Police Are Issuing Tickets During the Pandemic

Sometime early in lockdown folks in the Portland metro area heard that cops weren’t responding to any non-life threatening calls that weren’t domestic violence related. A lot of people took that to mean people weren’t going to be pulling people over for speeding. Since then we have seen an uptick in high speed tickets as well as a large number of people cited and released for Reckless Driving. Sunday is not a fun day when the cops are involved.

If you are convicted of going 100 mph or more the judge must suspend your license for at least 90 days.

Reckless driving is a Class A misdemeanor, which is the same crime level as a DUII.

Based on my conversations with clients and police, it seems like traffic enforcement is higher than usual. Perhaps because crime in general and road traffic are down the cop to driver ratio is higher?

Either way, we’re working as usual if you need us.


New Cellphone/ Mobile Electronic Device Law in Effect October 1, 2017

On August 2, 2017, Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill 2597 into law. HB 2597 amends our current cell phone law, ORS 811.507, Operating a Motor Vehicle While Using a Mobile Communication Device to Operating a Motor Vehicle While Using a Mobile Electronic Device.

The changes go far deeper than the title, of course. The new law is a reaction to State v. Rabanales-Ramos, a 2015 case that gave us a little more wiggle room when it came to cellphone tickets. Under the new law, a Mobile Electronic Device is defined as any “…device capable of text messaging, voice communication, entertainment, navigation, accessing the Internet or producing electronic mail.” This covers far more than our old definition of communication devices, which was “…a text messaging device or a wireless, two-way communication device designed to receive and transmit voice or text communication.”

Under the new version a court can find us guilty when we “hold” an MED or use an MED “for any purpose”. We can’t use it when we are at a stop sign or stopped in bumper to bumper traffic because “[d]riving means operating a motor vehicle on a highway or premises open to the public, and while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device or other momentary delays.” That means we can no longer rely on the traditional definition of “driving” – to move or propel.

In addition to the stricter law, the legislature has drastically increased the penalties. Operating a Vehicle while using a Mobile Electronic Device will become a B violation with a presumptive $265 fine. If there is a crash you’re looking at  A violation with a presumptive $435 fine. Penalties will increase dramatically for subsequent convictions. For a first offense the court will offer a class in lieu of a fine, but that arrangement puts a conviction on your record.  A second conviction in ten years is deemed an A violation, with no option to take a class. The offense will be enhanced to a B misdemeanor, an actual crime with potential jail time with a minimum fine of $2,000 for a third conviction in 10 years. People who were convicted under the previous law will also face the increased penalties, so I’m preparing to challenge prior convictions.

I still see some defenses in there, but they are doing their best to chip away at them. I look forward to fighting back.



It looks like misdemeanor treatment will be based on previous convictions of the new MED law rather than the MCD law we’ve had for a few years.

It’s Still Illegal to Impose More Jail For Going to Trial

The original post on this topic is here: More Jail for Trial? No!

The Court of Appeals has reversed three convictions recently for judges imposing more jail on someone who went to trial:

State v. Robledo, 281 Or App 96 (2016) (Egan, J.) Robledo opinion

State v. Bradley, 281 Or App 696 (2016) (Tookey, J.) Bradley opinion

State v. Criswell, 281 Or App 146 (2016) (Garrett, J.) (this one was for a harsher sentence following appeal) Criswell opinion

Point being, it’s really true: courts cannot use the sentencing power as a stick to force people into pleading guilty, and lawyers should not assist with it. It’s illegal, and it’s morally reprehensible.

Photo Traffic Tickets

Many people just pay photo tickets  believing that the photograph makes it too hard to win. In fact, photo tickets come with a series of hoops for the government which often makes them more winnable than traditional tickets.

Once you hire an attorney we will give the court and prosecutor notice that we are “challenging the statutory preconditions to the issuance of the citation. We typically call this a King Motion, after a case called “State of Oregon v Kermit King”.  ORS 810.436 and 810.439 lay out the preconditions like a checklist.

The precondition I get the most traction out of at trial is 810.439(E) or the sister statute 810.436(d);  which require the government to show that the citation was mailed within 6 or 10 days respectively. Since the cop didn’t mail it the government will have to bring someone who has personal knowledge about the mailing. If at all possible, save the envelope the ticket was mailed in so we can check the postmark. If we can show it wasn’t postmarked in time, we should win!

