Fall Events, Tolerance, and Safe Driving in Springfield, MO

Tolerance can differ from person to person, and it is important to know your tolerance and when it’s time to call a safe ride to get to your next destination.

Fall is a good kickoff to all of the upcoming holiday events. Tailgating on Missouri State University’s campus is now allowed, Oktoberfest celebrations are happening just about every weekend, and the weather is much better for enjoying a few daytime beers in a friend’s backyard (or in Mother’s Brewing Company’s backyard!). But, the question is always, “Am I too drunk to drive?” How your tolerance compares to someone else’s is a big deal when you decide whether or not to get behind the wheel. Just because your friend had two drinks and seems sober enough to drive doesn’t mean the same goes for you. Two drinks are not always the best way to gauge whether or not you should make the journey home yourself or if you should snag a taxi (better yet, an Uber or Lyft!) In Springfield, most Uber or Lyft rides cost under $20 depending on the time of the ride. Some rides cost as low as $6.00. Paying this small fee is incredibly worth it, especially compared to the cost of a DWI. 

One beer could be one drink, and in that case, one drink is 12 ounces. One cocktail could contain only 1.5 ounces of liquor, and one glass of wine could be under 6 ounces. The variation between types of alcohol and how they metabolize in one’s body could mean the difference between blowing a .06 when pulled over or a .09. Other factors make a huge difference as well. Everything from the amount of sleep you get the night before, the amount of food in your stomach, or how much water you have drank can seriously effect how your body handles an amount of alcohol.

Stay safe out there, and if you need help, let the Law Office of Adam Woody be your best defense. 

Posted in DWI

Springfield Criminal Defense/DWI Attorney Adam Woody Selected in 2018 Edition of Best Lawyers in America

We are honored to announce that Adam Woody has been selected to the 2018 edition of the Best Lawyers in America for his work in DUI/DWI defense.  Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.  This is not an award that is paid for or solicited by the attorney, but comes purely from a nomination and peer review process.  We are honored to be included on this prestigious list with the best our profession has to offer.

Scientists Still Seek A Reliable DUI Test For Marijuana

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This spring, 16 state patrol officers from Colorado and Wyoming took a couple days off their usual work schedule to do something special. They assembled in a hotel conference room in Denver. As instructed, they wore street clothes for their first assignment: going shopping at nearby marijuana dispensaries.

“It’s a brave new world,” said instructor Chris Halsor, referring to the years since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana.

There are now more marijuana dispensaries in Colorado than there are Starbucks shops, said Halsor, a Denver lawyer and former prosecutor. And though consuming cannabis is legal across the state, driving under its influence is not.

The cops in that conference room, with their buzz cuts and Mountain Dew, are all part of the force charged with keeping the roads safe. But first, they needed a formal pot education — to learn how to identify various marijuana products and paraphernalia when they pull over a driver they suspect is under the influence.

Here’s the rub: Despite the increasingly legal use of cannabis in many states, cops still don’t have the equivalent of a reliable alcohol breathalyzer or blood test — a chemically based way of estimating what the drug is doing in the brain. Though a blood test exists that can detect some of marijuana’s components, there is no widely accepted, standardized amount in the breath or blood that gives police or courts or anyone else a good sense of who is impaired.

Yessenia Hinojos, a budtender at a Denver cannabis dispensary called The Green Solution, describes marijuana strains to A.J. Tarantino (left) and Philip Gurley. Both men are officers with Colorado State Patrol.

Rae Ellen Bichell/NPR

A number of scientists nationally are working hard to create just such a chemical test and standard — something to replace the behavioral indicators that cops have to base their judgments on now.

“We like to know the human error and the limitations of the human opinion,” said Tara Lovestead, a chemical engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo., who is working on setting standards for what a marijuana detection test might require.

It’s actually really hard for Lovestead to do this kind of research because she works in a federal lab; federally, cannabis is considered a Schedule 1 substance, “a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” So even though Lovestead is in Colorado, getting hold of a sample for research purposes is just as hard as getting hold of heroin.

“We cannot use the stuff down the street,” she said.

Aside from being a bureaucratic mess, coming up with a standardized blood or breath test is also a really tricky chemistry problem because of the properties of the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis: delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

In states like Colorado, there is a THC blood test that law enforcement can use to show “presumed” impairment. If a person has more than 5 nanograms of delta-9-THC per milliliter of blood, a court or jury can infer that they are impaired, according to Colorado law (this is called “permissible inference” in legalese).

But Lovestead and others maintain that, scientifically speaking, that cutoff doesn’t actually mean anything.

