- Failing To Request A DMV Administrative Hearing.
- Assuming That If The Breath Result Is Greater Than .080, The Case Is Lost.
- Playing Ostrich / Playing Lawyer.
- Failure To Call The Appropriate Attorney.
- Failure To Properly Evaluate A Case.
- Failure To Become Educated And Understand The Dangers Of A DUI.
- Improper Use Of Time.
- Failure To Properly Evaluate The Fourth Amendment Implications On A Case.
- Failure To Play The Odds.
- Believing That Your Case Is Special And You Deserve A Deal.
- One Last Word
Generally those getting their first DUI are freaked out by the process; one minute they were driving peacefully, and the next they were in handcuffs. This sudden emotional impact as it were, leads to a variety of mistakes that tend to compound the problem. For example, almost everyone fails to ask the officer whether or not the field tests performed on the side of the road are compulsory or optional (they are optional), and as a result, they end up giving damning information (even if they do well) that is later used to convict them.
What should have happened is as follows: following the stop the police will ask for identification, registration, and proof of insurance. The reason for the stop should be furnished to the driver. The cop will then ask if the driver has been drinking to which the driver should answer: “I would like a ticket for whatever you stopped me for and then I want to be on my way; if you ask me any questions I shall assume you are investigating some other matter and stand on my right to remain silent. Thus, you can either give me a ticket or arrest me right now, but I am not doing any field tests or blowing into any portable breath tester.
One of two things will occur: the driver will be released and cited, or the driver will be arrested after the cop calls for back up because he is so confused; the latter makes the case even better. If the driver is arrested he must submit to a certified breath test at the station to avoid losing the driver’s license BUT that test will likely be suppressed as long as there are no admissions or other information pointing to inebriation (open container). What people do not realize is that they must confront the officer and force their hand because the sooner they are arrested the weaker the case is for the State. Think about it, what evidence of inebriation does the officer have at the time he asks about alcohol – none or little; in Utah, odor of alcohol alone is not sufficient to support probable cause to arrest, so if the officer arrests, the evidence including the breath sample will be suppressed.
What people do not take the time to think about are the laws, their rights and how the particular case plays out in light of those elements; accordingly, they make fundamental mistakes that are prejudicial to their case. Take admissions against interest; why would anyone talk to a police officer about what and when they drank alcohol? The police only want to arrest – they don’t believe a word a defendant says – thus any statement, honest or not, is only going to result in a stronger case for the state. Like most mistakes, that one is a result of pressure and fear; but take heart – read on and see what a little information can do to your outlook and case.
The following is our view of the most common mistakes made after the arrest, and an explanation of the underlying reasoning supporting our contention that everyone, no matter what the circumstances, should have their case evaluated by an attorney before they even consider pleading guilty. Reviewing our last one hundred cases and the relevant literature, we feel fairly confident that the following is representative of low – level (under .150) Utah DUI’s in general.
1) Failing To Request A DMV Administrative Hearing.
A DUI case is actually two cases in one; a criminal DUI case and a civil driver’s license administrative action. Once a person is cited for a DUI, it is their responsibility to request an administrative hearing in writing, although the only notice of this is in small type at the bottom of the ticket and as a result is often missed by drivers. The DMV hearing is the single most important part of any DUI case, and failure to request a hearing results in automatic suspension. Because most officers fail to mention the hearing to defendants, and the situation is quite emotional, about 50% of people miss this very important deadline. More alarming is the fact that even lawyers can get confused by the myriad of challenging legal issues and procedural time constraints imposed by the civil component.
The most important thing you can do after receiving is a DUI is to sit down and write a letter requesting a hearing to the DMV; include your name, address on license, mailing address, date of arrest, date of birth and driver’s license number – and make sure you check with the DMV on the ninth day following arrest to ensure that they received your request and that it was properly prepared. Next, sit down and write about forty paragraphs and ten to fifteen pages describing exactly, in explicit detail what occurred both before during and after the arrest; including exactly what you ate and drank that night over a specific time period. Remember, a DUI can be the single most difficult crime to prosecute because it involves so much technology and a myriad of rules that officers have a tough time following completely; your narrative of what happened is the single most important aspect of your case that you have control over, and in this sense, you may hold the key to your case.
2) Assuming That If The Breath Result Is Greater Than .080, The Case Is Lost.
