DUI Myths Debunked – Part I

shutterstock_241535338-thumb-400x267-65292-thumb-400x267-65293There are a lot of urban legends, tall tales and misinformation going around about DUI laws in Nebraska. In other words, DUI myths.

In this two part series – DUI Myths Debunked, Hightower Reff Partner Attorney and criminal law guru Susan Reff sets the record straight about some popular DUI myths.

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 of driving under the influence.

 DUI Myth #1: Everyone gets at least one DUI. It’s no big deal.

False. Even one DUI can be devastating. You can lose your driver’s license for up to one year, pay a $500 fine and may spend up to sixty days in jail.

If your job requires you to drive, this could mean you can’t work. Also, many employers do background checks on prospective employees, so even one DUI conviction could make it more difficult to find employment.

If you are convicted, Nebraska law says you will also have to pay for an alcohol assessment before your sentencing. If it recommends treatment and the judge orders it, you have to pay for that too – and it won’t be cheap. Alcohol treatment programs can cost several thousand dollars.

DUI Myth #2: If the car isn’t moving or I’m not actually driving when the police officer sees me, they can’t give me a DUI.

False. You can be convicted of driving under the influence if you are driving a motor vehicle or are “in actual physical control” of a motor vehicle.

Most often these DUI without actually driving cases happen when someone is asleep at the wheel in a parked car.

DUI Myth #3: Using breath mints or mouthwash or sucking on a penny can fool a breathalyzer.

This is also false. There is an urban legend that the copper in a penny can fool a breathalyzer but it isn’t true. Of course, this is a moot point anyway since today’s pennies are made mostly of zinc, not copper.

Regarding mouthwash and mints: mouthwash or certain breath mints containing menthol can actually cause a false fail of a breathalyzer test because they can be read as mouth alcohol.

The breathalyzer is meant to measure the alcohol on your breath coming from inside your lungs, but it can also pick up alcohol in the mouth – or other substances that can read as alcohol in the mouth. For this reason, police officers always check the inside of your mouth before administering the breathalyzer test so they can make sure nothing is in your mouth that can be misread on the test.

DUI Myth #4: If I refuse to take sobriety tests, police can’t arrest me.

This is also not true. Nebraska law says that by driving a car, your consent is implied to a chemical test or test of your blood, breath and urine to determine if you are driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance.

A police officer with reasonable grounds to believe that you were driving or in the actual physical control of a motor vehicle can require you to submit to sobriety testing.

You can refuse the field sobriety tests without being charged, but not the preliminary breath test (at the scene) or the test at the station. If you refusethat testing, you can be charged with a separate crime and the officer must advise you of that – or the State can’t bring separate charges. The refusal to submit to testing can also be used as evidence against you regarding the DUI charges.

Don’t Go It Alone.

Hightower Reff knows DUI law. Don’t base your decisions if you get a DUI on what you think the law says, or you may fall victim to DUI myths. If you or a friend needs help, contact 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.

Domestic Violence and the Military: What to Know if It Happens to You

shutterstock_363338615-thumb-500x334-68160Sara Palin’s son Track’s recent arrest for domestic violence related charges has put the issue of veterans and domestic violence in the headlines. The Palin camp says that the army vet’s service in Iraq resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which contributed to the issues that led to the incident.

Whether PTSD or something else is truly the major contributing factor to Track Palin’s problems, one thing is clear. Domestic violence among our active military and veterans is a problem…and an underreported one at that.

Getting help in a domestic violence situation can be frightening and humiliating for anyone. For members of our military and their significant others, the stakes are high and the issues can be even more complicated.

Reasons Military Domestic Violence May Go Unreported

In military domestic violence cases, it could be the abuser’s career at stake, which makes some victims reluctant to report. In many military families, the service member is the sole source of support for the family, so the fear of losing that income can be daunting.

Also, military life is unique. Many families move from base to base, sometimes in foreign countries. This can lead to a feeling of isolation that adds to the fear of reporting for survivors.

Get Help and Know Your Options 

The military offers its own set of resources to address domestic violence, including the Family Advocacy Program (FAP). Family advocates are specifically trained to help survivors deal with domestic violence.

There are two options for reporting domestic violence to the military during service: restricted and unrestricted. In restricted reporting, military command and law enforcement are not notified. A restricted report starts with contacting an FAP supervisor, clinician, victim advocate or a health care provider and requesting a “restricted report.” However, those that may be considered at “imminent risk of serious harm” cannot use the restricted report option and it can’t be used in child abuse cases.

After the restricted report is started, the survivor can access victim advocacy services including help in developing a safety plan to prevent further abuse, information about military and civilian protective orders, an escort to meetings, medical and court appointments and information about military and civilian medical, legal and community resources.

The other option is unrestricted reporting, which includes investigation of the abuse and military command involvement. This option can mean added support and protection to the reporting survivor. It can also mean military administrative action against the offender.

If a victim decides to make an unrestricted report, a FAP advocate will help them make a report to civilian law enforcement.

Military spouses who are victims of domestic violence also have all of the traditional means of help available to them – they can report to civilian law enforcement or they can get help at any of the civilian options available to non-military families.

Don’t Go It Alone

If you have questions about your legal options in any domestic violence situation, having an initial consultation with a lawyer trained in this area of the law can be a very helpful support.

When looking for an attorney, be sure they know family law and are aware of the special legal issues involved in military cases of domestic violence and family law.

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. 

The Nebraska Legal Process of Divorce – What to Expect

divorce sign-thumb-400x260-70510-thumb-400x260-70511Divorce is never easy. The family law attorneys at Hightower Reff in Omaha, Nebraska, have worked with divorce clients for years and have found that when clients know the basic court process in Nebraska divorce, they know better what to expect, so they feel greater peace of mind. This article will give you a rundown of that process.

The Paper Chase

To start your divorce, your lawyer will file a Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage and other paperwork with the Clerk of the District Court. The complaint will ask for the court to dissolve your marriage and to determine issues that need to be included in the court order like division of marital property, spousal support and child custody and support if you have children.

Next, your lawyer will have the other party served with the complaint or get their signature on a Voluntary Appearance. After that, the other side has thirty days to file a written answer to the complaint.

It’s Only Temporary

While the divorce is pending, either side can file motions asking the court to enter temporary orders to decide things like who will live in the house or have custody of the children and how much temporary child support will be paid.

Any temporary orders that are entered will stand until the final decree is entered or until other temporary orders change them.

Getting Ready for Trial or Settlement

It will be several months or more until your divorce is finalized. During those months, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will gather information through a process called discovery.

During discovery, the lawyers will exchange written requests for information. They may have more hearings with the judge to decide what information both sides are entitled to have or to decide any other issues that come up.

There might be depositions was which the attorneys ask questions of witnesses for the opposing sides.

During a deposition, witness’ statements are taken under oath by a court reporter with lawyers from both sides and both parties present.

Deciding the Issues and Getting a Final Order

If you can agree on all of the issues you need to work out to finalize your divorce, you will work with your attorney and/or a mediator to come up with a settlement decree and parenting plan. Both will need to be approved by the court and entered as a court order before they are final and enforceable.

Any issues in the divorce you and your spouse can’t agree on will be decided by the judge at trial. Both sides will put on evidence supporting their position and the judge will issue his or her order in the form of a Divorce Decree.

You’ll have 30 days to appeal the decree and can’t get married again for six months after the decree is issued. 

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.