Monday, December 31, 2012

Ithaca Attorney The Anatomy of a New York OASAS DWI Drug/Alcohol Evaluation


In 2006 the New York State legislature mandated that all DWI related drug/alcohol evaluations (aka assessments) be done by OASAS certified providers. OASAS = Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. They are the state agency that overlooks the delivery of alcohol and substance abuse services (assessments/treatments) in New York. NOTE: Throughout this blog post I will interchange the terms assessment and evaluation, for all intents and purposes they are the same.

New Times Call for New Protocols

The majority of NYS DWI defendants will have to be assessed at some point in their case, this can occur either before, during, or after the criminal case is resolved. It used to be that only those with a .15 BAC at time of arrest were legally obligated to get one BUT many Courts (Judges) and Prosecutors will not finalize (sentence) a case without seeing one or will condition any sentencing upon the providing of one by a certain date. Many Judges will also condition their sentencing upon the completion (with proof) any and all recommended treatment based upon this evaluation.

Assessments are important to the disposition of your case because they can influence the view of the District Attorney, the sentencing by the Judge, the license re-instatement by the DMV, and any future investigation of an employer, certifying or licensing body, or anyone placing you in a position of responsibility.

This post will address exactly what happens at an OASAS evaluation?  What are the specific criteria used by the evaluator to make an OASAS assessment?

The Basic Overview A, B, and C

A. The evaluation is an INTERVIEW. It is INTERACTIVE. It will require your participation and engagement. If you come off as standoffish, or guarded, this may be viewed as either lying or avoidance. Either position may be interpreted as covering up (lying about) a problem (issue) with drugs and/or alcohol.

B. There is NO specific alcohol assessment versus drug assessment. Alcohol is a drug. The evaluation wants to know about all your use of any and all substances over the course of your lifetime.

C. The Evaluation is an integration of many mini assessments of everything, spanning and encompassing just about every area of your life.

Evaluators are psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and nurse practitioners who have submitted documented proof to OASAS that they have the necessary experience (training, education, certification) in the specific area of addiction. That is why the approach taken (by these providers) in the giving of assessments may be different and diverse. The goals are the same.

The Anatomy of an Evaluation (Seven Parts) 

I. The evaluator will take a Comprehensive Psychosocial History.

The key word here is HISTORY. This is truly a thorough History of everything you have ever ingested, done, completed, obtained, and/or messed up.

This will involve many of the following areas:

1. History of Use of All substances (Marijuana, Opioids, Sedatives, Nicotine, Alcohol, etc.) used over the course of your lifetime. The frequency, amount, and the time periods of use. History of Any and all related treatment for any of these these. History of recovery and/or abstinence from use.

2. History of YOUR Physical Health. Providers, exams, finding, diagnoses, medications, etc.

3. History of YOUR Mental Health. Past mental health treatment and assessments.
Examination (mini) of your mental health: Orientation, Intellectual/mental ability, Mood history (depressed, anxious, angry, sad, etc.), Lethality assessment (do you have a death wish?), Planning to kill yourself or anyone else?

4. Vocational/Educational/Employment Assessment. Measure of your Literacy, Education, and Employment.

5. Social/Leisure Assessment. ADLs (activities of daily living): Can you care for yourself? Can you provide for your own needs? Social/Leisure activities: What do you do for fun? Does an of it involve drugs?

6. Family Assessment. Issues growing up? Issues currently? Relationships with family members? How well did you do as a child, parent, brother, sister, spouse, etc.?

7. Legal Assessment. Any interactions with legal issues?

8. Gambling Assessment. Any issues with gambling?

9. Military Service.

10. Spirituality/Religion. Involvement in any organized religious groups/activities. Religious Beliefs.

II. Giving YOU either the MAST (Michigan Alcohol Screening Test) or the RIASI (Research Institute on Addictions Self Inventory). They are tests that yield behavioral clues or concerns.

III. Collateral Source Assessments: 

Interviews with family, friends, and/or co-workers to confirm and/or challenge anything you have said (stated/answered) during the evaluation. NOTE: This is soon to become one of the important assessment criteria. How others see you and your behavior will be given greater weight in making a final diagnosis than your view (statements about) of your behavior.

IV. Drug/Alcohol Screening (Urinalysis)

V. Review of the YOUR UTTs (charging documents), Police Report, and Arrest Paperwork 

The Nature of this DWI arrest and circumstances, ie. accident, injuries, multiple drugs, BAC level

VI. Review of YOUR DMV Driving Abstract (10 year history)

Any prior DWs (DUI) in any state, at any prior time?

VII. Signed Consent 

Allows findings, recommendations, and conclusions to be inputted to the DMV Impaired Driver System (IDS) to prevent "doctor shopping." 

2013 Holds New Issues and New Concerns

The evaluator will then use the DSM-IV to make a definitive diagnosis (diagnoses). That was 2012, in 2013 they will use the DSM-V and all prior criteria and prior abuse/dependency verbiage will change. I have written about this in prior blog posts and will continue to expand on this (the changes) as the guidelines are placed into use. Having a new book come out is one thing, but how it is going to applied (practically) is another.

Eliminating or DE-creasing FEAR

It has been said that F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real, knowing the truth (the reality behind the eval) can truly be liberating (freeing). The TRUTH can set you FREE.

Understanding what lies ahead helps to bring down worry, concern, and the fear of the unknowns in many DWI and drug related cases. I like to say, "having more certainty is the cure for alleviating fear." Being prepared for everything that lies before you can also help give you confidence to face the process. Better results in the long term usually come along with this increased understanding and confidence.

Always consult with an attorney about any criminal or non-criminal charges you have pending to discuss your options and/or defenses.

I am certified in Field Sobriety and Breath Alcohol Testing, and an active member of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD). My online materials include over 500 blog posts, dozens of articles, and over 500 informative videos on my youtube channel.

