DUI Myths Debunked Part II

shutterstock_172246274-thumb-500x334-65730-thumb-500x334-65731-thumb-600x400-65779-thumb-600x400-65732Booze isn’t the Only Thing That’ll Land you on the Judge’s Naughty List this Holiday Season

There are a lot of urban legends, tall tales and misinformation going around about DUI laws in Nebraska; it’s a timely issue during the holidays. While it’s never a good idea to drink or take drugs and drive, it can be helpful to have an understanding of what the law really says on the topic.

In this two part series, Hightower Reff Partner Attorney and criminal law guru Susan Reff debunks some popular DUI myths. This installment focuses on something other than alcohol that has a lot of people buzzing this holiday season. “Drunk” driving isn’t the only thing that’s on the naughty list.Many people will be pulled over during the next few weeks after drinking at a holiday party. But drinking isn’t the only thing that may leave you in a jail cell feeling less than festive. Drugged driving can also land you in trouble with the law – or worse. Nebraska law prohibits not only driving under the influence of alcohol, but also under the influence of any drug – “drugged driving.” Some people think that police can’t tell if you are on drugs. If you get pulled over high, you’ll quickly learn otherwise.

A prescription isn’t a free pass.  

Illegal street drugs or a legitimate prescription from your doc can both land you a DUI if they impair “to any appreciable degree” your ability to operate a motor vehicle “in a prudent and cautious manner.” So that prescription is far from a get out of jail free card.

The breathalyzer isn’t the only trick in a police officer’s bag.

The police usually start with breathalyzer if they suspect you are under the influence of something that is impairing your ability to drive. If that is negative, or if they suspect you are under the influence of something other than alcohol, they will start a testing process that is recognized by the courts, using one of Nebraska’s specially trained drug recognition expert (DRE) law enforcement officers.If the officer who pulls you over isn’t a DRE, he or she can call one to the scene.

The DRE drill.

The nationally recognized DRE process identifies seven categories of drugs.Drug Recognition Experts are specially trained to recognize the physical signs and behaviors that indicate someone is under the influence of any of these seven categories of drugs – and even what kind of drug they are likely on.The specially trained DRE officer will take you through a step by step procedure to find out what drugs you might have used. The system involves the officer making thee determinations:

  1. That you are impaired and that the impairment is not consistent with alcohol intoxication;
  2. Whether there are medical causes that could account for your signs and symptoms;
  3. What type of drug is responsible for your impairment

The DRE will use a breathalyzer along with an interview and physical exam to form his or her opinion. The final step is to use toxicology to determine the presence of drugs in your system.

Don’t Go It Alone

Hightower Reff knows DUI law. If you or a friend needs help, call us. A DUI can be devastating and you shouldn’t go it alone.

Call the office at 402-932-9550, or contact us online and make an appointment to come visit with us about your case during an initial consultation.  Don’t go it alone. This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

Holiday Parenting Time – Avoiding a Nightmare Before (or During) Christmas

boy with chalkboard logo parenting pointers-thumb-700x466-65474-thumb-500x332-65475Holiday parenting time can be hard for parents living apart but parenting together. But, as the title of this article promised, there are some things you can try to help smooth holiday parenting time and avoid a nightmare before (or during) Christmas.

As longtime child custody lawyers, we know that trying to make holiday parenting time work so everyone is happy can be hard on you. That’s especially so when you feel like you’re the only parent who’s trying. But remember, what you’re doing is in the best interests of your children. It’s all about them.

An added incentive to consider – the potential benefits of working hard to minimize holiday parenting time troubles between you and the other parent go far beyond making the holidays nice for your child. Child psychology experts say that after a divorce, parental conflict over child care issues puts children at greater risk for behavioral and emotional problems.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid a parenting time nightmare before (or during) Christmas.

Know school schedules in advance

Just when you think you have it all worked out and everything is cool, the school goes and changes the holiday break schedule. Even if your parenting plan can adjust to the new schedule without confusion, a change in school calendars may change the amount of time you have with your child. If you realize it at the last minute, you’re less likely to find a solution that both parents can agree on before the holiday.

