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Santa Cruz first time DUI defense lawyerAnyone can be pulled over while driving, and if you are DUI of drugs or alcohol, a routine traffic stop can lead to an arrest. A DUI arrest can be a scary experience, and you may not know what to expect. However, understanding what will happen if you are pulled over and arrested for a first-time DUI will make the experience easier to handle. 

Even if you feel under control behind the wheel, if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than .08% this is considered drunk driving, and you can be arrested on DUI charges. In many cases, a driver will be pulled over for a different reason, such as having a tail light out or speeding. If the police officer who pulls you over has reasonable cause to believe you are under the influence, they can ask you to take Field Sobriety Tests. These tests consist of being asked to get out of your car and performing tasks meant to assess your cognitive functions and ability to operate your vehicle safely, such as reciting the alphabet or walking in a straight line (whether these tests accurately assess alcohol influence is another subject altogether). You may also be asked to take a Preliminary Alcohol Screening, which is also known as a breathalyzer test. This test will measure your BAC, and it often determines whether an arrest can be made.  

If you fail (or as the report may state “did not complete as explained and demonstrated”) or refuse these tests, the police officer will likely arrest you for DUI, and you will be transported to jail or a sobering center and formally charged. You will be asked to take a chemical BAC test of your breath or blood. If you refuse the post-arrest “chemical test” of your blood or breath, or fail to complete it, this can lead to a lengthy suspension of your license – even if you are under the limit. The officer will likely take your driver’s license and issue you a pink temporary license, which kicks off an administrative process at DMV that is separate from the court process.  If you do not request an administrative hearing with the DMV within 10 days, your license will be automatically suspended.

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Santa Cruz CA criminal defense attorney DUI marijuana chargesSanta Cruz County residents should be aware of three changes in California criminal law that took effect on January 1, 2019. These changes affect people with past marijuana convictions, juvenile offenders under age 16, and DUI offenders.

Past Marijuana Sentences Will Be Dismissed or Reduced

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), which took effect on November 9, 2016, decriminalized or downgraded many marijuana-related offenses. AUMA specifically authorized application of the new, more lenient criminal laws retroactively. AB-1793, “Cannabis convictions: resentencing,” directs the California Department of Justice to identify all old cases where a person was convicted of a marijuana offense that is no longer a crime or has been downgraded in severity. 

Minor offenses will be marked for expungement, which completely clears the offense from a person’s criminal record. For crimes which have been downgraded (e.g., from a felony to a misdemeanor), sentences will be reduced appropriately. If no objection from prosecutors is received by July 2020, these changes will automatically be made. This law relieves individuals from the burden of having to file a court petition to request expungement or resentencing. 

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Santa Cruz gun possession charges lawyerCalifornia’s laws on gun ownership and possession are already among the most restrictive in the nation, yet the state legislature continues to pass new laws in hopes of reducing gun-related deaths. California gun owners should be aware of five new restrictions that will take effect in the coming months.

1. Handgun Concealed Carry Will Require More Training

Current state law leaves it up to individual county sheriffs to determine the requirements for obtaining a handgun concealed carry permit (CCP). 

Effective January 1, 2019, new CCP applicants must complete a minimum eight-hour classroom training in firearm laws and safety. They must also pass a shooting proficiency test with each firearm that the applicant wishes to be licensed to carry. CCP renewals will require a minimum four-hour refresher training, plus a shooting proficiency test with each firearm (Assembly Bill 2103).

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Santa Cruz marijuana DUI defense lawyerCalifornia law enforcement officers have faced a growing challenge over the past two years: how to keep the roadways safe from people driving under the influence of marijuana

Marijuana DUI Arrests Have Risen Since 2016

Two major events have led to an increase in marijuana use in California and a corresponding concern about driving under the influence of cannabis. First, Proposition 64, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, was passed in November 2016; this allowed individuals to grow and use marijuana for their own recreational purposes. Second, Proposition 64 also legalized the sale of marijuana to anyone age 21 or older, effective January 1, 2018.

Drugged driving arrests have risen significantly in California since the state legalized the use of recreational marijuana. The Orange County crime lab reported that requests to process blood samples related to marijuana DUI arrests rose 40% between November 2016 and June 2017. In addition, the California Highway Patrol reported that marijuana DUI arrests increased 31% from January to August 2018 and that injuries attributed to marijuana DUIs doubled.  

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Santa Cruz DUI attorney parked carDrinking and driving inarguably puts everyone’s safety at risk. Sometimes, a driver leaves an establishment after consuming alcohol, only to realize that their intoxication was more severe than they originally estimated. Safety-conscious drivers may decide to pull their vehicle to the side of the road, find a rest stop, or even park at a gas station to take a quick nap. Although this decision ultimately prevents a potentially catastrophic accident, it also invites curious police officers to investigate the situation. DUI charges are possible in these cases, even when a drunk driver is parked and sleeping safely inside their vehicle.

