JON KATZ, P.C.

Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer

DUI/DWI/Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer 

 

Practicing in Fairfax County, Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. Beltway and Beyond

 

22 YEARS EXPERIENCE

 

HIGHLY-RATED CRIMINAL DEFENSE / DRUNK DRIVING /DWI /DUI LAWYER / DRUG DEFENSE LAWYER fighting for the best defense

 

 

FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA:

10509 Judicial Drive, Suite 101

Fairfax, Virginia 22030

(703) 383-1100

Fax: (703) 383-0800

jon[at]katzjustice[dot]com

 

 

 

 

The story behind our law firm's symbol.

 

 

- 22 YEARS FIGHTING FOR VICTORY AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS FOR OVER 3,000 CRIMINAL DEFENSE AND DWI CLIENTS

 

Super Lawyers

Super Lawyers-listed.

 

 

JON KATZ: DEVOTED TO YOUR LIBERTY, HIGHLY-RATED, AND IN THE NEWS:

 

- 10.0 AVVO RATING


Jonathan L Katz
 

- SUPER LAWYERS-LISTED

 

- AV 5.0/5.0 PEER-REVIEW RATING by MARTINDALE-HUBBELL

 

- NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED BY MAJOR NEWS MEDIA

 

 

"A lawyer that never quits!"; "Good with people and good with law” ; "Dedicated and Thorough".

 

See more AVVO.com client reviews here.

 

Practicing Criminal Defense and DWI Defense in the counties of Fairfax,  Arlington, Prince William, Loudoun, Alexandria, Prince George's, Washington, D.C., and beyond.

 

 

 

TIPS FOR CHOOSING A CRIMINAL DEFENSE OR DWI LAWYER

 

ARRESTED? SUSPECTED? PROSECUTED? 

 

YOUR FIGHT HAS JUST BEGUN.

You have Constitutional and other legal rights every step of the way. We are here to fight for your rights, to

 inform you of your rights, and to fight for victory.

 

 

 

DRUNK DRIVING CHARGES CALL FOR AGGRESSIVE DEFENSE AND PREPARATION

 

One Too Many? - Defending Drunk Driving Cases

DUI DWI DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED BY ALCOHOL DRIVING WHILE IMPAIRED DRIVING IMPAIRED

By Jonathan L. Katz

Surprise is a common response my clients have to their first arrest for driving while intoxicated. Sometimes the surprise is because the person is simply not guilty. Often, however, the person did drink over the legal limit, but just did not realize that it does not take much alcohol to make a person culpable of driving while intoxicated.

The penalties for driving while intoxicated can be harsh, including imprisonment and the loss of one's license for a lengthy period of time. With drinking and driving laws as stiff as they are, it is best to never risk driving after drinking more than a moderate amount of liquor, if even that much. It is commonly said that the body should not be expected to metabolize more than one drink (e.g., a 12-ounce beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, or one ounce of liquor) per hour.

Unfortunately, it is hard to get the benefit of the doubt from a police officer who smells liquor on a driver's breath, or who thinks a driver is acting intoxicated. Police are not experts in identifying drunk drivers, and drivers need to know their rights in dealing with the police.

Even if a person has broken the drinking and driving laws, there is no reason for the driver to make a bad situation worse by providing unnecessary cooperation to the police. The police and prosecutor have the burden to prove a driver guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law; the accused walks into court presumed innocent. The driver should do whatever is honestly and legally possible to be found not guilty, and to get the most favorable sentence if found guilty. A driver should not help make the police officer's job easier if that only will increase the driver's risk of being treated harshly in court.

When a driver is stopped by the police, the driver and the car's passengers should try to identify whether the driver did anything to justify being stopped. This information will be important for the arrested driver's attorney to argue in court that the police stopped the car illegally, and, therefore, to throw out any evidence beginning with the traffic stop. 

In general, a driver has no obligation to provide a police officer any information other than the driver's license and car registration. An arrested person's silence generally cannot be used against the person in a criminal trial. Police are trained to persuade people to answer their questions. People must remember, however, that police generally do not want to help suspects avoid a conviction.

Once a police officer suspects that a driver has been drinking beyond the legal limit, the officer will likely ask the driver to step out of the car, and to perform a number of so-called field sobriety tests. These tests may include walking a straight line from heel to toe, standing on one leg with one's arms fully extended outwards, following the officer's pen or flashlight, counting backwards, and reciting the alphabet from the middle. The driver has no legal obligation to perform such tests, and, even if fully sober, the average person may very well perform poorly with some or all of these tests. Unfortunately, the police may be permitted to testify that the suspect refused such tests, and negative inferences might be unfairly drawn from such a refusal.

