Adam Woody Law

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

Will Uber Cut Down on DWI’s in Springfield?

According to a recent Springfield News-Leader article, DWI arrests in Springfield have gone down since Uber became operational in Springfield 4 months ago. See the News-Leader article below.

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(Photo: News-Leader Illustration)

When Missouri lawmakers passed a bill this session making it easier for ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to operate in the state, they lauded the bill’s potential to reduce drunken driving.

They could have used Springfield as an example.

Since the City Council tweaked the rules to help bring Uber to Springfield in November, the number of DWI arrests in the city has gone down. But there’s some debate about how much credit to give the new companies, which allow customers to hail rides from nearby drivers using an application on their smartphones.

An Uber spokeswoman said the company’s drivers do most of their pickups on the weekends in downtown Springfield, where people might otherwise choose to drink and drive.

Lt. Stacey Parton, in the Springfield Police Department’s traffic unit, said he has the Uber application on his phone and he sees its potential for reducing drunken driving, but he needs more data to truly understand Uber’s impact.

“I will say that Uber has had an effect,” Parton said. “Statistically, I am not sure that we can quantify it right now, but it has had a good effect.”

Uber launched in Springfield in November
Uber launched in Springfield in November (Photo: David Ramos, Getty Images)
From December to March — the first four full months that Uber has been operational in Springfield — there was an average of 47 DWI arrests per month in Springfield.

That’s down from an average of 55 DWI arrests per month in 2016, and way down from the five-year average of 76 DWI arrests per month in the city.

But DWI arrests had been trending down in Springfield prior to Uber’s arrival in November and Lyft launching in January.

Parton said there are other factors to consider when looking at DWI numbers.

In late 2014, Greene County instituted a policy allowing police to draw blood from suspected drunken drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test. Parton said he believes that policy is working as a deterrent.

“Word has gotten around,” Parton said. “And I think it has caused people to think more about drinking and driving.”

Parton also pointed to ongoing public awareness campaigns, more housing downtown and the dissolution of SPD’s dedicated DWI unit as factors that might be leading to fewer DWI arrests.

Academic studies have drawn varying conclusions about the impact of ride-hailing companies on drunken driving.

A 2016 study from the American Journal of Epidemiology found that Uber did not have a noticeable impact on drunken-driving fatalities in the nation’s 100 most populated metropolitan areas. But Uber points to a 2015 Temple University study that found a drop in alcohol-related driving fatalities after Uber was introduced in California.

On its website, Uber also touts a 10 percent drop in DWI arrests that followed Uber’s launch in Seattle.

 

Click Here for the Full Article

Will People Be Able to See My Criminal Case Online?

Look, I get it, you are embarrassed about what you are going through. You do not want people to know about that DWI that you are dealing with. Or that Misdemeanor Assault. You do not want your employer to find out about it and you certainly do not want your mom finding it. So, will they see it?

Believe it or not this is a simple and complicated question at the same time. In the practice of law there are a lot of moving parts. Some of those moving parts are easy to predict and some are much more difficult. I am going to start with some broad statements that are generally true and then move into the specifics on what my experience has shown.

 

The first undeniable truth that you will need to accept is that we live in a digital age. Everything is recorded and placed on the web. Some things are easy to find and some things are very very hard to find, but they are out there. So, the first thing that you will need to consider is who is looking and how hard are they trying to find something. There is a FBI list called the NCIC. This is the National Crime Information Center which is a computerized database of documented criminal justice information available to virtually every law enforcement agency nationwide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If a cop pulls you over, this is one of the things he or she is checking on back at their car. That list shows every arrest, plea and conviction on your record. So if you have been arrested for an assault on law enforcement officer in the past, even if that charge never went anywhere, the cop IS going to treat you different. But Grandma is going to have a hard time finding you on the NCIC.

