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Have a question? We have an answer.

Below find FAQ with answers on a variety of topics, all designed to give you more knowledge and obtain justice for all.

If you don’t find your question, email us using the contact form or the button to the right.

In the Court

There are over 1,700 Drug Courts in the U.S. How do I find one?

Go to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) website at: http://nadcp.org/learn/find-drug-court.

Are there Drug Courts anywhere else?

Yes, over 20 countries have Drug Courts: Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominical Republic, England, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Trinidad & Tobago and Wales. For more information, go to: Justice Speakers International.

What is a Mental Health Court?

Mental Health Courts typically involve judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other court personnel who have expressed an interest in or possess particular mental health expertise. The courts generally deal with nonviolent offenders who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. For Mental Health Court resources, go to: http://www.ncsc.org/Topics/Problem-Solving-Courts/Mental-Health-Courts/Resource-Guide.aspx

What is small claims court?

Small claims court is a civil court where parties represent themselves without lawyers and can sue only for a limited amount. The maximum varies from state to state (for instance, in RI and KY it’s $2,500; in GA it’s $15,000). This allows people whose claim would not normally be taken up by an attorney to still have access to the court system. Many states have self-help programs for people suing or being sued in small claims court. For more information on, go to:   http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/small-claims-court

Is there any help for attorneys impaired by alcohol or other drug problems?

Yes, every state has a lawyers’ assistance program for attorneys experiencing mental health problems including substance use disorders. The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs has the mandate to educate the legal profession concerning alcoholism, chemical dependencies, stress, depression and other emotional health issues, and assist and support all bar associations and lawyer assistance programs in developing and maintaining methods of providing effective solutions for recovery. For more information, go to: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/lawyer_assistance.html

What is a citizens’ academy?

A citizens’ academy educates the community about police services, court processes and the general criminal justice system. They may be run by cities, counties, schools or other entities such as the FBI. They generally last several weeks, meeting one night per week, and tour jails, Neighborhood Watch programs, listen to guest speakers and have discussion groups. They are a great way to educate lay people on the law.

What is a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)?

A DRE is a specially trained police officer who is able to detect illicit drug use in drivers suspected of being under the influence. Every state has at least one DRE to help police departments enforce impaired driving laws and prosecutors prepare their case for court. One study showed when the DREs claimed drugs other than alcohol were present, they were almost always detected in the blood (94%). For more information, go to: http://www.decp.org/experts/

Do drugs other than alcohol affect driving?

Yes, prescription, illegal (including marijuana) and some over-the-counter drugs can adversely affect driving. Drugged driving cases present unique challenges from proving the accused was actually impaired at the time of driving to the admissibility of certain evidence. For more information, go to: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Research+&+Evaluation/Impaired+driving+%28drug-related%29+reports

Does the U.S. Supreme Court case, Missouri v. McNeeley warrant requirement apply to marijuana and driving cases?

Possibly.  One can argue that both ethanol and THC dissipate at about the same rate, therefore no exigent circumstance is applicable and a warrant is necessary for a blood draw.  On the other hand, one could argue since there is no retrograde extrapolation for THC, every marijuana case possesses exigent circumstances.

Is my medical marijuana card a defense to driving under the influence of THC?

The states differ on this issue. Some have zero tolerance for any illicit drug in the bloodstream. Some states have case law that permit THC and even its metabolites as a defense and others have not yet addressed the issue.

Should a Risk Assessment be taken for potential mental health issues in an alcohol driving case?

Yes they co-occur frequently. There are tools that assess for both i.e. IDA and CARS.  RANT is also being normed for marijuana.

What is therapeutic jurisprudence?

Therapeutic Jurisprudence (TJ) concentrates on the law’s impact on emotional life and psychological well-being. It is a perspective that regards the law (rules of law, legal procedures, and roles of legal actors) itself as a social force that often produces therapeutic or anti-therapeutic consequences. It does not suggest that therapeutic concerns are more important than other consequences or factors, but it does suggest that the law’s role as a potential therapeutic agent should be recognized and systematically studied. For more information, go to: therapeuticjurisprudence.org

What is procedural fairness/justice?

