Your Health Can Get You Arrested

Motorists in less than perfect health can find themselves wrongly arrested on criminal DUI charges. Some of these drivers attempted to tell the arresting police officer that their bloodshot or watery eyes or bad balance or poor coordination were due to illnesses – and that they hadn’t been abusing drugs or drinking too much alcohol. Other motorists fear talking back to police officers. Drivers have even been arrested and prosecuted when having ailments which remained undiagnosed, never knowing that a medical condition, and not alcohol or drug impairment, caused their intoxicated appearance and poor performance when taking DUI physical tests (walk the line, repeatedly touch the finger to the nose while both eyes are closed, balance on one leg, etc).

Even when not detecting the use of alcohol, police officers are permitted to arrest motorists when seeing traits or behaviors which they associate with DUI driving, such as a reddened face, watery eyes or other traits which could result from medical ailments.

Urine and blood tests, administered after arrest, detect even small quantities of lawful medications or illegal drugs. Since lawful medication or illegal drug consumption may have been of a quantity insufficient to impair a motorist’s driving abilities or may have occurred too many days or weeks earlier to lawfully warrant an arrest, DWI defense attorneys frequently succeed in having judges exclude from evidence all laboratory results of urine tests.

It is up to the arrested person (through his or her attorney), and not the State Attorney prosecuting the case, to inform the judge when the results of urine and breath tests should be kept out of evidence. When judges order that evidence obtained from urine tests be excluded (thrown out), prosecuting attorneys frequently plea bargain by dismissing DUI criminal charges and substituting them with the less serious offense of reckless driving.

Drivers who accept plea offers on the less serious charge of reckless driving with a withhold of adjudication may seek to seal their records if having no prior arrests. When DUI charges are dismissed, whether by jury acquittal or judges, persons never arrested before are eligible to seek to expunge their criminal record.

Since medical conditions often mimic the side effects of alcohol and drug use, a well intentioned police officer can wrongly assume you were drinking to excess, ingested too much lawful medication to safely drive or were high on illegal drugs. Innocent people are arrested on DUI charges when exhibiting a few or even one of the characteristics police officers associate with drunkenness, illegal drug use or impairment from use of prescription medication:

– a face which is reddened, flushed, blank or expressionless
– eyes which are red or watery
– slurred speech
– poor balance / poor coordination
– slow to react
– tiredness or fatigue
– jerky eye movements – slow recall or memory
– irritability
– excessive sweating
– nausea / vomiting

Here is a sampling of medical conditions which can place you at high-risk for wrongfully being arrested on criminal charges, along with a description of their DUI-lookalike symptoms:

ACNE: Can cause overall facial redness.

ANEMIA: Symptoms frequently include fatigue and facial paleness.

ANXIETY: Sweating, fatigue, irritability and memory problems are typical occurrences.

BELL’S PALSY: Damaged facial muscles cause flat, expressionless features, often occurring suddenly, sometimes with eye redness and irritation.

CARPAL-TUNNEL SYNDROME: This nerve disorder, common in hands and wrists, limits dexterity. Someone with Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome is likely to fare poorly when following a police officer’s command to perform a DUI physical test of closing both eyes and repeatedly alternating hands while bringing fingertips to the tip of their nose. Often caused by repetitive motion at work, most people linger with Carpal-Tunnel Syndrome for months or years before being diagnosed.

COMMON COLD: Red, watery eyes and tiredness.

DERMATITIS: This skin ailment causes slight to bright redness, often to the face and forehead. Typically, the occurrences are sporadic.

DEPRESSION: Fatigue, spontaneous crying and irritability, all typical symptoms of depression, are among the same indicators which police officers associate with DUI impairment.

DIABETES – JUVENILE / TYPE 1: Hypoglycemic reactions can induce a fruity alcoholic breath odor and behavior closely mimicking drunkenness. Nervousness, confusion and difficulty when concentrating are other common traits of hypoglycemia. Neuropathy in limbs can make it difficult to perform well when taking DUI tests, such as walking a line, balancing while one leg is raised and repeatedly bringing fingertips to tip of nose while eyes are closed. Retinopathy, a diabetes-related eye disease, can blur vision – sometimes for just a few hours – temporarily and unexpectedly diminishing driving skills and performance when taking DUI physical tests.