I have co-authored Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York, in both 2011 and 2013. These are West Thomson legal manuals on New York State DWI defense, and focus on the best practices for other lawyers handling a New York DWI case. I was selected by Super Lawyers as a Upstate New York 2013 Rising Star in DWI/DUI Defense based on my experience, contributions, and professional standing.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ithaca Cortland Attorney: How to Handle a New York Ignition Interlock Violation


My Realistic Practice GOAL

I have a goal for every legal seminar or conference I go to, and every DWI book or DVD I buy. I want to walk away with at least one good idea.

I try to keep my expectations low, I'm not looking for 50 great ideas, just one and sometimes that one thing may mean the difference to someone I represent. I recently went to two New York DWI conferences in NYC (actually one was held in Brooklyn, but close enough) and got some great DWI defense ideas.

One of the speakers was discussing what to do when clients violate their ignition interlock device. Before I give you what I learned we need a little background and context.

BAC = blood alcohol concentration
IID = Ignition Interlock Device

BAC IID Violation Levels

People can have a series of small (less serious) but frequent violations or just one big (serious) violation. I have had clients blow .03 BAC to a .11 BAC first thing in the morning. The determination (definition) of seriousness (the line so to speak) is a BAC of .05 or higher. Remember in NYS: impairment is assumed at a .06 BAC, and intoxication at .08 BAC.

What is the Most Common Reason for a IID Violation?

The most common violation occurs after a night of drinking and a morning breath test. This is a very bad combo because it takes time to absorb alcohol and it takes time to eliminate alcohol from your body. Normally or generally most people can eliminate about a drink an hour, or .02 per hour. Now this rate can vary of course. It varies based upon your genetics, state of health, food eaten, types of drinks consumed, etc. Bottom LINE: If you don't give your system (your body) enough time to process ALL of your consumed alcohol, your blood and breath are going to demonstrate (and reveal) alcohol.

Will the County IID Monitor Violate You?

It depends upon the reason for the violation. First, is it because the device is malfunctioning or needs calibration? Or is it because your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) was truly high?

When they violate YOU, can they prove it was really YOU? 

If you have a level one device in your car then maybe someone else blew into the device and not YOU.
Level one devices do not have cameras. Level 3 devices have cameras.

If you violated, then the Judge and the ADA (Assistant District Attorney) may re-open sentencing on your DWI case. They could place you in jail for up to a year, place on probation for three years, they could have you re-evaluated, they could extend the time that the device is on your car, extend the time of your CD (conditional discharge) or any combination of these.

My grand advice, and what I learned at my DWI seminar is to:
have your attorney discuss your violation with the County Monitor. 

1. The County Monitor (usually the Probation Department) CAN Make a recommendation in your case. This will be looked upon by the Judge and by the ADA. In fact, in many situations the ADAs give the Probation Department's recommendations great weight.

2. The Probation Department usually seeks to be fair and appropriate in these situations. In New York State they have many Probation Policies, one of which is GRADUATED SANCTIONS. I call them ratcheted sanctions, going up in small increments based upon the scale and severity of the infraction.

This may help limit your exposure to punishments beyond what would be appropriate based upon your prior dealing and plea negotiations with this Judge and/or Prosecutor. Sometimes one good idea may be the only thing that stands between YOU and jail.

Law Offices of Lawrence Newman
Ithaca, New York


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ithaca Lawyer Explains the New DSM-5 and Problems for College Student DWI


I am fascinated by the upcoming changes to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) aka the shrink's bible, and not in a good way. I wonder and question the confusion of making appropriate diagnoses of my DWI clients, many who are unfortunately (or fortunately) college aged.

Over my years of practice I have poured over numerous journal articles and peer reviewed papers that have been written concerning the mounting trend of binge drinking, and heavy episodic drinking amongst college students.

What is a BINGE?

Remember that 4 drinks at one time for a woman, and 5 drinks for a man is considered (classified) as a "binge." In the UK (United Kingdom) 11 drinks is considered a BINGE! Culturally we are still a puritanical, uptight, and neurotic country. Where else in the world can you vote, contract, marry, and enlist BUT NOT be allowed to consume alcoholic beverages before the age of 21? America.


When is a Binge NOT a Binge?

What is not taken into consideration (in classifying a binge)  is a person's tolerance (over time the adaptation to alcohol) or a person's particular size (bodyweight) or unique genetics (we are all different) or their food consumption with the alcohol or the real time of the consumption (over the course of hours or minutes).

I caution people against being labeled as binge drinking because I have had a number of alcohol evaluators base their final diagnosis primarily upon this one criteria. They have "sentenced" (recommended) people to a once a week sobriety program, for a year! Yeah, a year! I had one client, weighed in at 240 lbs, 6' 4, and loved a six pack with his Saturday football game. He was labeled as a binge drinker.

I don't think he is a binge drinker. For me, at a buck forty dripping wet, 3 drinks is a binge! Seriously, my tolerance ain't what it was in College. I guess I'm staying on the proverbial porch, and not the one pictured below.


Diagnosing Drug/Alcohol Disorders: More Questions than Real Answers

I recently watched a NAADAC (National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors) webinar about the DSM-V (coming in 2013) versus the old DSM-IV. I was left with more questions than answers.
Considering that this guide (DSM-V) will be used by the NYS OASAS counselors and evaluators in the future along with everyone that they report to (DAs, Judges, Probation) makes it a very important book in my library.

There are 11 criteria for diagnosing a Disorder (the new term) BUT a few are being taken out of the running:

1. Developing Tolerance (a normal physiologic response to continued drug use)
2. Having Withdrawl Symptoms after not drinking (using) (also seen as normal physiologic response to continued drug use)
3. Using Larger Amounts than Intended
4. Unsuccessful Attempts at Controlling (limiting) or Cutting Down consumption of drug/substance
5. Giving Up important activities (in favor of drug use)
6. Time Spent getting drug X or recovering from drug X (alcohol or other substance)
7. Continued Use despite physical and/or psychological problems
8. Major Role Problems: failing to fulfill major role obligations
9. Hazardous Use in dangerous situations (I like to think this is an overlay with #10) ie. DWI
10. Legal Problems: Experiencing legal problems from use ie. DWI, domestic violence, etc.
11. Continued Use despite Social Problems (failed relationships)

The GOOD Changes

I think some of these (11) overlap or can be combined. The new DSM-V drops the value of:
Dangerous Use
Legal Problems

BUT gives greater weight and significance to:
Sacrificing Activities (Giving Up)
Unsuccessful Cutting Down (back)
Time Spent Using

IMO The common sense of these coming changes lies in that using Collateral Contacts (friends, family, co-workers) these second group of criteria can be assessed and investigated more accurately and honestly. Collateral Contacts are people who know you and your behavior. An evaluator must contact, consult, and confirm with them before rendering a final diagnosis.

