Same Standard, Different Penalties for Drinking-and-Driving in DC

D.C. Superior Court judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys have traditionally treated the criminal offense of Operating While Impaired (OWI) as if it were a lesser-included offense of Driving Under The Influence (DUI).  Although a specific standard for OWI… Read More

Emergency Legislation Results in Tougher Drinking-and-Driving Laws in D.C.

A new D.C. law, which took effect on August 1, 2012, has increased penalties for people convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI) and operating while impaired (OWI).  For example, the penalty for a… Read More

Failing the Breath Test in a DUI Case

Ignition Interlock To Be Required For All DUI-Restricted Licenses in Virginia

D.C. skyline

Beginning July 1, 2012, every person who is convicted of a drinking-and-driving offense in Virginia and who wants to drive on a restricted license will be required to install an ignition interlock device on his/her car.  Current law… Read More

Complaints, Excuses, and Justifications after a Lost DWI Trial

  Before beginning my practice in Virginia, I went over to traffic court in Fairfax County to observe, and was struck by the large number of DWI cases that pled. One piece of blue paper after another was… Read More

Confrontation Clause Be Damned: D.C. Continues to Use Surrogate Witnesses in DUI Cases

U.S. Capitol building

  Michael Bruckheim was scheduled to cross-examine Lucas Zarwell, the chief forensic toxicologist in D.C., and a group of DUI lawyers had gathered outside Room 116 yesterday afternoon shortly before 2:00 pm. Zarwell testified before city council last… Read More

Confronting the Silent Witness — the Breath Test Machine — in a DWI Case

U.S. Capitol Building

  The government vouches for him.  He himself doesn’t need to come to court, much less explain the basis for his conclusions.  His “testimony,” which is delivered through an interpreter, consists of nothing more than a couple of… Read More

DWI Defense Is Not For Beginners

Jefferson Memorial

You would think that Jeff Gamso, as a criminal defense lawyer focusing on death penalty cases, might look down his nose at lawyers handling drunk driving cases.  After all, the difference in stakes is enormous. You would be… Read More

On Making Life Easier for Police Officers

U.S. Capitol building

Of all the tricks used by police officers, one of the most devious – yet harmless – tricks I have heard is the ploy they use to take a DWI suspect into custody after deciding to make the… Read More

The “Oopsie” Phenomenon and Other Problems with Urine Tests

Aerial view of DC

With the use of breath test machines temporarily suspended in D.C. because of calibration and accuracy problems, people arrested under suspicion of drinking and driving are currently being administered urine tests. Generally considered even less reliable than the… Read More