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Posted on in DUI

California DUI defense lawyerWhile there are a few exceptions to the rule, officers cannot typically stop a driver unless they have reasonable cause to suspect wrongdoing (that includes traffic violations). However, once a driver has been stopped, the officer may then search for any additional signs of a potential crime. More specifically, they look for signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or balance issues. If flagged for any one of the alleged “tell-tale signs” of intoxication, the driver may then be subjected to a field sobriety test. Learn more about them, and how you can fight a DUI charge, with help from the following information. (Note: you are not required to engage in field sobriety testing.)

“Standardized” Field Sobriety Tests

Before the late 1970s, law enforcement lacked a consistent method to detect intoxication among drivers. Instead, they were forced to rely on their own judgment and a variety of tests with unknown accuracy rates. Then, in 1977, the NHTSA initiated a study of the various FSTs being used. Their hope was that a reliable and “scientific” method would emerge. Enter today’s version of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test – a battery of tests that officers routinely use to determine if a driver is intoxicated. These include the:

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California DUI defense lawyerOne of the phrases that DUI defense attorneys hear the most is: “I felt fine to drive. I shouldn’t have been over the limit. How can it be that the test shows I am over the limit?”

There answer is that there are many possibilities. There is always the possibility that the testing apparatus or procedure was flawed. Another is that your blood alcohol rose after you stopped driving, and prior to testing.

There is another possibility that gets much less airplay: your metabolism is just not “normal” on the day in question.

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Santa Cruz DUI defense attorneyMost people understand that a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) is not limited to drunk driving. Alcohol is just one of many substances that can impair a driver’s judgment and ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. In California, you can be charged with DUI if police suspect that you are impaired by any substance, including illegal drugs and drugs taken as prescribed by a doctor. Getting a conviction, however, requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence which can be much more difficult—especially if the only drug found in your system is caffeine.

DUI Arrest and Charges

In August of 2015, a 36-year-old was pulled over in Fairfield, California, for driving erratically. According to reports, the police officer administered several field sobriety tests and, based on his observations and driver’s attitude, arrested the driver on suspicion of DUI. The man submitted to a blood test following his arrest.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

Santa Cruz DUI defense attorneyA “wet reckless” is the only crime in the Penal Code for which one cannot be arrested. Over an inch and a half thick, the Vehicle Code (not the Penal Code, which metes out punishments for yet other crimes) proscribes everything from no front license plate to vehicular homicide. Yet a “wet reckless” exists only as a tool to plea bargain DUI cases - it is not a crime one can commit unless one agrees to the prosecutor and judge using it to amend a complaint alleging a DUI case.

Specifically, allowing the complaint to be amended from a VC 23152 to a VC 23103 per 23103.5. Vehicle Code section 23103 makes reckless driving unlawful; adding the 23103.5 means it was reckless “with alcohol involved.” The big difference between a 23103 (mere reckless, or “dry reckless”) and a 23103 per 23103.5 (wet reckless) is that a wet reckless can be used against you as a prior should you be arrested and convicted of a DUI in the future. 

For many people, a wet reckless is viewed as a huge win. For others, it is viewed as no big deal (or even capitulating to a loss). Realistically, whether it is good in a certain case depends on the facts of that case and the individual accused. It does not directly lead to a license suspension, which for some saves a job. Still others don’t need a license, or don’t care about their right to drive (think folks who live in San Francisco, folks who have a driver, folks who are leaving the country, etc.). In most cases, it is only the first step in trying to save driving privileges, as the DMV has a separate process where they will try to suspend one’s driving privilege - but if one’s ability to drive is paramount, it could be an important first step. There are also reduced fines, classes, and “jail” time (put in quotes as very few, if any, folks go to actual jail for a first offense DUI conviction these days).