NOW The BAD Changes

-They are eliminating the bad/good dicotomy of abuse vs. dependence entirely.
This made the old DSM-IV so easy, two main categories, very clear cut, one requiring treatment and one not (merely education)
-Now everyone is either NO diagnosis, or SUD (substance use disorder) or AUD (alcohol use disorder). They are either "Moderate" SUD or "Severe" SUD (the term, dependence would work well here). 

MY Questions of the New DSM-V

1. How are they going to weight the criteria for moderate or severe Substance Use Disorder (SUD) or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

Differential Diagnosis (of a condition or a disease) is based upon criteria BUT the weighting of the criteria (quality and quantity) is left to the subjectivity of the evaluator. The new guidelines state that 2 or 3 criteria of the 11 = Moderate SUD and 3 or 4 criteria of the 11 = Severe SUD. ALL diagnostic criteria are not created equal. Studies done have shown two main criteria indicate a serious problem (my terms and words):

(a) use of larger and larger amounts than intended, over 37% of people with problem drinking and
(b) hazardous use (use in dangerous situations), almost 25% of people with problem drinking.
BTW "problem drinking" is my term not their's aka serious

2. Where are the real Cut Points between Moderate SUD, and Severe SUD?

2 or 3, or 3 or 4 doesn't sound very clear cut or scientific to make an appropriate diagnosis of a problem. With so few cut points (no diagnosis or moderate or severe) some people may be mis-categorized (up categorized or diagnosed). Where are the degrees of these issues?

3. What are the Clinical (treatment) Implications (recommendations) for these new guidelines?

This is also very nebulous and unspoken. It is purely up to the clinician, evaluator, or mental health professional to decide what is needed or appropriate. An overlay or underlay of mental issues are another matter entirely. How many people are using to deal with mental issues? Confusing one SUD diagnosis with a mental issue can be a real disaster.

More questions than answers. We will see how all of this pans out over time. I believe that DWI/DUI defense attorneys must scrutinize these reports (evaluations), discuss everything before and after with their clients, talk to the evaluators, and be ready to discuss all of this with a Judge and a district attorney.

My final question:

How many Unhealthy Users will be mis-labeled as a person with a DIS-ORDER?

My Disclaimer:
Let nothing I have written have you ever believe that I am pro-drug addiction or pro-alcohol abuse, I believe in the value of substance use, medical or otherwise, IF used appropriately. I enjoy drinking, and see and know the value of drugs in our society. I do believe that some people are genetically predisposed to issues with just about everything. What I am against or concerned about are the curtailing of rights or freedoms without cause or justification. Prohibition was a bad "experiment" and should not be repeated. Scarier still are doctors and/or healthcare providers making inappropriate diagnoses or recommendations.

Lawrence Newman, D.C., Esq.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

Ithaca, NY 14850

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ithaca Lawyer Attends 2nd Annual Man vs. Machine DWI Seminar in Brooklyn, NY

View Of X-Mas Courthouse from Brooklyn Bridge Marriott

I love going back to Brooklyn, NY. It holds many special memories and magic. This past Friday, December 7, 2012 (a day that will always live in infamy for me) I attended the:

Man versus Machine (aka Breath/Chemical Alcohol Test) Seminar II : Attacking Portable Breath Tests

They have held this seminar for the last 2 years at St. Francis College at 182 Remsen Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. The venue is perfectly located close to the downtown Courthouses and steps from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Steven Epstein is a wonderful NYC DWI attorney who shares with the DWI/DUI/Defense community in a big way. He is the person in back of this event, he organizes the speakers, the materials, and the "nuggets" of practical wisdom he imparts are in a word "priceless."

Steven Epstein, Esq. and Dr. Jennifer Duffy (Forensic Psychologist)

I will devote the next few blog posts to what I took from this seminar, suffice it to say knowledge and wisdom most definitely build and we never stop learning.

First the Machine:

New York State law enforcement currently uses three different breath alcohol testing units, really Chemical Test (this is the official breath test):

1. The Intoxilyzer 5000, used in the boroughs, and of course, NYC
Soon to be updated to the Intoxilyzer 9000 unit. They are made in the good old USA, Kentucky.

The guts of the Intoxilyzer

2. The Draeger, a favorite of the NYS Police (troopers)
3. The Datamaster, upstate (versus downstate) cities, towns, and village police departments

Most attacks of breath testing have common themes and ideas. The machines use similar technology. The Draeger is a dual testing unit with an electrochemical cell and Infrared Spectroscopy testing of breath samples.

Lawrence Newman, D.C., Esq.

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The New DSM-5 meets the DWI: Dangers of New Diagnostic Criteria

The DSMs go on and on, courtesy of

The New DSM-5 meets the “Old” New York DWI

The manual, known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or D.S.M., aka the “Bible” of diagnosing mental disorders/diseases is about to have a major revision. This book will be the DSM-5, the last one being the DSM-4 which began life in 1994. The manual is slated for release in June 2013. Throughout this blog post I will alternate between Roman numerals and numbers for the DSM editions, my demonstration of contempt for this continued antiquation by condescending psychiatrists.

My familiarity with the book began back in my early days as a Chiropractic College student. The early 1980s had me taking a number of Abnormal Psychology classes. This background in Ab-normal psych was necessary for my National Board Certification as well as my introduction to being able to differentially diagnose the physical problems of my patients from their overlaying and underlying mental/emotional ones.

