Monday, December 29, 2014

Free AAA Tipsy Tow offered by AAA on New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is one of the worst times to drink and drive. Law enforcement is on high-alert, and will patrolling state-wide to catch DUI offenders. AAA's Tipsy Tow program offers a free tow for anyone drinking and needs a ride and tow home up to 7 miles. This offer is open to everyone. including non-AAA members.

All you need to do is call 800-400-4222 and say, "I need a Tipsy Tow." A driver will pick you up and tow your car home. The service will be available on Dec 31 from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am on Jan 1. Note that the service is available to drivers only. If you are a passenger, you will need to acquire alternate modes of transportation.

For more information, visit the AAA site here:

Start you new year right and drive safely. If you get arrested for a DUI, call 818.936.2140 right away.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

New Ignition Interlock Bill to Affect All California DUI Offenders

Ignition Interlock Device
Redwood City - In an effort prevent repeat drunk driving offenders, state Sen. Jerry Hill is introducing legislation that will require convicted California DUI offenders to install a vehicle ignition interlock device. The law will affect first-time and repeat offenders, and will expand on pilot programs already in place in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties.

The pilot program requires vehicle ignition interlocks for five months for first-time DUI offenders and up to four years for repeat DUI offenders. Ignition interlock devices makes a driver first submit a breath sample before starting their car, then provide additional samples once they're driving.

It is expected to be unveiled at a news conference on Monday in Redwood City accompanied by representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and San Mateo and Santa Clara county law enforcement. "We believe it's a better approach than license suspension alone," according to the MADD's director of state govermental affairs, Frank Harris, who believes existing DUI alcohol programs are not sufficient. "It makes that offender prove his sobriety anytime he drives on California roads."

According to advocates ignition interlock laws have proven successful in Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oregon where DUI-related deaths have dropped by 35-43 percent.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Drunk Driver Injures 12 People Looking at Holiday Lights

Eleven people were rushed to hospitals after being struck and injured by a suspected drunk driver on Monday, Dec 15th. The victims were parked inside their vehicles while admiring a holiday light display in Alhambra when Ismael Soto struck two parked cars full of people with his pickup truck.

Soto was arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence and driving without a license. This would potentially be his second DUI after a prior DUI conviction in October 2013.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hello Kitty Arrested for Drunk Driving

A woman dressed up like Hello Kitty was pulled over and arrested on a drunk driving charge in Gorham, Maine at about 2:00 am last Sunday.

According to police the Maine woman, Carrie Gipson, was stopped for driving in the wrong lane. When questioned, she refused to take a breath test, was arrested and taken to Cuberland County jail for operating under influence (OUI).

She was photographed wearing a Hello Kitty costume in her police mugshot minus her head piece.

Officers Caught Stealing Nude Photos From Arrestees' Phones

Two California Highway Patrol officers have recently been accused of stealing nude photos from arrestees' cell phones, and texting them to each other. These two CHP officers have been involved in many DUI arrests. One of the officers, Robert Hazelwood, was suppose to testify in a DUI trial on Monday morning in Oakland, but the case was dismissed by the DA.  It now appears that any case these officers were involved in the investigation and/or arrest must be thoroughly reviewed and potentially dismissed.

This is why it is important to fully investigate a criminal offense. These officers have no credibility if they are involved in activities such as these, which demonstrate their abuse of discretion as an authoritative figure. Officers are put in a position of trust, both by the public and in court. However, when evidence like this arises, it demonstrates that you can not presume an individual is credible just because they are an officer. Like any other profession, there are good ethical officers, and bad unethical officers. That is why it is critical to investigate every case thoroughly, because without a proper investigation, critical facts such as these are never uncovered.

Defense attorneys and the public are outraged by this violation of privacy exhibited by these officers. Even though this investigation started in early October; no one was made aware until now. As demeaning as this conduct was by the officers, it has also been a betrayal of trust to the public in not disclosing this information earlier and allowing these officers to continue working. Furthermore, the DA must now do the right thing and file charges against these officers, to show them and the public that no one is above the law.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Michael Phelps Arrested for DUI

18 time Olympics Gold medalist, Michael Phelps, was arrested for suspicion of DUI in Maryland,  early Tuesday morning. Officials say he was driving 84 mph in a 45 Mph zone when he was stopped, leaving Baltimore, Maryland.

Phelps was previously convicted for driving while impaired in November of 2004. In California, Phelps would be charged with a second offense DUI if this date of arrest is within 10 years of his last date of arrest. This would subject him to a mandatory minimum of 96 hours in jail, $2000 in fines, an 18 month alcohol program.