 

The second issue is Casenet. You can find that here: Casenet. This is going to be where every person charged with a STATE offense will be shown. (example: State of Missouri v. John Doe). Whether it is a speeding ticket to a DUI to a murder charge, you are going to be on here. People get confused about this in regard to being charged in Greene County. This is considered a State Charge. Some municipal charges are on Casenet as well. That depends on the City. For instance, Springfield Municipal is NOT on Casenet, but the City of Nixa is on there. You may eventually come off of Casenet if you receive a SIS or you win your case at trial. Additionally, there is a very rare thing that can be done at the discretion of the Court which would change the clearance level of those that can see you on Casenet. That rarely happens in Criminal Cases and is more likely in the Family Court setting.

 

The third issue is all the mugshot websites. This is a hard one. Every time you pull one down it seems that a new one pops up. If money is not an issue, go ahead and spend away to have these pictures pulled down. I have a hard time telling my clients to do it because your picture will roll off the front page in a few hours. After that, you can look people up by their last name, but the websites are so bad it takes forever to even pull up the picture. It is your money and you can spend it how you want. I DO know that if I call as an attorney to pull your picture down they charge me more than they would charge you to do it yourself.

 

The fourth issue is going to be your driving record. Anyone with $8 and clearance through the State of Missouri can order your driving record and find every speeding ticket and DUI and administrative action you have. There is no protecting against this, but know that Grandma will likely not have that ability. Jobs on the other hand will…

 

Will your employer see the criminal charge? I do not know for sure. Why are they looking? Are they looking for a reason to let you go? Then they will find one and it does not have to be for this. Are they looking because their insurance needs an update on your driving record? They will find any driving offense (including a DUI) with a driving record.

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Missouri in the Middle When it Comes to DUI Strictness

blue united states map with borders around each state

 

Many consequences could come out of being accused of drunk driving. Multiple factors impact what specific things a person who has had DUI charges brought against them could face if a conviction is ultimately reached in their case. This is because each state has its own particular laws regarding drunk driving, including what actions can be taken against those charged with DUI and those convicted of DUI.

Among the ways states vary when it comes to DUI law is in the strictness of the laws they have. A recent set of state rankings put Missouri solidly in the middle when it comes to overall DUI strictness. In these rankings, done by WalletHub, Missouri was in a three-way tie for the No. 25 spot. The states that Missouri tied with were New Hampshire and South Carolina.

While the rankings found Missouri to be middle-of-the-road overall when it comes to how strict its DUI laws are, there was one general class of DUI-related things that the report rated Missouri to be very strict on. This was DUI prevention.

DUI prevention was one of the two main categories of metrics that were used for determining the overall rankings. The other was criminal penalties. Metrics which fell into the prevention category included a state’s laws and practices on things like: alcohol abuse assessment/treatment, ignition interlock devices, enforcement tactics and license suspension.

When it came to the prevention category, Missouri ranked 7th in the nation in strictness. In comparison, it ranked 39th in the criminal penalties category.

As a note, what sort of DUI prevention measures they could be subject to after being charged with or convicted of a drunk driving crime can have very big impacts on a person, just as the potential criminal fines and jail sentences they could face can.

Experienced Missouri DUI lawyers can assist individuals accused of drunk driving in the state with taking the unique aspects of Missouri DUI law (including its laws related to drunk driving prevention) into account in their defense efforts.

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What to do If You Are Pulled Over for Suspected DWI in Missouri

What you do and don’t do after a DWI stop can affect the outcome of your case. Your actions or those of the police may enable your DWI defense attorney to obtain a dismissal of the charge or another positive outcome.

After You Are Stopped By The Police

If you have been drinking and are pulled over, keep the following in mind during your interaction with the police officer:

  • Be respectful and cooperative — Hostility or rudeness will only invite increased scrutiny by the officer. Be polite and responsive to the officer’s questions.
  • Remember that you are probably on camera — Many DWI stops in Missouri are recorded by squad car videos. This video can provide evidence that supports the officer’s decision to arrest you. Be mindful of this fact and behave appropriately.
  • You have the right to remain silent — Provide the officer with your driver’s license and insurance card. But don’t answer any questions regarding your consumption of alcohol or admit that you have been at a bar. At this point, the officer is looking for information that will allow him or her to continue the investigation to find evidence against you. The less information you provide, the more difficult the officer’s task is.
  • Field sobriety tests — In asking you to perform these tests, the officer is looking for evidence that you are impaired. Respectfully decline to perform field sobriety tests. If he or she presses you to perform these tests, restate your refusal in polite language.
  • Do not submit to a portable breath test — The results from this hand-held device can provide probable cause for the police to arrest you. Refusing to take a portable breath test does not violate Missouri’s implied consent law.
  • Get legal help as soon as possible — If you refuse to perform field sobriety tests or take a portable breath test, you may be transported to a police station and asked to take an official breath test. At that point, should you take the breath test? That is a complicated issue that depends on the specific circumstances of your case. You should obtain advice from an experienced DWI defense attorney.
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Here’s What Happens When Your Uber Driver Gets a DUI

front view of a car driving fast at night

When Katie Gallion’s Uber driver started swerving across the road’s rumble strips only 15 minutes into her ride near Durham, North Carolina, on June 3, she decided to give him a pass. At 10 p.m., it was dark outside and raining hard, she told BuzzFeed News. She didn’t know he’d polished off four beers before starting to drive for Uber that night.

When the car crossed over a grass median, coming precariously close to the oncoming traffic lane, Gallion began considering her options. “I was getting really scared and contemplating that maybe I should nicely ask him to pull over,” the 33-year-old pharmacist said.

But she waited, and after turning onto a two-lane country road, the driver veered off the road and into a ditch, where the ride continued. “I was a crying mess, thinking, Oh my god, what if he doesn’t let me out of the car?” Gallion said. “Then I yelled, ‘What is going on? Let me out!’”

Finally, the driver pulled into the parking lot of a closed minimart and let Gallion out of the car. “I’m a good driver,” Gallion said he told her in a halfhearted attempt to convince her to continue the ride. Then he offered to call her another Uber.

Gallion called a friend instead, and together they called Wake County police. “I really could have died,” Gallion said. “I don’t know what would’ve happened … if I didn’t get out of the car.”

Gallion’s Uber driver was arrested for driving while impaired at 11:09 p.m. — about an hour after her ride began. According to Wake County Superior Court records, he had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 — nearly four times the .04 legal limit for commercial drivers. The driver, who had no prior arrest record, was also charged with failure to heed a light or siren.

Reached for comment, Gallion’s Uber driver told BuzzFeed News he had accepted one other fare on the night of the incident. He said his memory of Gallion’s ride is unclear. “I remember knowing that she was uncomfortable and it was raining,” he said.


Gallion reported the incident to Uber at around 1 a.m., after reaching her friend’s house. About 12 hours later, the company responded with a boilerplate email and a refund of $69.24 for her ride. In a follow-up phone call, a company representative told Gallion it was “working diligently” to investigate the incident but could not discuss it in detail because of its privacy policy. She asked if he had been deactivated. Uber declined to tell her, citing a company mandate “to respect the privacy of all users.”

“Uber has a zero tolerance policy for the use of drugs and alcohol, and upon learning of these allegations, we immediately removed the driver’s access to the platform,” an Uber spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. Uber said this driver in particular had no prior safety complaints and was “highly rated.


BuzzFeed News reported in March that screenshots of Uber’s internal customer support platform showed the company’s instructions for how representatives should handle incidents involving alcohol and drug use. “If rider does not wish to escalate with LE (law enforcement) or media, follow strike system, issue warning, and resolve without escalating.” Under resolution suggestions, the screenshot showed that for the “1st strike,” customer service representatives were instructed to issue a “final warning,” and to permanently ban drivers at strike two.

Emails provided to BuzzFeed News show that Uber first reached out to Gallion’s driver by email at 1 p.m. the following day, about 12 hours after she reported him to the company for drunk driving. Unable to reach him over the phone (he was in jail), a company representative asked the driver when he was available discuss a “concerning report” by phone. When he checked his Uber app, he saw he had already lost access to the platform.

The next day, June 5, Uber conducted a brief interview during which Gallion’s driver was asked to review the details of the allegations against him. The driver told BuzzFeed News that he confirmed to Uber that he had indeed been arrested for driving under the influence. The following day he received an email notification from Uber saying he’d been deactivated and his “partnership” with the company ended. “They handled it quickly,” the driver said.