In the best case scenario, you and the other parent are able to agree to change things up a bit to give your child an opportunity to have as much time as possible with both parents. But if you can’t agree, you may need to enlist the help of an attorney. For that reason, it’s a good idea to check holiday calendars for the school year as soon as the school publishes them. If you didn’t do that for this school year, check the calendar now for all of the holidays yet to come and try to get things worked out as best you can if there is an issue.

Stick to the plan

This may sound simple, but you might be surprised at how frequently one parent decides, on their own, to do something a little different during holiday parenting time without saying anything to the other parent. Usually it’s because they believe it’s a minor change that’s no big deal. Their belief is nearly always incorrect.

Whether it’s something like changing pick up or drop off time by just fifteen minutes, or having someone else pick up your child and bring them to your holiday celebration instead of picking them up yourself, if it’s something different from what the parenting plan says, don’t do it unless the other parent knows your plan and agrees. Both parents must agree in advance on any deviations from the parenting plan.

Figure things out early and communicate

This is the most important thing: communication. However it works best in your situation, let the other parent know what your plans are and give them all the info they need to feel informed and clear about what is going on.

Many times, if we’re in the dark about something, our imagination takes over and we conjure up all kinds of things that upset us and can cause arguments for no reason. Clear, consistent communication can alleviate this avoidable problem.

Don’t be a holiday parenting time Grinch

This is where the “being the bigger person” part comes in. No matter how you feel about the other parent, their holiday traditions, their significant other, or anything else that matters to your child, don’t bad mouth or bash.

As hard as it is sometimes, remember that it’s about doing what’s right for your child’s feelings and well-being; it isn’t about you. When you communicate with your child about their holiday time with the other parent, or your child is telling you about it, be positive. By doing so, you’ll make your child feel supported.

Also, if something happens that is beyond your ex’s control, or is out of the ordinary, be flexible. For instance, if you are supposed to have the kids Christmas Day and your ex is supposed to have them Christmas Eve, but the ex is called into work on Christmas Eve, try to accommodate some time for them to enjoy Christmas Day with the kids, even if it puts a damper on some of your plans.

Get technical 

There are lots of options for sharable calendars on the web – ranging from Google to parenting calendar websites. Use one of them.

Shared calendars are a great tool to make sure everyone is clear on who needs to be where when, so everyone is on the same page. If you have tech trouble, you may even ask your child to participate and help you out. Most kids are tech savvy by elementary school. This will make them feel included in an appropriate way while giving them clarity as well.

Don’t Go It Alone

If all else fails and you need legal advice or need to take action on a parenting plan problem that manifests itself over the holidays, Hightower Reff has a team of experienced child custody attorneys and a mediator who can help.

Call the office at 402-932-9550, or contact us online and make an appointment to come visit with us about your parenting time issue during an initial consultation.  Don’t go it alone.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

For details about the author, Hightower Reff Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower-Hennevisit her profile page.

More information about Hightower Reff’sChild Custody practice is available here.

To schedule a time to meet with one of the experienced attorneys at our downtown office, contact us.

Male domestic violence survivors

Domestic violence brings can bring to mind an image of a woman with bruises and black eyes. While this is one face of domestic violence, there are others. Some of them – more than you may think – are male domestic violence survivors.

According to a Centers for Disease Control survey, more than 1 in 4 men will be victims of intimate partner abuse during their lifetimes.

Getting help in a domestic violence/intimate partner abuse situation can be frightening and humiliating. As an attorney who’s worked in this specialized field of law for nearly a decade, I’ve found that embarrassment can be especially intense for male survivors.

If you’re a man experiencing intimate partner abuse, know that there are attorneys who are sensitive to your circumstances and will listen to you. Also, the law is here to protect ALL survivors of domestic violence – male and female.

Nebraska Criminal Domestic Assault Statutes are Gender Neutral

Nebraska law recognizes domestic assault as a separate crime from other forms of assault. Additionally, the language of the statute does not require that there be an actual physical injury for a domestic assault to have happened. In certain situations, threats can be enough.