Practicing law since 1998 I have seen my fair share of changes both in law and medicine. Each change in a statute, a regulation, a definition, a term, an interpretation, and a law brings with it a number of issues (problems) both direct and collateral. People’s lives stand in the cross hairs of this “progress” and confusion.

Numbers for Legal Measurement of Criminal Behavior

As a New York DWI lawyer the BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) for DWI has gone lower and lower over the past four decades in all fifty states. Now the level stands at a .08 BAC nationally to declare that someone is “legally” intoxicated, or under the influence of alcohol.

Alcohol is the “only” drug (legal, socially acceptable, readily available) so far that has a number (a quantity) associated with it’s functional impact upon a person equals a criminal activity. There is no measure (amount in blood) for the effect of marijuana, or ambiene, or oxycodone. Nor are there any statutes that state a specific quantity of this or that amount of a drug/substance in the blood stream while driving would equate to a crime.

So what does all this have to do with the New DSM-V and New York DWIs?

I’m glad you asked, because the New DSM is as subjective as they come to now pathologizing normal activity. That scares me as an attorney because we are now as a society going to punish you for your criminal activity (DWI), and then label (categorize/diagnose) you as person in need of treatment. College binge drinkers beware, because you can now be diagnosed as mild alcohol abuser in need of treatment.

see this recent magazine article on college kids and the dangers of this new wider criteria for making a substance addiction (alcoholic) diagnosis:

Who is Going to Use (and rely) Upon the New DSM-V Guidelines with NY DWIs?

Sweeping changes to the manual will affect broad criteria for addiction. The community of healthcare providers who use the manual (including OASAS certified drug/alcohol evaluators) will rely upon this wider range of behavior to give a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

Mandated NY DWI Drug /Alcohol Assessments will include these new diagnoses and their commensurate recommendations which will then be relied upon by the Courts/Judges, the District Attorneys, and the County Probation Departments. Allen J. Frances, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University who has contributed to the D.S.M., has stated that the “new” definitions amount to “the medicalization of everyday behavior” and will create “false epidemics.” In short, addiction diagnoses will multiply like rabbits, which could result in millions of people being diagnosed (IMHO inappropriately) as addicts.

The Perfect Psychiatric Storm (increased business for providers)

The problem is twofold:
(1) there is an expanded list of recognized symptoms for drug and alcohol addiction, and
(2) they have reduced the number of symptoms required for an addiction diagnosis.

ADD 1 plus 2 = millions of people now diagnosed with alcohol addiction

This information is based on changes posted on the Web site of the American Psychiatric Association, which produces the manual.

Psychiatry has No Gold Standard

In medicine, certain tests are utilized to form and/or confirm a diagnosis. These tests or procedures are known as the “Gold” standard. An MRI will be used to diagnosis a disc herniation of the spine. So the MRI is the Gold standard for the diagnosis and then called for treatment of that condition. Certain blood tests are the Gold standard to diagnose certain bacterial and viral disorders. The Gold standard is not perfect medicine, merely the best scientific evidence to be obtained under reasonable circumstances. Unfortunately, the field of psychology is very subjective. There is a wide range of opinions among the community of practitioners as to how to make a mental diagnosis.

Under the new criteria (DSM-V), those DWI offenders who often drink more than intended and/or crave alcohol may be considered mild addicts. Under the old criteria (DSM- IV), more serious symptom behavior, such as repeatedly missing time from work or school, AND being arrested for DWI/DUI, were required before a person could receive a diagnosis as an alcohol abuser.

Are YOU merely an "Unhealthy" User OR a "Severe" Abuser?

Great to have new defintions but what exactly is a craving? Many days I have cravings (desires) for specific foods, like pizza, Chinese, or thai. But do I also have a craving or a feeling for other things? And are cravings in and of themselves bad?

“Craving” is a new symptom of addiction. Is craving a scientifically measurable thing? Or is the definition of craving really a feeling and subjective?

Out with the Simple (Clear Cut) Past (DSM-IV) and in with the New Confusing (DSM-V)

1. DSM-IV created separate diagnoses for "abuse" and "dependence" in people having problems with drugs and alcohol. The new DSM-5 will instead will use the broader term "substance use disorders" as the diagnosis for people with such problems.

2. No longer will evaluators use increasing physical tolerance (for drugs and alcohol) and withdrawal symptoms as criteria for a disorder diagnosis. These are considered a normal physiologic response to the use of these drugs. Allowing doctors to prescribe and monitor their patients with prescription drugs that lead to these "normal" body responses.

In the words of one of the revisers: “The term dependence is misleading, because people confuse it with addiction, when in fact the tolerance and withdrawal patients experience are very normal responses to prescribed medications that affect the central nervous system,” said Charles O’Brien, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the APA’s DSM Substance-Related Disorders Work Group. “On the other hand, addiction is compulsive drug- seeking behavior which is quite different. We hope that this new classification will help end this wide-spread misunderstanding.”

3. The word "addiction" is GONE. It is history, a term of the past, everyone will now have or not have a Use Disorder.

Ah, the myriad of Use Disorders: There are Alcohol-Use Disorder, Marijuana-Use Disorder, Opioid-Use Disorder, and the list goes on. USE DISORDERS are now de riguer because the new revisiers thought the word addiction or to be an addict was politically incorrect (to be fair they used the terms pejorative and stigmatizing).   

4. The DSM-V also has new interesting diagnostic criteria for something they call “cannabis withdrawal.” I guess this is where someone stops smoking pot after being a pothead (do they still call them that?).

The APA says that this is caused by “cessation of cannabis use that has been heavy and prolonged,” which results in “clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning,” and is characterized by at least three of these symptoms: irritability, anger or aggression; nervousness or anxiety; sleep difficulties (insomnia); decreased appetite or weight loss; restlessness; depressed mood; and or physical symptoms such as stomach pain, shakiness or tremors, sweating, fever, chills, and headache.

Goodbye Addiction and Dependence Welcome Substance Use-Disorder

Welcome to this Brave New World where millions of college students and first time DWI offenders may now face labels, embarrassment, and inappropriate treatment programs.