DIABETES – ADULT ONSET / TYPE 2: Neuropathy in limbs can make it difficult to perform well on DUI test taking exercises such as walking a line, balancing while one leg is raised and when repeatedly bringing fingertips to tip of nose while eyes are closed. Retinopathy, a diabetes-related eye disease, can blur vision – sometimes for just a few hours – temporarily and unexpectedly diminishing driving skills and performance when taking DUI physical tests. Persons with adult onset diabetes are often obese, further complicating their performance when taking DUI physical tests. As many as 80% of persons with this form of diabetes are unaware they have the disease.

EAR INFECTIONS: Dizziness which often accompanies ear disorders can impact performance while walking a line or when balancing while one foot is raised, two of the tasks frequently assigned in DUI physical tests.

FIBROSITIS: Muscle inflammation in the neck, shoulder, arms, lower back and thighs is often accompanied by stiffness and weakness. Frequently worsened by fatigue and often undiagnosed, the ailment can diminish a motorist’s performance when taking DUI physical tests.

GOUT: Persons with this type of joint inflammation to their feet, ankles, hands, arms or shoulders typically experience pain and limited mobility. They are likely to fare poorly when performing DUI physical tests such as walking a straight line, balancing while one foot is raised or closing their eyes while repeatedly bringing fingertips to tip of nose.

HEEL SPUR: This painful bony growth in the foot makes walking and standing painful and difficult. Sometimes leads to painful back and knee ailments. The ailment lessens one’s ability to walk along a straight line or to balance while standing on one foot.

LYME DISEASE: Muscle pain and fatigue, common symptoms, are likely to likely to diminish one’s ability to perform demanding DUI physical tests to the satisfaction of the observing police officer. People with Lyme Disease typically are plagued with it for months or years before being diagnosed.

MENIERE’S DISEASE: This inner ear disorder impairs balance, making it difficult to fare well when taking DUI physical tests. Jerky eye movements, often associated with Meniere’s Disease, can confuse police officers who conduct on-the-scene eye examinations (checking for HGN or Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus). In training, police officers are instructed that jerky eye movements (a lack of smooth pursuit of eye pupils) are an indication of alcohol or drug impairment. Vomiting and excessive sweating are among other symptoms of the illness.

MENINGITIS: Frequently suffered from for some time prior to diagnosis. Those afflicted share numerous characteristics often associated with DUI, including eye sensitivity to light, irritability, confusion, fatigue and nausea / vomiting.

MENOPAUSE: Dizziness, moodiness, fatigue, tension, anxiety, bladder irritability and other menopausal symptoms are similar to the symptoms police officers associate with alcohol or drug impairment.

MONONUCLEOSIS: Persons 40 years of age and under, the group most susceptible to mono, comprise the same demographic group which police officers consider the highest risk for being under the influence of illegal drugs. When accompanied by discoloring of skin and / or eyes, police officers can mistakenly believe someone with mono is DUI.

OBESITY: In addition to obese people being less able to perform well on DUI physical tests, such as walking a line or balancing on one leg, they are more likely than most others to have weight-related medical disorders (including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure) which can further impact observations and judgments being made about their physical condition.

PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME / PMS: Rapid emotional changes, dizziness, irritability, anxiety and nervousness are among the same the symptoms police officers associate with alcohol or drug impairment.

PULMONARY DISORDERS: Fatigue, dizziness, restlessness, anxiety and faintness can be confused with the traits police officers associate with alcohol or drug impairment.

SODIUM IMBALANCE: Symptoms of this often undiagnosed ailment include excessive sweating, anxiety, confusion and restlessness, traits police officers consider to be caused by alcohol and drug impairment.