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Santa Cruz DUI defense attorneyDriving under the influence if you are incapable of safely operating a moving vehicle is in direct violation of the law. With any DUI conviction potentially comes harsh punishments. However, if you are participating in underage drinking and then also choose to drive a vehicle, the repercussions can be life-altering. At an age when the majority of your life is ahead of you, it is important to understand the charges you may be facing, how they can affect your future, as well as how to protect your rights and freedoms.

The Allegation

If you are underage and driving under the influence, you may be subjected to several charges against you. Not only that, but the people who furnished the alcohol and the owners of the property on which you consumed alcohol may also be charged due to their involvement in your delinquency. The potential charges against you will depend on the circumstances of your case, but may include:

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Posted on in DUI

Santa Cruz DUI lawyerDriving while intoxicated is illegal. An officer of the law cannot make an arrest on private property without a warrant. Both of these statements are true in general, but it is within the authority of the law to make an arrest on private property for DUI. However, there are always exceptions to every rule. Circumstances do exist where the legality of an arrest may be questionable.

Drunk Driving Is Illegal Everywhere

A common misconception exists that driving drunk on a road other than a public road is okay. The idea is not entirely without merit. Prior to 1982, the vehicle codes expressed that drunken driving was prohibited on public roads and highways, making no mention of private driveways and property. However, the law was altered to make no specification regarding public or private property. A ruling in 1992 became a defining moment when Ronald Dean Arnold Malvitz was found guilty of DUI even though he was driving on private property. The court determined during this case that driving and operating any vehicle in any location while under the influence of alcohol or drugs was dangerous to society.

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Posted on in DUI

Santa Cruz DUI attorneySummer is the favorite season for a large percentage of Americans. With summer comes longer days, time off from school, and a schedule often unlike from the rest of the year. In response to the rise in temperatures, many seek to beat the heat by spending their days relaxing by a body of water. It may be likely that you will find yourself on a boat, lazily floating, soaking up the sunshine, fishing or even playing like you were a teenager again. Amidst the summertime fun, alcohol is frequently involved. It is important to understand how a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) could arise from a day on the water. 

Boating Under the Influence

The act of boating under the influence occurs when an individual consumes enough alcohol to impair their ability to operate his or her boat safely. It is also known as boating DUI, BUI, DUI boating, or drunk boating. Although boating is the name of the charge, the vehicle in question does not necessarily need to be just a boat. This law pertains to any motorized watercraft, including but not limited to:

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drugged driving, Santa Cruz DUI defense lawyerWith medical marijuana programs becoming increasingly common around the country and decriminalization efforts underway in many states, there has been much discussion about those who drive under the influence of drugs and how to handle such cases. While some states have proposed—and even implemented—quantifiable standards for traces of certain drugs in a driver’s system, others like California currently rely on a more subjective standard of impairment. Recently proposed legislation seeks to change that standard somewhat, but the measure has been met with a fair degree of skepticism.

Detecting the Presence of Illegal Drugs

Senate Bill 1462 was introduced by California Senator Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, and would allow law enforcement officers to conduct an oral swab on a person suspected of drugged driving. The test would be permitted based on probable cause after a driver has already failed field sobriety tests. The swabs are designed to detect the presence of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and prescription pain medications, but do not provide information about the amount or concentration of the substance. Senator Huff has acknowledged as much, saying that the swabs are not meant to replace blood testing, but that “oral swabs are the only way to quickly and accurately test for the presence of six of the most common drugs of abuse.”

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By John W. Thornton

dmv issues, DUI arrest, Santa Cruz criminal lawyerYes, almost certainly. We have all had our issues with DMV, these compound in the aftermath of a DUI arrest. While there are some cases that do not result in DMV hassles, they are rare. What follows is but a few examples of what to expect.

First, let me explain the change in attitude at DMV since the "administrative per se laws" went into effect in 1990. It is best summarized by what can be found on the wall in the room in the Capitola DMV Office where DMV hearings are conducted. When I first began doing DMV hearings, there was a big sign that announced your rights as someone facing license discipline: the right to an attorney, to subpoena witnesses, right to testify, etc. After a few years, this notice was pushed aside and, in its place, was placed a notice regarding what charges you can expect for threatening the hearing officer (DMV judge). Now, there is a list of items for which you can be arrested for bringing into the hearing office (firearms, knives, mace, etc.).