Always consult with an attorney about any criminal or non-criminal charges you have pending to discuss your options and/or defenses.

I am certified in Field Sobriety and Breath Alcohol Testing, and an active member of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD). My online materials include over 500 blog posts, dozens of articles, and over 500 informative videos on my youtube channel.

I have co-authored Strategies for Defending DWI Cases in New York, in both 2011 and 2013. These are West Thomson legal manuals on New York State DWI defense, and focus on the best practices for other lawyers handling a New York DWI case. I was selected by Super Lawyers as a Upstate New York 2013 Rising Star in DWI/DUI Defense based on my experience, contributions, and professional standing.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ithaca Tompkins County Ignition Interlock Devices: Hunt's Auto Service

Blessing and Curse, Little Ithaca, New York

Living in a small town is a blessing and a curse. The blessing: Everyone knows you and the curse: everyone knows you. It cuts both ways. Unlike living in South Florida and being surrounded by millions of people we have a more limited population, and a much smaller "living" space.

The Positives of the Small Town

I have met many people that have become my "go tos" for car problems, carpentry problems, medical problems, etc. Our house is Circa 1889 so you can call me if you want a referral. Most of the people I recommend, they live here, they work here, and for the most part they are sincere and genuine. I love that part of Ithaca, as they say don't crap where you eat, these people know, respect, and understand that word of mouth is important and your reputation is everything, especially in a small place like Ithaca.

My "Go To" Car Guys

Hunt's Auto Service are my Go To guys for my cars. They have helped me with inspecting cars, buying cars, fixing cars, and keeping my cars trouble free since I've lived here. They are in my book "straight shooters" and I have seen them refund the disgruntled on more than one occasion. That to me speaks volumes for their integrity. As an attorney, I have seen my share of BS artists come and go. Honesty goes a long way with me, and I believe I can trust them.

Tompkins County Interlock Provider

Hunt's are also the providers of the Intoxalock Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Devices. Can you say,

As an Ithaca Cortland DWI/Criminal Defense Attorney they are a good "go to" for getting one of these in this area. BTW Hunt's does not and has not given me anything to promote or endorse them (although I did get a Hunt's hat on my last oil change). After dealing with these over the past years, none are perfect, but some are better than others IMO. I like Intoxalock. Another BTW, Intoxalock doesn't know me or provide me any freebies, although I like chocolate chip cookies a lot!

I was recently at Hunt's, and had them get some Blizzaks on my car, please don't call them tires, they get insulted,,

I now have Blizzaks on two of my cars, Nice tread, Love these!

While I was at Hunt's I got some great information on the different devices:

First device: Class Level I, it has no camera, it is for Tompkins County DWI convictions with first time DWI convictions. The Punishment (sentencing) level: A Conditional Discharge from the Judge, see my blog post on What is a Conditional Discharge (it was my last post of 2011) here:

or my video, What is a New York Conditional Discharge? here:

Lifesaver Interlock Class I with mouth piece

This device (level One) can just sit on your car seat, you will need to blow (more like hum) into it before you drive and then at various intervals (called rolling checks) while you drive to check for breath alcohol.

Once a Month Check Ups

Once a month (approx. every 30 days) you will return to the installer for a device download. It will be disconnected from the car, and brought inside to be connected to a computer. Once the information concerning your blows is downloaded, off it goes to the County Monitor.

If you receive a sentence of Three Years of Probation for your DWI case then you will need a:

Second Device: Class Level III in Tompkins County.
BTW Many (most) counties Upstate require the Class Level III, even for Conditional Discharge sentences.

Class Level III Interlocks Download Base (under dash)

Class Level III Interlocks MUST have cameras installed as well

The Class Level III will require the installation of a camera which will take your picture upon blowing into the device and while you are driving (random). The installer will need to come out to your car and download via a long cable because the data storage is in the under dash base and not in the device itself.

Device downloads take approx. 15 minutes. Class Level three cost more per month, and take a little longer to install.

Devices get calibrated or checked against know solution of alcohol at a known temperature:

For Warnings and Precautions when using (having) these New York IIDs (Ignition Interlock Devices) see my blog post here:

Dr. Lawrence Newman

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850


Chiropractor/Lawyer Connects New York Chiropractic College, and Seneca Falls Court

I love this sign, Just a few miles South of New York Chiropractic College

I have a past, who doesn't. Before I was a lawyer I practiced as a Chiropractor and Acupuncturist in South Florida for 10 years. In the State of Florida it is called the Board of Chiropractic Medicine (regulates the profession). In Florida, Chiropractors are referred to as Chiropractic Physicians. The scope of practice law differs state by state, with some states saying what one can not do and others specifically stating what we (as Chiropractors) can do.

I was privileged to attend the National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, Illinois (approx. 20 miles West of Chicago). This school is now a University, the National University of Health Science.

My Alma Mater (class of 86') has expanded over the years to encompass more branches of the natural healing arts. Many years ago New York Chiropractic College moved from Stony brook, NY to Seneca Falls, NY.

My University and New York Chiropractic College share a long history and an intimate connection of sorts.

National became record holder and overseer of:

American College of Mechano-Therapy (1907 – 1920)
The Eclectic College of Chiropractic (1920 – 1922)
The Peerless College of Chiropractic (1922 – 1926)
American College of Naprapathy
Carver Chiropractic Institute (1919 – 1934)
Carver’s Colorado Chiropractic University
Chiropractic Institute of New York (1944 - 1968)
Cosmopolitan School of Chiropractic of New York
(1920 – 1944)
Detroit College of Chiropractic (1967)
Eastern Chiropractic Institute (1916 – 1923)
International Chiropractic College
Kansas State Chiropractic College, Inc. (1965)
Lincoln Chiropractic College (1926 - 1971)
Lindlahr College of Natural Therapeutics
Metropolitan Chiropractic College (1927 - 1948)
New York School of Chiropractic (1919 – 1944)
O’Neil Ross Chiropractic College (1970)
Progressive College of Chiropractic (1921 – 1926)
Standard Institute of Chiropractic (1920 – 1944)
Universal Chiropractic College (1910 –1944)
University of Natural Healing Arts (1964)

Back in the day there were many smaller Chiropractic programs and schools in New York state. These shared many similar philosophies and practice ideologies. Eventually they fractured and went their separate ways. National grew and became the Mid-West primary College of Chiropractic. They had the first accreditation for many Post-Graduate Degrees. I picked the college for it's strong academics. I have a B.S. in Human Biology, a Doctorate in Chiropractic, a Post-Graduate Accreditation in Acupuncture, and a law degree (my J.D., Juris Doctorate). Did I mention how much I like school? I just like to learn stuff.