This isn’t the first time an Uber driver has been arrested for driving under the influence. That said, Uber notes that ride-hailing can be a wise alternative to driving after drinking. According to a study the company conducted with the nonprofit group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Uber’s entry into a number of markets correlated with subsequent declines in DUI arrests.

Uber says it depends on riders to rate drivers and provide feedback, which its safety team reviews. “Uber may also deactivate a driver who receives several unconfirmed complaints of drug or alcohol use,” the ride-hail giant’s deactivation policy reads. The company told BuzzFeed it has a team of former law enforcement professionals on staff to help with police investigations. When BuzzFeed News asked if it has a system for learning about drivers’ law enforcement incidents instead of just relying on riders’ alerts, Uber said in some states background checks are “periodically” updated. Uber did not respond when asked if North Carolina is included among those states.

On Wednesday, Uber announced it is piloting app features aimed at making rides safer. In several markets across the U.S., drivers will receive daily reports on their braking, acceleration, and navigation. The goal, Uber told BuzzFeed, is to lay the groundwork to eventually create a system that gives the company real-time alerts about erratic drivers.

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Do I Have to Live with a DWI for the Rest of My Life?

Having a “driving while intoxicated” charge on your record could seriously hinder future endeavors. It may be hard to get a good job, an apartment or even a loan. Thankfully, drivers in Missouri often have the opportunity to have this charge expunged from their record. This means it will not show up on background checks. There are certain requirements that must be met, however.

Missouri state law has a specific statute regarding DWI expungement. It falls under the same category as misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. In order to have the charge expunged, it must be the driver’s first — and only — alcohol-related driving offense. Similarly, you cannot have any alcohol-related driving charges pending. Second, you must have been charged with a misdemeanor, not a felony. The charge must also be at least 10 years old in order to be considered.

If the expungement is granted, the driver essentially gets to start over record-wise. The state essentially eliminates the charge as if it never happened. In some states, drivers must legally answer “Yes” if an application asks if they have ever been charged with a DWI or DUI. But in Missouri, you can truthfully answer “No.”

For someone who made one unwise mistake in their younger driving years, Missouri’s expungement laws are a boon. For drivers who are currently facing a misdemeanor or criminal charges for driving while intoxicated, it may be beneficial to contact a criminal law attorney immediately. They may be able to fight the courts on your behalf.

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Keeping New Year’s Eve DWI Free

a man holding a class of alcohol with car keys in hand. there is a clock turning midnight in the background

New Year’s Eve is the second most likely night for people to receive a DWI charge. Only Thanksgiving sees more DWIs than New Year’s, and the accident rates soar during this time of year, according to official sources. However, it is important to remember that DWIs can happen at any time, and the same rules for keeping New Year’s Eve safe and DWI free apply throughout the year as well.

A DWI conviction can have many life changing consequences including:

  • Having an arrest record
  • Incurring expensive fines
  • Serving jail time
  • Being placed on probation
  • Being required to install an ignition interlock device
  • Being forced to attend mandatory counseling or education classes

A DWI conviction has a serious impact on your life. It is much easier for you to avoid a DWI altogether than to deal with the consequences of such a charge.

What Can I Do To Avoid a DUI Charge?

There are no magic formulas to help you avoid a DWI. Common sense is the best weapon you have in the fight against a DWI charge, but sometimes a bit of knowledge about how the system works can also be beneficial. Here are some tips for avoiding DWI charges:

  • Designated drivers do not get DWIs. It is a simple fact that a designated driver who consumes no alcohol is the best defense against a DWI charge. It is also the best way for you and your friends to stay safe when you are out enjoying the evening. You could also arrange for a cab or other transportation.
  • The less said, the better. It is important not to talk too much to police officers when you are pulled over for any infraction. Police officers are trained to talk to you and get you to say things that can then be used as they build a case against you. While police officers are just doing their jobs, they are not your friends when you are pulled over and you should try to avoid talking to them too much, no matter how polite or nice they seem to be.
  • Call an attorney. If you are charged with DWI, an experienced DWI attorney is your best bet for reduction or dismissal of the charges.