STRABISMUS: A disorder of uncoordinated muscle movement between the eyes, impairing one’s ability to focus. Diminished depth perception further impairs the ability fare well on DUI physical tests, such as walking toe to heel along a straight line, particularly in darkness. Uncoordinated eye movements can confuse police officers who are trained to associate a lack of smooth pursuit of eye pupils with DUI impairment during their on the scene eye examination for HGN or Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. Police officers are trained to associate jerky eye movements (a lack of smooth pursuit of eye pupils) with alcohol or drug impairment.

SUN POISONING: Deep sunburns common in South Florida can not only redden skin, but may cause fatigue and dizziness.

TRANSIENT ISCHEMIC ATTACK: Brief episodes of sudden decreased blood flows to the brain induce confusion, dizziness, slurred speech, visual irregularities, traits police officers consider to be caused by alcohol and drug impairment.

Having insulin-dependent diabetes, Mr. Spolter is aware how medical ailments – including those which have not yet been diagnosed in his clients – can make motorists appear to be impaired by alcohol, prescription medications or illegal drugs. Among the DUI clients he has effectively represented are persons whose medical ailments played a role in their having been arrested. Mr. Spolter has achieved favorable case outcomes in DUI cases on behalf of persons having these medication conditions:

 

 

Client’s Condition   Case Outcome Obtained
Broken Collar Bone: Obtained State Attorney’s Agreement to Dismiss all Charges pending against Defendant injured in DUI-related accident who failed the DUI roadside physical tests and also failed Sheriff’s Department’s DUI urine test which revealed Marijuana usage. A full case dismissal permits those not having prior arrests to seek to expunge their criminal records.
Severe Leg Disability: Obtained Reduction to Reckless Driving (with Withhold of Adjudication) on behalf of a client who failed DUI Roadside Physical Performance Test and whose DUI administered Urine Test revealed use of Illegal Drugs.

A Withhold of Adjudication permits those not having prior arrests to seek to seal their criminal records.

Diabetes: Obtained Reduction to Reckless Driving (with Withhold of Adjudication) on behalf of a client with diabetes. The client failed the breath test and failed the DUI Roadside Physical Performance Test. This being the client’s first arrest, he was eligible to later seek to seal his criminal arrest record.
Tourrette Syndrome: Reduction to Reckless Driving Charge. State Attorney initially prosecuted client for DUI when his urine test reveled use of controlled chemical substances similar to but not identical to those prescribed by his physician.
Borderline Mental Retardation: Non-jail outcome for second and third DUI convictions for arrests occurring weeks apart.

Government Contacts Overview

Our Government Contracts Practice Group represents clients participating in every aspect of government contracting. Our practice encompasses disputes relating to contract performance, contract award controversies (bid protests), civil and criminal False Claims Act investigations and litigation, and disputes between prime and subcontractors. Our practice also includes construction projects with public agencies both nationally and internationally. We represent clients before federal trial and appellate courts, agency boards of contract appeals, the General Accounting Office, state courts and administrative boards and such international tribunals as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Besides handling active litigation matters, our lawyers advise clients on day-to-day government contracts issues and alternative dispute resolution procedures. We also work with clients developing strategies to maximize opportunities to secure new contracts and retain existing business.

Our Government Contracts Practice Group is chaired by Caryl A. Potter, the managing partner of our Washington, D.C. Office. The group includes more than twenty lawyers in several offices, who spend all or a significant portion of their time on government contracts matters.

The following are examples of recent matters handled by our business tax attorneys in Government Contracts Practice Group.

What to Look for in Employment Lawyers

Our Chesapeake employment attorneys combine a depth of substantive knowledge with a breadth of trial experience to provide aggressive, cost-efficient representation.  We are practical in our approach to counseling, negotiation and litigation.  We recognize that clients may have business, political, economic or other considerations which impact the course of action they choose.

Members of the firm are admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals, the United States district courts, Florida courts, including the Florida Supreme Court, and other states’ courts. Many of our attorneys are frequent lecturers and authors on labor and employment law topics.

Charges filed against Fitchburg crash driver

Charges have been brought against the driver of a tragically fatal crash that killed four people last week. The man is being held in jail after having been released from the hospital earlier this week. He is also suspected of a probation violation for a disorderly conduct conviction from 2011. He now faces four counts of homicide for the alleged drunken driving crash last week.

