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Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Blog
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An officer must meet certain criteria before they are able to pull someone over for suspicion of driving under the influence, and before they are able to administer and alcohol tests. To better understand the process, lets outline an analyze an example.

David is driving home from a friend’s birthday party. At the party he has had two beers. He feels fine to drive and believes he has no alcohol in his blood. When David is driving home, he thinks he can catch the yellow light, but instead, when he crosses the crosswalk, the light is red. Officers immediately follow him and ask him to pull over.

Officers need a reason to stop David, referred to as probable cause. They cannot arbitrarily pull someone over. The driver must have a traffic violation, or be missing a headlight, or even have an expired license plate. Additionally, officers can pull over and question someone as part of a Samaritan stop. This is a stop where someone is pulled over at the side of the road, and officers stop to see if everything is ok.

In the above example, David ran a red light. This is a traffic violation and gives officers the authority to pull him over.

Officers pull David over. As officers approach David they notice that his breath smells like beer. They also notice that his eyes are slightly watery. They ask David if he has been drinking, and David responds that he has had just one beer and is not under the influence at all.

Officers need reasonable suspicion that is a driver has had alcohol, or is under the influence before they can ask them to step outside of their vehicle and submit to an alcohol test. The reasonable suspicion can be obtained in several different ways. It can be through observations the officers make; this includes alcohol smell, red and watery eyes, slow gaze, slow reflexes, and other signs of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Reasonable suspicion can also be obtained through admission. More often than not people want to be honest and truthful so they will tell the officer what they have had to drink. However, this is an admission and stating that you have had some alcohol, in any amount, gives the officer the reasonable suspicion to administer an alcohol test.

If any of these procedures are not followed, then it may be grounds to throw out evidence that has been gathered. If there is no evidence, it weakens Prosecution’s case and can result in a dismissal or a reduction. If you believe these procedures were not followed, your Constitutional Rights may have been violated. Consult with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer as soon as possible so that you can learn about all possible defenses and arguments available to you!

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California Vehicle Code outlines unlawful behavior that can lead to a DUI conviction in California. California Vehicle Code §23152 makes it unlawful for a person to be under the influence of any alcoholic beverage, drug, or both, and operate a vehicle.

California Vehicle Code §23153 makes it unlawful for a person to drive a vehicle, while under the influence of alcoholic beverages, drugs, or both, and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by the law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.

Essentially both statutes outline the same unlawful act, but the felony has several additional elements. Let’s consider a breakdown of the elements to fully understand the difference between the two.

Misdemeanor DUI under California Vehicle Code §23152:

  1. Person must be under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both; and
  2. Operating a vehicle.

To be found guilty of a misdemeanor DUI, the Prosecutors must prove both of the elements above beyond a reasonable doubt. A person who is just driving but not under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both, cannot be found guilty of a DUI. A person who is just under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, but is not operating a vehicle, cannot be found guilty of a DUI. BOTH elements must be present.

Felony DUI under California Vehicle Code §23153:

  1. Person must be under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both; and
  2. Operating a vehicle; and
  3. Any one of the following:
    1. Driver is engaged in any act that is forbidden by law which proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver
    2. Driver has neglected any duty imposed by the law in driving a vehicle which proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver

In order for a DUI to be charged as a felony, there has to be some bodily injury to a person other than the driver. And that injury must have been caused by an act or neglect on behalf of the driver. If there is no bodily injury, the driver will still likely be charged with a DUI, but it will be a misdemeanor.

With proper arguments and negotiations, a felony DUI may be reduced to a misdemeanor. However, it takes a lot of skillful strategy, experience and proper preparation. A felony DUI faces mandatory jail time, it remains on your record, and may have harsher consequences with educational facilities and employers. If you find yourself facing a DUI, it is a good idea to consult with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

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The legislature amended the California Vehicle Code §23152 pertaining to misdemeanor DUIs to specifically include language stating that it is unlawful for a person to be operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.

A person who is driving can be charged with a DUI if they are under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both. However, if alcohol is involved, it will be an easier case for prosecution to prove. Some examples will help understand the difference and why it may be easier.

David is driving home from a party. He has had a few beers and feels fine. He is stopped by officers for running a red light. The officers approach his vehicle and smell beer on his breath. They also notice that he is slurring his words and is having a hard time focusing on what the officer is saying. Suspecting that he has consumed alcohol, officers ask him to submit to a breath test, which David agrees to. David takes the test and gets a reading of .12.