This is the single greatest error made by uninformed defendants. The machines used in Utah are prone to large inaccuracies that are well known to the defense bar but largely unknown to the public; why assume that the machine is accurate? To touch on just one, Utah machines do not measure breath temperature but rather assume an average of 34.0 C; however, for each degree over that preset average, the indicated result will be 7% greater than the actual value! To bring that idea home; breath temperature has been shown to constantly vary between individuals; a person with a fever, or a woman during her monthly cycle will generally have an increase of 2 degrees of more over the baseline of 34.0 C – that’s a 14% differential. Coupled with the manufacturer’s stated 5% internal variance and 2% for testing solution, that’s a whopping 21% right off the top. Now, does that .101 look a little better? Amazing how just a little information is empowering.
Currently, there are a number of Utah cases where defendants are challenging the accuracy of the machines in Court and in the coming year it is likely that decisions will be handed down that affect the admissibility of certain breath results. In our view these challenges are promising and perhaps it is no surprise that we are authoring more than one of them; therefore, if you have a result below .150 or so, it pays to wait it out and litigate your case, or at the very least have it analyzed. Once you learn about how shoddy the system is, you will likely see your situation in an entirely different light.
Lastly, because the machines use averages for both partition ratio and breath temperature, it is possible you fall into a group that blows as much as twice as high on a breath machine than your actual blood alcohol level. At the very least you should not consider pleading guilty to a DUI until you have ruled this possibility out; it is just illogical behavior.
3) Playing Ostrich / Playing Lawyer
Fundamentally, no one likes to put their hand in the fire – or be in trouble with the law; so a common first blush reaction is for people to bury their heads and immediately plan to “get this behind them,” by pleading guilty and taking their punishment. In other words, burying their head in the sand like an Ostrich. While we understand the emotional reasoning, we push logic hard in this area. Given that a person charged with a DUI has landed in the position they find themselves in because of a lack of knowledge (otherwise it stands to reason they would have refused to perform field tests and reduced their chance of conviction), our only stubborn plea is for the person to become quickly educated about their situation.
Our experience is that 60% of the cases we handle result in reduced charges, outright dismissal, or reduced charges. Therefore, the odds are actually with the defendant which is rather strange for criminal law. Our promise is this: nothing can be lost by taking time and becoming educated about the area of law – absolutely nothing. A DUI can cost tens of thousands of dollars over time; thus, it only makes logical sense to become educated about one’s situation and have a case evaluated by a lawyer practiced in the area of law – a specialty in its own right.
Faced with the choice of proceeding without an attorney (or “Pro Se”) or with an attorney, too many people get into even deeper trouble because they are unfamiliar with the criminal justice process – a netherworld unto itself. Thus, like any other governmental process, criminal justice has its own set or procedural rules which one not schooled in the law could certainly learn; but it highly unlikely that one would understand how to apply the rules in a specific case without practice.
The adage that “only a fool has themself for a lawyer” is not lost on attorneys, because there is not one that would dare represent themself on their own case if only for lack of objectivity. The same thinking applies to DUI’s because this criminal specialty is one that requires a very specialized knowledge of both the law and the technology used to enforce the law. Simply put, no rational person that takes the time to become educated on DUI law would consider representing themselves.
4) Failure To Call The Appropriate Attorney
People are sometimes distrusting of the legal profession and when the pressure of a criminal action is added to the mix, it often results in a common misconception that an attorney is going to waste more money for the same, inevitable result. Once cited, many people tend to run through a fairly predictable cycle of self-doubt and hate, and become resigned to what they believe is inevitable (and subsequently deserving) fate. While it is true that DUI’s are a very specialized area of law thoroughly understood by a relatively small number of practitioners, it is also true that most criminal attorney offers a free consultation that people should always take advantage of to learn about the field, and further, that most lawyers will make an appropriate referral if the case falls beyond their field of expertise.
