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Grand Forks Criminal Law Blog

Drunk driving and the field sobriety test -- when to challenge

It is a familiar image – a North Dakota police officer on the side of the road watching a driver complete a field sobriety test. The results of these tests are often instrumental in the filing of drunk driving charges, but how accurate are they really? Unlike other forms of testing, field sobriety tests are highly subjective and up to individual officer's discretion. 

A field sobriety test is actually comprised of three different physical tests. Drivers believed to be under the influence will be asked to perform a horizontal gaze test, walk a certain distance then turn back, and stand on one leg for a period of time. Officers use these tests to observe the balance, physical control and concentration of drivers. A good idea in theory, but less so in practice. 

Former middle school teacher charged with sex crimes

A North Dakota teacher is accused of engaging in inappropriate behavior with minor students. Charged with multiple sex crimes, she quit her job teaching middle school science. She had apparently also been the subject of misconduct allegations at school before her arrest. 

Police were first made aware of the 37-year-old teacher's behavior sometime in June 2018. An anonymous tipper claimed that the teacher had engaged in sexual behavior with an underage student. When asked about the alleged relationship, the student denied that anything occurred. However, one of his friends told investigators that the teen had discussed the incident with him. Police again asked the teen, who apparently admitted that inappropriate behavior had occurred. 

Have you considered the true cost of a speeding ticket?

You have undoubtedly caught yourself speeding occasionally, even if you are only going five miles over the speed limit. That is a common infraction.

Unfortunately, speeding often leads to fender benders, and more serious collisions as well. However, even if speeding does not result in an accident, you will face significant consequences if a law enforcement officer arrests you for excessively exceeding the speed limit in Minnesota.

Motorcyclist charged with drunk driving after wreck

A recent single-vehicle accident led to criminal charges for a North Dakota man. The accident involved a motorcycle, and the driver was apparently the only person injured in the wreck, although one official did note that a road sign pole was damaged. Police charged the man -- who is currently in the hospital -- with drunk driving, and he will likely be placed in their custody upon discharge.

According to reports, the 42-year-old man was riding his motorcycle on I-29 shortly before the accident. At approximately 1:00 in the morning, he attempted to exit the interstate and accidentally struck a pole. He was tossed off his motorcycle and suffered injuries that required hospitalization, although the nature of those injuries were not made clear. Police did note that the man did not have a helmet.

Evidence inadmissible in drug crimes case

It is not uncommon for routine traffic stops to lead to serious criminal charges. Consider the following situation -- a North Dakota officer initiates a stop, notes that the driver is behaving strangely and decides to search the car. This happened to a motorist who was subsequently charged with drug crimes. However, a judge recently decided that the evidence collected during that search is not valid.

The driver and his passenger were originally pulled over for driving 2 mph under the posted speed limit. It is not clear why the attending officer originally found this slight deviance from the speed limit suspicious. However, the officer stated that he began to suspect that they were illegally transporting drugs when he realized they were not from the immediate area and did not have any luggage with them. He also claimed that the driver sat too rigidly when spoken to.

3 mistakes criminal defendants commonly make

When you have been charged with a crime, it is important to understand your situation, its implications and the potential consequences that you face. You are in a vulnerable position, and every move that you make could have a major impact on your future. This is why it is imperative that you be aware of the common mistakes criminal defendants often make and ensure that you do not fall prey to any of them.

Consider the following three missteps and be sure to act carefully as you navigate the criminal court system. These mistakes could be the difference between conviction and acquittal, so do not underestimate the importance of your actions.  

White collar crimes charges filed against former principal

Multiple criminal charges can have severe, long-lasting impacts for North Dakota defendants. However, many tend to view charges for white collar crimes as less serious than other allegations, such as burglary or drug violations. These types of crimes are still treated quite harshly in the legal world, and defendants should be certain that they fully understand the implications of such charges.

A 50-year-old former middle school principal is currently in police custody on a range of criminal charges. Police claim that he gained unauthorized access to an information system of a school district for which he formerly worked. He also allegedly kept a detailed journal that described how and why he accessed the system and other critical information.

How many drinks will put you past the legal limit?

The current legal blood alcohol concentration in every state is 0.08 percent. However, various organizations want to lower the limit to 0.05 percent, and studies suggest such an action could save of lives. 

It is important to understand that alcohol affects everyone differently. You may be well below the legal limit, but still unable to operate a vehicle safely. The police may arrest you if you have a BAC of 0.04 percent because they believe you posed a danger to yourself and others. Know your limits and know what factors affect BAC.

Refusal charges unconstitutional during drunk driving arrests

When North Dakota police officers suspect that a diver is intoxicated and initiate a traffic stop, they usually request a series of tests. In addition to the well-known Breathalyzer, drivers may be asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests or to have their blood or urine tested for the presence of alcohol. In the past, refusing these tests could result in a drunk driving related charge, but a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling changed everything.

Back in 2013, North Dakota implemented a new law that made it illegal for drivers to refuse a breath, blood or urine test if they were arrested for a DUI. Anyone refusing to submit to this testing was hit with additional charges for refusal. As DUI charges are already quite serious, piling on more allegations can be devastating for defendants.

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