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By John W. Thornton

mug shot, santa cruz dui lawyerThe fact that you were arrested, unless you are under 18, is a public record. Websites such as mugshotsantacruz.com post booking photos, and over the past few years many clients have reported hearing from friends, relatives, and co-workers that their booking photo was online.

Secondly, many attorneys pay services to obtain booking information so that they can direct mail you solicitations (I don't do this). Clients have reported receiving 8-10 letters in the mail from attorneys and insurance companies offering various services. If you don’t personally pick up your mail, whoever does will not need to be terribly intelligent to figure out that you have been in legal trouble. While this practice has been controversial, it happens.

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DUI, pulled over, Santa Cruz DUI lawyerYou are out for a night of celebrations. You got a big promotion at work and your friends have taken you out for a night on the town to celebrate. After several locations and innumerable drinks later–who knows how many, you had a designated driver–it comes time for everyone to go home. Yet, when you find your driver, he has been drinking all night too. He appears to be worse off than you are. You decide to be the hero and take everyone home yourself.  After a few miles, you see dreaded police lights in your rearview mirror. You are about to get pulled over with a high probability that it is DUI related. What do you do?

During the Traffic Stop

By the time the officer has brought you to a stop, a phone call has already been made to "call in" the stop. This lets the dispatcher know that the officer is busy, a vehicle description, and the reason for the stop. Typically, a cover officer will be dispatched to the scene for the safety and the security of the officer, but also a witness to all events. Although this is not a requirement, more and more police officers are using dash or body cams in their vehicles or on their person today. This can either help or hurt a case, so be aware that one may be recording your every move.

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Refusal of an alcohol test comes with a string of penalties attached. In fact, this is one of the reasons why attorneys typically do not advise refusing an alcohol test. The law in California specifically requires all motorists to submit to an alcohol test, if they are asked to submit to a chemical test by an officer.

If you refuse to take the chemical test, then you may have a number of penalties that apply to you. One of those penalties is related to the suspension of your driving license. There are a number of different types of penalties involving suspension of the license. For example, if you were above the age of 21 at the time of the arrest, then your refusal could possibly result in a suspension of the license for a year if it was a first offense. If it was a second offense within 10 years after the first offense, then you could lose your license for two years. A third or subsequent offense will result in a revocation of the license for a period of 3 years.

If you were below the age of 21 at the time of the refusal, then you will lose your license for a period of one year for the first offense, and two years for a second offense. A third offense within a period of 10 years will mean that you lose your license for three years.

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Posted on in DUI

With just a few days left to the Memorial Day weekend, which also kicks off summer season, it's the right time to focus on the need for drivers to be extra cautious about driving during the holiday.

The Memorial Day Holiday sees large numbers of law-enforcement officers on the roads to pull over motorists they suspect of driving under the influence of alcohol. Your chances of being arrested for DUI or being pulled over are much higher during this holiday, as well as the rest of the summer season.

If you plan to celebrate the beginning of summer with friends, make sure that you stay sober. It is not always easy to tell after you have consumed a couple of alcoholic beverages that you are legally able to drive safely. If you have consumed more than a couple of alcoholic beverages, simply avoid driving, and hand over the keys to someone else.

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In Florida, a DUI defense lawyer hit the headlines recently for his daring advise for motorists at DUI checkpoints.

The lawyer in South Florida distributed a number of flyers that simply encourage motorists, who find themselves at a checkpoint to refuse a DUI test, and keep their windows rolled up. The lawyer’s flyer distributed across the South Florida region, informs motorists that all they have to do when stopped by police at a DUI checkpoint is to keep their car windows rolled up, and hold up the flyer, so that police can read it.

The flyer also advises them to hold up their license, vehicle registration, and insurance documents to police at the window. It advises them to keep silent, and not speak at all. It also advises them to record all that happens on audio, or video.