New York Chiropractic College took on the merger of:

Columbia College of Chiropractic
(1946 - 1954)
Atlantic States Chiropractic Institute

All in all, the mergers brought more cohesion within the profession during the early years.

Which leads us to today. I live and practice law in Ithaca, NY but I handle cases in most of the Finger Lakes Region of the state. Criminal Defense and Personal Injury cases are my current practice focus areas because they allow me to combine my love of forensic science with the law.

Every time I drive up to Seneca Falls Court (in Seneca County) I think of two things:

Don't Blink or You Might Miss the Town

1. My favorite movie: "It's a Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart (supposedly based on the Town of Seneca Falls), and

2. New York Chiropractic College (for obvious reasons).

Seneca Falls has festivals, names, hotels, and cafes that play on the movie connection.
Is Seneca Falls really the "Bedford Falls" in the movie? I love the movie, the connections, and the idea.

The Town of Seneca Falls has converted an old elementary school into their Courthouse/Municipal Building. It is a nice use of the space and structure considering what they have done with it. Resourceful to say the least. The Court can be busy but it is well managed and organized (as upstate Courts go).

I have been privileged over the past 14 years (as a lawyer) to represent, advise, and consult for hundreds of professionals within New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida (Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Medical Doctors, Osteopaths, etc.) with practice and legal issues.

I am proud of where I have been, what I have learned, and I love to share it with those who seek growth and personal development. My clinical experience (being in the trenches) has allowed me to be truly empathetic with the professional man or woman facing issues.

 Dr. Lawrence Newman

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850


Ithaca Enters the Zone or Why We Have a New 20MPH Speed Limit

New Gym at Ithaca High School

We moved to lovely Ithaca, NY in 2006. Ithaca may have begun as a choice but it is also far more than a final destination for us. Moving here has led me to examine and evaluate. It has in a sense slowed us down. My wife and I take walks together. My four children have all attended Ithaca High School. Three have graduated in the years we have been living here (one more to go). I have watched the school go through changes physically as well as philosophically. The community has invested in the structure and growth of the school. The new architecture further mirrors and enhances the direction of the school's progress and growth.

Ithaca High at Night, Beautiful Design Elements and Materials

I believe Ithaca "was and is" a good choice for my family. As much as many here complain about this or that we are privileged to have those that genuinely care.

Which leads me to the how and why of new speed limits in our school zones. As a criminal defense lawyer focusing on traffic violations, DWI, and car accident related  injuries I certainly don't want to live, walk, and have my children in a place where there are NO rules. But why do we have these rules? and why do rules (laws) have to change with time?

New Speed Limits: School Zones Now 20MPH

The front of Ithaca High School lies on Cayuga Street. Car accidents over the past years (on Cayuga Street) have led to recent changes in the speed limits around the High School being changed. I think it is a change long coming. Seeing people speeding in and around the school as kids are crossing the street has always been an issue. I believe that the new school zone speed limits should also be placed on the roads at the rear of the school as well. My wife and I have seen way too many people on the rush up Gun Hill Road (going up to Cornell) driving recklessly, especially with snow and icy conditions.

I think I can understand speeding on some of the main arteries (route 96, route 79, route 89, route 13) coming in and out of Ithaca easier than the little streets downtown. My opinion of this situation is shared by many prosecutors and Judges as well. Going 50 mph in a 20 mph school zone is not going to win you many friends. A word to wise in Upstate New York, when you see any kid/school zones slow way down.

Dr. Lawrence Newman

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ithaca DWI Lawyer How 5 Minutes Can Cost You Your License?

I love NY, the New York Public Library, What a Grand Building!

You know they say "timing is everything." As long as I live and as hard as I work as an attorney to either help people keep their driver's licenses or get back their driving privileges human nature loves to rear it's ugly head. When people have a DWI or DWAI or ADWI conviction they will have to take the New York DMV DDP (drinking driver program), they will get a conditional driver's license (called a post-revocation CL), and then upon completion they will get back their FULL license.

PRIVATE Agents with PUBLIC Power

THE NYS DMV DDP: This seven week program is sub-contracted to a local "private" agency. Much like the Ignition Interlock Devices (also sub-contracted locally) to "private" agents, these people are now entrusted with GOVERNMENT POWER.

What is Government Power?

It is the ability to call you out on any deficiencies in meeting your government (Court) obligations/duties.

You are ORDERED to take the DDP (drinking driver program).
You are ORDERED to get an IDD (ignition interlock installed) on your car.
You are ORDERED to complete these requirements (1) within a given period of time and (2) successfully.

Successfully means you comply with all their directives (the course givers and installers). So these "private" agents now get to run you, to tell you what to do, and when to do it.

IIDs (ignition interlock devices)

Every 30 days you must get your IID checked and downloaded OR else? If you don't, you are reported to the County Monitor (a division of County Probation and/or the District Attorney's office) as a VIOLATOR.

What does it really mean to show up late to the DDP?

You must complete your 7 week DMV DDP. You must participate and you must be there on time or else?

If you show up late (even by 5 minutes) some of these DDP providers will LOCK YOU OUT!
Imagine if you will people crying in the halls as they come to a DDP door that is locked. Why are the crying?

Because you will have to wait another 7 weeks until that session # circles around again. As in, the sessions run consecutively (1 to 7) and any one session that is missed must be MADE UP. Which means you don't get your full driving privileges back for almost another 2 months. Think about that, your 5 minutes late for class and it will cost you 2 months of full driving privileges.

