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6th Annual DUI Law Enforcement Seminar (Pennsylvania)

I wanted to take a moment to thank The South Central Pennsylvania Regional DUI Task Force and the Pennsylvania DUI Association for inviting me to speak at their “6th Annual DUI Law Enforcement Seminar.” It was a well-attended seminar with good speakers on relevant topics. I was given full unfettered discretion in what I chose to present to the group. The general topics that I presented on included:

  1. Data from the new  20-month NHSTA Virgina Beach Police Department Study concerning prevalence of ethanol and/or drugs on drivers as well as the 2007 National Roadside Survey.
  2. The need to be committed to learning. This includes learning through PA DUI Association and ILEE as well as other venues in terms of the NHTSA curriculum as well as the need to get refresher training in accordance with the NHTSA recommendations. I also discussed the need for officers to actually know the proper standardized administration, and the standardized interpretation of the SFSTs. I spoke about the need to conduct a meaningful pre-adminstration screening to insure that the person is physical, psychologically and cognitively capable of performing the tests. I emphasized the need to actually read the validation studies together other studies in the toxicological field focusing on pharmacodynamics. I spoke on the need for officer to articulate the statistics in a proper way to justify the decision as to the probable cause to arrest. I presented simple axioms such as: the need to do it right, don’t get sloppy, don’t commit shortcuts, follow your training, and how if you do things right, you will get the right result.
  3. Know the law. I shared my viewpoint if the mission critical importance of sharing changes in the law among one another.
  4. I also explained concepts in science including Standard Deviation of Lateral Placement (the weaving index) and crash odds risk ratios, and the counter-clockwise hysteresis effect of certain drugs.
  5. Details win cases, lack of details loses case: Officers need to be very detailed in their reports and affidavits of probable cause as these materials are relied upon by DAs, Judges and defense attorneys. A report that is lacking in detail invites scrutiny. A lack of a detailed affidavit of probable cause invites litigation.
  6. Credibility. Don’t stretch. Confess error and move on. Transcripts last forever. Confess “good” things that the person did.
  7. The need to treat a roadside investigation as exactly that an investigation. There is a need to ask questions and follow up questions. Interview passengers. Listen. Engage. When the person says that they have taken a drug or used alcohol, follow up and ask them pharmaocologically relevant information.
  8. I gave an overview of our office’s general protocol in handling and investigating a DUI or DUID case.

I found the audience to be receptive, engaged and respectful. I was asked a lot of questions. Some challenged me (politely) about why I do what I do. I was happy to engage them on this topic. I grow as a person and as a professional when I am challenged. I stayed the whole day and even an hour afterwards to talk to anyone and everyone who wished. Communication between all stakeholders in traffic safety is vitally important.

I also wanted to thank George Geisler of the PA DUI Association (who invited me to speak) who enlisted me to co-present with him during his scheduled talk where we talked about DUID related issues which is my primary area of interest. Our totally unscripted presentation where we talked about DUID and also analytical chemistry and pharmacology was a lot of fun.

[An editorial observation: Some people in the defense community have given me grief for presenting to prosecutors, scientists and police officers in venues such as this and for being on the faculty for Borkenstein Drug. Quite frankly, I am baffled as to why they have an issue with it. Perhaps it is rooted in a despicable trend of extremism (not unlike a form of jihadism) and the notion of a “us versus them” mentality. Quite frankly, this rise of extremism in the courtroom is an alarming trend. It is not like legitimate DUI or DUID enforcement, prosecution and defense is some sort of secret sauce that should be guarded like the Coca Cola formula. The “secret” to effective DUI or DUID enforcement, prosecution and defense is education.]

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