Saturday, 24 December 2016

California man fights DUI charge for driving under influence of caffeine

quote [ Attorney for Joseph Schawb, charged with driving under the influence of a drug when his blood test showed only caffeine, calls the charge unheard of ]

W T F?

I can't believe the county is attempting prosecution given the complete lack of any evidence.
[SFW] [Big Brother] [+3 WTF]
[by rylex@9:54pmGMT]


lilmookieesquire said @ 10:10pm GMT on 24th Dec
Seems like he's probably just an asshole driver. While annoying that's not technically illegal.
7 said @ 10:57pm GMT on 24th Dec
They could have just charged him with reckless driving in that case. There must be something else going on here that's not in the article.
papango said @ 11:34pm GMT on 24th Dec [Score:1 Underrated]
I think it's just shitty lazy police work and a DA who didn't even look at the case until it was due to go to court. My strong suspicion is that this happens a lot more often, but the prosecutors push for a plea deal and the 'offender' is usually so terrified of the outrageous sentence if they're found guilty and already fully aware of how stacked against them the system is so they take it.
7 said @ 12:00am GMT on 25th Dec
Yeah, I believe it’s possible they might go to court with no case, but I don’t want to believe they would do it.
papango said @ 12:06am GMT on 25th Dec
I think they would keep pushing for a plea deal, and if it didn't come they would just drop the case. Public defenders are encouraged to go for the plea.
7 said @ 10:55pm GMT on 24th Dec
Sharon Henry, chief deputy district attorney for Solano County, said ...

“The charge of driving under the influence is not based upon the presence of caffeine in his system,” she added.

And they still go with the DUI of caffeine title. It makes me wonder if they left out the part of the story that explains WTF is really going on. Maybe it's bath salts or some designer drug that they can't test for.
papango said @ 11:38pm GMT on 24th Dec
They have to disclose all the evidence to the defense, though. So this DA is essentially admitting that her office is not doing that properly. Which is worse than prosecuting based on bullshit, because it's a direct breach of proper practise. It guarantees this guy an appeal.
7 said @ 12:01am GMT on 25th Dec
There would be nothing to disclose if there are no test results to show. Just the listing of the witness for the prosecution testifying that the driver was trippin’.

I dunno. I’m reaching here.
papango said @ 12:04am GMT on 25th Dec
I'm pretty sure they have to release the witness names. Not one hundred percent sure on that, though.
zarathustra said @ 12:26am GMT on 25th Dec
They absolutely have to release the witness names except for rebuttal witnesses ( since they won't call them unless there is something to rebut).

I'm inclined to think that 7 is correct. They are going to try to pin something that can't be directly tested for and try to establish it by officer testimony. It sounds like the defendant is trying to paint it as caffeine to the press and the prosecutor was responding directly to that. ( perhaps even going on to explain the basis for the charge but the reporter not wanting to ruin the story by including it.)
papango said @ 12:37am GMT on 25th Dec
How strong can the officer testimony be, though? How would she know he was under the influence of a unverifiable drug? How could her evidence prove that?
7 said @ 12:48am GMT on 25th Dec
They could testify that the driver had slurred speech, was off balance, had glassy eyes, etc. I don’t know how powerful that testimony is though.
zarathustra said @ 12:56am GMT on 25th Dec
Being under the influence can be established purely on officer testimony ( as it was before breathalyzers.) While today the negative breath and blood test would rebutt the officers testimony, that isn't true of something they don't test for. Some people have unexpected reactions to legal drugs and if they drive under the influence of them, it is still DUI ( assuming they knew they reacted that way to them, hence a free pass the first time but not subsequent times). For example, the first person to have a sleep driving incident using ambian would have had no notice that it caused that issue ( involuntary intoxication) but would have no excuse the second time or when it became common knowledge. These things can be very hard to prove however officer testimony, particularly if accompanied by a dash cam video or erratic behavior if such exists, could do it. It is a high burden to meet, but there are few prosecutors who will bring case with no basis in fact or law since at best they will piss off the judge and loose credibility and reputation for future appearances and at worst be sanctioned.