“We just don’t know whether or not that means they’re still intoxicated, or impaired or not,” she said. “There’s no quantitative measure that could stand up in a court of law.”

Turns out it can be a lot harder to chemically determine from a blood or breath test that someone is high than to determine from such a test that they’re drunk.

Ethanol, the chemical in alcoholic drinks that dulls thinking and reflexes is small and dissolves in water. Because humans are mostly water, it gets distributed fairly quickly and easily throughout the body and is usually cleared within a matter of hours. But THC, the main chemical in cannabis that produces some of the same symptoms, dissolves in fat. That means the length of time it lingers in the body can differ from person to person even more than alcohol — influenced by things like gender, amount of body fat, frequency of use, and the method and type of cannabis product consumed.

In one study, researchers had 30 frequent marijuana users stay at a research facility for a month without any access to drugs of any sort and repeatedly tested their bloodfor evidence of cannabis.

“And it shocked everyone, including ourselves, that we could measure, in some of these individuals, THC in the blood for 30 days,” says Marilyn Huestis, a toxicologist with the University of Maryland School of Medicine who recently retired from leading a lab at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The participants’ bodies had built up stores of THC that were continuing to slowly leech out, even though they had abstained from using marijuana for a full month. In some of those who regularly smoked large amounts of pot, researchers could measure blood THC above the 5-nanogram level for several days after they had stopped smoking.

Conversely, another study showed that people who weren’t regular consumers could smoke a joint right in front of researchers and yet show no evidence of cannabis in their blood.

So, in addition to being invasive and cumbersome, the blood test can be misleading and a poor indicator of whatever is happening in the brain.

Recently, some scientists have turned their attention to breath, in hopes of creating something useful.

A number of companies, like Cannabix Technologies and Hound Labs, are in the process of developing breath detection devices. Tara Lovestead is providing the data that will help relate the concentration of THC detected in the breath to what’s in the blood. Even though blood provides an incomplete and indirect inkling of what’s happening in the brain, it’s the measure law enforcement turns to as a benchmark.

That, too, is a chemist’s nightmare. THC and other cannabinoids — the chemicals that cause a high — are really squirrelly. They degrade quickly and appear only in very tiny amounts in the breath.

Luckily, Lovestead’s specialty is detecting tiny amounts of chemicals in the air. She and her colleagues have worked on methods to use tiny air samples to detect evidence of arsonburied bodies and hidden explosives. Marijuana is the next challenge.

In the future, she said, an accurate breath test would likely involve looking at a lot more than just THC — probably a whole combination of chemicals.

“One thing to look for would be metabolites — something that comes out of the breath that shows it actually went through your system,” she said. Such a test would greatly reduce the possibility that someone might test positive from inhaling secondhand smoke, she said.

In the meantime, it’s up to law enforcement officers like the ones in Chris Halsor’s class to make the call, based on circumstantial evidence and their best guess.

“The whole point of this class is to get the officers to make correct decisions,” said Halsor.

Many officers in his courses have never used marijuana — or haven’t since some exploratory puffs in high school. These officers need training, he said, to boost their confidence — “confidence that they’re making the right arrest decision and confidence that they’re letting people go who really aren’t impaired.”

The cops attending his seminar in the spring paged through Dope Magazine, chuckled at a photo of an edible called “reef jerky” and watched a video together on how to dab — heating concentrated marijuana and inhaling the vapors. In their visit to a local marijuana dispensary, they examined gold-plated blunts — hollowed-out cigars filled with marijuana.

But the real test of these officers’ ability to identify the signs of cannabis impairment faced them outside the hotel, in a parked RV that was plastered with bumper stickers.

A chemical test that reliably detects cannabis use — let alone intoxication — has been elusive.

Rae Ellen Bichell/NPR

Four volunteers for the project were inside the RV, legally getting as high as they wanted to, from a big plastic tub full of pot products.

“Good music, good company, good weed. It all goes together,” said Eugene Butler, one of the four volunteers.

Butler and the three others had never met before. They had volunteered to get high and then interact with cops to help the officers learn the signs of cannabis impairment.

“We’re going to willfully smell like pot around a bunch of cops,” said Sharica Clark, laughing.

Inside the hotel, the officers practiced roadside sobriety tests on the four volunteers — determining each time if, in real life, they would have arrested these people for a DUI.

All the volunteers had smoked a lot of pot inside the RV. But in the sobriety tests, they performed differently.

A volunteer named Christine, for example, did well on math, quickly calculating how many quarters are in $1.75. But she didn’t do well on other things, like balancing, remembering instructions and estimating time. (She was concerned about recrimination at work, and NPR agreed to use only her first name).

