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This year, Cinco de Mayo falls on a weekend. Law enforcement agencies all across the state are planning a variety of DUI enforcement efforts to mark the holiday. DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols are common events in California, regardless of whether or not a holiday is involved. But Californians can usually expect local law enforcement agencies and the California Highway Patrol to step-up DUI enforcement details when a recognizable holiday approaches.

Police agencies often use a variety of tactics during stepped-up enforcement operation surrounding a holiday weekend. Checkpoints and saturation patrols may not be the only strategies that police may seek to employ to enforce California DUI laws. A story from the Bay Area highlights the type of unique strategies an agency may use in an effort to find drunk drivers.

The San Francisco Police plan to send officers out on motorcycles Friday night to look for drunk drivers. A captain with the police department says that, "Our Harley Davidson Road Kings have a lot of maneuverability advantages over regular patrol cars." Police say that most motorists do not notice the bikes until it is too late. The police captain says officers on a Harley "can ride right up to the driver's window and check for any signs of alcohol or drug impairment."

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Tagged in: DUI DUI checkpoints

Most, if not all, drivers know that California law prohibits driving under the influence. California law, like every state in the union presumes impairment based upon a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. Many drivers, however, are surprised to hear when a chemical test returns a result of presumed impairment after a DUI arrest.

A recent story in the news that highlights the situation involves a Southern California Assembly member who was arrested in late March on DUI charges. The assemblyman, who has the right to remain silent under the law, reportedly told reporters after this arrest that he was not drunk the night of his arrest.

He reportedly said that he had some wine with dinner, but was not drunk. He also reportedly told the news media that law enforcement lacked probable cause to conduct a traffic stop.

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California's laws prohibiting driving under the influence involve more than restrictions against impairment from alcohol. Drugged driving, or prescription medication DUI offenses, can haunt medical patients who may be hauled into court on allegations of driving under the influence. Santa Cruz DUI defense lawyers know that California treats any DUI charge harshly.

A recent California case involves allegations of a so-called "Whip-it" canister containing nitrous oxide. A 22-year-old Folsom man is accused of serious DUI-related charges after a tragic double-fatal car accident in January. The man is facing two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter.

A judge in Sacramento County ordered that the Folsom man stand trial on the gross vehicular manslaughter charges at a preliminary hearing April 24. Prosecutors reportedly introduced testimony at the preliminary hearing that the Folsom man had bought 50 canisters of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, at a Folsom Smoke shop on the day of the car accident.

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It did not take long for a group of former cops, prosecutors and judges to voice their opinion of a proposed measure that seeks to create a zero tolerance type policy for driving under the influence charges involving pot. This blog discussed the new proposal last week, and members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition have written the assemblywoman who introduced the bill, urging that she immediately withdraw the measure.

Ten retired police officers, deputies, prosecutors, judges and other criminal justice professionals signed the letter calling for withdrawal of the DUI drug-related bill, saying that the draconian measure would criminalize driving by any California medical marijuana patient, even if the patient was not impaired at any time near the time of the arrest.

The criminal justice veterans acknowledge that California law already prohibits driving under the influence of drugs, based upon evidence that the pot, prescription medications or other drugs have caused impairment of the driver. The group says that the current flawed California DUI bill prohibiting pot-based driving without the need to show impairment would make driving illegal for up to 30 days after a medical marijuana patient lawfully smokes pot.

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Tagged in: DUI medical marijuana

A California Assemblywoman says the state needs a way to collect data on marijuana related fatal crashes. She says that, "One of the problems we faced as we continue to research this issue is that data specifically related to marijuana is not being collected." She apparently now hopes to have California drivers charged with DUI in order to have a new method to collect data.

She has introduced a proposal that essentially eliminates the necessity of the state to show impairment in marijuana cases. Currently, California laws on driving under the influence prohibit drugged driving. However, the Assemblywoman wants to change DUI laws in the state to allow convictions to be based upon any detectable level of marijuana compounds, or cannabinoids, in a driver's system. Marijuana compounds can remain detectable for weeks after a person uses marijuana.

Advocates for the legalization of marijuana are vehemently opposed to the new proposal. The measure would essentially make it a crime for drivers to get behind the wheel for weeks after using pot. The Assemblywoman who has introduced the concept to essentially eliminate impairment in marijuana related DUI cases admits that the language of the bill "is not perfect." She says she does not intend the proposed measure to impact Californians who have a prescription for medical marijuana.

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