When you're facing a charge for driving while intoxicated in Texas, you want an attorney who specializes in DWI defense. DWI cases are among some of the most complex, both legally and technically. So, you need a specialist who understands the constitutional, scientific, and evidentiary issues you'll face in a DWI trial. Among lawyers who specialize in defending people charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD), conducted at Harvard Law School, is the premier organization devoted to the continuing education of attorneys in DWI and DUI law.
The NCDD Board certifies attorneys in the specialty area of DUI defense through a rigorous examination and application process. It is the only certification recognized by the American Bar Association in the area of DWI defense. Attorney Doug Murphy isn't just Board Certified in DWI defense by NCDD; he is a past member of the NCDD Board of Regents and the current Dean of the organization.
The Mission of the National College for DUI Defense
The mission of NCDD is to “provide the finest advanced-level training available to the DUI Defense Law practitioner.” DUI and DWI cases require a combination of advanced legal and technical knowledge, making these cases complex. The College offers at least four scientific and legal seminars a year with limited enrollment to ensure a low instructor/student ratio. The Summer Session, conducted at Harvard Law School, is the premiere NCDD training event for developing DWI litigations skills, including:
- Methods for attacking field sobriety tests,
- Methods for attacking blood and breath tests,
- Training on developing opening and closing statement,
- Training on cross-examining police officers and prosecution witnesses, and
- Developing and using defense expert witnesses.
The College holds its October session in conjunction with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Las Vegas each year, believed to be the largest criminal defense seminar of its kind in the country. More than 500 attorneys from across the U.S. attend this seminar each year.
NCDD also co-sponsors an intensive advanced three-day seminar on “Mastering Scientific Evidence,” designed to develop the latest trial skills and help attorneys apply them to current issues in forensic toxicology and DWI-related scientific disciplines. Throughout the year, the College works to educate and train lawyers “to vindicate the promise of the United States Constitution, that a citizen accused has the right to the effective assistance of his or her counsel.”
The NCDD Board Certification Process
To qualify for board certification through NCDD, an attorney must undergo a rigorous application, screening, and examination process. While a committee oversees the screening and application process, the NCDD Board votes on each candidate's admission. Applicants must receive at least two-thirds of the vote for admission.
- An applicant must show “substantial involvement” in the practice of DUI or DWI defense law for at least five consecutive years prior to applying. The applicant must devote at least 50% of their practice to DWI defense.
- The applicant must have been lead counsel in at least 15 DUI trials to verdict or judgment.
- In the alternative, the applicant can substitute contested matters for trials to judgment. The applicant can substitute four contested matters for one trial to judgment, for up to ten trials. A “contested matter” is a hearing before a judge or magistrate where a court takes testimony, and a prosecutor participates. The magnitude of the proceeding must be such that the judge's decision will potentially eliminate evidence at trial or the dismissal of one or more DUI charges. An example of a relevant hearing is a motion to suppress evidence.
- Using the “contested matter” substitute for trial experience, the attorney must have been lead counsel for at least five DUI trials to judgment and 40 contested matters in the five years prior to applying for certification.
- The applicant must be admitted to practice in at least one U.S. state or U.S. territory bar or one of the United States Courts.
As part of the screening process, the attorney must pass through an independent inquiry and review. The applicant must provide NCDD with the names and addresses of eight to 12 attorneys and judges they wish to use as references. NCDD communicates directly with the references to ensure confidentiality of the references, and applicants may not contact references to ask about the content of their referral. The references provided must be personally knowledgeable regarding the applicant's competency in the area of DUI Defense Law and have observed the applicant try a DWI matter within the last three years.
The NCDD will review all applicants to determine “whether the applicant possesses an enhanced level of skill, knowledge pertaining to the science and law involved in DUI Defense, experience in trial advocacy within the area of practice, and whether applicant has demonstrated integrity and dedication to the best interests of his or her clients.”
Attorneys must also pass a rigorous certification exam. However, if the NCDD Board rejects an attorney's application, they will be ineligible to sit for the exam.
- The exam consists of three parts, including multiple-choice, essay, and briefing and oral argument sections.
- As part of the exam, the attorney must demonstrate knowledge in substantive, procedural, and scientific areas of DWI defense.
- The exam will also cover evidentiary, constitutional, and ethical issues that arise in DWI cases.
- The attorney must demonstrate “the knowledge and skills needed for an enhanced level of DUI defense trial advocacy” in the written and oral portions of the exam.
- If the attorney fails the initial exam and wishes to retake it, they may retain one or two sections of their previous exam score.
NCDD designs the application, review, and examination process to assess whether attorneys have the necessary advanced knowledge and skills in legal and scientific areas of DWI defense.
The NCDD Recertification Process
To recertify, attorneys must continue to meet rigorous standards and submit a recertification application within 90 days before their five-year certification expires.
- An attorney must maintain “substantial involvement” in DUI defense law, with at least 50% of their practice dedicated to DWI law.
- In the last five years, an attorney must have acted as lead counsel on at least 15 DUI criminal trials or have acted as lead counsel in at least 40 contested matters and five trials to verdict or a combination of trials, contested matters, and other substantial involvement demonstrating proficiency of DUI defense.
- The attorney must submit at least five references from attorneys and judges.
- The attorney must complete at least 36 hours of college-approved education in the field of DUI defense law within the last three years.
Once NCDD has certified an attorney for at least ten years, an attorney can apply for certification as a “Senior DUI Defense Law Specialist.”
Hire an Attorney Board Certified in DWI Defense
Attorney Doug Murphy is passionate about protecting his clients' rights and helping them get their lives back on track. Doug recently shared his motivation as a DWI defense lawyer in the Dean’s Message 2020 to the NCDD:
To me, this is the most rewarding part of being a lawyer. This is what motivates me every day to improve my skills knowing that the intensity of my efforts will significantly impact my clients and their family. It is a truly awesome responsibility to have someone trust their future and family to you. When you truly care about someone, you will go to great lengths and do everything within your power to protect them.
He brings this motivation and commitment to every client he represents in Texas.
Doug's NCDD board certification in DWI defense is also accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is one of only two attorneys in the entire State of Texas who is Board Certified in both DWI Defense and Criminal Law. U.S. News & World Report's list of the “Best Lawyers in America by Woodward White” listed Doug Murphy as one of their “best lawyers” every year from 2013-2021.
Doug also works hard to advocate for criminal defense law in the community, serving as the past President of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. The Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association awarded him The Sharon Levine Unsung Hero Award for his hand in exposing the flaws in the Houston Police Department Breath Alcohol Testing vans, which led to their decommissioning.
Doug also served on the board of directors for the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, where he has received numerous TCDLA President's Awards for his leadership.
Doug understands that a DWI can change your life. From criminal penalties, to reputational damage, he knows why this is such a scary time. Doug can help you manage the fallout and get your life back on track after a DWI charge. Find out why the Houston Press named Doug Murphy “drinking driver's best friend.” Call us at 713-229-8333 today to set up a consultation.