyers and the prosecutors/judges.

    in the prosecutor’s and court’s eyes, it is a waste of the courts time to hold a lengthy trial where defense lawyers use everything they learned at the colloge of dui defense, because no matter what, they are going to rule guilty 99.999% of the time.

    and now with bad blood in the water, every defendant on any chyarge this defense attorney has in any court will be convicted out of spite. i have no doubt on this.

    i am in a tuff position myself.
    i have made 13 court appearances over 30 months time for a first offense low level dui.

    if i speak up and argue my rights were violated, i will be convicted based on spite.

    if i dont speak up the court is going to order me to appear every 8-10 weeks for the next 40 years, or until i die, whichever comes first.

    my attorney in the first 26 months of the case told me that the reason we cant get a trial is because of the prosecutors laziness.

    i was forced to hire a new attorney at the 26 month mark.

    the prejudice that has been put on me is clear. i have suffered greatly, my entire life being consumed by the unresovled prosecution.

    i am only accused of dui, and yet i have been punished with the intentional psycological abuse, intentional emotional distress, at the hands of the prosecutor.

    on jan 10, 2006, the nj supreme court ordered the State to proceed to trial, yet the prosecutor has not made on attempt to comply with this order.

    so, what do i do on my next court appearance? my life has already been ruined, the damage has already been done.

    do i speak up and argue my rights have been violated so badly that i cant function in society, or do i say nothing and be called into court every 8-10 weeks for the rest of my life?

    this is my delema i face.

  • jim

    see, i can certainly challange the field sobriety tests and the stop at trial.
    this is my attorneys job.
    for example, one new thing i learned the other day, amongst my 30 months of research is that on the one leg balance ctest, if a suspect puts his foot down 3 times, he fails that test. in my case the report reads i put my foot down only 2 times. so, therefore, i did not fail this test.
    however, i have no doubt the judge will ignore this completely at a trial.

    another aspect is the police check list report. there is a box with 4 choices to check, for the basis of the dui charge. the box breath test bac was checked, the box for observations was not checked. to me, that means the charge was not based on observations, but on the bac only.

    now, in my case, the prosecutor is saying off the record he will trial me on observations alone. if this is the case, i should win because the charge was not based on observations, however, i have no doubt the judge will ignore this as well.

    another point is chun and the chun order. that order says relevant bac should be introduced as evidence at trial, and not be challanged, and sentence stayed until chun is decided. this is what i should have had done long long ago.

    one aspect of the chun case is breath temp. they are trying to decide on reductions of bac. as no one took my body or breath temperture at the time of my test, i should get the benefit of a 13 percent reduction, as i had a fever of 102. if this reduction is added on after the truncation, then a bac of 0,09 becomes 0,078, below the legal limit, and because the chun order says the local courts must decide cases based on what is deicded in chun, i must be aquiited, because i was below the legal limit.

    i also have my new argument, notr argued in chun, concerning the lack of raw data to support any bacx result coming out of the alcotest. which i should have the right to argue and appeal on all the way to the nj supreme court.

    anotrher aspect of my case is that i was pulled over for speeding. however, i was not given a speeding ticket. the report says i was caught on radar where the officer was in a church parking lot. however, i was pulled over 2 miles dowbn the highway. it was dark, , late at night, and i was not spreedding. radar discovery was not given in discovery either.
    i do not think the stop was legal. however, there is no doubt in my mind the judge will ignore this too.

    i was foreced to do the field sobriety tests on the highway, with cars wizzing by, inbetween my car and the patrol car, about 3-4 feet space and 2 officers standing in front of me taking more than half of that space away. i was dead tired and wearing heavy steel toe shoes that i wear everyday at work in the lab, for saftey policy. the tests were not conducted properly. however, there is no doubt the judge will ignore this too.

    when i took the breath terst at the police station, i had to read the manual and fix the alcotest instrumernt, i touched all the power cords in the back, and offered suggestions , and untimatley my suggestion to turn it on and off was followed, in order to get it to work. if i was intoxicated, why would the officer have allowed me to do this. the number and observations can both be attacked by this fact. however, i have no doub t the judge will ignore this too.

    i think the strongest case i have, being as the judge is going to ignore all the facts as to the evidence, is that my rights have been violated.
    my rights to due process, my rights to a peedy trial, my rights as to the chun order- have all been violated.

    i have suffered greatly because of these extreme violations.

    i can site barker, and in nj the dui case farrel that was overturned on speedy trial violations after 13 court appearances. this is my attorneys job to do this, and i have asked him to make an oral argument on the record to the micipal judge citing every case law that is relewvant to spewedy trial violations in dui, and criminal proceedings.

    furthermore, the state’s contempt of the nj supreme court order is clear.

    however, i have no dount in my m ind the judge will ignore all this too.

    i am going to be forced to spend morte monewy to appeal to the law division eventually i guess. on top of the 7000 plus i already spent .

    or maybe, as i said, i will just be called into court every 8-10 weeks for the next 40 years, or until i die, whichever comes first.