Christine, the officers all decided, would be a danger behind the wheel. In real life, they would have arrested her.

“Yeah, she’d be going to jail,” said Rich Armstrong, an officer with Colorado State Patrol.

But things weren’t so clear with the other volunteers. A lot of the officers had decided they wouldn’t arrest Eugene Butler or a volunteer named John (who also asked that we not use his last name); both men aced the same roadside tests Christine flunked, even though they, too, had just smoked a lot in the RV.

And when it came to Sharica Clark, the officers decided it was essentially a toss-up as to whether they would have arrested her, based on her performance on the roadside tests. Yes, her pupils were huge, and she had a tough time touching her finger to the tip of her nose while her eyes were closed. But her balance, counting and recitation of the alphabet were, as Colorado State Patrol Officer Philip Gurley put it, “spot on.”

“It was a tough one,” said Tom Davis, another officer with Colorado State Patrol.

Volunteer Sharica Clark counts 30 seconds with her eyes closed, as officers with Colorado State Patrol check her balance and counting skills after using cannabis. It was part of a simulated roadside sobriety test in the officers’ training seminar.

Rae Ellen Bichell/NPR

Right now, these officer’s opinions loom large. If they decide you’re driving high, you’re going to jail. But at the end of the day, they’re just making educated guesses. Two different officers could watch the same person doing the same sobriety test and make different decisions on whether to arrest. In previous courses, officers had decided that a volunteer was impaired when in fact the volunteer hadn’t smoked at all.

So, just like the THC blood test, the judgments officers make can also yield false positives and negatives.

“This is one of those subjective areas,” said Armstrong.

“It’s too subjective,” said Lovestead.

She recently published a paper in the journal Forensic Chemistry where she found the vapor pressure of THC — one of its fundamental physical properties. Lovestead believes finding and standardizing that measurement is a small but significant steptoward a more objective route for evaluating intoxicated drivers.

In the meantime, courses like Halsor’s are the best resource for officers. And at least now the class participants know what pot strains like Skunk Dawg, Hippie Chicken and Chunky Diesel actually smell like.

“Yeah,” said Gurley. “It smells like the bottom side of a rock.”

 

Source

Springfield, Mo. Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody Named 2017 Trusted Adviser by Springfield Business Journal

We are honored to announce that Criminal Defense Attorney Adam Woody has been named a 2017 Trusted Adviser by Springfield Business Journal.  Each year, Springfield Business Journal uses an independent panel of judges to choose three attorneys, along with three other professions, in the Springfield metropolitan area who work tirelessly behind the scenes and go above and beyond for their clients.  We are honored to join the prestigious list of previous winners.  Attached is the press release from Springfield Business Journal naming this years winners.

 

 

Difference Between Jury and Bench Trial – Criminal Defense in Springfield, Mo.

Just last week, Nicholas Godejohn, the man accused of killing Dee Dee Blanchard along with his girlfriend Gypsy Blanchard, withdrew his waiver of jury trial.  Previously, he had waived his right to a jury trial and elected to have a bench trial.  He changed his mind and the Court allowed him to renew his demand for a jury.  This is a unique turn of events, and one that the local CBS affiliate, KOLR10, took notice of and did a story on.  Springfield, Mo. criminal defense attorney Adam Woody was interviewed to provide insight into the difference between a bench and jury trial.

Essentially, a jury trial in Missouri is where 12 citizens from the community hear the evidence and decide the factual issues.  They then must agree unanimously whether or not the State proves their allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Conversely, a bench trial is where the judge and the judge alone hears the evidence and makes the same factual determinations.  The judge in that situation has two roles: decides which evidence comes in at trial, and decides whether the State proves its case.  The finding of the judge in that situation has the same force and effect of a jury verdict.

There are a variety of considerations to take into account when determining whether to waive a jury trial.  Sometimes, overly emotional cases are better to be heard by a judge and judge alone, but again, that depends upon whether there are factual issues that would be better determined by a jury.  There is no magic formula, and as criminal defense attorneys, we must simply make our recommendations to our clients on a case by case basis.  Clearly, the attorneys for Mr. Godejohn made their decision that a jury trial is in his best interest and he agreed.  That trial is set to commence in December of this year.

Man Arrested for Possession Surprised to Find State Didn’t Legalize Marijuana

Ignorance of the law — and election news — wasn’t a valid excuse for an aging Arizona toker arrested this week in Golden Valley.

After allegedly resisting arrest, Lon Victor Post, 54, told deputies early Wednesday morning that he thought the state had legalized marijuana, according to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies took him to jail anyway.

