Friday, March 25, 2016

10 Rules for Writing Emails

     Emails are great for communicating, especially in business.  They can be composed and sent anytime - no dealing with voice messages, call backs, phone tag, on hold, bad connections, etc.  One communication can be emailed to many people at once.  They automatically memorialize the substance of the communication (for better or worse).  They can be saved, printed, and reviewed or referenced later.  Of course there are times when a phone conversation is better, but generally emails increasingly are used because they are more efficient. 

     To get the most out of emails, and avoid problems, follow these simple rules:

1.  "Picture it on the front page of the New York Times."  So said my old boss about everything you put in writing.  Emails are no different.  Emails generally are not private, protected, confidential, or otherwise exempt from having to be turned over to the other side in matters of litigation for example.

2.  Punctuation, language and good grammar count.  Taking care - and the time - to draft, craft and proof read emails as you would a letter make them more readable, intelligent and compelling, and help prevent sending them off too hastily.  Number individual points or issues to increase the chances of receiving a response to each.

3.  Like phone calls, respond to emails as needed within 24 hours if possible, even if it is just to say Thank You.

4.  Insert attachments first, before you write the email itself.  Insert the recipient's name/address last.  This helps prevent sending emails without the attachment, and also sending them off too hastily.

5.  If in doubt, don't send it out - use the phone instead. 

6.  Don't assume others will read the entire string.  If it is important enough, summarize the communications in your last email in the string.  Especially important emails should "stand alone" and not require looking back at (or for) other emails.

7.  Avoid train-of-thought bantering and conversation via email.  This becomes confusing and potentially dangerous (see number 1 above).  If it looks like its going to be a verbal tennis match, or something amounting to chit chat, use the phone or text messaging.  Phone for conversation; email for communication.

8.  Wait 24 hours before sending a sensitive, reactionary, or nasty email.  You're probably better off not sending it then either.

9.  Rarely is "reply all" appropriate.  Avoid it as much as possible.

10.  Use the "subject" line and do so wisely.  Be brief, consistent and informative.  It will help stay on point and organized, and is good for searching back later.

-David S. Sanderson, Lawyer, Boulder, Colorado

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What is the DUI Zantac defense?

        When you take a drink of alcohol, it is absorbed into the blood through the mucous lining of the gastrointestinal tract:  the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach, and the small intestine.  The rate of absorption increases as the alcohol moves through the tract.

        Absorption from the stomach into the bloodstream (by way of blood-carrying capillaries in the stomach lining) is faster than from the esophagus or mouth. Common wisdom - that drinking on an empty stomach will get you more intoxicated, faster - is true because there is nothing else in your stomach to compete with the alcohol in terms of getting absorbed.  

        Ranitidine - the key ingredient in Zantac and similar products - blocks the so-called first pass metabolism of alcohol.  When alcohol is ingested, the further it passes through the digestive tract, the more ethanol is absorbed into the blood stream.  The organs of digestion involved are the stomach, the small intestine, the large intestine, and the colon.  More ethanol is absorbed as it travels further through that tract. 

        Over-the-counter anti-acid and anti-heartburn medicines like Zantac (containing Ranitidine) reduce the amount of acid that the body produces.  The more of the drug you take, the more the body reduces acid production, thus there being less acid in the stomach to break down the ethanol then absorbed into the blood.   This is how Zantac works.  Heartburn and upset stomach occur due to the body producing acid in the stomach to the point where the person becomes uncomfortable.   The more Ranitidine that is consumed, the less stomach acid is produced.

        Ranitidine decreases the body’s ability to produce the acid that is used in the stomach to start metabolizing alcohol.  This allows more ethanol to pass from the stomach into the small intestine, where the body more readily absorbs ethanol into the blood than if the stomach had digested the ethanol.  The result is that more ethanol is absorbed into the blood through the small intestine.  This is the key component to why Ranitidine causes an elevated blood alcohol content, or BAC. 

        Generally speaking, in Colorado for example driving with a BAC of .05 or greater is against the law (including if .08 or greater "driving under the influence" or DUI).  People who consume Zantac (or similar product containing an equal amount of Ranitidine) and then consume alcohol - even minimal amounts - may unknowingly and involuntarily have their BACs elevated to where driving a vehicle is against the law.  What would be considered a small amount of alcohol consumption becomes amplified when the stomach did not break down the ethanol and the small intestine allowed the ethanol to pass into the blood.  And the higher BAC level persists for a longer time when Ranitidine is a factor.

        Because criminal offenses must be based on a voluntary act, a defense amounting to involuntary intoxication can be a defense to DUI. 

        Call Sanderson Law, P.C., if you need help.  303-444-8846.

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