However, due to the inherent complexities of a DUI case, it is generally never a good idea to call any attorney or an already familiar family law practitioner. There are precious fewareas of law that the American Bar Association permits attorneys to call “specialty” areas, but DUI law is one of them, and for good reason. While it may not be “rocket science,” an attorney needs to fully understand the history and physiological basis of the “Standardized Field Sobriety Tests” and preferably be certified as a NHTSA instructor in them. Likewise, there is no way to adequately examine the scientific and evidentiary foundations of a breath test absent a complete understanding of how the Intoxilyzer 5000 and 8000 employ infrared spectrometry in analyzing a sample, and further, precisely how the machine does (and perhaps more importantly doesn’t) work on a practical basis. We don’t just own an Intoxilyzer 5000 to play with at parties (although it’s a real conversation starter); we have one because we believe that after one performs a few hundred tests on it, one can better understand its idiosyncracies.
If you believe that the prosecutor will fairly evaluate your case and that they are going to make you a deal on a DUI; if you believe that a prosecutor would not prosecute your case if your Fourth Amendment rights had been violated, (in Utah of all places); stop reading here and go right ahead and trust your fate to the government, because nothing we have to say is going to ring true. If however, you are old enough to have learned that even the best government can give its citizens uneven, and sometimes unfair treatment, read on – because if nothing else, you want to avoid any future contact with the criminal justice system.
5) Failure To Properly Evaluate A Case
Too many people make the mistake of hiring a lawyer based on the recommendation of a friend or prior association of a particular attorney through another legal matter. Unfortunately, DUI law is among the most technically and procedurally complex areas of criminal law, such that even competent criminal attorneys can find themselves lacking when it comes to acquiring a broad enough substantive base to effectively represent clients. While it’s not rocket science, sometimes it can seem pretty close due to the technical complexities of the breath alcohol measuring instruments and the science (or sometimes lack thereof) behind them.
A DUI is the only criminal charge in our nation that is wholly dependent on two areas of psuedo-science: (1) so-called standardized field sobriety tests or SFST’s (which are subjectively scored by the arresting officer) and; (2) a breath test performed by a machine designed in the 1960′s that is capable of errors greater than 150%! A lawyer versed in the field of DUI defense will at a minimum have a complete understanding of the relevant law and recent changes, be certified (preferably at the instructor level) in the NHTSA standardized field sobriety tests, and be able to fully explain how both the CMI Intoxilyzer 5000 and 8000 function, the differences between them, and each one of their many shortcomings.
Because of these inherent shortcomings, while it may be arguable whether or not certain people cited for DUI are actually innocent, it is our experience (albeit with a majority of cases with a BrAC of .125 and lower) that these people can NOT be shown to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – the proper legal standard. Simply put, the machine itself is so inherently error-prone that the majority of people stopped without a poor driving pattern (we call these bogus stops) and subsequent borderline field tests.
6) Failure To Become Educated And Understand The Dangers Of A DUI
People understandably want to get out of the frying pan after being charged with a DUI, but no one wants to jump into the fire. Unfortunately, by failing to take a deep breath and immerse themselves in a quick but thorough education in DUI law and consequences thereof, too many people fall victim to what we call the “let’s just put it behind us,” syndrome. The dangers inherent in a first time DUI however aren’t the penalties that accompany it, but the danger that lurks beneath the surface once a driver becomes an “alcohol restricted” driver and what we term a “marked man (or woman).” In Utah especially, that driver becomes a “marked” man or woman.
All too often, we get calls asking about the possibility of people revisiting and reversing their rash mistake of pleading guilty made months or sometimes even years earlier. The loss of commercial driving license (or inability to obtain one), problems with employment opportunities, upward job mobility, inability to rent a car, graduate school (at least in Utah), health professions, life insurance, and social stigma are just a few reasons to become educated about DUI’s and choose carefully when making such a far reaching and sometimes life altering decision such as pleading guilty to a DUI.
Thus, each and every time this marked person is stopped for any traffic violation, they are going to be put through the ringer and subjected to those unreliable field tests. And this time, when the officer doesn’t smell alcohol, they will start down the medications (legal or illegal) route hoping to score gold. Again, what the uneducated person doesn’t know can hurt them; because in Utah, any measurable amount of any drug, including prescription drugs for which you have a valid prescription will subject the driver to a DUI – metabolite. With the multitude of new prescription medications coming to the market, a frightening number of DUI – metabolites are now appearing on the legal horizon, and an alarming number of them are second DUI’s not involving alcohol use.