Tuesday afternoon, the swimmer posted a series of tweets apologizing for the incident and taking full responsibility for his actions. It is very surprising that Phelps had made these incriminating comments. It just shows the stigma that DUI carries in our society, because the only reason he would post those tweets is because they are sincere.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Making Sure You Have a Safe 4th of July Weekend

The 4th of July is one of the most American of holidays, which most often includes drinking. Make sure you stay safe. Don't drink and drive.

According to AAA, 79% of Southern Californians are expected to drive this weekend, so if you are driving, make sure you are sober. It will be a hot weekend in Los Angeles so the effects of alcohol will be escalated. Do your best to remain hydrated and not with alcohol!

The California Highway Patrol will begin a maximum enforcement period beginning at 6:01 p.m. today, deploying all available officers onto freeways and county roads in an effort to combat drunken driving. The maximum enforcement period will continue through 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

Below is a list of upcoming DUI Checkpoints for the 4th of July weekend.

July 3, 2014
Los Angeles, Vermont Avenue and 5th Street - 8:00 pm - 2:00 am

July 4, 2014
There will be roving saturation patrols on all streets and freeways

July 5, 2015
Hollywood, Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue - 8:00 pm - 2:00 am
Los Angeles, Figueroa Street and 9th Street - 8:00 pm - 2:00 am
North Hollywood, Oxnard Street and Laurel Canyon Boulevard - 8:00 pm - 2:00 am

If you end up entering a DUI Checkpoint find out "What is the Safest Way to Exit a DUI Checkpoint?"

Check back frequently for updates on this page.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

This 4th of July, Don’t Try to Stay Hydrated by Drinking Beer

This 4th of July, just like most years in Southern California, it’s expected to be a hot one. When you are at the beach, or by the pool having drinks, remember that it is very important to stay hydrated. When your body is dehydrated, alcohol affects your mental and physical abilities quicker and more intensely. When alcohol enters your blood stream, it goes immediately to the organs that have the most fluid. Your brain and muscles are the quickest to be affected when your body is dehydrated because those are the organs with the most fluid. When your body is hydrated, the alcohol can disperse more equally throughout your entire body.

Also, blood alcohol concentration readings may be higher as a result of dehydration. The lungs are one of the organs with the most fluid, and will have higher concentrations of alcohol when you are dehydrated. This means breathalyzer results will show a higher BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level than you would have if hydrated.

Contrary to popular belief, consuming alcohol is not a good way to stay hydrated. Even though beer has a very low percentage of alcohol, it still causes impairment. The best way to stay hydrated while having drinks, is to drink plenty of water. Water is still the best way to stay hydrated on a hot summer day. So remember to stay safe this 4th of July, and make sure your liquid diet includes lots of water.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death

Unlike most defendants in a criminal case, someone charged with DUI does not have the same Constitutional rights or protections as most other criminal defendants.  Appellate courts have continually made judicial decisions that limit a citizen’s rights both in DUI investigations and arrests.  Furthermore, our State’s Legislature has also played an active role in modifying the rights of the accused drunk driver, as well as creating laws to help increase the conviction rate in DUI cases.

For example, DUI checkpoints are essentially a violation of a citizens’ Constitutional right to privacy.  These checkpoints permit our law enforcement agencies to basically stop innocent people, for absolutely no reason at all.  Even though studies have shown that officers have just as high a probability of locating drunk drivers by patrolling the streets, checkpoints are currently permitted and accepted as a beneficial practice for our community.

Another example is in regard to anonymous tipsters in DUI investigations.  A person can be stopped and potentially investigated for DUI based solely on a 911 call, from someone giving an anonymous tip to the police.  Even though the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides a defendant a right to confront their accuser, a DUI defendant does not have that right if their accuser was an anonymous tipster.

If an officer believes that someone is driving under the influence of drugs, a person can be convicted for a violation of California Vehicle Code §23152(e).  Since there are no current guidelines as to what levels constitute “under the influence,” someone could potentially get a DUI conviction for having trace amounts of a drug in their system.  Also, many drugs can stay in someone’s system, and not even impair their driving.

There are countless problems with the law that make it extremely difficult to defend a DUI case.  Several are mentioned above, but there are way too many to list. What other criminal case are you not even permitted to have an independent analysis of the chemical evidence being used to prove your guilt?  Breath tests in DUI investigations and arrests are still not being preserved for independent analysis.  This is something that can easily be preserved, yet the highest Court has found that it is just fine for the police to destroy this crucial evidence immediately after the breathalyzer registers a reading.

