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Drunk driving: Lawyers offer advice after your dangerous lapse in judgment

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Getting behind the wheel after drinking is a dangerous and potentially lethal mistake.

Craig Kuhary strongly urges people not to do it, even though the advice is potentially bad for his business as a criminal defense attorney specializing in drunk driving cases.

"If you think you've had too much (to drink) or if it's even close, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," said Kuhary, whose office is located in Waukesha. "Pay for the $40 cab ride and pick up your car the next day. You can save yourself a lot of headaches and a lot of money."

Andrew Mishlove, a Milwaukee attorney who handles a lot of drunk driving cases, agreed.

"It is a proven fact that alcohol impairs your ability to judge your own level of impairment," Mishlove said. "Don't try to 'just make it home.'" Don't believe that you are OK to drive if you are only a little buzzed. Do not drive. You could injure or kill someone. Even if no one is hurt, if you are stopped by the police you are in for an expensive ordeal that could cost you many thousands of dollars, put you in jail and hurt your career. Take a taxi."

If you drive around Milwaukee between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., particularly on weekends, you'll notice that many people don't follow that advice. Some make it home safely. Some get in accidents. Others get pulled over by police.

As a service to readers during "Bar Month," OnMilwaukee.com asked Kuhary and Mishlove to detail some common mistakes -- aside from the decision to drive after drinking -- that people make in the glare of the flashing red lights and some tips to avoid compounding the problem:

Move over -- "Pull over as soon as it can be done safely," Mishlove said. "Police officers are trained to observe how safely and quickly you respond to the emergency lights. If you delay in stopping, it may be taken as a sign of intoxication."

Mind your manners -- Mishlove and Kuhary stressed the importance of being polite to the officer, without offering too much information.

"A lot of people try to be sarcastic," Kuhary said. "They try to be funny. The thing you want to do is pretend you're on videotape. Even if you aren't, the officer is going to write down everything you tell them."

Mishlove, who is the state's only board certified drunk driving defense specialist, said many drivers try to "talk themselves out" of an arrest by saying things like "Can't you just let me go home?" or "I only had a couple of drinks a few hours ago." And "I'm on medication."

"You have a right to remain silent, so it's best not to volunteer information," he said.

Take the tests -- After the initial stop come the tests. Field sobriety tests. Breath tests. Blood tests. While many drivers think it's smart to refuse the tests, Kuhary and Mishlove say that's a major mistake.

"If you refuse to do a field sobriety test, it will be marked as a failure on that test," Mishlove said. "I know it's not fair. The tests aren't fair. But that's the law in Wisconsin.

"If you refuse to give a breath or blood sample, you will be charged with the separate offense of refusal."

Said Kuhary: "Always take the tests. No matter what, if you refuse a roadside field sobriety test they're going to arrest you. You will be written for a refusal (to take the tests) and that can be worse than a conviction. You may blow a .07 (in a breath test) which is below the legal limit, but you can still be written for refusal. Always take the tests."

Mishlove pointed out that the breath tests administered at the road side are not admissible in court. "Even if you give a sample on the road, you may be asked to give breath or blood again later," he said. "If you refuse, that will lead to a separate charge of refusal, which carries a penalty of driver's license revocation. If you are asked to give blood and you refuse, the police may physically force you to cooperate -- and you will still be charged with refusal."

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Kstohl1 | Feb. 27, 2007 at 8:23 a.m. (report)

I just find it interesting that the only people defending this article are people who have been pulled over or know someone who has and act like its the police's fault for their lack of judgement.

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littledog | Feb. 25, 2007 at 8:58 p.m. (report)

I think it is unethical to write an article about how to lessen charges and/or fines related to drunk driving. If you are impaired or even a little buzzed, do not get behind the wheel, period. It is selfish and cruel to put others at risk for dying or being severely disabled for the rest of their lives because you didn't want to be inconvenienced by taking a cab or crashing in a hotel. I think the drunk driving laws are way too permissable=-in other countries, people are thrown in jail, first offense. If you're drunk, you're drunk. And no, I'm not a prude, I like to "tie one on" now and again but I never drive. It doesn't surprise me that lawyers would assist with writing this article since there tends to be a high incidence of alcoholism in that profession. Many lawyers get away with drinking and driving. Maybe because they know how to "work the system"? Disgusting.

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gunn341 | Feb. 24, 2007 at 12:08 p.m. (report)

They just want your money, If you refuse YES you lose your D.L. But how do they prove that your over the limit with out any proof? A very good friend of mine who I was with at the time got pulled over and refused every test they wanted to give him. He kept his mouth shut, yes, he spent the night in jail but he does not have a DUI on his record. How do you think lawyers make money? By telling you that you need a lawyer...

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sandstorm | Feb. 22, 2007 at 10:21 p.m. (report)

kstohl, read the article. seriously, there may not be a lot of pictures but the words aren't that big. nowhere in the article does it tell you how to get out of a dui. oh yeah, no one should drive drunk, and judge not lest ye be judged. and one more thing-Central High School Red Raider football rules!!!

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sauce | Feb. 22, 2007 at 6:30 p.m. (report)

Drew; Nice piece ----------- only wish Anna Nicole had these lawyers assisting her.

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