  • jim

    the follwing in a part of the nj supreme court order of jan 10, 2006. i was arrested for first offense dui in september of 2005. i have made 13 court appearances over this time. i cant even get a hearing on miranda , let alone a trial.
    the order bewlow is clear and direct- PROCEED TO TRIAL!

    “ORDERED that first offender prosecutions involving the use of an Alcotest device shall proceed to trial based on clinical evidence when available, including but not limited to objective observational evidence, as well as the relevant Alcotest readings; and it is further
    ORDERED that at the conclusion of each such first offender trial, if the court determines that the defendant is guilty of an N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 offense, it shall include, whenever applicable, an articulation of the alternative bases for that finding when imposing a sentence pursuant to the statute, see State v. Sisti, 209 N.J.Super. 148, 151 (App.Div. 1986), State v. Kashi, 360 N.J.Super. 538, 544 (App.Div. 2003); and it is further
    ORDERED that the execution of sentences imposed on first offenders shall be stayed pending disposition of the within appeal unless the court determines, after considering the severity of the incident and the prior record of the defendant, that the public interest requires the immediate execution of the sentence;”

  • David W

    Jim, you may want to register and post some of this on an associated site called RIDL (responsibility in dui laws). There are some pretty sharp folks in there that could possibly give you some ideas as to possible avenues to pursue. And yes, NJ has some of the harshest dui legislation around. Haven’t made a decision as to who wins the prize though because NM is definitely up there as well


  • David W

    You certainly got a mess no doubt. If speedy trial requests sre not considered valid, then your attorney must have done something that waived that right during the course of filing an extension or something of that nature. Don’t feel alone though my friend. It took me 3 years to finally get some closure. And this was even after a “not guilty” verdict in the actual trial. It was centered around a refusal issue. I was snatched off the road in a roadblock all because I couldn’t stand on one foot. Reason being was I had two ruptured disks, already scheduled for surgery, but the officer just wasn’t willing to believe me. The judge did as it is hard to argue ith confirmed medical paperwork once presented in my defense. Even so ,it still took me 18 month to get to trial. But that didn’t end it. Because of the consequences of a refusal which they don’t tell one about, I had a drug tratment facility still demanding an intense outpatient program before they wiuld give me the all clear to get my license back. I forced a hearing on them, and in the midst of this, falsified documents were uncovered. The hearing board over ruled and offered me 16 hours of “educational classes to end it. I decided to go that route, as , like you. I was totally mentally run down and just wanted closure. So, bottom line is, I went 3 years with no license evn though I had been found not guilty of what started all this. I can tell your a man of principle as I, but myself and my kids sure suffered in this attempt to find justice.

    Seems to me that if they are under a court order from the upper courts up there, that you should be able to file something in the realm of a non compliance motion to them, but I’m not an attorney nor fully understand your laws up there. I’d write your brief, but if I may make a suggestion. I wrote many correspondences but I applied what I call the 24 hour rule. Write it, go back thru it, and remove the non essential items. The temptationis to tell the whole story, and as you say, it would take 5o pages to do so. Just try to keep it simple and directed toward wharever the judge has asked for specifically. We know your rights are getting trampled no doubt, but what I found was me getting so detaled in all the ways I had been denied my right to due process, it took 5 pages just to get to a point that I was answering the question that was actually being asked and could have been structured in a couple of paragraphs. I still have a feeling though that if they have ignored the upper court ruling, that there has to be a way to bring this to their attention..


  • David W

    THATS WHY IT NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT TO THE ATTENTION OF THE COURT THAT ORDERED THE ORDER. Fact is fact. Their inaction doesn’t matter. It actually confirms their obstruction and guilt in the realm of obstruction. You have to get the issue back in the eyes of those that ordered the action. If your lawyer is telling you otherwise, than seek another opinion. You have prosecutoral misconduct here if what all you have expressed is fact. That much I do know about what reseach I went thru. Their aim is to starve you out and give up..Get it back to the ruling court. They might rule and throw the whole thing out…

  • jim

    the ruling court is the nj supreme court. they ordered the state to proceed to trial in all alcotest dui on jan 10, 2006, and upon a finbding of guilt, the sentence stayed.

    theres more to this now. i just found out this local court has 92 untried dui cases pending- now thats clearly obstruction of justice!