With all of these obstacles facing a DUI defendant, it is critical to find representation that is adamant about justice! DUI cases are very technical, and very different from most other criminal cases.  It is imperative to be represented by an attorney that understands what you’re up against, and knows how to challenge the police and prosecutors.

Friday, April 25, 2014

How many drinks are TOO many to drive?

Every time you drive your car after consuming alcohol, you run a risk of potentially being falsely arrested and wrongfully charged with a DUI.  Let's identify the scientific and logical explanations that demonstrate why they were not guilty of driving under the influence.

It is important to note that the laws against driving under the influence prohibit an adult (above the age of 21) from driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or above, and California Vehicle Code §23152(a) prohibits someone from driving under the influence of alcohol, even if their BAC is below .08%. Thus, it is important to know your limits, to know how alcohol effects you, and how impaired you get from each drink.  Some people have a greater tolerance to alcohol than others, based on their resistance to the effects of alcohol.  But, even if someone does not feel impaired at .08% BAC, they are deemed too impaired to drive based on the law.

"The absorption rate varies in each person, and studies have shown that it can vary from 14 minutes to 138 minutes...This means that a person’s body can take over two hours to fully absorb the alcohol and reach a peak, only then will the alcohol be evenly disbursed in their blood, and only then will breathalyzer readings become somewhat accurate. "

Remember, it is not illegal to consume alcohol and drive, as long as your BAC is below .08%, and you are not too impaired to drive a car as cautiously as a sober person.  The problem is that most people, who have been drinking, have no idea when they reach .08% BAC.   This is why someone may feel as though they can drive safely, but may still be considered driving under the influence based on the law.  Here is a BIG secret to most DUI cases!!!  Prosecutors also don’t have any idea when you reached .08% BAC.

Here is how it works.  When someone consumes alcohol, it doesn’t immediately disperse evenly throughout your entire bloodstream.  It takes a while to get evenly disbursed and “distributed” throughout the various organs and tissues in your body.  Organs with the highest blood supply, like the lungs, get the largest initial concentration of alcohol.  Thus, the BAC in your lungs, during the period of time when the alcohol is “absorbing” into your system, may read up to 3X higher than your actual BAC level.  This means that potentially someone who has an actual .04% BAC, may register a false-high reading of .12% BAC in a breathalyzer, during the “absorptive phase.”

Also, everyone absorbs alcohol at their own pace.  The absorption rate varies in each person, and studies have shown that it can vary from 14 minutes to 138 minutes (from end of alcohol intake to peak blood alcohol concentration).  This means that a person’s body can take over two hours to fully absorb the alcohol and reach a peak, only then will the alcohol be evenly disbursed in their blood, and only then will breathalyzer readings become somewhat accurate.  In essence, once you take a drink and decide to drive, you expose yourself to potentially being obligated to submit to a chemical test at the request of a police officer.  These tests, as you now know, may falsely reflect a BAC level much higher than your actual level.

Monday, March 31, 2014

How Serious is a First Offense DUI?

Many people, and unfortunately most attorneys, see a First Offense DUI as a minor offense.  It is not!  The consequences of a DUI conviction go far beyond a driver’s license suspension, possible jail time, fines and fees, an alcohol program, probation, and an ignition interlock device in your car. The social stigma associated with a criminal conviction may create major problems in one’s professional employment and career, and may cause major turmoil in someone’s personal life.

The attorney that represents a DUI client, obviously doesn’t have to complete the requirements of a DUI, and doesn’t have to live in the shoes of the convicted first timer after the case resolves.  Also, since most first offenders don’t face major jail time, attorneys from various fields of law tend to convince clients they can handle their case.  For these reasons, many attorneys do not give the care and attention a First DUI deserves.

Most people facing a first offense never anticipated to be placed in the criminal justice system as a defendant. Also, most people rely on their driver’s license to make a living.  Because of this many people convicted of DUI end up driving on their suspended license, violating probation, or are constantly worried about getting stopped by the police. We understand that these clients need our expertise and skill, to prevent them from unjustifiably being convicted of a DUI.

Some attorneys take advantage of first time DUI clients because they know that the person being charged is usually inexperienced with the criminal justice system, doesn’t know what they are facing, and doesn’t understand how to potentially defend themselves.  Some people blame themselves for getting arrested because they know that they did drink before they went driving. However, every state permits adults to drive after they have had something to drink.  It only becomes illegal when the person is so impaired, they exhibit unsafe driving caused by the alcohol, or when their BAC level exceeds the .08% limit.

