Handling First Virginia DUI Case (2021 Edition)

Rocco Columbus
Jeff Martin
Eric Shamis
Sean A. Sherlock
Graziella Bianchi
Rocco Columbus | Randal, Page & Bruch, PC
Jeff Martin | Tillotson & Martin, LLC
Eric Shamis | King Campbell Poretz Mitchell, PLLC
Sean A. Sherlock | King Campbell Poretz Mitchell, PLLC
Graziella Bianchi | Law Offices of Graziella Bianchi, PLLC

On-Demand: December 17, 2021

$245.00 4 hour CLE

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Program Summary

Session I – Client Interview – Rocco Columbus
We will go over how to approach the initial interview and meeting with both prospective and actual clients. We will discuss the types of questions to ask to help you determine how best to proceed. The first meeting with a client is important not just for trial purposes but also for establishing trust with a client. We will review what you should do once you've met with the client.

Key Topics

  • What does the client want?
  • What are the facts?
  • What should the fee agreement say?

Session II – The basics of DUI Science – Jeff Martin
This introductory 101 course explores the practical science of a DUI case that you can use immediately.
We will start with the scientific basics of alcohol and its effect on humans including drink equivalents and calculating BACs. We will walk through the strengths and many limitations of Field Sobriety Tests discussing the difference between “standardized” tests and non-standardized. You will understand how the Intox EC/IR II – Virginia’s breath test machine – works . . . and how it doesn’t work. Finally, we will take an initial look at blood testing. You will learn the differences between a hospital treatment test and a Department of Forensic Science blood test.

Key Topics

  • Predicting alcohol’s effect on humans
  • Field Sobriety Testing
  • Breath Testing
  • Blood Testing

Session III – Court Process – Eric Shamis & Sean Sherlock
In this presentation, attorneys will learn about the court procedures in a DUI case, how to navigate them, and how those procedures may differ across jurisdictions. This presentation is meant to give an outline of the timeline of a DUI case in the general district court, and briefly touch on circuit court appeals.

Key Topics

  • Court process from arraignment through sentencing/appeal
  • Discovery / Pretrial motions
  • Plea negotiations
  • Trial

Session IV – The DUI Trial – Graziella Bianchi
Lawyers can expect to learn about trial strategies and creative trial tactics for DUI defense. We will be discussing jury selection: what to ask and what to look for in your jury pool. We will be discussing opening statements and preparing the jury for your defense during voir dire. We will be discussing, cross examination of the police officer and direct examination of your expert. We will be discussing the basic parts of trial and preparing your trial outline. We will be discussing closing arguments and wrapping up your defense. We will be discussing some creative defenses and taglines that have worked for lawyers in the past for DUI trials. Additionally, we will be discussing whether to select jury sentencing or judge sentencing in the wake of the procedural change to end of mandatory jury sentencing in Virginia.

Key Topics

  • How Judge sentencing impacts clients’ decisions to select a jury trial. Discussion on selecting a judge or a jury for your DUI trial
  • Creative motions to file pretrial
  • Challenges to the field tests
  • Body cameras, pros, and cons of use at trial
  • Trial Themes- Creative one liners to use throughout your trial

This course is co-sponsored with myLawCLE.

Date / Time: December 17, 2021

  • 12:00 pm – 4:30 pm Eastern
  • 11:00 am – 3:30 pm Central
  • 10:00 am – 2:30 pm Mountain
  • 9:00 am – 1:30 pm Pacific

Choose a format:

Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program "live" in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for "live" CLE credit.

On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 5 business days after the original recording date and are viewable for up to one year.

Closed-captioning available


Rocco Columbus_Randal, Page & Bruch, PC_myLawCLERocco Columbus | Randal, Page & Bruch, PC

Rocco Columbus moved to Newport News in 1987 and has lived in Virginia ever since, with most of that time spent in Tidewater. After graduating from William and Mary in 2002 with a government major, he attended law school at the University of Richmond and graduated in 2006. Rocco has spent his entire career in the criminal defense area, first as a prosecutor before moving over to the defense side. Over the last 10 years, he’s handled cases great and small.