Procedural fairness (also referred to as procedural justice) is an evidence-based practice reliably associated with higher levels of compliance with and greater amounts of satisfaction with decisions by authority figures. Increasingly, national judicial organizations have recognized the importance of promoting procedural fairness. Recently, the Conference of Chief Justices has adopted a resolution encouraging state court leaders to promote the implementation of procedural fairness principles. For more information, go to: http://proceduralfairness.org/

Should a Risk Assessment be taken for potential mental health issues in an alcohol driving case?

Yes they co-occur frequently. There are tools that assess for both i.e. IDA and CARS. RANT is also being normed for marijuana.

On the Road

What is distracted driving?

There are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual — taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual — taking your hands of the wheel
  • Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in while operating a motor vehicle. Such activities have the potential to distract the person from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing.

Can I drive safely using a hands-free cell phone?

No. The research on cognitive distractions and using a cell phone is clear: it creates a risk.  It doesn’t matter if you are using a hands-free cell phone or not.

Do drugs other than alcohol affect driving?

Yes, prescription, illegal (including marijuana) and some over-the-counter drugs can adversely affect driving. Drugged driving cases present unique challenges from proving the accused was actually impaired at the time of driving to the admissibility of certain evidence. For more information, go to: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Research+&+Evaluation/Impaired+driving+%28drug-related%29+reports

What is a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)?

A DRE is a specially trained police officer who is able to detect illicit drug use in drivers suspected of being under the influence. Every state has at least one DRE to help police departments enforce impaired driving laws and prosecutors prepare their case for court. One study showed when the DREs claimed drugs other than alcohol were present, they were almost always detected in the blood (94%). For more information, go to: http://www.decp.org/experts/

What is the number one drug found with alcohol while driving?

Marijuana

Does THC dissipate from the bloodstream quicker than alcohol?

They dissipate at about the same rate. 80% of the THC dissipates in approximately 2 hours with only inactive THC metabolites remaining,  however, THC (marijuana) peaks quicker which is why it is a problem when any test for THC is delayed.

Is there a set level of THC that causes impairment?

Studies have found that the increase of THC in the bloodstream increases driving impairment. Although some states have set per se THC levels that range between 1 to 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood, the exact level is still being studied. Unlike alcohol, there is no retrograde extrapolation for THC.

Will there ever be a set "per se" impairment level for THC?

Given the history of the establishment of a uniform impairment level for alcohol, it may take a few years. Alcohol only recently became uniform at .08 and even that has been questioned by National Transportation Safety Board who promoted a .05 BAC cut-off for impairment 2 years ago. More studies that include factors, including but not limited to, weight, dosage, potency, gender, race, ingestion, tolerance and time periods could be helpful.

Which state has the highest per capita use of alcohol?

New Hampshire

Which state has the highest per capita use of marijuana?

Alaska

Do child safety seats make a difference?

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children in the US. Buckling up is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries.

Parents and caregivers can keep children safe by: 

  • Knowing how to use car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.
  • Using them on every trip, no matter how short.
  • Setting a good example by always using a seat belt themselves.

If my child is new born or less than 12 months old, what child safety seat should I use?

A child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. 

Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

If my child is 1-3 years old, what child safety seat should I use?

Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. 

Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

If my child is 4-7 years old, what is the right child safety seat to use?

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. 

Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

If my child is ages 8-12, can she or he use an adult seat belt?

Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. 

Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.

Why should I wear my seat belt?

Ejection is one of the most injurious actions that can happen to someone in a crash. In 2011, 77% of people ejected from a car or truck were killed. Seat belts prevent that, and more, from happening.

Wearing a belt can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a car by 45 percent and moderate injuries by 50 percent.

With an air bag in the car, why do I need to wear a seat belt?

Air bags are designed to work WITH safety belts, not replace them.

By not wearing your safety belt, you could be thrown into a rapidly opening frontal air bag. Such an action could result in injury or even death.

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