Many of my clients tell me that they didn’t see the required signage. Most cops working the vans simply testify that they put the signs up and that is the end of it. Judges tend to believe that it’s more likely the driver missed the signs than that the cop is lying under oath. There are times, especially with fixed photo radar, that we can impeach the officer’s testimony with photographs showing the signs were not in compliance.

Another question I get a lot is about the photos themselves; they tend to be blurry and sometimes even dark. The legislature seemed to take bad photography into consideration when they added the rebuttable presumption to the preconditions. That means it is up to the defendant to show that they were not the driver. Typically the government has burden of showing that the defendant was driving but that has been shifted in these tickets.

If you aren’t the driver, sign the certificate of innocence and send it back ASAP. Unless you are a business or government entity you do not have to rat out the driver. If it was you or you can’t tell, hire a lawyer,  plead not guilty and go to trial. False swearing is a felony, you don’t want to turn your traffic ticket into a crime of moral turpitude.

As in any legal matter, it’s always easy to get a good result with a lawyer by your side.

Oregon DUII Diversion — How Long to Decide?

If you’re arrested for DUII and you’re eligible for the Oregon DUII Diversion program, the law generally requires that you file your Diversion petition within 30 days of your first court appearance. ORS 813.210(1). However, that deadline can be extended for “good cause.” ORS 813.210(1)(a). The legislature didn’t give us much guidance on what constitutes “good cause,” but they told us what doesn’t: filing a motion to suppress, demurrer, omnibus hearing, or starting a trial.

That 30 day period is extended in drug DUIIs if police obtained a blood or urine sample and there’s no notice of >.08% BAC. In that case, the Diversion window ends 14 days after the prosecutor sends blood or urine testing results to the defendant. ORS 813.210(1)(c).

In 2013 Oregon passed a “Brady Bill,” codifying the discovery obligations of Brady v. Maryland, 373 US 83 (1963). The prosecutor must disclose police reports, notes, and any lab note results of blood alcohol content (BAC). ORS 135.815(1), (3). But subsection (2) addresses timing, indicating those disclosures “shall occur without delay after arraignment and prior to the entry of any guilty plea pursuant to an agreement with the state. If the existence of the material or information is not known at that time, the disclosure shall be made upon discovery without regard to whether the represented defendant has entered or agreed to enter a guilty plea.” ORS 135.815(2).

Most courts understand that a guilty or no contest plea entered without full discovery is on its face not an intelligent and knowing plea. That is, without a lab report indicating what BAC the state attributes to the defendant, the defendant cannot know how her lawyer would defend the case. Lawyers do not defend under-the-limit DUII cases the same way we defend over-the-limit DUII cases. An accurate measurement of BAC can help protect the innocent and convict the guilty, and it is arguably the most important piece of evidence in any DUII case — because it harks from science, not opinion.

Point being: even though the legislature didn’t tell us what “good cause” meant for delaying an Oregon DUII Diversion decision, they did tell us that we’re not supposed to permit guilty pleas without full discovery.

There are times where it may, nevertheless, be wise to enter a plea to enter DUII Diversion without full discovery. For instance, if you feel that you were three sheets to the wind while driving, and you want to start the Diversion obligations, you are not required to wait until blood draw results come back from the Crime Lab (which typically take 6-8 weeks at the time of this writing). The nice thing about starting Diversion obligations in that situation are: (1) they then end sooner; (2) sometimes starting the process of Diversion helps deal with guilt or shame brought on by the arrest; (3) the Ignition Interlock Device (IID) requirement can start during a time when you’re already suspended for refusing or failing a breath test; and (4) early recognition of an alcohol problem can be looked on favorably by courts and prosecutors in relation to other pending charges from the night of the arrest (Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering, etc.).

The short answer to “how long you have to decide” is: 30 days from your first court appearance. But if discovery is not complete, the law makes clear that you shouldn’t be required to enter a plea and enter the Oregon DUII Diversion program just yet — to give up your rights and defenses at trial, you have to know about what they’d be. And most lawyers can’t tell you how they’d defend your case without knowing what the BAC is.

DUII Trial — Won’t the Court Impose More Jail?