Don is driving home from hanging out with his friends. While with his friends, Don has taken some prescription drugs. The prescription drugs specifically state on the container that the person who takes them is not to operate a vehicle, as it may distort their ability to respond quickly. Don, not caring about the label has taken a few more than the recommended dosage because he likes the way it makes him feel. He has not had any alcohol to drink. Officers pull him over for running a red light. When they approach him, he is talking slowly, and his reflexes are slower. Officers suspect that he may be under the influence of alcohol so they ask him to submit to a breath test. Don agrees, and the test reads .00. Officers, not having grounds to take him into custody, do not take him into custody, but give him a citation for a DUI.

Both parties consult with an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney. In Don’s case there is no real evidence officers have to prove that Don was under the influence of something, other than the officer’s observations. The test read .00, and he did not do anything or admit anything. In David’s case there is a reading indicating alcohol in his system and coupled with the officer’s observations, it will be a harder case to overcome.

Both cases, however, have defense available, and arguments to get the case reduced, if not dismissed. To learn about each of those options, it is highly recommended that you consult with a professional who has significant experience handling DUIs.

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In January 2014, the legislature changed the language in California Vehicle Code §23152 and 23153. California Vehicle Code §23152 is the code section that pertains to misdemeanor DUI charges. The new code section reads as follows:

(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.

(b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

(c) It is unlawful for a person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This subdivision shall not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program.

(d) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210.

In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.

(e) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.

(f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.

The code section now specifically has its own section that specifies that any driver that is under the influence of drugs can be found guilty of a DUI. Being under the influence of drugs is a harder case for prosecutors to prove, and could be a strong argument for a defense attorney.

It is highly recommended that if you find yourself in this situation that you consult a Los Angeles Drug DUI lawyer to assess the different points of your case and to strategize the best possible defense available.

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In order to be convicted of a Los Angeles DUI, the court must show that you are guilty of both elements beyond a reasonable doubt. One element that is crucial to a Los Angeles DUI is driving. California Vehicle Code §23152 states as follows:

“It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle” 

Note that it is not one element or the other that has to be proven in a DUI case, but both. You cannot be found guilty of a DUI if you are simply under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. Similarly, you cannot be found guilty of a DUI if you are simply driving. You must be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and be driving a vehicle.  

Driving is not always a black and white argument. Oftentimes it is, because the driver will be driving when he is stopped by officers. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes the driver is pulled over by the side of the road, and prosecutors will prove to the court by providing circumstantial evidence that leads the jury to conclude that the person must have been driving.

Let’s consider an example to understand the concept. David is asleep in his car, in the driver’s seat, pulled over on the side of the freeway. These facts may be a gray area in which prosecutors still have to make an argument, however, it may be a weak argument for the driver. Prosecutors will argue that he was alone in the car, and on the side of the freeway. He had to get there somehow, and it may be that he drove himself there. And if he drove himself there, he must have been intoxicated at the time he drove himself.

The driver may argue that a friend was in the car, but the friend left, and the friend was the one that was driving. This will be weak in comparison to the fact that the driver was in the driver’s seat.  The driver may argue that he was not drinking at the time he drove the car there, and that he was sober. He had car trouble and waiting for someone to help him, he started to drink. Again, this does not seem like a strong argument, but it is one that the driver may make. Because the issue of driving is such a gray area in circumstances where the person being charged is not pulled over while driving, it is a good idea to make a strong argument.

Consulting with an experienced Los Angeles DUI Lawyer will help assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case. It will also help prepare a strong argument of defenses to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

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If you have been stopped for a DUI, it is a very scary experience. It is also likely that you were taken into custody for at least a few hours. It is not a pleasant experience, and one that you would likely want to avoid in the future.

Many of our clients come into our office with no idea as to how the criminal courts process works. They do not know what the charges mean, or what their court date will entail. If you have been arrested for a DUI, this does not mean that you have been found guilty of a DUI. There will not be anything on your record, other than the arrest, which will only appear on your arrest record.

Before a court can find you guilty of a DUI, they must prove two elements beyond a reasonable doubt: 1) that you were driving and 2) you were intoxicated. Both elements must be present, it cannot be one over the other. If both elements are not proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, then you cannot be found guilty of a DUI.