How is it we wonder, that the mere charge of a crime is enough to psychically paralyze people such that they will plead guilty to a crime they may not have committed, and moreover, accept a charge with such far-reaching penalties such that they will be paying tens of thousands of dollars more in car insurance for nearly a decade following its commission? We take a hard line in regard to getting educated about DUI’s because we can see no intellectually honest argument for not taking the time to get up to speed on DUI law, if only because the information is so readily available. (See www.duiblog.com) Ultimately there are few tougher things to swallow than pleading guilty to a DUI, and paying triple insurance premiums for seven years, only to discover for example, that there was a legal issue that would have resulted in outright dismissal of a case.
7) Improper Use Of Time
Nothing bothers us more profoundly than the artificial “rush” the prosecution tends to put on a criminal case, if only because such a severe charge should be explained to the last degree. While we fully understand the need of prosecutors to clear the criminal docket, it is a personal pet peeve of ours that almost all justice courts have plenty of “waiver of rights” (guilty plea) forms, but not a single court offers defendant’s the chance to meet with defense attorneys or permits defense attorneys to place published information in the hands of defendants. Courts are required to play a few minutes of video, but even that doesn’t recommend that every defendant see a defense lawyer. However, the silver lining is that defendants are guaranteed TWO separate trials, one in Justice Court and another in Distirct Court, and the effect of this process is, on the whole, to award the benefit of time to the defendant.
One of the main reasons for hiring an attorney besides gaining the advantage of their expertise, proper case review, and mitigating sentencing if found guilty, is that the rate at which the case is prosecuted will slow considerably. This can have the following beneficial effects: (1) due to high turnover in the police force, a case will sometimes settle due an officer’s retirement, suspension or absence (in one case the police officer received a DUI the week after the trial – we appealed); (2) cases get occasionally lost and may be dismissed for lack of timely prosecution or speedy trial; (3) police memories may fade (understandably); (4) appellate law affecting the admissibility of evidence (such as the breath or blood result) may change favorably with time; (5) fines and/or penalties such as a costly interlock device) and increased insurance premiums remain unpaid, and do not garner interest during the interim. Simply put, time favors the defendant and having legal counsel buys time (appropriately of course, as it would be unethical to unnecessarily prolonge a case).
Most of all, time buys education, peace of mind, and understanding of the process; as we say, you can always plead guilty at any time, but you never undo your guilty plea. Think about it; how can waiting possibly hurt you? We see no problem with defendants pleading guilty if they are convinced of their guilt, but we would argue that they should be fully informed prior to considering this life changing action. There is no way for a defendant to become fully informed without reading extensively on the subject and consulting with a defense attorney about their case.
8) Failure To Properly Evaluate The Fourth Amendment Implications On A Case
First and foremost, any time a citizen is stopped, the Fourth Amendment is implicated. This fine piece of legal machinery is only useful however, if the citizen moves to enforce their rights. Surprised? People are often shocked to discover that perhaps the biggest legal protection they possess is not self-enforcing. Yes, this means that even if you are stopped illegally, that unless you move to suppress the evidence – the Court and prosecutor will go right on and accept your guilty plea and sentence you along with everybody else. You don’t just get to point the illegality out, you need to argue why the law applies to you and why the exceptions to the rule do not apply. And if you are really astute, you’ll immediately realize that your chances of suppressing evidence gathered as a result of an illegal stop, without using legal counsel, is next to impossible.
In Utah, the abuse of the Fourth Amendment by the police is the single most important reason that a defendant should seek legal counsel. Perhaps due to the Mormon influence (just a guess), people who party in Utah stand out like glowing embers to the police departments, and as a corollary, so do their cars. Thus, perhaps more than any other state in the nation, Utah has a large percentage of what we like to call “bogus” stops. Simply put, a bogus stop describes a situation where a police officer targets a car, and ultimately stops it because he has a hunch that it contains a driver who parties. Here’s an example; a Subaru wagon with ski and bike racks, replete with anti-Bush bumber stickers and air fresheners hanging from the rear view mirror. Yes, that is pure profiling, but under a Supreme Court case, as long as the officer has a substantive traffic violation – he can pull over the car, and you can guess what follow from there.
The silver lining is that these kind of stops tend to make officers a bit lazy, perhaps because the majority of people do not fight back (or can’t afford to), and subsequently, sometimes their general handling of the DUI case suffers as a result. To give you harder numbers, in our last hundred cases that we believe are fairly representative of first time DUI’s, there was a Fourth Amendment violation almost 35% of the time, and about half of those cases were ultimately suppressed or dismissed by the judge. That may not sound like great odds, but consider that your chances of being found guilty if you so plead are exactly 100%; so we’d argue anything is better than that.