Oregon DUII defendants are frequently concerned about an increased  jail penalty if they lose at trial after rejecting a plea deal.

It is unlawful for a court to “impose a sentence that is longer than it would have been had [one] not exercised the right to go to trial or not utilized a defense that was inconsistent with owning up to his misdeeds.” State v. Fitzgibbons, 114 Or App 581, 586 (1992). “[C]ourts must not use the sentencing power as a carrot and stick to clear congested calendars, and they must not create an appearance of such a practice. * * * [T]he record must affirmatively show that the court sentenced the defendant solely upon the facts of his case and his personal history, and not as punishment for his refusal to plead guilty.” 114 Or App at 586-87 (quoting State v. Smith, 52 Or App 681 (1981), and United States v. Stockwell, 472 F2d 1186, 1187 (9th Cir), cert den 411 US 948 (1973)).

Fitzgibbons reversed a 10-day jail sentence for harassment based in part on the judge’s commentary “that negotiated pleas are based upon whether or not someone is willing to accept responsibility for their behavior and talk to the Court about that behavior and move on with their life or whether they wish to go to trial, they wish to contest it. Those are two different mind sets. I’m dealing with two different people, I’m dealing with two different situations. That’s what I’m looking at. I’m not looking at a penalty for a trial.” 114 Or App at 585-86. The Court of Appeals found sentencing with those considerations was, in fact, a trial penalty. Id.

Reversal was similarly required in State v. Qualey, 138 Or App 74 (1995):

“From my perspective [defendant], you traumatized [the victim] twice: Once was on the day of the incident, and the second was putting him through this court hearing here again. That was a choice you made after lots of reflection, [and] after plenty of opportunity to consider the alternatives * * *.”

After the court conveyed the terms of defendant’s sentence, defendant’s attorney questioned the motivation behind the sentencing decision:

“It sounds as though part of the sentence being imposed is because [defendant] exercise[ed] his constitutional right to have a trial. He is being penalized because he asked for a trial, and the District Attorney felt compelled to call the witness.”

The court responded:

“[Defendant] is entitled to exercise his rights. He is not insulated from the consequences of doing that when it harms other people and there are viable alternatives. * * * The District Attorney offered him Assault in the Fourth Degree and no jail time prior to trial, and [defendant] decided to roll the dice and gamble. That involved not only him and court time and you and the D.A., but it also involved the witnesses, including a small child * * *. That was a decision [defendant] made and he is not insulated from the consequences of that simply because he had a constitutional right to make that decision.”

138 Or App at 76-77 (emphasis in original). Reversal was required – trial penalties simply impermissibly burden and chill a defendant’s absolute right to her day in court.

Point being: it is unlawful for a court to issue a harsher punishment to an Oregon DUII defendant who loses at trial than to a defendant who enters a plea without trial. That’s because trial is a right — not a license, or a privilege. One cannot be punished for exercising a right. Otherwise, it’s not a right at all.

There are two scenarios where I risk more jail by going to trial: (1) where the DA makes a plea offer that dismisses charges (especially more serious charges — particularly if they’re Measure 11); or (2) where the defendant testifies. Scenario 1 is self-explanatory. Scenario 2 happens because some judges propose that if a defendant testified, yet a jury found them guilty, the jury must have believed there was lying in the court. For that reason, among many others, it’s often a better idea in DUII trials to not testify or offer additional evidence. Now that more DUIIs are videotaped, I find less reason to call clients as witnesses at trial — because they’ve said everything important on that video, on the night of the arrest. And in a case where you don’t testify, the judge instructs the jury: “A defendant has an absolute constitutional right not to testify. Therefore, a defendant’s decision not to testify cannot be considered as an indication of guilt. It should not be commented on or in any way considered by you in your deliberations.”

My experience with juries (including being on a jury) leads me to believe that jurors honor and follow those instructions. They want to follow the law, and they will enforce the Constitution. Juries are a great bulwark against the accusatory power of the state — a power that, unchecked, can destroy lives based on raw accusation.


This blog post was — surprisingly to me — probably our firm’s most controversial. Most comments on Facebook came from defense lawyers defending judicial practice in their locality of punishing people for exercising their right to trial. Some of the posters took a “federalist” bent, arguing that a trial penalty is perfectly OK in federal courts. The argument forgets that we have state law right on point — and we don’t get to federal law until we deal first with state law. We are not dealing with a blank slate, with no state law decision.