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A Florida mother is in deep trouble after a DUI incident in which her children reported her behavior.

The woman was driving with her children and at least three other 11-year-old kids, when the children stopped the car, and ran out into a nearby restaurant. They told people in the restaurant that one of the children's mother was driving them under the influence of alcohol. Her driving scared them so much that they felt that they had to get help.

According to the children, the woman was very drunk and was swerving all over the road. She struck a pole, and that incident resulted in damage to the car. However, when they came to a stop outside the restaurant, the children jumped out of the car and ran in for help.

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Lawmakers getting into trouble for DUI don't exactly make the news in California. However, DUI defense attorneys for one lawmaker who was recently arrested for driving under the influx of alcohol have called for charges to be dropped against him for a unique reason that was drafted by people riding in horse-drawn carriages.

They argue that the lawmaker is currently in the middle of a legislative session in the state, and therefore, should not be arrested for DUI at this stage.

According to the attorneys, charges against Kentucky’s Senator Brandon Smith must be dropped, because of a provision in the Kentucky Constitution that holds that a lawmaker cannot be arrested while the legislative session is in progress. Senator Smith was arrested on January 6, which also happens to be the day the 2015 session officially began.

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Can you get drunk after eating a plate of beer-battered fish? That is the question that many Los Angeles DUI defense lawyers are asking, after a man in Wisconsin presented that as a defense for his DUI.

The man was pulled over by police officers, who then administered a breathalyzer test. The man registered below the .08 maximum permissible level, but since this wasn't his first DUI, he was charged just the same. The man apparently told police officers that he had eaten beer-battered fish just before he began driving, and that this accounted for the alcohol content in his blood. He denied having consumed any alcohol beverages.

To cook up a plate of beer-battered fish, the seafood is dipped in batter that includes beer, and deep-fried. Cooking removes the alcohol from the food. The alcohol evaporates in the cooking process, and although it leaves behind the flavor of alcohol, it does not leave behind alcohol content that would be sufficient to actually intoxicate a person.

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Under the proposal by New York Democrat Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey, states that fail to enact the law by the deadline of October 1, mandating all DUI offenders to have these devices installed in their vehicles, would suffer a cut in their highway transportation funding.

Motorists in four California counties-Los Angeles, Sacramento, Almeida and Tulare - are already familiar with a program like this. Under the pilot program, which was kicked off in 2010, even an offender who is convicted of a first-time DUI, is required to install certified ignition interlock devices in each vehicle that he owns or operates.

An ignition interlock device is a device that is connected to the ignition of the car. The device takes a breath sample from a person before he begins driving. It detects the alcohol content in the breath, and if it detects alcohol content above a predetermined limit, it will shut down the ignition, and the engine will not start. As the person drives, the device will continue to ask for samples to reduce the risk that the driver will consume alcohol as he is driving.

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Posted on in DUI

That seems to be confirmed by statistics in Los Angeles and other cities, where there has been a drop in the number of DUI offenses recorded since Uber arrived on the scene. According to data involving DUI citations from the California Highway Patrol, the number of DUI arrests actually peaked just before the release of the Uber app in April 2012. After the app was introduced, the number of DUI arrests began to drop even as other rideshare apps like Lyft arrived on the scene. However, police are not as quick to credit Uber for that drop in DUI arrests.

The Los Angeles Police Department however does admit that there has been a slight decrease in the number of DUI accidents between 2013 and 2014. The department also admits that there is no way to confirm that a decrease in the number of DUI accidents is in any way linked to the increasing use of Uber. The Los Angeles Police Department would like to believe that there have been other factors that have contributed to a drop in DUI arrests, and DUI crashes like increased awareness and education campaigns targeting drunk driving.

Uber hasn't been around that long to really tell whether the app has contributed to a decrease in the number of DUI arrests. However, California DUI lawyers would highly recommend that if you are concerned about driving home after having had a few alcoholic beverages, call a cab.

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