Lord Acton said it best, "power tends to corrupt" and "absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." Dealing with prosecutors, district attorneys, and Judges over a great many years I don't always agree with their decisions but respect their roles and authority.

Ah the cost of tardiness, I can remember from all my college days, we would wait on teachers based upon their level, 5 minutes for grad student, 10 for a professor, and 15 for a doctor (phd) or something like that?


Take this stuff SERIOUSLY. Do not willy nilly play with the Ignition Interlock Device, or the private installer, or with your DDP obligation. BE ON TIME! All of it including the VIP (victim impact panel) must be taken SERIOUSLY. Did I say serious enough?

Lawrence Newman, D.C., Esq.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Horseheads Lawyer Attends Representing the DWI Defendant in New York

From the 2012 Big Apple DWI Seminar

This past week I jumped on a Jetblue flight from Syracuse to JFK on Thursday to attend the Big Apple DWI event in NYC. I have been to it many times before but with all the new interpretations of law and the NEW DMV rules/regulations this was a MUST see event not a maybe. My first stop was out in Great Neck to have a nice Greek style breakfast with one of my mentors Medical Malpractice Attorney Gerry Oginski. Gerry is great to break bread with (actually grilled pita). He is one of the best NY injury attorneys and people I have the privilege to know. Sharing legal ideas and inspired practice knowledge with this man was an amazing start to an even better weekend. I jumped the train from Great Neck to Penn Station, fast and easy, into the city in 20 minutes.

It's 2012, and this was the first time that the Big Apple DWI seminar put on by the NYSBA (New York State Bar Association) sent their materials via pdf files. It's about time! Less books to lug home and less to encumber my leaning bookshelf. I would rather bring my Mac Air than 4 lbs of books.

I love to go to seminars, especially in THE CITY (NYC). I love to eat the foods of my youth. NYC hands down has some of the best of everything. I have traveled the world, and NY has better Greek than Greece, better Chinese than China, better Japanese than Japan, well I think you get my point. So this kid from Bklyn took in a Broadway show with Pacino (yeah, Al Pacino), Glengarry Glen Ross, and ate some real deli and pizza. What a day! I love America!

Ben's Deli, absolutely amazing Corned Beef and Pastrami

Gotham Pizza in Chelsea, they use cornmeal in the crust

Old Ideas and New Perspectives

I always manage to learn something new and more importantly gain new perspectives on things I thought I knew. I've been going to this one since 2006, and even some of the same materials and information can come with a new perspective and insight. I've read some books in my library dozens of times over my years with the same idea,as I mature I see things (read things) differently. You never stop learning, as they say if you are green you are growing and if you are ripe you rot! I like to stay in a state of greenness, greennosity is my made up term for being in a state of greenness!

Going to conferences is also an opportunity to see new places, meet new people, and take in the sites of the "big" city. Most of these get togethers (practically all the DWI ones) do not occur anywhere near to Ithaca, NY or the Fingerlakes region. They are in places like Albany, Rochester, and NYC.

The two main speakers were Peter Gerstenzang and Eric Sills, they are the authors of New York's main DWI bible. It is recognized by almost everyone (including judges) as a reference book. As Peter liked to joke he is "highly acclaimed" and a gracious man to boot.

The New DMV Rules/Regulations 

Recent changes were made to the DMV license rules for "Persistently Dangerous Drivers" (multiple DWs, Serious Traffic Offenses) with lifetime look back periods. These new REGS look back (retroactively) upon the persons lifetime of driving because the DMV keeps a "lifetime" record not merely the 10 year driver's abstract that you can request for $10. It used to be the look back was the 10 year time frame, then a 25 year time frame, and now we are looking back over a person's life history.

I am left to wonder:
Is this a sign of the times? Is this going to be a trend? A dangerous direction to hold things against people for a lifetime, and scarier still things they did in their immature youth.

1st BIG Idea: You Must FOIL  

Going to the DMV and requesting your record is not going to be enough these days. You are going to have to FOIL request your lifetime record with the DMV in Albany, NY.

Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)

New York State’s Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law §87 et. seq. ) allows members of the public to access records of governmental agencies. FOIL provides a process for the review and copying of an agency’s records. More information about the Freedom of Information Law can be found at: link.

Most people either don't know or can't remember what happened to them last week let alone 25 years ago. DO a FOIL Request 1st!! Get your COMPLETE LIFETIME RECORD. This is always the best starting point. 

Most of what the NYS DMV rules/regs are about are those currently revoked and are looking to get back a driver's license. 

What is unspoken and unwritten (kinda between the lines) is that those with significant histories (either DWs or serious traffic offenses) are one step away from  a permanent lifetime revocation for ANY traffic violation/infraction they will incur in the immediate future. 

2nd Big Idea: The Potential Magic of the Coram Nobis

Sometimes a prior driving history can be re-opened with a Coram Nobis Motion. A Coram Nobis is a Motion to Vacate a prior plea of guilty to some offense. This may be the dividing line between getting a license, losing a license, or never getting a license. Because prior cumulative points, 20 points in 25 years or high point violations (those with 5 or more: like passing a school bus, high speeds, reckless) will count as 
SDOs (serious driving offenses). 

The interpretation of all the new regs is tedious and somewhat complicated. he main point is to get your driving history and review it as to total points, total offenses, total DWs, and timing/dates.

Sometimes it Begins with Correcting the Past

Believe it or not sometimes the Courts write in the wrong dates, the wrong offenses, and a review of the windows (10 year, and 25 year periods) is vital under these cases. 

Remember that the Date of Conviction = Date of the Plea, NOT the date of the Sentencing. Times and dates can make a difference to the overall outcome. Anyway, I could blog away on this and a million other topics today but instead I will re-organize and simply all of it first into bite size pieces.

Lawrence A. Newman, D.C., Esq.

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ithaca Lawyer The Dangers of Talking with ADAs, DAs, law enforcement, and Judges

Found by Cornell
Speaking of dangerous, this is what was missing from my youth.

Many things are known to be dangerous. Skydiving, scuba diving, mountain climbing, bungee jumping..maybe that's why I tend to avoid activities that are high risk. BTW TV, going to the movies, and reading are real activities just not real active physically.