It is crucial to get an attorney that is trustworthy, and explains everything about the charges, the potential consequences, your defenses, and your alternatives.  Some attorneys leave their clients in the dark, and hopefully get a good result to justify their fees.  Unfortunately, most people convicted of a DUI don’t know whether their attorney properly represented them, or looked into all of the defenses in their case.

An attorney at The Law Office of Ben Mironer always investigates every DUI case thoroughly, and recommends the best option based on all of the facts in the case.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Colts Owner Jim Irsay Arrested for a DUI

The owner of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, possibly faces four felony counts after being arrested Sunday night for a DUI by Carmel police. Irsay did not crash, but will likely be charged with driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance, police said.

Lt. Joe Bickel of the Carmel Police Department said in a release, Irsay reportedly drove at a slow rate of speed, stopped in the roadway, and failed to signal a turn before police stopped him.

"During the course of the investigation, Irsay subsequently failed several roadside field sobriety tests," Bickel said.

This is important to note, especially when considering that Field Sobriety Tests are not pass or fail. These tests were created and used to determined cues or clues of impairment. They are in no way conclusory or 100% accurate to prove impairment.

Thus, it appears Irsay had some prescription drugs in his car, drove in an odd manner, and performed Field Sobriety Tests poorly.

But, this case definitely needs further investigation. If the streets were empty and no other cars were affected, while Irsay's driving may appear somewhat erratic, it was not necessarily enough to prove he was too impaired to drive. As for the Field Sobriety Tests, they can always be challenged as insufficient to prove impairment beyond a reasonable doubt.

Thus, it appears they must wait for chemical results, like a blood test result. Until they have a quantitative breakdown of drugs in his system, and further investigation, we will not know whether Irsay was guilty of driving under the influence. Here's what he faces for a Felony DUI.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

E-Cigarettes and Vapors Banned From Public Places in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles City Counsel voted unanimously (14-0) on Tuesdays, to approve an ordinance banning the use of e-cigarettes in public areas like bars, nightclubs, parks, and restaurants. Vaping lounges and smoking clubs will be exempt from the ban, but sales of e-cigarettes will be restricted to adults 18 or older.

City Councilman, Mitch O'Farrell, justified the decision to restrict the use of e-cigarettes by explaining, this regulation helps control "the second-hand aerosol exposure to thousands of employees in the work force, young people." However, research has yet to determine the extent to which e-cigarettes may pose a health threat to the public.

E-cigarettes have gained lots of popularity in the past year, and have been increasingly promoted as helping cigarette smokers quit smoking. Now, it's ironically getting banned by the city counsel for being harmful to the public?

This seems counter-intuitive. If in fact e-cigarettes are helping smokers quit their deadly addictions, then they're actually benefiting the public in the long term. E-cigarettes could potentially help the public and the smokers' well-being because there would be less smokers. Thus, banning e-cigarettes may actually be counter-productive in promoting a smoke-free environment, in the long term.

Sometimes it's important to question the motives behind certain politically motivated ordinances that get approved by city counsel. It is clear that e-cigarettes have taken a considerable market-share away from conventional cigarette companies. These cigarette companies have always lobbied and promoted their political special interests, throughout history.

When you consider, who stands to gain the most from this ordinance? The answer is clearly the cigarette companies! Now that e- cigarettes will be restricted, cigarette smokers will have less of an incentive to switch and quit.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Former Child Actor, Jordan Oschin, Struck by a Drunk Driver

Former child actor, Jordan Oschin, was tragically struck by a Ford Explorer on February 14, at approximately 9:45 pm.  Jordan was crossing north on Burbank Blvd. about 40 feet east of Farralone Ave., according to police reports.  New information now suggest that the driver of the Ford Explorer, Randy Allan Goodman, was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor driving under the influence, and was released after he posted a $15,000 bail.  The case was transferred from the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, but Goodman has yet to be formally charged by prosecutors with any crime. Goodman is currently scheduled to appear in court on March 12.

The reason this case was transferred from the District Attorney’s Office to the City Attorney’s Office is because it appears that Goodman will not be charged with a felony in this matter.  The City Attorney’s Office only files Misdemeanor complaints, and this implies that if charges get filed, they will not be felony charges for this fatality.

There may be various reasons for this decision by the District Attorney’s Office to transfer the case.  One of the main reasons may due to information that suggests Oschin was not crossing the street at a legal crosswalk.  This location was near a crosswalk, but since it appears Oschin was jaywalking, Goodman can’t be held criminally negligent, or even be considered the proximate cause for the accident.  In order for the prosecutor to prove a violation of California Vehicle Code §§191.5(a), 191.5(b), or even 23153(a) or (b), which are the statutes for Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated, Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated, and Driving Under the Influence Causing Injury, there must be evidence that the driver was the proximate cause of the accident.