The case is Fitzgibbon, cited above. What follows is a portion of the trial judge’s impermissible commentary that resulted in reversal for re-sentencing: “And you know and I know that in Federal Court that negotiated pleas are based upon whether or not someone is willing to accept responsibility for their behavior and talk to the Court about that behavior and move on with their life or whether they wish to go to trial, they wish to contest it” (emphasis added). In other words, the Court of Appeals has met this “federal sentencing” argument, and said: NOT HERE. If you can be punished for exercising a right, it is no right at all.

How Much Alcohol is Healthy?

The short answer for how much alcohol is healthy is: not much. 1-2 doses per day for men, 1 for women. “Bingeing,” weekends-only, for example, is much more harmful than moderate regular use.

Many studies suggest that up to 4 drinks per day for men, and up to 2 for women, provide an overall health benefit. Augusto Di Castelnuovo, ScD; Simona Costanzo, ScD; Vincenzo Bagnardi, ScD; Maria Benedetta Donati, MD, PhD; Licia Iacoviello, MD, PhD; Giovanni de Gaetano, MD, PhD, “Alcohol Dosing and Total Mortality in Men and Women: An Updated Meta-analysis of 34 Prospective Studies,” JAMA Internal Medicine (Dec 2006), available here. However, the CDC reports lower numbers — up to 2 drinks for men and 1 for women. Why?

The CDC considers a man to have transitioned from moderate to excessive drinking when he consumes more than 4 drinks in a day or 14 drinks in a week (3 and 7 for women). That’s the same daily drinking conclusions from the collection of studies above. The difference is the weekly drinking standards.

In a Study published in Alcohol, Japan’s Hyogo College of Medicine researchers found that cholesterol, triglyceride and overall blood-borne fats tend to build up in heavy drinkers and — especially — occasional heavy drinkers. In other words, occasionally heavy drinkers have more blood-borne fat than regular heavy drinkers.

Triglyceride and cholesterol levels are regular parts of medical checkups as we age. Pay attention to those levels. If you see elevated levels, consider either changing your drinking habits or ceasing drinking. At some point, we have to weigh the (substantial, non-trivial) benefits of regular moderate alcohol use — longer life, less risk of heart disease, less chance of ischemic stroke and diabetes — against our actual blood test results. Objective, individual evidence wins against trends in health among large populations.

Incidentally, I should point out that road deaths significantly decline when a state adopts legal marijuana access (an average of 15% reduction in traffic fatalities). If alcohol might be a problem in your life, consider a switch to cannabis as your go-to stress relief. It comes with far less side-effects, including hangover, is a natural powerful anti-inflammatory, and offers a growing list of health benefits. When I see clients make the switch to cannabis from alcohol (or opiates), it has always inured to a net public good. Better for them, better for those around them, all-around better.

Is there another reason CDC might suggest the lower levels of alcohol use? It could be because the CDC is worried about people developing alcohol use disorder, which the CDC describes as, “a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work.” In plain English: if your drinking is causing problems.

The CDC might also understate healthy alcohol use out of our country’s particular strain of Puritanism. The same energy that fueled the Puritans fueled Prohibition and resulted in the passage of the 18th Amendment banning alcohol. That same energy fuels the Drug War, the War on Women. And it all comes back to: piety. Wanting to tell other adults what they can and cannot do with their own body. Denying people agency. Control. Or, as one colleague termed it, “Everybody on probation / Everybody in treatment” thinking. (Don’t get me started on kids — the CDC says that “binge drinking” is any underage drinking. So if your kid takes Communion, or has wine at Passover: binge drinking, according to the CDC.)

Finally, what is a dose? 12 oz. of 5% ABV beer. 5% ABV beer is: Deschutes Brewery Twilight Summer Ale, Rainier, etc. Lighter beers. If you order a pint — 16 oz. — of Ninkasi IPA, consider that about 2 doses. A dose is also 5 oz. of wine — i.e., not a restaurant pour. Or 1.5 oz. of distilled spirits. You cannot “bank” your doses — in other words, having 14 doses on the weekend, but abstaining during the week, isn’t healthy. In conclusion, be careful out there, be thoughtful and honest about alcohol use, but don’t think abstinence is the healthiest thing for everyone.