He has practiced throughout Hampton Roads and Southern Virginia. In 2011 Rocco took his talents back to Virginia Beach and has remained in Hampton Roads. He practices law in Hampton Roads, Southside Virginia and the 1-95 Corridor. He has a wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Natalie. Rocco is a Pittsburgh born Steelers fan!


Jeff Martin_Tillotson & Martin, LLC_myLawCLEJeff Martin | Tillotson & Martin, LLC

“Our firm is dedicated to representing DUI clients all over Virginia.”

Over a decade ago, our firm was asked by Thompson Reuters Westlaw to author an entirely new book in their authoritative series for Virginia judges and lawyers. We wrote Virginia DUI Law: Understanding the Scientific, Medical, Technological, and Legal Aspects of a DUI Case, (Vol. 16, Virginia Practice Series) and continue to update it every year as new laws and cases come out. I was the first and am currently one of only two attorneys in Virginia with an American Chemical Society (ACS) Forensic Lawyer-Scientist Designation as recognized by the Chemistry and the Law Division of ACS. This training and designation mean that I understand the science of blood testing for DUI, DUI-drug, and solid drug cases.

We train other attorneys in DUI Defense. We teach Virginia attorneys DUI Testing: Breath, Blood, and Field Sobriety Tests. In addition, we host the only EC/IR II Breath Test Seminar in Virginia to educate judges and attorneys about the limitations of breath testing on the Intox EC/IR II. I am trained on the EC/IR II and we own the Intox EC/IR. Recently, our firm discovered that Virginia’s EC/IR II has not been operating properly since 2015. I am also trained on the NHTSA Field Sobriety Tests and completed classes in NHTSA’s DRE training (Drug Recognition Expert). I am a member of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD), DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA), Forensic Chromatography Lawyers (ChromLawyers), and Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (VACDL).

My Bachelor of Sciences degree in Biology from Towson University helps me in my work with the scientific and medical aspects of DUI. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with extensive course work in physiology and chemistry, and with a host of awards and scholarships. I participated in original research and worked at the University’s anatomy & physiology lab. I was also a trauma tech at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma (MIEMSS) in the Critical Care and Intensive Care Units.


Eric Shamis_King Campbell Poretz Mitchell, PLLC_myLawCLEEric Shamis | King Campbell Poretz Mitchell, PLLC

Eric Shamis is a partner at the law firm King, Campbell, Poretz & Mitchell, PLLC, where he focuses his practice on criminal defense and DUI defense. Prior to entering private practice, Eric was a prosecutor with the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office for over eight years. During that time, he tried over seventy-five jury trials, and hundreds of bench trials. The criminal cases he handled were some of the most complex and important within Loudoun County over the past decade. He handled jury trials involving charges of murder, manslaughter, robbery, burglary, felony assault, illegal firearm possession, drug distribution, drug possession, DUI, felony DUI, reckless driving, and domestic assault, amongst others.

During his time as a prosecutor Eric specifically focused on handling DUI and traffic-related criminal offenses. Between 2017 and 2020 he was part of a small team of attorneys who handled nearly all the fatal traffic-related criminal cases in Loudoun County. Between 2014 and 2017 he handled the specialized “DUI blood docket” in Loudoun County, containing serious accident cases, and involving the most complex DUI legal issues. For the last four years Eric has been a part of the faculty in the “Defending DUI and Serious Traffic Cases” live seminar in Fairfax, which teaches DUI and traffic law to northern Virginia attorneys. As a prosecutor, Eric also regularly gave educational presentations to law enforcement officers on DUI and other criminal law topics.