If the driver was not the proximate cause of the accident, then the prosecutor can’t prove all of the elements of a felony DUI. A DUI attorney knows that it is critical to reconstruct the accident scene, whenever there is a fatal accident and alcohol may be involved.  At The Law Office of Ben Mironer, we work with an accident reconstruction expert to examine and research the proximate cause of the accident, in all of our felony DUI cases.  These cases take on a different tone because there are no winners and there is no glory, but there must be justice for all.

Friday, February 28, 2014

It is Now Legal to Look at Maps on Your Cellphone While Driving

The California Court of Appeal just ruled that drivers are allowed to use their cell phone for the purpose of looking at maps. The law that prohibits the use of cell phones, while driving, does not apply to drivers looking at maps on cell phones. The Court expressed that the law specifically applies to people using their cell phones to listen and talk. Therefore, drivers are only permitted hands free devices to listen and talk while driving.  However, the Court found that using cell phones in other ways is not prohibited by this statute.

This is a very important ruling by the Court because this law must now apply to all California trial courts.  The reason for many stops is the use of a cell phone while driving, and the fine for this citation continues to rise.  Also, many DUI arrests are predicated by the use of cell phones as being the reason for the stop.  Now, it is going to become very important for an officer to tell what specific purpose the driver is using the cell phone for.   Many people listen and talk on their cell phones using the speaker option, and this makes it impossible to tell whether someone is looking at a map or on speakerphone.

If you are stopped for illegally using your cell phone, whether it leads to a subsequent arrest or simply a citation, it is important to contact an attorney at The Law Office of Ben Mironer right away.  We can help use this new law to get a citation like this dismissed, or possibly get evidence excluded from your case, if it was obtained after such a stop.  An experienced attorney will thoroughly explain our defense and how we will argue your case in court.

Appellate Courts are only able to make these types of landmark decisions because people decide to challenge the status quo.  The appellate court reversed a trial court’s decision to find the driver guilty of the cell phone violation.  It is crucial to have an attorney that can challenge a trial courts’ decision in the court of appeal.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Justin Bieber Rejected Plea Bargain Offer and Will Try to Beat His DUI

You can't always believe the police report!

Justin Bieber rejected a plea bargain offer today, in his Florida criminal case for DUI and street racing.  Bieber's attorneys suggest that the officers may have embellished as to statements made by Bieber.

His attorneys are also challenging the street racing charges. The prosecutors reportedly offered Bieber a no jail deal, with probation and certain standard DUI terms.

Bieber reportedly is not interested in a deal with probation or an alcohol program. Unfortunately, most deals that have no probation, usually carry a jail sentence. Also, the alcohol program is required by law for a DUI.

In essence, he wants his lawyers to get him no probation, no jail, and no alcohol program.  This suggests that Bieber will have to take his chances with a jury trial. Unless the DUI defense team can discover problems with the prosecutions case, it appears that Bieber will be headed to trial.

This can turn out to be a very interesting case, especially if Bieber has been falsely accused by over-zealous police officers that wanted to arrest a celebrity. Right now, Bieber's attorneys are requesting additional discovery and building their defense for Bieber. This case may potentially expose the weaknesses in DUI cases, on a national level.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Top 5 Ways to Beat a DUI

It is crucial in any criminal case to conduct a thorough investigation of the evidence, but especially in any DUI case because there is usually some chemical evidence that prosecution must prove is reliable. Sometimes a good investigation by the defense can uncover that a bad investigation was conducted by law enforcement. Prosecutors commonly have to state on the record that “problems with proof” is their reason for reducing charges, or dismissing a DUI.

An experienced criminal defense attorney knows that a good motion can get a case dismissed without the need for a trial. A motion is a way for the attorneys to request the court to review certain issues before trial commences. Sometimes motions are in regard to discovery, while other motions may question the legality of stops, searches, or arrests. A “suppression motion” is a common motion used by defense attorneys to challenge the constitutionality of a stop and the lawfulness of an arrest. If the defense motion is granted, and all of the evidence is suppressed, the DUI should get dismissed.

Prior to commencing trial, your defense attorney will have an opportunity to file motions immediately before the start of the trial. These motion are known as 402 motions or motion in limine. Sometimes certain evidence can get excluded because it lacks any scientific merit, or it lacks foundation. An experienced trial attorney knows how to spot the prosecutor’s evidence that can be challenged, and raises the contention effectively. If a Judge excludes some of the prosecutor’s evidence it can obviously weaken their case, but it can also potentially lead to the DUI getting dismissed.