The Wars on Drugs / DUII / Prostitution are Wars on Real People

When the government wants to over-criminalize an area, its favored tool is scare-mongering, or “worst-case-scenario syndrome.” Thus, in a run-of-the-mill .09% DUII trial with no bad driving, and a pull-over for a license plate light out, you’re guaranteed to hear talk about carnage on our highways. In a routine drug possession case, you’ll hear stories of addiction and loss that simply don’t match the facts. Lately, in prostitution cases you won’t hear that word as much as “human trafficking” — because it’s easier to get convictions if you call it that. In the March, 2015, Oregon State Bar Bulletin, the following discipline was reported (last name shortened to “R” because this poor guy has had his name dragged through the mud enough):

OSB #73xxxx
Lake Oswego
Public reprimand

By order dated Dec. 30, 2014, the disciplinary board publicly reprimanded Robert R. for violating RPC 8.4(a)(2) (committing a criminal act that reflects adversely upon fitness as a lawyer).

Over a period of several years, R. paid an adult prostitute to engage in sexual conduct or sexual contact. In April 2014, R. pleaded guilty to five counts of patronizing a prostitute in violation of ORS 167.008, a Class A misdemeanor.

R. and the bar stipulated to several aggravating circumstances, including substantial experience in the practice of law and a pattern of misconduct. In mitigation, the stipulation noted an absence of prior discipline, full and free disclosure (R. cooperated with law enforcement and reported his conviction to the bar) and the imposition of other penalties (18 months probation in the criminal proceeding).

My question: why was this lawyer disciplined at all? His bar number is from the year of my birth — meaning he’s at least in his 60’s. He was lonely, and he had an honest, long-term relationship with an adult with full agency. He didn’t breach or abuse their relationship. There was no force, coercion, or trafficking of an underage person.

His discipline comes down to the criminalization of adult conduct that we all know will happen. It’s called “the world’s oldest profession” for a reason. It’s not going anywhere. That prostitution is still illegal underscores the government’s discomfort with nuance: prostitution can be a violent system of exploit. It can also be a mature relationship between consenting adults. We should criminalize the former, and permit the latter. It seems like the most effective way to do so would be to legalize and regulate an industry that we know exists and will always exist. Instead, like drugs, the government chooses to create a unregulated black market. In so choosing, we knowingly put more kids and humans everywhere at risk — decriminalization of sex work would avert 33-46% of HIV infections in the next decade.

That statistic and many more are the result of years of studies that have led major human rights organizations to recommend decriminalization. Amnesty International; the United Nations; Human Rights Watch; and the World Health Organization all have adopted resolutions recognizing that the best way to protect the safety of sex-workers (and their clients and clients’ families) is to legalize the industry. By refusing to do so, we imperil our own citizens. Our government becomes an assistant to actual human traffickers — because they work in the dark, in an unregulated, illegal industry, rather than working in the light, in an industry with health and safety protections.

We have hope that the recent legalization of marijuana — without the sky falling — will help humanity evolve to decriminalize other forms of human conduct, like prostitution for a mature, lonely lawyer in his 60’s who wants to contribute to an adult sex-worker’s business of choice. The government has no business being in their bedrooms. Hopefully, in a few years I can look on this man’s disciplinary reprimand as an anachronism — the same way I would look at a lawyer’s old discipline for marijuana possession now. In both situations, it’s not the lawyer who erred — it’s us.

IID False Positives: donuts, bagels, Altoids, and coffee

How to avoid IID false positives? Don’t eat or drink anything within 15 minutes of using an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). And since they come with “rolling re-tests,” don’t eat or drink while driving at all.

That’s the advice I give everyone about IIDs. It is shocking, and a life-change for many busy people who typically have coffee or food while driving. I give this advice, however, for a few different reasons: Continue reading

DUII Mugshot Websites and HB 3467

Many of my DUII clients have been victimized by the “mugshot” websites or “Busted”-type magazines. Those entities prey on human frailty. Their customers are, in a documented sense, dealing with truly low self-esteem.

On one hand, who cares about the troglodytes who would buy (!) Busted or check out those websites? On the other hand, many employers “Google” someone before offering them a job? Continue reading