April 2008

“I Was There” left a comment to my post about involuntary catheterizations in DWI cases. The Attorney General’s Office for Washington State had settled a civil lawsuit – without an admission of wrongdoing – for, well, there’s no polite way to say it… shoving a tube down his penis and forcibly drawing urine from him.

That’s right. To prove a DUI/DWI case. 

The anonymous commenter offers this for our consideration:

The article covers little of the story.

Arthur was on the WA equivalent of felony parole. He committed several crimes that night (hit and run, 2 counts of felony malicious mischief, and was tried and acquitted of felony harassment) in addition to DUI and was believed to have left the home of his domestic violence victim (for whom there was a no contact condition) immediately before his crime spree.

His bizarre and violent behavior (and prior drug use) led his parole officer and hospital staff to believe Arthur was intoxicated on something other than alcohol. Hospital staff needed to know to clear him before he could be booked into the jail.

The parole officer needed to establish whether Arthur posed an increased threat to his DV victim or society. (In WA, the parole officers have broad responsibilities levied by a state Supreme Court ruling to assess risks and warn and protect "reasonably foreseeable" victims.)

As such, the blood and urine draw were sought, despite Arthur’s initial refusal. Despite his claims, neither was taken by force. In fact, he was cooperative with the blood draw and does not even remember it!

The blood and alcohol tests were not intended for, nor used in, his criminal trial.

OK. Arthur was a bad guy. Bad badBAD.

But don’t kid yourself. Once the law allows the police to do this to Arthur, they can (and will) do it to you next. That’s how the law works.

It’s axiomatic that bad cases make bad law. Here’s how that works.

An appellate court decides to rule in the State’s favor in this oh-so-special-“He’s a bad guy”-case. And then precedent takes over. Now it’s A-OK approved procedure for everyone.

As long as you’re OK with that…

From the Joliet Herald News, “SCRAM Bracelet Saves More Than Money”:

David Talarico’s business features a high-tech bracelet that has the potential to save tax dollars and — more importantly — lives.

The devices, called SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), detect alcohol use. The bracelets are worn on the ankle by people who have abused alcohol and are in trouble with the law. Instead of going to jail, offenders wear SCRAM bracelets that monitor their bodies for alcohol 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

OK. So that’s what the SCRAM bracelet is, and yes, it is being used in Austin as well as Illinois.

For folks released on bond for a DWI 2nd offense or higher that are required by statute to install an Ignition Interlock Device, SCRAM sometimes makes sense. It allows them access to many vehicles, instead of just one, and still fulfills the requirement that ‘some machine is making sure they didn’t consume alcohol’ before starting a car. Some folks can’t be tied down to just one vehicle.

However, it is definitely more not less expensive than an Ignition Interlock. [Posting on a Sunday night; I’ll try to get some exact figures on that soon.]

The article continues:

Though some may think the bracelets are intrusive, Talarico, president of Alcohol Monitors of Illinois Inc., thinks they’re the wave of the future.

"People call this ‘Big Brother,’ but the reality is, these are for the people who need a big brother to help them along," he said. "Clearly if somebody can’t stay sober on their own, they’ll have to go to jail."

The first paragraph sets up a false dichotomy between something being “intrusive” vs. “being the wave of the future”.

And I just want to be clear on this: Talarico, based on your quote, you are at least admitting that it is Big Brother. Right? It’s just that Big Brother is or can be a good thing – that’s your point.

The article ends with an interesting quote from Talarico. I’m just going to quote it, and not comment. It’s one of those “no comment necessary” situations:

He believes the SCRAM bracelet is an important weapon to fight alcohol abuse.

Being in this business, you see both sides of it," he said. "I see SCRAM almost like the war on terror. You never know what you’re preventing, but if you believe in what you’re doing you know you’re doing good."

OK, I said I wouldn’t comment, but I’ve got an overwhelming urge to repeat that last line:

You never know what you’re preventing, but if you believe in what you’re doing you know you’re doing good.

Frisco DWI Lawyer Hunter Biederman felt some pressure recently when he hadn’t been blogging enough to satisfy his audience. He asked:

So, if anyone out there has some tips on how to keep up better, I’d love to hear them.  How do you manage the time to blog?  Mark, Jamie, LawrenceStephen, Glen, Robert, Scott, Stephen, Shawn, Kevin, What say you?? How about my pal Ken Gibson?  You seemed to give up on the blogging too…

Do you set aside particular days?  Time slots?  My wife says I should have a routine and block off time just as I would for a new client. 

Looking forward to hearing your suggestions.

Simple answer, and the best answer from my perspective? As often as you like, even if that’s not every day, or every week. The flip side – there’s always a flip side, isn’t there? – is that less than once a month or so and your blog won’t amount to much in the long run.

If you practice law for the next 20 years, and only blog once a month or so, that will end up being about 200-250 total posts. Not bad actually. Of course, you’re going to retire, but so what? There’s no magic number.

But much less than that and it’s hard to call it blogging. Twice a year? Four times a year?

I’d also say the answer is “as often as you have something to say and the time to say it”. Keith Lauerman, who practices criminal defense in both Williamson and Travis Counties has posted 17 times since he started in January of 2007. So he’s in that approximately once a month range that I’m talking about.

But most importantly, he writes substantive lengthy thoughtful posts when he feels like it. Every time he pops up in my reader, I’m there.

A good blog is about original content – not just cutting and pasting newspaper clippings.

So, to answer the question you really asked, Hunter? How do I manage the time to blog?

Yes, I set aside some time almost every day to read other blogs. But once a week will do for reading. Any less than that and I don’t know that you’re keeping up with the practical blawgosphere. Get an RSS reader to help with that (or call me if you’re a lawyer thinking about blogging – and I’ll talk you through that – it’ll take 3 to 5 minutes tops.)

And personally, I tend to write and post late at night after my wife and kids have gone to bed. But that’s just me. Hunter, post when you have something to say and the time to say it.

From an email:

I was arrested in 2005 while in the military in North Carolina for a DWI. My license is suspended in North Carolina but is it suspended in Texas?


I assume you are living in Texas now?  Ever apply for a Texas DL?  Or are you just driving around hoping not to get pulled over?  (Not the best idea – by the way.)

Basically, if Texas DPS gives you a license, you’re good.  Sounds like that’s not the case though.  You may need to clear up any problems with NC – if your license is still suspended there – before you can get a Texas DL.

If your suspension period is up you may just have to pay a reinstatement fee to North Carolina, to get in compliance with their DMV.  Once that’s done, under the interstate compact, you will probably be eligible for a regular license here.

If you aren’t eligible for a 24/7 Texas driver’s license, you may be able to get an occupational here in Texas.  That’s a bit trickier, and not answerable without knowing more facts.

I don’t know what part of Texas you’re in, but you should find a DWI lawyer that practices in your (current) neck of the woods to help you with this.