But come on , Is talking to people really dangerous? In my best lawyer voice I state, "Well it depends"

first, who are you talking to? where are you talking to them? and lastly what are you talking about?
Sometimes talking to the wrong person at the wrong time and wrong place can be worse than free falling.

Real Life Can Bite You in the Tuchas 

Imagine this scenario: you are arrested, charged, booked, and printed for something you did not do or did not do FULLY (it is a defense perspective). Now you are brought into Court in front of a Judge, he asks you how you plea, guilty or NOT guilty and you say ,,,  "guilty" OMG now what?

Well this situation I just described happened this past summer to two college girls from out of state. It was a little backwoods Courthouse with a big judge, and they were scared. With No lawyer at their side, and No understanding of the process they were cooked before they got there.  Anyway, I later entered the scene and took back their guilty pleas to their crimes (criminal misdemeanors). Remember that Guilty Pleas must always be VIK (Voluntary, Intelligent, and Knowing). Why anyone would want to plea to the ALL the charges in this type of situation is a story for another day.

The Big Who

So how dangerous is talking? Well WHO are you talking to? Are they friend or foe? Being friendly is not the same as being your friend. Remember, it's always us against them, you and your attorney are the us, and the them is (are) everyone else.

When the people you are talking to have power, authority and a job to prosecute you, sentence you, and testify against you then your talking to and with them is rather dangerous. It's the old fable of the scorpion and the frog (go read it), bottom line, scorpions have to sting, it's their nature. Very easy, just remember the noun becomes the VERB!

Law Enforcement: Enforce (the Law)
Judges: Judge
Prosecutors: Prosecute

Ever hear of the 5th amendment, Your Right to Remain Silent? Silence is golden in this situation because ANYTHING you say can and will be used against you. That is why it is not the best idea to talk directly to law enforcement, the judge, and/or a prosecutor. Generally speaking by making further admissions (statements) you are NOT helping your case. In fact in the majority of cases, further talking is going to bury you more.

Statements made to these people are noted. They will later turn around, and hit you over the head with your own honesty like a mother wielding guilt for something you did 10 years ago.

Your honesty at this stage and place (without counsel) is misplaced at best, and highly dangerous at worst.  

Lawyer as Filter

Your lawyer is your advocate but they also act as a filter. They take it all in (facts, information) and then clean it up, re-package it, and maybe explain things in a specific context. They can be neutral, objective, and unattached. The power of this lies in art and science. How you say things, describe things, and tell a story can be the difference between tasting lemons or lemonade. Your lawyer can help you carefully navigate the legal minefield of your situation.

The Guilty with an Explanation

I am in Court quite a lot and how many times am I going to hear, I am guilty your Honor BUT with a explanation. When you start explaining anything you are done, as in fully cooked. Explaining yourself out of trouble is an ineffective strategy. WHY?

You have been charged, you are alleged to have done SUMTING! Either you did something you or did not do something. Usually justification (I did it because I had to) defenses are rare. Most situations that you consider emergencies are not in the eyes of the law. Bringing up your personal issues, like a death in the family, recent divorce, loss of a job, or medical diagnosis is not going to get you sympathy or empathy. Everyone has problems but they (the authorities/the government) will not place themselves in your shoes. They will see themselves as above your acts and actions.

To them your explanation is merely a nice way of excusing yourself, and nothing more. Explanation is given short drift by the majority, and will cut against you more than for your cause.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is Shut Up! Let your lawyer do their job. Allow them to be your spokesperson, your advocate, and your indirect line of communication with the Court, the authorities, and the prosecutors.

Dr. Lawrence Newman
Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

Ithaca, NY

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ithaca Lawyer What are New York Graduated Sanctions?


New York probation departments and the Courts love to throw around fancy terms for pretty basic things. They use plenty of acronyms, like ATI (alternatives to incarceration) or PPI (pre-plea investigation) and everyone is expected to know what they are talking about. See you at the next PTC (pre-trial conference).

Always Ask if You Don't Know or Understand

Number rule when hiring an attorney, talking with an attorney, or dealing with the Court system is:
ask if you don't know, do not assume anything about anything, ask until you are clear about the subject and the answer. I ask about the things I don't know and there is plenty I don't know. I learn new stuff every day. It is smart to ask and dumb to pretend to know.

Fancy Words versus Plain English

Sometimes things sound better when we use colorful language.

Being Incarcerated = Going to jail or prison, being locked up!
Being placed on or in Probation = Being closely monitored and supervised for years!
Getting a CD = Having to meet certain conditions (do stuff) and stay out of trouble (no new arrests)

Striving for the Appropriate

So for today, the purpose of the Court, the Probation department, District Attorney, and the Judges is to gather all the information and facts about a person and a situation and to move towards an APPROPRIATE sentence of punishment.

What is appropriate sentence for the first time DWI offender with no accident and no injuries is NOT appropriate for the second offender or the one with an accident. Leniency for those who deserve it is at the base of this idea of fairness.

This idea or philosophy is called graduated sanctions. A gradual ratcheting up of harsher penalties. They are designed to hopefully teach, assist, train, and to rehabilitate a person from their criminal activity or behavior.

Graduated Sanctions = Gradually Increasing Punishments

Does the system fail some people? yes, but I have also seen people get the help they surely needed, sometimes whether they wanted it or not. Sometimes salvation is painful. It is generally not a fun process to say the least.

The Job of YOUR Attorney

Now the job of your attorney is to bring balance to this process via input. They must actively work to ensure that everyone gets what they need to recommend and to provide an appropriate sentence.

Your Job/employment history, education, family background, drug/alcohol evaluation, treatment, etc. can all help you or hurt you. They must be a filter and a focuser of information.

The Big HOW and WHAT

They can contact probation, they can give information about you, they can guide you to do the right things, and they can advocate to the Court and to the Prosecutor. Everything can potentially count for or against you, HOW it is presented is just as important as WHAT is presented.

Larry Newman, D.C., J.D.

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850