You can also be found guilty of a DUI if you enter a plea of no contest or guilty. Many client choose this option because it allows them to accept a good deal as far as sentencing is concerned and saves them the hassle and expense of trial. However, this is only a good option in certain cases, not every case. To determine whether this is a good option for you, with the facts of your case, it is important to speak to an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer. An attorney who has been doing this for thirty plus years has seen different fact patterns, has dealt with different judges and has practiced the same area of law time and time again. They know the Criminal Procedures, and the California Penal Code. This adds a huge advantage to determining whether a case is worth pursuing in trial, or if it is best to accept an offer.

On the same note is it important to know when an offer is a good one, and when it is better to pursue trail. This comes with knowledge of the actual Judges, and prosecutors that are on the case.

When you are arrested you are also issued what is called a citation. If you take a look at the citation it shows which statue or code section you have been charged with. If it is a DUI, it will likely be California Vehicle Code §23152 and 23153. If there is a different code section started on the citation, then it is possible you have been charged with something other than a DUI.

The citation will also indicate as to when you must appear in court, and a court location. This is not an optional appearance. You MUST appear. Not appearing can lead to additional charges and offenses, such as a bench warrant.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, or any criminal offense, it is a good idea to contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. It can make the difference between a dismissal, reduced charge, or a full blown trial.

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A person who has been stopped on the suspicion of driving under the influence will be charged under California Vehicle Code §23152. If a person has been convicted of a DUI within ten years, the previous DUI will be considered when issuing a sentence for the new DUI. Let’s look at an example to explain this process.

David was charged and eventually pled guilty to Driving Under the Influence in 2012. He then was later stopped for a DUI in 2014. In 2014, the Prosecutor offered him a plea bargain if he were to plead guilty, and David agreed. The court would consider this to be a second offense DUI, since the conviction was ten years within the previous one.

In contrast, Donny was found guilty of a DUI in 2000. He was then later charged with a DUI in 2014. Because Donny’s previous DUI was over ten years before, the current conviction in 2014 will not be considered a second offense. Instead, Donny will be charged as it is a first time offense. This, however, does not preclude a Court from considering the prior DUI.

It is a good idea to consider a DUI Expungement if you have completed all of your probationary terms, for purposes of educational applications and employment opportunities.

If the current conviction is a second offense DUI, there are several sentences a Judge can impose. The final sentence will depend upon the facts of each individual case, and prior criminal history. With a second offense DUI, there is generally a jail sentence. The jail sentence will range from 96 hours to one year in jail. There is also three years of probation, and it will depend on the Judge whether it is informal or formal probation.

There is also generally a fine of anywhere between $390 to $1,000.00 plus penalties and assessment, which can triple the total amount. Additionally, the person may face a two year suspension of their driver’s license, and an 18 month alcohol/ drug education program.

There is a range for a specific reason. Not all sentences will fit each case properly. In some instances a person may need additional jail time, or may need a higher fine or community service to pay off the fine. There are also available options such as alcohol monitoring or house arrest in lieu of jail. These options are available upon request and upon the Judge’s discretion.

If you are facing a second offense DUI, be sure to consult with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer. Their experience and knowledge can result in the skillful negotiation and argument that will ensure your sentence is on the lower end of the spectrum. There is potential jail time involved with these types of cases and it is necessary to give yourself the best fighting chance!

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If you are stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence, you may potentially be facing a DUI conviction. There are certain elements that must be proven by Prosecutors beyond a reasonable doubt before a person can be convicted. They must show that the driver was driving at the time they were stopped, and they were intoxicated. Both elements must be present prior to a conviction being made.

There are also additional elements that can work to enhance a conviction. This means that you may be facing additional sentencing if one of these elements are found to be present in your case. An example of such enhancements, is if there is a high blood alcohol content, or if the driver is speeding. One of the elements that can cause a driver to face additional sentencing is if there are minors present in the vehicle when the driver is stopped for suspicion of a DUI.

Like all other offenses, the sentence will increase with the number of times the offense occurs. This also means that you could possibly be facing additional sentencing, on top of the DUI sentence.

If it is your first offense for a DUI, and there are one or more minors in the vehicle, you could be facing 48 continuous hours in jail and no stay of your sentence. If it is your second DUI offense, then you are facing an additional 10 days in jail, and no stay of your sentence. If it is your third DUI offense, then you are facing 30 days in jail with no stay. And if it is your fourth or more, then you are facing 90 days in jail with no stay on the sentence.

Let’s consider an example to better explain how sentencing works. David is driving his kids home from a barbeque. He has had a few beers at the barbeque but feels that he is able to drive. When he is pulled over, he blows a .12 in the alcohol screening test. He has also been convicted of a DUI three years ago. He appears in court and accepts a plea bargain pleading guilty to the DUI. He is sentenced to three years summary probation, community service, alcohol rehabilitation, a fine, and 60 days in jail.