The victims of the crash were from Wisconsin and Illinois. Because of the alleged drunken driving in this accident, the families of the victims may be able to recover for the wrongful death of their loved ones.

Wrongful death claims can be brought in Wisconsin when someone negligently causes the death of another person. Immediate families are generally eligible to bring the claim and recover for medical expenses, funeral costs, and pain and suffering, among other things. Drunken driving is strong evidence that negligence was involved in this crash. Wrongful death cases should be handled by an attorney who is sensitive to the pain that a family is feeling when coping with their loss. Damages from the suit can help relieve some of the financial strain and stress from those dealing with a tragedy.

Police say that the driver in the Fitchburg crash was heading east on Lacy Road and went through a stop sign at a high speed. He then apparently hit a bump at a railroad crossing that made him airborne, causing him to hit a utility pole.

If you or someone you know has lost a loved one due to negligent driving, contact a specialized attorney to evaluate your rights to compensation.

Elderly drivers pose safety risks

Anyone who has an older parent or a grandparent that they take care of knows that as your loved one ages, driving becomes more difficult. It also becomes more dangerous, according to accident data gathered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Car accident rates increase significantly after a driver turns 70, and even more dramatically after 80. Besides teens, drivers who are 80 or older have the highest rate of collision per mile of any group. The fatality rate of those collisions is the highest of any group.

Car accidents in intersections make up about half of all fatalities for drivers 85 and older. Drivers in their 70s tend to misjudge whether it is safe to proceed, while drivers in their 80s often fail to see the other vehicle.

Especially in Wisconsin, where commutes between home and the grocery store can be long, and driving conditions can become dangerous in the winter, elderly drivers are at a higher risk than other drivers of injury or death. Unlike over half of the country, Wisconsin does not have any special safety provisions for licensing older drivers.

There are many sad stories of older drivers who have been injured or killed in a car accident. Often, they are not the only hurt. Mental and physical disabilities can cause older drivers to inadvertently hit obstacles that a younger driver would be able to safely avoid.

If you or someone you know has been injured by an elderly driver, contact a Michigan attorney to find out what your options are.

ESTATE OF NEW JERSEY MAN WINS OVER $1 MILLION IN MED MAL LAWSUIT

When patients entrust their care to physicians, they do not expect that their doctors will be able to cure them of any and all afflictions. However, they do expect that their healthcare providers will exercise their full expertise in diagnosing and treating them. When physicians fail to uphold this duty, they may be held liable for medical malpractice.

A recent New Jersey case of medical malpractice involving a physician’s failure to diagnose a patient correctly has resulted in a verdict of over $1 million. Tragically, the verdict was paid to the patient’s estate because he died as a result of the mistake.

The man was originally admitted to the emergency room for chest pain and breathing trouble. The consulting physician diagnosed him with a virus and sent him home. After the man’s symptoms worsened, he was so deeply concerned that he drew up and signed his own will.

Shortly thereafter, he collapsed after losing consciousness. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. He had died due to the presence of a pulmonary embolism. The physician was held accountable for failing to diagnose and treat the embolism.

Doctors cannot give weight to every symptom, nor can they catch the emergence of every condition. However, when treating a patient, they are obligated to exercise their expertise in a manner consistent with their licensing and training. When physicians fail to diagnose conditions that they should have perceived and patients are harmed as a result of this negligent behavior, doctors may be held accountable for damages.

PRESCRIPTION ERROR AT NEW JERSEY PHARMACY AFFECTS MEDS FOR 13 KIDS

We have previously written about the dangers of accidentally dispensing the wrong prescription medications to the wrong patients. Pharmacies are carefully designed and regulated in order to avoid making these crucial mistakes.

For this reason, it is especially troubling to hear about a pharmacy making a major prescription drug error. Investigators are currently trying to discover why one pharmacy in northern New Jersey mistakenly dispensed incorrect and potentially dangerous medication to the families of as many as 13 children.

Investigators say that a CVS pharmacy in Chatham experienced a mix-up wherein orders for fluoride tablets were dispensed with another medication included. The similar-looking medication is called Tamoxifen, and it is frequently used to help fight certain kinds of cancer.