9) Failure To Play The Odds
Anyone who is subject to criminal penalties needs to gain a cursory understanding of why chance favors the well prepared. Game theory is often used to describe Economics and less employed for criminal justice, but we think the analogy is appropriate. In short, you have to learn the rules of the game, hire the best player you can, and engage in the game to prevail.
Our first premise is that, as with any complex system, the American criminal justice system functions at some percentage of efficiency less than 100%; and this fact is not subject to serious debate. The question then is how to exploit those inefficiencies to a defendant’s benefit. A corollary of the first premise is that you must engage in the game to reap the rewards of those inefficiencies. For example, in the case of a Fourth Amendment violation, even if the officer swore out an affidavit and walked into court and swore that he had violated your rights (unlikely), you would not benefit unless you had filed the proper paperwork asking the court to suppress the fruits of the illegal stop and subsequently dismiss your case. Curiously, it is often the more educated clients who fail to grasp this very fundamental concept, and conversely, at least in our limited experience, the more uneducated that immediately “get it,” as it were. The former people concentrate on the facts they believe should mitigate the charge, even though the only facts that matter are the facts the police officer will testify to; a defendant’s word is useless at the beginning of a criminal case and no prosecutor will lend their ear to a defendant’s plea.
Instead, you must engage the system, file the appropriate pleadings at the proper times, fulfill all procedural rules, and finally understand how the rules work for and against you in your particular case. When a person asks how they can afford a lawyer we understand exactly where they are coming from, largely because we believe that the criminal justice system needs to be overhauled – and that every defendant needs to speak with a defense attorney before they ever consider pleading guilty; we argue that without this safeguard, people are suffocated by the system and that too many people plead guilty to serious criminal offenses they often are not guilty of beyond a reasonable doubt. But the fact is that there is no way to negotiate the legal system without a lawyer, just as there is no way to play a board game without knowing the rules, or go hiking to a particular destination without a map and a compass. Disregarding money for the moment, people who represent themselves without legal aid are wasting their time because even if they are fundamentally correct, they do not know the rules of the game.
10) Believing That Your Case Is Special And You Deserve A Deal
Let’s explode this myth right away. Every prosecutorial arm in Utah has either a standing or unwritten policy that explicitly prohibits any deals, negotiation, or deferred pleas on DUI’s. And if that weren’t enough, the Utah DUI statute actually discourages any such negotiation. So if a friend told you to forget a lawyer and that their friend got a deal, make them promise to pay your fine when it all goes South. You aren’t getting a deal because its your first one, your BrAC was near .080, or for any other reason; it doesn’t happen – even cops get prosecuted (and fired as it were) for DUI’s. When a person wants to know about the workings of a complex governmental system, it just makes common sense to ask the people who work in the system every day; not those who have “heard” anecdotal tales.
Unfortunately, the justice system doesn’t care that you teach underprivileged kids, volunteer at the fire department, or routinely overpay your taxes; and in point of fact, such evidence is prohibited from introduction into the process. Furthermore, the system doesn’t care that the cop who arrested you tightened the handcuffs until they left marks on your wrists, verbally abused you for drinking at all, or purposely lied to you in order to get you to admit how much you had been drinking.. In fact, that kind of abuse has absolutely nothing to do with the criminal charge against you (rather it is an unrelated civil complaint), and is rather more routine than we’d like to see. So while you may be rightly outraged for such behavior (as we are), don’t think that you understand or know how to play this thing called criminal justice, because even criminal defense lawyers are intimidated by its rather impervious nature – it is a leviathan of unequaled power and mass.
If you want to play the odds, which are certainly much more in your favor when compared to pleading guilty, you hire a lawyer schooled in the area. What you do not do is get a copy of the police report, represent yourself at the DMV hearing, and then plead your case to the prosecutor while spilling all sorts of admissions that can and will be used against you; in short, you play just as professionally as you can and as hard as the rules will allow – with a lawyer by your side. We wish it were different, but for now we are stuck with the rules as they presently exist.