DUI in a Parked Car

It is possible to be charged with DUI while in a parked car. However, a police officer must typically be able to show that you voluntarily moved your vehicle before the arrest. Voluntary movement may include something as minimal as a car rolling down a driveway after disengaging the parking brake. Other possible evidence that may show a driver moved their car while intoxicated includes:

  • The engine is warm.
  • The driver is in the driver’s seat.
  • The car is in drive.
  • The vehicle is at the scene of an accident.
  • The keys are in the ignition.

Santa Cruz Camping Ordinances

If someone is sitting in their car and behaving normally, a suspecting cop may not have reason to detain a driver, preventing them from obtaining evidence of a possible DUI. However, the city of Santa Cruz, along with many other California cities, has laws restricting sleeping in public. Many of these laws prohibit owners of registered vehicles from sleeping in their cars, except when there is written consent from the land or business owner granting permission, or in a designated camping area. 

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Santa Cruz, CA drunk driving defense attorneyFor decades, drunk driving was considered the most dangerous driving practice. However, in recent years, texting and cell phone usage give stiff competition for that top spot. Distracted driving leads to thousands of injuries and countless deaths every day in the United States. 

With today’s busy schedules, people often use their driving time as a prime opportunity to multitask. Distractions come from sources such as personal grooming, speaking to other passengers, and eating. Texting and other cell phone use is by far the most dangerous type of distraction. Given what we now know, considering both safety and the legal repercussions, which is the riskiest driving behavior: drinking or texting?

Safety Considerations

Overall, the prevalence of DUI is on a downward trend, while the frequency of texting while driving continues to rise. Although texting usually does not constantly affect a driver like driving while intoxicated does, it can cause a person to take their eyes off of the road for an unpredictable length of time. A distraction for even a split second increases the likelihood of an accident by 23%, a rate similar to the probability of an accident after drinking four beers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), both behaviors are equally impairing to a driver’s ability to drive. Consider the following statistics:

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Santa Cruz DUI defense lawyer traffic stop tipsDo you ever get so caught up in your thoughts while driving that your brain goes into an “auto-pilot” mode and self-navigates the vehicle the rest of the way to your destination? Even if you arrive safely, not remembering the trip is frightening; however, it is much scarier when police lights are what brings you back to full awareness. Adding a potential DUI to the ordeal becomes the figurative “icing on the cake.” Here are a few tips and tricks to help you navigate the tricky waters of a traffic stop:

Avoid Being Stopped

Preventing a problem is better than fixing one after it becomes a situation. While advising the avoidance of the “auto-pilot” scenario is helpful, no one is perfect, and the mind is difficult to control. With that in mind, semi-conscious driving is not as attention-grabbing as other behaviors. The top offenses leading to police stops include:

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Santa Cruz criminal defense lawyerPolice officers may not take or search property without just cause, nor can they force anyone to testify against themselves. These laws, along with many others, protect the public from becoming victims of an increasingly powerful justice system, and they place a burden on the shoulders of the police department to complete the investigative steps that are necessary for learning the truth of a particular incident. Unfortunately, myriad excuses exist as to why many law enforcement officials continually fail to meet their requirements and protect citizens’ rights. Instead of putting in the time and effort to obtain their information ethically, many cops use deceptive practices during a criminal investigation.

At a Traffic Stop

One of the most common questions a police officer asks after pulling a driver over is, “Do you know why I stopped you?” This question is not an attempt at polite conversation or a way to "break the ice." The officer hopes the driver will voluntarily confess to a crime, and not necessarily the alleged offense which caused them to pull the driver over in the first place. Additionally, officers frequently stop drivers under the pretense of warning them of a “blown tail light” or other alternate non-moving violation. During this type of “good samaritan” stop, if any evidence presents itself, such as the odor of alcohol which may be indicative of a DUI, an officer will happily use it to their advantage.

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Santa Cruz, CA DUI defense lawyer international travelMillions of Americans travel back and forth to Canada every year. Most of these visits are short day-trips into the country or last only for an overnight stay. When asked at the port of entry, the three primary reasons which people gave for travel are: pleasure, business, and visiting family. It may surprise you to learn that many of these attempted visits were unsuccessful due to an outstanding charge here in the United States. If you have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), you may want to reconsider any prospect of traveling to visit our northern neighbors.

Canada Restricts Admittance

Relations between the United States and Canada are amicable, and travel between the two countries is relatively easy. Although you do not need a passport to cross over from the United States into Canada, one is necessary for admittance into the United States on your return trip. Entrance is relatively easy, on a general basis. The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) agent will ask you a series of questions. One query is, “Do you have any criminal convictions?”