This law is drafted the way it is in recognition of the fact that domestic abuse takes many different forms – from threats and intimidation to physical assault with weapons or other things that cause injury.

Nebraska Family Law Statues Offer Protection for Male Domestic Violence Survivors 

Nebraska Family Law Statues include the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act. The Act protects all victims of domestic violence and is intended to provide services to help deal with its trauma.

As its name indicates, the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act also provides protection from domestic abuse in the form of protection orders and penalties for violating them.

Domestic abuse protection orders can prohibit an abuser from “threatening, restraining, assaulting, molesting, attacking or otherwise disturbing the peace” of his or her victim. The orders can also forbid phone calls and all forms of contact, remove an abuser from the place where the victim lives and provide for temporary custody of children, among other things.

Emergency Protection Orders 

A traditional protection order requires that the alleged perpetrator be given notice and the opportunity to appear at a hearing to defend themselves against the proposed order. However, the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act allows for emergency protection orders where the victim can show they are in immediate danger of abuse.

These emergency hearings, during which only the survivor is present, are called “ex-parte” hearings. If the court refuses to issue a temporary, ex-parte emergency protection order, it will schedule a hearing where both sides have the chance to present evidence. If the alleged abuser doesn’t show up for that hearing or shows up and fails to convince the court, the court will issue the protection order.

If the court agrees to enter a temporary protection order, the order will remain in effect while the court allows time for the accused to be served with the order and to appear and defend themselves against the protection order continuing.

Once the alleged abuser is served with the ex-parte protection order, it can go several ways:

  • If the alleged abuser is served with the protection order, but doesn’t contact the court to request a hearing within 5 days of being served, the temporary order becomes a final order for one year.
  • If the alleged abuser does request a hearing within 5 days of being served, but  doesn’t show up for the hearing, the order also becomes final for one year.
  • If the alleged abuser requests the hearing within the required time period, and then shows up for the hearing, the court will hear evidence from both sides and decide if the protection order should stand.

When Children are Exposed to Domestic Violence

Along with recognizing that men are sometimes the victims of domestic violence, Nebraska law also recognizes that children exposed to that domestic violence are affected – regardless of who is the victim and who is the abuser.

The law says that both parents are responsible for protecting children from the physical and psychological trauma of domestic violence. This means getting the children out of environments where they’re exposed to domestic violence.

Parents who fail to keep their children out of harm’s way when it comes to domestic violence may lose custody. This could mean the children are placed in foster care – with strangers or with a relative. Whether you’re mom or dad, if you’re a victim of domestic violence and your kids are exposed to it, you’re putting your children and your parental rights at risk.

Protecting Children When you Leave

Regardless of your gender, it’s crucial to take steps to protect your children when you leave a domestic violence situation. That means getting protective orders and custody orders in place. An attorney who knows the ins and outs of the legal and safety issues involved is an important support.

The Nebraska Parenting Act has special provisions for developing Parenting Plans in custody cases involving domestic violence. In all custody cases, specially trained mediators are required to screen for domestic violence. If they determine that domestic violence is an issue, they may find that mediation isn’t appropriate, or that another form of specialized dispute resolution is advisable during which a parenting plan with appropriate protections can be developed and agreed upon by both parties.

If mediation is not an option, or not successful, and the court has to develop a parenting plan in a domestic abuse case, the plan will include provisions to protect the child and/or the child’s parent from further harm.

Don’t Go It Alone

Hightower Reff has a team of attorneys experienced in the specialized issues and procedures that come with domestic abuse cases.

From the criminal end to protection orders and family law and custody issues, we can help. One of our lawyers would be glad to meet with you to talk about how we can help with your case.

Call the office at 402-932-9550, or contact us and make an appointment to come visit with us about your case at our downtown Omaha, Nebraska office.  Don’t go it alone.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

For details about the author, Hightower Reff Attorney Scott Hahn, visit his profile page.

More information about protection orders is available here.