The biggest factor affecting good, logical decision making in the area of DUI law is that most people cited for first time DUI’s are not alcoholics, do not have a drinking problem, and have never been in trouble with the law. Therefore, they have normal preconceived notions that because they aren’t a bad person so to speak, they will be treated fairly and honorably; because America has the greatest justice system in the world and defendant’s are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
While it may be true that we have the best justice system in the world, you should divest yourself of the preceding delusion because in Utah especially, for all intents and purposes you are presumed guilty by the system as soon as you are arrested for DUI and that presumption remains with you throughout the entire process. You have become “one of them” by virtue of your having been unlucky enough to have been arrested; which is more troublesome when you consider that in 95 % of all our cases, it was mere chance that resulted in the cop pulling you over in the first place for a “bogus” stop (equipment violation, turn signal or lane change violation, or anything that would normally slide during the day). Most of our clients find themselves stuck in a scenario largely because they were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, usually at night. Remember, in Utah, you should be home with the kids as soon as work is over, and after 6 p.m. on Saturday nights, unless there is a football game.
Let the following fact, perhaps above all others, govern your decision making process: there exists a newly published, black and white coffee table book entitled “The Innocents,” whose sole theme is the three hundred or so actually innocent people who were wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison for crimes they did not commit (most of them freed through newly acquired DNA testing).
Similarly, John Grisham, of fiction fame, took time to write his first non-fiction book entitled “The Innocent Man,” concerning just two of those people wrongly convicted; a book widely reviewed largely due to the illegal improprieties taken by the prosecution in the case, who fixed and manufactured evidence to convict. Make no mistake about it, the prosecution in your case or any other criminal case has the lofty ethical responsibility of “doing justice” in each case, and there are more than a handful of prosecutors we think very highly of who try to attain this goal; but do not be so naive as to think for a moment that the prosecutor’s first concern is anything other than trying to put another win in his column. Winning, not ethics, drives the system, which is merely the result of the adversarial system on which criminal justice is based.
What separates the winners from the losers in this game of criminal justice, more often than not, is not necessarily guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or actual innocence, but a stark and realistic world-view that helps these individuals see the system for what it is; a massive bureaucratic and political entity with lofty goals but mere people that run the machine; people with nearly universally good intentions but prone to the same frailties we all have, and stuck in a system that does not react well to inner turmoil or dissent.
This is really a kind of war, and unless you grab a weapon and start fighting, this machine will run you over and spit you out the other end. We do not mean to denigrate America or our criminal justice system, but the fact is that people who work daily within the system have the most realistic view of how the system functions; and few would say it is user friendly. When people sometimes get frustrated at the predicament they find themselves in because the system refuses to “listen” to them, we suggest they get in line, because the system listens to no one – there are plenty of judges out there who feel the same way.
Nevertheless, a first time visitor to this arena must be prepared to stow their moral certainty aside and come to decision about what kind of person they are going to be defined as in regard to the system itself. One can either stand and fight, or cut and run; and in many cases, the latter is the better answer as the fight itself can be taxing. But our singular argument about gaining adequate knowledge prior to making that fundamental decision, is we believe, a good one. Education never hurt anyone, although in this case it is likely that you will never view our criminal justice system in the same light. In an area of law where the sole determinate of guilt or innocence is a thirty year old machine with a poor accuracy record, our thought is that the citizens deserve better, since there are in fact machines manufactured today that produce much more accurate results using improved and modern technology. (Draeger Corp.)
We hope you will take the time to take a deep breath and take the logical route of properly evaluating your case, considering the possible ramifications of various penalties involved, and the realistic chance of defending your case. If nothing else, this approach will result in a foundation of knowledge that will prevent this from ever occurring again and give you a more realistic expectation of what to expect. This translates into peace of mind and changed behavior, and hopefully a more enjoyable life.
Remember, in over 65% of cases, our involvement results in outright dismissal, reduction of the charges, decreased penalties, or suppression of certain evidence. There is a 100% chance that you will be found guilty if you plead guilty. So common sense would tell you that at the very least, you should have your case evaluated. Whether you ultimately decide to fight is a personal decision that we never try to influence. And most of all, remember that in the grand scheme of things, this is a small blip on the radar of life; what matters most are friends, family and children, and the health of you and those close to you. If we achieve nothing but bringing that point home, we have exceeded our goal in this note.