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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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Santa Cruz DUI defense lawyerIf you have never been pulled over for drunk driving and received a breathalyzer test, the technology might seem infallible – it was developed by law enforcement, after all. However, as outlined in the following sections, breathalyzers (and other sobriety testing methods) are anything but foolproof. In fact, there are several everyday items – things that would never lead to actual intoxication – that may cause a false positive on a breathalyzer.

The Complex and Inaccurate Nature of Breathalyzers

Breathalyzers are not perfect devices. They must be calibrated regularly, and the officer using it may not administer the test correctly. Yet, even in perfect conditions (i.e. a well-calibrated device, proper use, etc.), a breathalyzer may be inaccurate.

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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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California DUI defense attorneyCalifornia’s nightlife is artistic, musical, fashionable, and fun. It also ends at two in the morning, which is a bit early for some. A bill, entitled “Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night Act” and introduced by Senator Scott Wiener, could change that by extending the last call until 4 a.m. Supporters believe that the bill’s passing could improve safety for the state’s nightlife crowd, but naysayers are concerned it could increase the volume of drunk drivers on the road. Who is right, and how might the extension impact your risk of a DUI charge? The following explains.

Safety, State Revenue, and Local Venues

Legislators and authorities have long considered California’s nightlife as a problem to “manage,” but that is starting to change. Finally, they see its true potential – a way to increase state revenue and the bottom line of local venues. Part of that could be related to the increasing number of people traveling in and out of the state for leisure activities, but it could also have something to do with the Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed dozens of music fans. By keeping safe, licensed establishments open longer, similar tragedies are far less likely to occur.

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California marijuana DUI lawyerMedical marijuana has been legal in California for two decades. Last year’s election also brought an approval of recreational cannabis use in California. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of confusion about what it means to drive under the influence of marijuana. Learn more about the laws, and what you can do if you are arrested for driving under the influence of cannabis.

California Still Lacks a Definitive Limit

With alcohol intoxication, the law is straightforward: anyone driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or greater is subject to criminal charges. With cannabis, there is no such limit. Recently, a bill that would impose a 5ng/ml blood level for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was passed through the Committee on Public Safety. It is now heading to the Committee on Appropriations. Until it passes fully through the system, the law remains confusing and contradictory. There is no limit, and that means one person might be arrested for trace amounts, despite not being intoxicated, but another person might not be.

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California DUI defense lawyerIf you were recently arrested for an alleged DUI, you might be concerned about what happens next. You may also be wondering what this might mean when it comes to your license. Rest assured: it is possible to fight back against the DUI charges and your California license suspension. Learn more with help from the following information.

What Happens to Your License?

When an officer arrests an individual under the suspicion of drunk driving, they are required to immediately forward a copy of the driver’s license to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The license of the driver may be immediately confiscated, and the officer may issue a temporary license and an Order of Suspension. Upon receipt of the Order of Suspension, the driver has up to 10 days to request an administrative hearing with the DMV. However, the driver may continue to drive using their temporary license for up to 30 days. 

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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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marijuana legal california, santa cruz criminal lawyerBy John W. Thornton

Marijuana is now legal in California, but subject to a lot of rules. For the ordinary fan of weed, or someone who has loved ones or friends who partake, this is a large step towards keeping them being labeled a criminal for doing something that endangers a bag of Cheetos more than the user, the public, or the neighbor’s dog. 

But what about those folks who have marijuana-related convictions on their records? Well, a lot can be done for many of those folks. Were you caught growing years ago and are considered a felon? Did you sell a bag of bud and get caught? Did you get pulled over in a car with a few pounds and suffered a felony for transportation? One aspect of this new law allows such felons to change those felonies into misdemeanors. One treatise going around summarizes this aspect of the law as follows:

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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 Shoplifting, Robbery & Burglary

San jose theft crimes lawyerDoes profiling exist? It would be very difficult to argue that it does not. However, there are various forms of profiling; some are discriminatory while others can be useful tools. When it comes to shoplifter profiling, even to FBI agents will agree that, when appropriately used, profiling can be used to catch and prevent theft. However, if incorrectly practiced for shoplifting prevention, the profiling can be leveraged against a business in a court of law.

Useful Profiling

Without conscious decision, many of us often profile others. The behavior is a tool that is ingrained in us, perhaps as a survival instinct. Typically, profiling is directly linked to the behavior characteristics of others. For instance, if a stranger is in a dark alley hiding behind a dumpster and they pop out and run towards you, the first thought that comes to mind is not often that the approaching stranger wants a hug. An instinctual decision is made that is based on previous behavior, perhaps what they were wearing, and any other factors you can decipher at the time. If this person mugs you, you, in turn, may be leery of other people hiding behind dumpsters in dark alleys in the future, regardless of what their real intent may be.

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