By putting 12 angry people in a jury box, you do two things. For one, you raise their interests as to what they’re going to be listening to for several days about you. But two, you give yourself the opportunity to get your charges dismissed, as opposed to pleading guilty. This opportunity means that you have a chance, which is something you don’t have when you plead. The pressure is really put on the prosecution to prove their case because there will generally be flaws in the police investigation, the chemical evidence, the prosecutor’s witnesses, and the case in whole. This is why often times DUI cases in California that go to trial get dismissed.

Unlike other criminal offenses, DUI cases in California are very specialized and require professional attention and expertise. Good DUI attorneys know how to utilize the four methods mentioned above to get the best imaginable outcomes. Not all criminal defense attorneys are suited to aggressively advocate DUI cases. Some criminal attorneys don’t have the knowledge or ability to properly handle a DUI case, so you must get an attorney who mainly does DUI cases in California. Also, you need to be weary of some good DUI attorneys that no longer have the desire to personally handle cases, so find out who’s handling your case. It is crucial to have a skilled and seasoned DUI attorney represent you. That is truly the BEST way to beat a DUI.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Todd Harrell of 3 Doors Down Arrested for a DUI

Todd Harrell, base player for 3 Doors Down, was reportedly arrested late Tuesday for suspicion of driving under the influence. This recent arrest occurred in Mississippi, where he was previously convicted of DUI in 2012. He had appealed the 2012 conviction, but the appellate court had upheld the decision. More importantly, Harrell is also currently facing several serious charges for driving impaired in an accident resulting in another driver’s death in April 2013. That traffic collision landed Harrell in jail for several days, in Tennessee.  The Judge released him on $100,000 bail, pending the outcome of that case. In California, the bail for a felony DUI, even without a great bodily injury, is usually $100,000.

Harrell now faces a second offense DUI. In his first offense he was involved in a traffic collision where he rear ended a pick-up truck. After consenting to a blood draw, he reportedly told police officers he had five different prescription pills in his system. In this current arrest, it appears that the report suggests Harrell was under the influence of a substance other than alcohol. In California, if this case goes to trial, the prosecutor must go through the prior conviction, and Harrell is entitled to “bifurcate” the trial. This means that the jury cannot find out about his prior conviction during trial, and should not hold it against him. Also, his attorney must make sure the jury does not know about his pending case in Tennessee.  A fair juror must decide whether someone is guilty based on Harrell’s actions in this case only, they should not be influenced by information that can cause a bias against Harrell. It is unfortunate that sometimes people don’t learn from their mistakes, but everyone is entitled to a fair trial.

These current charges are very serious, but the charges in Tennessee against him are obviously much more serious. In California, Felony DUI where someone is killed can be charged as a “Watson” murder. This offense can carry a sentence of life in prison. When someone is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony DUI, they are given an advisement that if they are involved in a traffic collision where they’re under the influence and someone is killed they can be charged with second degree murder. Even though this incident didn’t involve a traffic collision, it seems Harrell needs to be proactive in seeking help for any substance abuse issues he may have. Not just to benefit his case, but to improve his well being.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chris Kattan of SNL Arrested for Suspicion of DUI

Actor Chris Kattan, well known for his roles on SNL and Night at the Roxbury, was arrested around 2 am last night for suspicion of drunk driving. He was arrested after an anonymous 911 caller notified police about a Mercedes swerving in the 101 freeway. His vehicle later crossed into a coned area, and collided with a cal trans vehicle.

This is another unfortunate incident, which shows us again that celebrities are not super-human. As the story has been reported, there appears to be a lot of evidence suggesting Mr. Kattan was too impaired to drive. Now, his case will be heard in the Van Nuys courthouse, which is notorious for being very strict with DUI cases.

The City Attorney's Office will likely be the agency to prosecute this case. This office is known for being very tough on DUI defendants. Now that it appears Mr. Kattan was seen swerving and moments later was involved in a traffic collision with a cal trans vehicle, the City Attorney's Office will likely go forward with a prosecution. Even though we don't know the alleged BAC level, given this driving pattern, the prosecutor may file a DUI charge under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), even if Mr. Kattan was below .08%.

Also, the 911 call will likely be admitted into evidence based on California case law. An "anonymous tipster" may contact 911 to report a drunk driver and the audio recording may potentially be used against Mr. Kattan, even if the caller is anonymous. The key is whether the 911 call properly identified Mr. Kattan's vehicle description, location, and whether the call describes a driving pattern that is sufficient to give an officer probable cause to stop the car.