As an aside, the fact that intoxication can be established solely by testimony used to be often used as an example to young attorneys about the danger of asking questions you don't know the answer to. You have Officer Freindly on the stand who claims that he could tell your client was intoxicated so you ask him how long he has been a police officer. He says 2 week. The right thing to do is to stop asking questions and walk away. In closing argue that he didn't have the experience to recognize intoxication. If you ask, him "if you have only been a cop 2 month what makes you think you could tell." he may respond "20 years as a bartender before that."
papango said @ 1:05am GMT on 25th Dec
You have more faith in the justice system than I do. I really see this as a case where the cop was wrong, he was just a bad driver (although not bad enough to charge with reckless driving, I note). It's gone ahead because nobody is really looking, the prosecutor is hoping for a plea deal (and knows that most public defenders will take that) and the file hasn't really been looked at by the DA, and won't be unless they have to go to court. At which point it gets dropped by the prosecution.

If they go ahead, and they have compelling evidence, I'll donate to the Widows and Orphans Fund. But I seriously doubt that's going to happen.

zarathustra said @ 1:20am GMT on 25th Dec
I don't have faith in the justice system at all. I have faith in attorney's desire to cover their own asses.

aba standards
Prosecution Function


Standard 3-3.9 Discretion in the Charging Decision

(a) A prosecutor should not institute, or cause to be instituted, or permit the continued pendency of criminal charges when the prosecutor knows that the charges are not supported by probable cause. A prosecutor should not institute, cause to be instituted, or permit the continued pendency of criminal charges in the absence of sufficient admissible evidence to support a conviction.

No one is going to throw away their career because someone was a jerk.
papango said @ 1:32am GMT on 25th Dec
I weigh that against the way the system works now. Those are the standards, but if the guy takes a plea deal then everybody looks good. Plus, when the charges are dropped it'll be because 'time has passed' or 'it's just not in the public interest' or 'it's not a good use of the court's time'.

The prevalence of this bullshit suggests to me that nobody is throwing their career away. It's not in the interest of the justice system to punish prosecutors for this - because when it results in a plea deal everybody looks 'tough on crime', etc. And when it doesn't, asses can be covered.
zarathustra said @ 1:46am GMT on 25th Dec
The justice system doesn't (usually) punish them, the bar does. But, while your cynicism is well justified the defendant can take the complaint to the bar himself and they take this shit pretty seriously. ( my ex got dragged before the bar a few times when she was a prosecutor, but got off.)
papango said @ 1:50am GMT on 25th Dec
I'd like to be wrong. And if I am I will donate to something relevant. But this just seems to be the way the system funnels people through. I don't think there's a specific villain here, or that prosecutors are bad people in general, but I do think the whole system is set up like a slip n' slide down to jail for people at the low end (small drug offences, petty crime, etc).
zarathustra said @ 1:55am GMT on 25th Dec
You are right in general, it would simply surprise me if that was the case here.
papango said @ 2:04am GMT on 25th Dec
All right. I've set up a Google alert, so I'll let you know how it goes.

And also any news on Eagle Scout Joseph Schwab of Boy Scout Troop #150 of Sparta, whose Eagle Scout project was a Memorial Garden & Pergola at his church. He's a young man with a real future.
zarathustra said @ 2:08am GMT on 25th Dec
papango said[1] @ 2:12am GMT on 30th Dec [Score:1 Informative]
They dropped the DUI charge four days after this story came out. He's being charged with one count reckless driving, which is probably what he should have been charged with to begin with. Although the penalty is less, and the threat of three strikes isn't there, so a plea deal is harder to leverage.
zarathustra said @ 11:57am GMT on 30th Dec
Thanks for the follow up.
rylex said @ 1:14am GMT on 25th Dec
just about all drugs can be detected via gas chromatography column followed by mass spectrometry.

this test is fairly standard in urinalysis done by labs and is very affordable. i was subjected to it as part of a DUI program I completed a couple years ago.
Bob Denver said @ 6:14am GMT on 25th Dec
In BC, Canada, there are two charges—impaired driving and having a BAC exceeding .08%. There's a lower charge if one exceeds .05% but is less than .08%. You can be charged with impaired for being tired.
zarathustra said[1] @ 7:07am GMT on 25th Dec
In most of the US we have laws against driving while impaired and alcohol creates a rebuttal presumption that you are (details vary by state). Since it is the most common cause of impairment we dumb it down to "drunk driving" for the media. Any medicine that has one of those little stickers on it saying may cause drowsiness and warns against driving or operating heavy machinery ( you know those taken by 50 percent of those over 50, 70 percent of those over 70) puts you at risk.

Post a comment
[note: if you are replying to a specific comment, then click the reply link on that comment instead]

You must be logged in to comment on posts.

Posts of Import
4 More Years!
SE v2 Closed BETA
First Post
Subscriptions and Things
AskSE: What do you look like?

Karma Rankings