Because David had his children in the car, he will also be facing an additional 10 days in jail, on top of the 60 days he will be serving for the DUI.

If you are facing a DUI, and have had minors in the vehicle, your case can get messy very quickly. It is highly advisable that you contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer as soon as possible and speak to a professional about your possible arguments and defenses.

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DUI’s are common charges that people all over Southern California face. It is a growing concern, and not all drivers are stopped lawfully, or legitimately. Torrance, being an active, and lively area, there is a consistent concern for DUIs. If you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence in Torrance, it is a good idea to consult with a Los Angeles DUI attorney as soon as possible.

If this is your first time contacting an attorney, this post will help guide you through the basic steps of the process.

Consultation:

First you want to contact an attorney that is experienced and has practiced criminal law in Torrance for at least ten years. This attorney will know the clerks, the deputies, the prosecutors and the Judges. This helps because the Judge will know the attorney and their excellent reputation. The prosecutors will be more likely to work with the attorney ,whether it is to produce discovery, provide information or offer a reasonable plea bargain. Furthermore, the attorney will be able to access information that they need much sooner than others who do not have direct numbers or contact information.

Ask if the attorney will charge a consultation fee. It is not always necessary to have to pay a fee with an attorney before hiring them. Speaking to the attorney can also give you a good feeling as to how the attorney works, their knowledge and experience. This can make a big difference when it comes to representation of your case.

Costs:

You will find a variety of price ranges out there when you are looking for different attorneys. But as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Attorneys who are cost effective, you will find have very little experience in the field, or they also practice other areas of law. The legal field is a specified field, those that practice just criminal law will have honed their skill, will know the relevant motions, law and the procedure. If an attorney practices both civil and criminal, then they are not focused on either and split their time between both. It is a good idea to look up the attorney and see how long they have been practicing, where, and what type of law.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyers who have been doing just criminal for thirty years or more are very well versed in the law, changes in the law, and effective argument and defense of criminal cases.

Meeting:

When attending a meeting with the attorney, be sure to ask the attorney about his strategy and plan. You will find that the knowledgeable and experienced attorneys know exactly how to proceed and the steps to take to give you the best possible change to fight your case. Additionally, be aware of attorney’s who ask you questions and details about your case. The time they invest in you will demonstrate their concern for your questions, as well as you as a person.

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California Vehicle Code §23152 makes it unlawful for a person to be driving a vehicle while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you are arrested and charged with the suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you will be given the opportunity to be heard in a criminal court. If it is found that you plead guilty, or are found guilty, you will be convicted. With that conviction there will be a sentence. The terms of that sentence will depend on the certain different factors.

The statue only states a range for sentencing when it comes to different offenses. The reason it does not specify one sentence is because each case is different, and there will be many different things a Judge will take into account when specifying a sentence. Among the those factors is whether there is a prior criminal history, the nature of the crime, as well as the facts surrounding the offence.

The California Vehicle Code specifies that if a person is found guilty of a DUI, then they are facing the following:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • Up to $1,000.00 fine plus penalties and assessments
  • Attendance in an alcohol/drug program
  • Six month suspension of drivers license
  • 3 years of summary probation

These possible penalties are for a first time DUI offense. This means that there is no DUI on your previous record, and that this is the first time you are being charged with driving while intoxicated.

How does the Judge decide what the sentence will be? Let’s consider two scenarios to get a better idea.

Scenario A:

David is driving home from a party and he has been drinking. His blood alcohol is .15. He is weaving in and out of oncoming traffic when he is stopped. Additionally he has a prior charge and conviction of petty theft on his record. He was also driving at a speed of 85 mph when he is stopped by officers. Thankfully, there were no accidents or injuries to others.

Scenario B:

Donna is driving home from a bridal shower. She had a glass of wine and when tested, her blood alcohol level was .08. She is employed as a full time school teacher and has no prior criminal record. Not even a parking ticket. She was stopped for not doing a complete stop at a stop sign, and was going approximately 15 mph at the time.

When comparing the two scenarios, it is likely that Donna will have a sentence on the lower end of the spectrum in comparison to David. David was driving fast, had a higher blood alcohol content, and he had a prior criminal charge. Donna, in comparison, does not. It is the job of a experienced Los Angeles DUI Lawyer to emphasize the strong points of the facts of your case and if convicted, argue to keep your sentence as minimal as possible.