A DUI attorney could potentially have a major impact on this case. If Mr. Kattan was not a celebrity, a common person in this same situation would be facing a jail offer from the prosecutor. Even though this is potentially a first offense DUI, the combination of facts and the location of the incident could cause someone to end up in jail, unless they have a skilled DUI attorney to defend them. This is why it is critical to hire a local DUI attorney, for anyone facing DUI charges in the Van Nuys courthouse.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Can I Ever Become a Nurse if I Have a Criminal Conviction on My Record?

The Board of Nursing is very select in their admissions, and will not admit someone that has a criminal conviction on their record. Furthermore, most nursing schools require that their applicants have no criminal record. This would make it seem impossible to become a nurse, if you’ve ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony criminal offense.

However, there is hope! Most criminal misdemeanor and many felony criminal convictions can be cleared from your record. The process is called a criminal record expungement, and it allows the court to withdraw your plea of guilty/no contest, and enter a not guilty plea, and then dismiss your case. Under California Penal Code §1203.4, the court may grant an expungement if it is in the “interests of justice.” It is crucial to get an expungement attorney that focuses in the area of post-conviction relief, in order to optimize your chances of getting the petition granted.

Some felony cases may be reduced to misdemeanors and expunged, but it is important to hire an attorney that knows which offences may be reduced and which can’t. There are also various requirements that must be satisfied, in order to be eligible for an expungement. An expungement attorney can discuss all of the requirements to verify you’re eligible, before you pursue a petition with the court.

One of the requirements for expungement, is that you can’t still be on probation for a criminal conviction. However, you may be eligible for an early termination of probation under California Penal Code §1203.3. If so, you could potentially get an expungement granted at the same time as an early termination of your probation.

The key is that you must have an attorney that handles lots of expungement petitions, in order to give yourself the highest probability of success in these matters. It is crucial to know exactly what the court is looking for, and how to prepare the petition. An attorney with a track record of success in expungements has already demonstrated that they know exactly what the Judges are looking for. Even though every case is different, and every individual client is different, there is a formula as to what the court wants to see in an expungement petition. For more information, visit Expungement for Nurses.

Friday, January 24, 2014

7 New DMV Laws for 2014

1. Clean Air Vehicle Decals/"HOV Stickers" (AB 266, SB 286):Cars with Clean Air Vehicle decals that use carpool lanes without having to meet minimum occupancy requirements will be allowed to continue doing so until January 1, 2019.

2. Commercial Driver's License (AB 1047): Drive a bus or commercial truck? This new law changes the requirements for the Class B and Class C license (commercial) and changes requirements for out-of-state license holders.

3. DMV Vehicle Registration Pilot Program (SB 806): This law allows for the DMV to look into alternatives to registration stickers, paper registration cards, and electronic license plates. Another law would need to be passed to implement any findings or recommendations about modernizing the car registration process.

4. Registration and Vehicle Transfers Between Family Members (AB 443): Want to transfer ownership of a vehicle to a relative or living trust? Pay your parking and toll violation fines and penalties first.

5. Teen Drivers (SB 194): This law will "prohibit a person who is under 18 years of age from using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication while driving, even if it is equipped with a hands-free device." Because duh.

6. Veterans License Plates (AB 244): The California Department of Veterans Affairs will sponsor a special interest license plate if it meets minimum requirements and pre-sells 7,500 plates.

7. Bicycles: Passing Distance (AB 1371): Taking effect on September 16, 2014, AB 1371, also known as the Three Feet for Safety Act, this law requires drivers passing a bicycle in the same direction to pass with "no less than 3 feet between any part of the vehicle and any part of the bicycle or driver." If that distance can't be maintained, then the driver must slow down to a "reasonable and prudent speed."  Drivers who fail to do this can incur a fine, even if no accident or collision takes place.

Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Justin Bieber Arrested on Suspicion of DUI, Drugs and Resisting Arrest

Justin Bieber was arrested for a DUI, resisting arrest, and driving without a license after he was stopped by Miami Beach police officers for street racing his yellow Lamborghini. Shortly after 4:00 am, Bieber was booked in a Miami jail when he failed field sobriety test (FST) and "made some statements that he had consumed some alcohol, and that he had been smoking marijuana and consumed some prescription medication," according to Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez.

This is yet another arrest, in a series of recent legal problems for Bieber. In California, a comparable arrest would've gotten his Lamborghini impounded for 30 days, if his license was in fact suspended. Also, the street racing would potentially be a separate charge for reckless driving, and the legal BAC level for Bieber would've been 0.00%.