Possession of any amount of marijuana remains a felony in Arizona after voters rejected Prop 205 in November by a ratio of about 52 percent to 48 percent. Perhaps Post was confused by the fact that roughly 100 miles to the west and north of him, thanks to successful legalization elections in California and Nevada, adults 21 and older now have the freedom to use marijuana without legal penalty. Maine and Massachusetts also legalized weed for all adults, making Arizona the only one of five states that turned down the opportunity.

The deputies noticed he was having trouble standing upright as he turned down the music and chatted with them. They also noticed a baggie of pot sticking out of his shirt pocket and soon determined that he wasn’t one of the roughly 100,000 Arizonans registered under the state’s medical-marijuana program. But Post, apparently thinking he was being hassled unfairly, “jerked away” as the deputies tried to take him into custody, Carter writes.

Post pulled away a second time, seemed to square up for a fight, and took a menacing step forward. Deputies hit him with a Taser blast, which calmed him down. He then asked why he was being arrested.

“Further conversations with Post, he said that he thought marijuana was legal,” Carter writes. “The deputy advised Post that marijuana is illegal without a prescription and medical-marijuana card.”

That last part isn’t quite right: Qualified patients need to obtain a recommendation, not a federally regulated prescription, in order to register for a card.

Deputies booked him on suspicion of resisting arrest, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia — all felonies.

Had Post been savvier, he could have obtained a card easily and possibly avoided the possession and paraphernalia charges.

But even under the voter-approved 2010 medical-marijuana law, smoking in public remains illegal.

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Uber Effect: Rideshare services may cut DWI arrests in Springfield

Adam was recently interviewed by Emily Wood in in a story for KY3 News about the the impact of services such as Uber and Lyft on the number of DWI arrests in Springfield. Read the story below, or click here to watch the article on ky3.com.

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – On graduation night for Missouri State University, downtown bars were packed, and Uber drivers were busy.

“In the beginning of the night, I was taking people to bars, so now I’m going back downtown to pick them up and take them home,” said Neyko Dominguez, an Uber driver.

When the rideshare company first launched in Springfield in November, police officers were hoping it would make their nights a little easier and the streets a lot safer. In recent months, drunken driving arrests have started trending downward.

“Realistically my thought was, ‘What took so long?'” said Adam Woody, a criminal defense attorney in Springfield.

Woody noticed a quick and sharp decline.

“Interestingly, a lot of times, clients, as an excuse for how they got the DWI, they would say they were waiting for a taxi for hours and just couldn’t get one downtown. It’s slow,” Woody said.

With rideshare services like Uber, no matter what time of day or night, you just have to tap on the rideshare app, and it pops up the drivers closest to you as well as their reviews.

“It takes literally no time to get an Uber: 10 minutes max,” said Gabby Heth.

So far the numbers show a downward trend. Drunken driving arrests for January 2016 were 64 compared to just 38 for January 2017. February went from 66 down to 48, year-to-year, and March went from 70 to 52, year-to-year.

“We still make a number of DWI arrests,” said Springfield Police Lt. Stacey Parton.

Parton said the department doesn’t have enough data yet to attribute that shift to rideshare services but sees it as a positive factor.

“That’s one less person that is out there that’s going to get involved in a crash, possibly injure or kill somebody because of driving impaired,” Parton said.

Dominguez drives for the extra cash and said the bulk of his business comes at closing time.

“I’ve met some different kind of people. Truthful, drunk people,” he said.

The hope is the ease of using the apps, like Uber and Lyft, may help save lives.

“It’s a great opportunity, and I don’t see why people would pass it up,” Heth said.

Numbers around the country are mixed. Other recent studies, including one from Oxford and the University of Southern California, have shown ridesharing had no effect on drinking-related or holiday- and weekend-related fatalities in other places.

Posted in DWI

Judge Halts Lifetime Monitoring for Certain Sex Offenders

Just last week we published a post about a new law being enforced which would require certain sex offenders to be supervised and wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet, both for the rest of their lives.  We questioned the Constitutionality of such a bill as the legislature attempted to include offenders who plead guilty to their charges all the way back in 2007, through today.  On Monday, a Circuit Judge in Cole County issued a temporary injunction, stopping the enforcement of the bill statewide and ordering hundreds of ankle monitors that had been installed last month to be immediately removed.  That injunction is likely to be made permanent at the next hearing in July.  Local ABC affiliate KSPR did a story following up on the Court’s order featuring Springfield criminal defense attorney Adam Woody.  Although theses offenders are not going to get a lot of sympathy from the general public, Constitutional over-reach by our legislature, no matter the target population, is something that we should constantly monitor.  Here, the right decision has been made, at least temporarily.