How the 2016 NCDD Winter Session Helped My Client

Posted on November 16, 2018 in Uncategorized


I attended the NCDD's 2016 Winter Session in Marina Del Rey for the sole purpose of learning how to try the hell out of a Pot DUI case that I had coming up for trial. I continued that trial until after the Winter Session, which was probably the smartest thing I could have done.

George Bianchi's materials on "Cannabis and Cars" was extremely helpful to me in understanding the basics on THC, Hydroxy-THC and Carboxy-THC. Additionally, the DRE and ARIDE Overview materials provided by Robert LaPier were also helpful (especially the charts he enclosed on the Indicators Consistent with Drug Categories).

The case I just went out on involved a 67 year old man charged with a DUI, the (a) count, and a hit and run. Turns out, he caused a three car collision in Palm Desert (no bodily injuries, Thank God!). The last car that was hit in the chain-reaction accident was driven by an 80 year old Citizens on Patrol (bad fact). The D.A. charged a hit-and-run because once my client's vehicle flew over the center median, he drove through the intersection, where the incident occurred, to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. Client stopped shortly thereafter. D.A. was headstrong this case was to be treated as a 2TT/hit-and-run, and nothing else. I kept pushing for a Dry as client's BAC was 0.05 (PAS) and 0.04 (blood).

Because client admitted he was taking heart meds, a full panel was done on the blood which came back negative for both THC, and Hydroxy-THC. It did test positive for Carboxy-THC (the secondary metabolite that is inactive) and also, benzodiazepines. Still, the police report revealed the criminalist's opinion that the benzo (Alprazalom) was within therapeutic levels, on the low end actually, and though she couldn't say it impaired him, she would say the mixture with alcohol (would not be recommended). So, with all that I learned at the Winter Session, I was confident to go forward with these facts. Additionally, client swears he did not take Alprazalom. Client takes 89 mg of Ecotrin 9 (an NSAID) daily for heart issues. I was prepared to argue a false positive as there is some literature that suggests NSAID's can result in a false positive result for benzo. But still, the confirming panel came out as Alprazalom, so I was unlikely to win there.

After hearing all the motions in limine and my arguments that the Carboxy-THC was irrelevant and should not even be admitted, the matter settled for the Dry.

Why was the DDA so intent on going forward on this case? Well, it had to do with the collision, the benzo and one other stubborn fact. Client picked up a 3rd DUI while we were litigating the 2nd. That case involved client driving his golf-cart across Highway 111, a state highway. In that case, he blew a 0.28. 0ops. His mugshot, as you might suspect, was equally lovely. It depicted a man in ruffled clothes sporting a deep red glow, the kind one gets out here in the Desert from sleeping under a creosote bush for too long! After much research and discussion with the City Planners in Rancho Mirage regarding their enacted golf cart plan, I realized that the road he was floating on was not covered under the city's plan (there goes my 1538.5 motion to suppress). So I was able to wrap up everything yesterday for the dry (second case), 2TT on the 0.28 case (third case) and VOP on the first case withdrawn.

Thanks, again, NCDD for a thoroughly entertaining and helpful seminar!


Melanie Roe

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