The company originally worried that as many as 50 patients may have been given the wrong medication. A statement from the director of public relations for CVS revised and lowered that estimate. He said that an investigation by the company causes them to “believe 13 prescriptions for 0.5 mg fluoride pills were dispensed with a few Tamoxifen pills mixed in due to a single medication restocking issue at our pharmacy.”

Thankfully, there have not yet been any reports of injury or illness associated with the mix-up, and the CVS representative said the company has contacted most of the families who may have received incorrect medication.

But state agencies are not taking chances. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is conducting a thorough investigation and has ordered CVS to turn over relevant information and documents.

With increased record keeping and safeguards in place, it is somewhat rare to have a prescription error of this magnitude. But because these protections should be in place, an error this size is especially unacceptable.

Hopefully, any patients who suffer injury as a result of the mix-up will seek out and be awarded appropriate compensation.

Toyota Recall: Two Die in Fatal Car Accident

Toyota has had three recalls in the past three years that have affected millions of vehicles and consumers. These particular recalls surround defective gas pedals and accelerators that would sometimes cause cars to speed up on their own.
In the past ten years, there have been over 3,000 reported car accidents related to sudden acceleration in Toyotas. Recently, another car accident occurred that took the lives of two individuals, the driver and his son’s fiancée. They, along with two others, the driver’s wife and their son, were traveling in a 2008 Camry when they crashed into a wall.
Investigators are working with Toyota to determine whether a faulty accelerator was the cause of the crash. It is not certain at this point, but according to witnesses it appeared that the driver attempted to brake but could not. There was nothing that pointed to faulty brakes.
There is no concrete information at this point as to whether the driver had complied with the two initial recalls for his Camry. According to the report, he did however respond to the third recall and brought his car in to be repaired. If the investigation finds that his car was in fact repaired, this raises concerns about whether Toyota’s repairs are safe.
For the two survivors, they may have a claim against Toyota if the crash was caused by a defective accelerator. At this point, the article states only that the two suffered injuries from the crash; the extent of the injuries remains unknown and isn’t disclosed by their detroit personal injury lawyers.

Wal-Mart to pay $10 million for a slip and fall accident

Most of us have tripped at a store. Tripping at the store is usually the result of a misstep or untied shoelace, but many people are injured every year because some Delaware store owners maintain unsafe premises. An example of unsafe premises is a grocery store that fails to promptly clean up a spill or leak despite employees being aware of the problem. Many stores also fail to properly shovel and salt their parking lots during the winter months which results in many customers and employees suffering preventable slip and falls.

Wal-Mart recently had a large premises liability lawsuit decided against it. A jury ordered the nation’s largest retailer to pay $15 million to a truck driver who slipped on a combination of grease and ice while making a delivery. The truck driver suffered severe back injuries from her fall and had to undergo three surgeries to repair problems with her spine. The trucker’s injuries highlight the serious consequences that can arise out of a store’s failure to maintain safe premises throughout the entire year.

Wal-Mart initially denied the presence of grease outside of the Colorado store where the trucker fell, spurring a truck accident lawsuit in Philadelphia. Wal-Mart also claimed that the jury award was excessive. The Colorado Supreme Court disagreed and awarded the trucker $10 million after reducing the verdict for that state’s limit for non-economic damages. The trucker was able to produce city records indicating a grease leak from a device that was supposed to keep deli grease from infiltrating the sewers.

The trucker’s attorney said that justice was served by this verdict and Wal-Mart refused to comment on its defeat in court.

Changes made to expungement wording in Colorado’s ‘Katie’s Law’

Everyone makes mistakes, but that does not mean those mistakes should haunt a person forever. Thankfully, under Florida DUI law, qualifying crimes can be expunged from a person’s record. When a record is expunged, the information is legally destroyed, so details regarding Florida criminal charges cannot be accessed for general law enforcement use.

In some situations, information on a person’s file – even if they are not convicted – could be used against them in other situations. One example is with the way “Katie’s Law” is currently worded. Thankfully, a new change in the bill will fix the mistake in the original wording.