A driver suspected of drinking too much may be asked to blow into the officer's portable alcohol-reading device. These devices are so inaccurate that their results are generally inadmissible in court. Finally, if still suspected of drinking too much, the driver will be taken to the police station, and will be asked to submit to a test of the suspect's blood alcohol level. Ideally, the driver should have the advice of a qualified attorney at this point about whether to take the blood alcohol test, because the many variables in making such a decision are too voluminous and sometimes minute to sufficiently cover in this or any other article. Unfortunately, many drunk driving arrests take place during the weekends and early morning hours when it is hard to reach a qualified attorney. In any event, if the suspect is able to reach an attorney, that should be the time also to talk about the advisability, permissibility, and availability of getting an expert witness onsite to check the accuracy of the testing as it happens. 

Different jurisdictions have a jumble of civil and criminal rules about sanctions for refusing to take blood alcohol tests, the weight that judges and juries may place on such refusals, and even rewards for blood alcohol results below a certain level (e.g., as of the updating of this article, Washington, DC, generally has a diversion program in Superior Court for first-time arrestees with blood alcohol levels below 0.15). For those who take a breath test at the police station, be ready to be asked to blow very hard into the machine; this certainly is unfair for people who physically are unable to blow forcefully.   

When the driver takes the breath test, the defense lawyer has more discovery and defenses to prepare, including: sufficiency of the rights read to the driver before the test is taken, including overcoming any language barriers with drivers who are not fluent in English; the time that elapses between the time of arrest and the time the breath test is offered; inferences of no intoxication that might arise from improperly advising the driver of the right to take or refuse the test and of the implications of such refusal or acceptance; an improperly administered test, and a low blood alcohol reading; the qualifications of the breath test technician; the accuracy of the breath testing equipment; and the willingness of the breath technician to permit the driver to reverse a refusal or agreement to take the test.

The driver's defense counsel will demand or subpoena the breath technician's presence in court within the deadline established by the applicable court rules, to avoid the court's automatic admission of the breath test results into evidence. It is also vital to try to find ways around any per se drunk driving statutory provisions.

Apparent intoxicated behavior often can be explained by such other circumstances as health problems, fatigue, personality, weather conditions, and traffic conditions. Sometimes, intoxicated behavior results from drugs in one's body. When the breath test result is low, and when the arresting officer still suspects foul play, the officer might then call in a drug recognition ("DRE") expert to try to establish that the driver was driving under the influence of drugs. Unless the arresting officer has found drugs in or around the driver, has smelled drugs, or has an admission that the driver has been using drugs, the prosecutor must rely on blood test results and/or circumstantial evidence. Defenses to the blood test results include that drugs can stay in the bloodstream long after they have any effect on driving; moreover, most of the defenses against the breath test results can be adapted to defending against the blood test results.

Often, the drug recognition expert is a police officer who has minimal classroom training and on the job training in drug recognition, and little to no college training in this subject. A stronger argument can often be made against accepting the DRE as an expert than accepting the breath technician as an expert. Although bench trial judges may be willing to be more lax in qualifying the DRE as an expert, a stronger argument can be made against the prejudice of having the jury hear the DRE when the DRE's expertise is too much in question. If the DRE is allowed as an  expert, often the DRE will make outrageous claims about circumstantial evidence that will provide strong ammunition for effective cross examination.

The driver will be concerned not only with the criminal implications of a drunk driving arrest, but also about the possibility of administrative loss of the driver's license both after a conviction and through a parallel motor vehicle administration suspension hearing. Although administrative suspension defense issues can fill many pages, a few key considerations for defending at administrative hearings include: taking maximum advantage of the absence of opposing counsel at such hearings, including the inability of the government to respond to creative legal arguments; calling live witnesses, which can sometimes be more powerful than the opposition's presentation of mere documentary evidence; and seeking restricted driving privileges for the shortest amount of time, in the event that a suspension is ordered.

No matter how draconian the states' drunk driving laws become, the defenses remain numerous and often powerful enough that "innocent" should continue to be a frequently heard plea for such cases.

NOTE: This article was updated in April 2002, for publication in the Summer 2002 newsletter of the Criminal Law Section of the Association of Trial Lawyers of AmericaThis article was updated in April 2006. 

ADDENDUM ON FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS:

Field sobriety tests: Junk science.

Field sobrity tests (FST's) for drunk driving stops are junk science.

Administration of the FST's are often preceded by the following alleged circumstances, as often parroted back in police report LawEnforcement-ese: "Upon approaching the subject, I immediately detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on the subject's breath. The subject had slurred speech and bloodshot and watery eyes. The subject fumbled to find his license and registration. I asked the subject to exit his vehicle so that I could perform standard field sobriety tests."

One of the detailed court opinions acknowleding the serious limitations of FST's is U.S. v. Horn, 185 F. Supp. 2d 530  (D.Md. 2002).

A recent arrest confirming the unreliability of FST's is that of former mayor Marion Barry in May 2006. After a car collision, the police claimed to have smelled alcohol on Mr. Barry's breath, administered field sobriety tests, and claimed he failed them. What happens when he takes a breath test at the police station? The result turns out to be well under the legal limit of 0.08.

