Drunk Driving: Ignition Interlock in Wisconsin a Mistake


Ignition interlock is the latest atrocity thrust upon us by the legislature in an attempt to solve a real problem in Wisconsin, Drunk Driving. Let’s face it, we are national leaders in this area. Until there is a true cultural change in Wisconsin, our highways will remain killing fields.

Our firm can help you with your legal questions. Check out my website for more information on finding a criminal lawyer.

Residents of the Badger state presume a birthright of imbibing alcohol to their hearts’ content with cheap and plentiful beer being protected in our constitution. Any town large enough to have a four corners is likely to have either a church or a convenience store and three taverns.

So it makes sense to use any means necessary to get drunk drivers off the road, right? Wrong. Ignition interlock has created a cottage industry in Wisconsin of providers. Industry is good. However, contrary to popular belief, these systems are capable of doing more harm than good. We all know that the driver has to blow before starting the car. What many don’t know is that the driver is forced to blow while driving the car. Texting while driving is much safer than this and it’s illegal.

There are other concerns.  IID can cost you your job if you work in a field that requires that you transport clients. Lastly, unless the Court grants you an exemption, your spouse might be forced to have one of these devices which bears a high price tag in her car too.

In the IID will not be cost effective. The law was poorly drafted and leaves a hole big enough to drive a Mack Truck through for us defense lawyers. IID is only imposed in the case of first time offenders if they refuse the test or if their measured PAC is in excess of .15.  It is worth it for defendants to litigate this issue.  Milwaukee County courts are already feeling the crunch of the many first offense cases going to trial on the issue of IID only. I like making money as much as the next guy, but this not a good way to spend tax dollars.

Limit the requirement to repeat offenders if necessary. Studies have shown some success in other states.  But let’s repeal this law as to first offense owi’s.

Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season.

DOJ issues FAQ about CCW – JSOnline

DOJ issues FAQ about CCW – JSOnline.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice has issued a fifty-six page Frequently Asked Questions document referenced in the above Journal Sentinel article with a direct link to the document. One of the most interesting issues raised by this new legislation is not in the criminal arena at all but in civil liability issues raised by a business owner making the decision to prohibit concealed carry on his premises. I think a great deal of litigation will arise out of this change in the law probably costing the taxpayer a considerable investment for a meager return. I like guns as much as the next guy but time will tell as to whether this was a sound fiscal decision for our state.

Our firm can help you with your legal questions. Check out my website for more information on finding a criminal lawyer.

I take my cases too personally….

Really? Really?! I often think that sometimes I’m just not clinical enough on some of my cases. This is the reason that I find myself waking up in the middle of the night thinking about Monday’s court appearance. I’m told that the stress I endure worrying about the outcome of my criminal cases is more than I should. My cardiologist warns me that it’s about as good for me as eating a pound of bacon and my family could do without my surly demeanor.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being a courtroom attorney and I’m darn good at it. I thrive on public speaking and particularly on trying to make an unsympathetic party “see the justice of my position” in the words of Jerry Spence.  But, it’s important to be able to leave work at the office at least some of the time. My wonderful family helps me to do that.

So,  what is a good compromise? After taking a break in the middle of writing this post, I’m not sure there is one. Perhaps you have to be “all in” or “all out.” My clients give me fits when they get caught violating a bail condition. If I let myself get jaded, it’s that much harder for me to argue effectively when the subject comes up before the judge. If you don’t feel for your client, you can’t tell his story to the jury. Every time I make an opening statement, I rise from my seat, walk behind my client placing my hand on his shoulder and start to tell my his story. You just can’t do that convincingly if you don’t take your client’s case personally.

We are often referred to as “hired guns” or “mouthpieces.” If you don’t allow yourself to become affected by your client’s situation, that’s all you are. Upon further reflection, while stress is probably an occupational hazard for a trial lawyer. If you don’t embrace that element, you’re not an effective advocate.

Our firm can help you with your legal questions. Check out my website for more information on finding a criminal lawyer.

Competent investigation is a must

No criminal lawyer can effectively represent his or her clients without engaging the services of a top notch private investigator from time to time. You simply can’t take witness statements yourself as there is a distinct possibility that you may become a witness and therefore conflicted out. The prosecution has a virtual army of investigators and other support staff putting the case against your client together. You can’t put yourself behind the eight-ball before you’re in court.

A good investigator can give you perspective you may lack in a given case. I tend to take my cases a little too personally sometimes. The investigator can  ground a lawyer in reality. My investigator is very good at what he does and is even a polygraph expert. in addition to taking statements, he helps me put clients and witnesses on the “hot seat” and see how they will do under cross exam.

If you are consulting with a criminal defense lawyer, ask him about their investigator. No criminal lawyer can or should be on his own.  Our firm can help you with your legal questions. Check out my website for more information on finding a criminal lawyer.

Private bar appropriation expected to run out of money at least five months early | State Bar of Wisconsin

Private bar appropriation expected to run out of money at least five months early | State Bar of Wisconsin.

The article goes on to discuss hourly rates for appointed attorneys. It is disgraceful. I get paid nearly twice as much when I am appointed as a Guadian ad litem as when I take a SPD case.  Put simply, I and many of my colleagues cannot afford to work at such low rates. Many of us do anyway in order to provide defense for the indigent. I fear that we put the rights of the accused in jeopardy by placing attorneys in untenable positions. If we are a country that values due process, we must ensure the right to counsel.

Circuit Court Cannot Shorten Period of Probation

Here’s one that doesn’t make much sense to me. The District I Court of Appeals held that the Circuit Court cannot shorten a period of probation even if it makes a finding that the probationer is rehabilitated and has no further need for supervision. Is it just me or is this not very good fiscal policy?

Joe Forward, Legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin writes:

In State v. Dowdy, 2010AP772-CR (Oct. 21, 2010), the state challenged the circuit court’s power to reduce Carl Dowdy’s probation period from 10 years to seven, arguing that Wis. Stat. section 973.09(3)(a) allows the court to extend but not reduce a probation period.

Section 973.09(3)(a) states: “Prior to the expiration of any probation period, the court, for cause and by order, may extend probation for a stated period or modify the terms and conditions thereof.”

Because the statute confers authority to “modify the terms and conditions” of probation, Dowdy argued, the statute confers authority to reduce a probation period. The circuit court agreed, and reduced Dowdy’s probation period. The state appealed.

On appeal, the District I appeals court concluded that in enacting section 973.09(3)(a), “the legislature did not intend to grant circuit courts the authority to ‘modify’ probationary dispositions by reducing them in length.”

Announcement of Move to New Firm

I am very pleased to announce that effective November 1, 2010, I will be joining the law firm of Schober Schober & Mitchell, S.C. with offices in Oconomowoc and New Berlin, Wisconsin. My practice will continue to emphasize the defense of the full range of criminal and traffic offenses. My association with the firm will enable me to offer excellent legal services to all of my clients in a much broader range of legal disciplines.

The firm has a long history and its lawyers combine over 400 years of legal experience serving individuals, businesses and branches of government. The attorneys of Schober Schober & Mitchell, S.C. are experienced in virtually all areas of legal practice, including all levels of state and federal courts and government agencies. Find us on the web at http://www.schoberlaw.com.

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