Contact me,  Adam Woody, at The Law Office of Adam Woody if you are arrested or booked on DWI charges. I’m here to fight for you.

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Driving Under the Influence of… Caffeine?

California Man Fights DUI Charge for Driving Under Influence of Caffeine
coffee beans spilled around a coffee cup with the chemistry symbol for caffeine in the cup

 

San Francisco, CA. Dec. 24 – Caffeine may be the “nootropic” brain drug of choice in Silicon Valley, but an hour’s drive north in Solano County, California, the stimulant could get you charged with driving under the influence.

That is according to defense attorney Stacey Barrett, speaking on behalf of her client, Joseph Schwab. After being pulled over on 5 August 2015, Schwab was charged by the Solano County district attorney with misdemeanor driving under the influence of a drug.

Almost 18 months later, Schwab is preparing to go to trial. The only evidence the DA has provided of his intoxication is a blood test showing the presence of caffeine.

Schwab was driving home from work when he was pulled over by an agent from the California department of alcoholic beverage control, who was driving an unmarked vehicle. The agent said Schwab had cut her off and was driving erratically.

The 36-year-old union glazier was given a breathalyzer test which showed a 0.00% blood alcohol level, his attorney said. He was booked into county jail and had his blood drawn, but the resulting toxicology report came back negative for benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, THC, carisoprodol (a muscle relaxant), methamphetamine/MDMA, oxycodone, and zolpidem…

“It’s really stupid,” said Jeffrey Zehnder, a forensic toxicologist who frequently testifies in court cases. Over 41 years, Zehnder said, he had never seen a prosecution for driving under the influence of caffeine…

California vehicle code defines a “drug” as any substance besides alcohol that could affect a person in a manner that would “impair, to an appreciable degree” his ability to drive normally.

Making that case with caffeine would be difficult, Zehnder said, because the prosecutor would have to show that impaired driving was specifically caused by the caffeine and not any other circumstances.

“There are no studies that demonstrate that driving is impaired by caffeine, and they don’t do the studies, because no one cares about caffeine,” he said.

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Springfield DWI and Blood Alcohol Legal Limit

Blood Alcohol Legal Limit

Many people are probably familiar with the phrase ‘blood alcohol’, but what does it really mean, and what are the legal issues pertaining to it? Simply put, blood alcohol is a measure of the amount of alcohol in a person’s system, and therefore the amount of impairment that person is experiencing. Blood alcohol content, commonly referred as BAC, goes up with every alcoholic beverage a person consumes, and it is measured by calculating the weight of ethanol, in grams, per 100 milliliters of blood. For instance, a BAC of .10 would indicate that the individual in question would have one part alcohol per thousand parts blood.

HOW POLICE MEASURE BAC

The blood alcohol legal limit is designed to be a separation point between those deemed too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle and those under the limit. The actual figure is .08, which typically only takes a few alcoholic drinks to achieve. For example, a 140-lb woman would have a BAC of .10 if she had just three alcoholic drinks. BAC does go down over time as the body filters and processes it, but the rate is so slow that it takes up to six hours for someone barely over the legal limit of .08 to become sober. This is one of the main reasons why law enforcement officials take advantage of breathalyzer technology. It allows them to set a numerical limit and gives them proof that a driver is or is not over the limit. Such evidence is nearly impossible to deny in court.

CONSEQUENCES OF INTOXICATION

First, it should be noted that the legal BAC limit only applies to drivers operating a motor vehicle. It is perfectly legal for passengers to exceed the limit, but the driver must remain sober. If a driver is caught over the legal limit and is found guilty of driving while intoxicated (DWI) in court, which is the common outcome thanks to breathalyzers, there are several potential consequences. Depending on the severity of the offense, DUI/DWI could include up to six months of jail time and fines from $500 to $1000. Someone convicted of DUI/DWI can also expect to have their driver’s license suspended for a significant period of time and up to three years for repeat offenders.

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