Sean A. Sherlock_King Campbell Poretz Mitchell, PLLC_myLawCLESean A. Sherlock | King Campbell Poretz Mitchell, PLLC

Sean A. Sherlock is a partner at King, Campbell, Poretz & Mitchell, PLLC, where he focuses his practice on criminal defense in the state and federal courts in Virginia, and civil litigation. Prior to re-entering private practice in 2018, Sean worked as an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in the City of Alexandria, where he tried jury trials on offenses ranging from drug possession to murder. Sean graduated cum laude from American University, Washington College of Law, in 2011. During law school he clerked for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Crime and Drugs Subcommittee. He has taught CLEs on various topics including electronic evidence, victimless prosecution of domestic violence cases, and Fourth and Fifth Amendment issues, at local and state-wide conferences. Sean was born in the City of Alexandria, and lives in the Beverly Hills neighborhood of Alexandria with his wife Christina and three lovely daughters.


Graziella Bianchi_Law Offices of Graziella Bianchi, PLLC_myLawCLEGraziella Bianchi | Law Offices of Graziella Bianchi, PLLC

Ms. Bianchi is a seasoned trial attorney and has handled thousands of cases since she began practicing in Virginia. As a former Public Defender, she made a reputation for herself as an aggressive advocate for her clients. She is known for her innovative approach to cases. Ms. Bianchi is a graduate of St. Thomas University, School of Law, in Miami, Florida. While she attended St. Thomas, she won several awards. Most notably, she was selected as “Best Overall” in the intermural Moot Court Competition in 2004. In addition, she was an honor student and a member of the Moot Court and Mock Trial teams for the school. Ms. Bianchi represented St. Thomas as a team member in Florida as well as in Virginia.

Ms. Bianchi is fluent in Spanish, Italian and Sicilian and has been selected by her peers as a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyer Magazine for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. In addition, she has an excellent rating on Avvo. She is a graduate of the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Georgia and has consistently been selected for top honors in the practice area of Criminal Defense.


Session I – Client Interview | 12:00pm – 1:00pm
1. What does the client want? | 12:00pm – 12:15pm
2. What are the facts? | 12:15pm – 12:30pm
3. What should the fee agreement say? | 12:30pm – 1:00pm

Break | 1:00pm – 1:10pm

Session II – The basics of DUI Science | 1:10pm – 2:10pm
1. Predicting alcohol´s effect on humans | 1:10pm – 1:25pm
2. Field sobriety testing | 1:25pm – 1:40pm
3. Breath testing | 1:40pm – 1:55pm
4. Blood testing | 1:55pm – 2:10pm

Break | 2:10pm – 2:20pm

Session III – Court Process | 2:20pm – 3:20pm
1. Arraignment | 2:20pm – 2:25pm
2. Discovery (What is provided? How to get it? Open-file discovery?) | 2:25pm – 2:35pm
3. Suppression motions (Best practices? Continuance issues with motions to suppress?) | 2:35pm – 2:45pm
4. Plea negotiations (Day or court or prior to court? Commonwealth Attorney policies on DUIs) | 2:45pm – 2:55pm
5. Trial (Use of experts? Do you need witnesses? Should your client testify?) | 2:55pm – 3:05pm
6. Sentencing (What evidence is important) | 3:05pm – 3:15pm
7. Appeal (Scheduling in circuit court, Jury trial?) | 3:15pm – 3:20pm

Break | 3:20pm – 3:30pm

Session IV – The DUI Trial | 3:30pm – 4:30pm
1. Selecting a Judge or a Jury for sentencing and how this impacts your preparation and your client’s decision to take their case to trial. | 3:30pm – 3:35pm
2. Preparing your client for trial | 3:35pm – 3:40pm
3. Preparing your theme | 3:40pm – 3:45pm
4. Pre-Trial motions- What evidence do you want to exclude? | 3:45pm – 3:55pm
5. Voir Dire in a DUI | 3:55pm – 4:05pm
6. Opening Statements- Telling your story while maintaining your credibility with the jury | 4:05pm – 4:15pm
7. Commonwealth’s case- Tips on Cross examination of the CW witness(s) | 4:15pm – 4:20pm
8. Defense case, Creative Defenses and Experts | 4:20pm – 4:25pm
9. Closing Arguments and Questions | 4:25pm – 4:30pm