Many reasons unrelated to alcohol can determine less than perfect performance on field sobriety tests (typically, the junk-science horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand). The HGN test -- at best for the prosecution -- only shows the presence of alcohol in one's body, but does not show the level of alcohol present. Horn, 185 F. Supp. 2d 530. People easily can perform poorly on the walk and turn test and one leg stand for such factors as police exaggeration and prevarication, nervousness by the suspect, physical and psychological impairment -- unrelated to alcohol -- that interferes with understanding the instructions for the test and performing the test, poor coordination and poor physical shape, fatigue, poor physical surroundings and conditions, cars whizzing by, and the list goes on. Most people are not practiced nor skilled in doing walk and turns (nine steps forward, pivot, and nine steps back) nor one leg stands (counting the seconds aloud while not putting a foot down nor hopping); these tests are unreliable.

Too many judges are too quick to accept the field sobriety test results as sufficient to find probable cause to arrest the suspect and to request a breath or blood alcohol test, and, often, for many judges, to enter a guilty verdict for driving while impaired or under the influence of alcohol.

Sometimes we can convince judges that reasonable doubt remains after considering the FST's, including those circumstances recounted above. Here are a few examples. I won a drunk boating case after showing that our client's swaying on the dock could easily have been from the movement felt after getting on land after being in a small boat all day, rather than from alcohol. On another occasion, I convinced a judge that less-than-perfect performance on the FST's -- even after crossing the yellow line more than once -- was not enough to convict. On numerous occasions, I have convinced judges that FST evidence and the other evidence was insufficient to establish a driving under the influence conviction in Maryland, where the judge then convicts of the less serious driving while impaired charge.

I talk more here about aggressively defending drunk driving cases.

 

JON KATZ, P.C. - FIGHTING FOR  DEFENDANTS ACCUSED OF DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL AND DRUGS

 

 

 

FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE IS WHAT WE ARE ALL ABOUT:

 

WE LOOK FORWARD TO HELPING YOU. How We Bill/Contact Us:

 

- Jon's messages  and Blackberry are checked during regular business hours, after hours and on the weekends. Voicemails go directly to his pager.

 

JON KATZ, P.C., Attorney at Law

10509 Judicial Drive, Suite 101

Fairfax, Virginia 22030

(703) 383-1100 / (703) 383-0800, jon[at]katzjustice[dot]com

 

 

Jon Katz takes on Bill O'Reilly.

 

JONATHAN L. KATZ  (Admitted to practice law in Virginia/ Maryland/ Washington, D.C. state and federal courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court) Se habla español. On parle français

 

 

BEING IN A LEGAL BIND MAY FEEL DAUNTING; DEALING WITH YOUR LAWYER SHOULD NOT BE.

 

Fighting for criminal defendants and the Constitution is a calling that Jon Katz relishes. Jon does it not as the most lucrative way to earn a lawyer's living, but because he believes strongly in this path and loves the work and the interaction with his clients.  

 

Our clients are what we are all about. Therefore, we work tirelessly to deliver them the best service we can, using all our experience, skill, caring, and resources to help our clients win. We do our best to help our clients go on with their lives as we work on their behalf. We welcome our clients' ideas, inquiries and teamwork. We work with our clients as a united front against our opponents, and are happy for our opponents to know that we are prepared for battle and fearless to go to battle. We know that honey catches more flies than sandpaper, but also know that nothing beats being fully armed to battle for justice for our clients.

 

JON KATZ, P.C., Attorney at Law

10509 Judicial Drive, Suite 101

Fairfax, Virginia 22030

(703) 383-1100 / Fax: (703) 383-0800, jon[at]katzjustice[dot]com

 

 

HOME  ABOUT US  IN THE NEWS  KNOW YOUR RIGHTS  DIRECTIONS  JOBS  CONTACT US

CRIMINAL DEFENSE BLOG  LINKS  ARTICLES  CLIENT VIEWS  SITE MAP  FAQ  DISCLAIMER  OUR VICTORIES


 

Jon Katz started this website in 1999 when with Marks & Katz. He continues this website with his law firm Jon Katz, P.C., which opened in July 2008

 

Visit our homepage at www.katzjustice.com. Copyright by Jon Katz, P.C.

 

lawyer best attorney DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Fairfax County, Fairfax City, Rockville, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Hyattsville, Upper Marlboro, Howard County, Ellicott City, Annapolis, Glen Burnie, Anne Arundel County,  Baltimore, Frederick County, Arlington County, Alexandria City, Prince William County, Manassas, Leesburg, federal court, Loudoun County 703 301 240 443 434 410 540 571 757 804 202 drunk driving drunken driving DWI, DUI, OWI, OUI, driving while intoxicated, driving while impaired, 

Who is the best criminal lawyer lawyers attorney attorneys who's