Bieber supposedly made several admissions to police officers, which were very incriminating statements. Although it's important to always be courteous to any police officer you come into contact with, you are not obligated to answer their questions. You should be especially weary answering any questions if you're being investigated for a DUI.

Since Bieber has never had a prior conviction for DUI, and there was no traffic collision while driving, it appears that he's going to likely escape this brush with a slap on the wrist and no jail. The prosecutor knows that this case already has a lot of publicity, so they can't be too light on him. On the other hand, Bieber is still a young impressionable adolescent that has achieved extraordinary notoriety from his talent in entertainment. 

Although this type of behavior is obviously dangerous to human lives, we live in a society that still reinforces it because Bieber is now demonstrating the bad boy image that has promoted many celebrities in the past. Let's just hope he doesn't go over the edge.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How Can I Clear My DUI Record?

The only way to clear a DUI from your criminal record is by petitioning the court for an expungement of the conviction.  Anyone convicted of a Misdemeanor DUI, or Felony DUI where state prison wasn’t imposed and the conviction didn’t carry a strike, is eligible for an expungement pursuant to California Penal Code §1203.4.  This law permits a Judge to technically withdraw your plea of guilty, enter a plea of not guilty, and “dismiss” your case.  This is the only way to get a conviction off of your criminal record.

An expungement petition for a DUI, requires the petitioner to show the Judge that it is “in the interest of justice” to grant the petition.   The problem is that it’s very ambiguous as to what is considered to be in the interest of justice.  It leaves a lot of discretion in the Judge’s hands, to decide whether or not to grant the petition.  It is important to hire an experienced DUI attorney, who knows exactly what types of things the court is looking for to grant the petition.

It is important to take immediate steps to increase the chances of getting the petition granted, and a good DUI attorney knows how to properly advise a client what additional things should be included in the petition.  A simple petition just requires a filled out judicial form and blank court order, but it is usually insufficient for most Judges, if that is all you submit.  You must file the petition with the court and serve the prosecutor’s office.  There is also a filing fee for the petition, which varies by county.

Remember, an expungement does not clear your record in regard to priorability.  This means that if you are arrested for suspicion of DUI, within 10 years from the date you were arrested for your prior DUI (not date you were convicted), even if the matter was expunged, you can be charged with a second offense DUI.  Aside from that, you would still be required to explain a conviction/expungement, if applying for any California State license or governmental position.

On a good note, when applying for any private jobs, you would be legally permitted to deny ever being convicted of a Misdemeanor, once expunged.  A good expungement attorney can greatly increase your chances of getting the petition granted, and can answer your questions about an expungement.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What is the Safest Way to Exit a DUI Checkpoint?

Upon entering a DUI checkpoint in California, you should notice several posted signs indicating that there is a checkpoint ahead. Once you see this notification, you should look to the left and to the right for a road to turn off on. If there is no road to turn off on, you should look for a driveway to enter so that you can make a legal u-turn. Officers are instructed not to stop anyone solely for the reason of avoiding a checkpoint. You may legally avoid a checkpoint, but don’t break the law in order to avoid the checkpoint.

DUI checkpoints are one of the few circumstances where law enforcement officers are permitted to stop you, even if they have no reasonable suspicion to do so.  Although this appears to be a serious violation of an individual’s 4th Amendment Constitutional rights, which protects people from invasion of privacy by government officials, checkpoints are permitted based on the rationale that it is considered a minor intrusion on privacy to stop someone quickly and it serves a substantial public benefit to deter drunk drivers.  Thus, officers are permitted to stop you at a checkpoint for no reason, and they are even supposed to use a “neutral formula,” or simply an arbitrary number in deciding which cars to pull over.

State and Federal Courts have found that the public benefit outweighs the inconvenience of the intrusion on someone in a checkpoint stop.  However, the Courts have also found that in order to balance things out, law enforcement agencies must limit the intrusiveness by taking various measures to ensure the checkpoint is not overly burdensome and invasive on innocent people.  Thus, certain steps are generally taken in most checkpoint locations, to ensure that the potential stops are Constitutional.

In the landmark case on this topic, Ingersoll v. Palmer, the California Supreme Court analyzed a checkpoint stop that was conducted by the Burlingame Police Department in 1984. In that checkpoint location, there were substantial signs that indicated a checkpoint was ahead, and permitted drivers to exit the street prior to the checkpoint. This was considered by the Court as a major factor that limited the intrusiveness of the checkpoint stop. The primary purpose of the checkpoint location was to deter drunk drivers, not to simply catch drunk drivers. This was emphasized by the Court in their decision, and must be followed in California State Courts today. 

If you have been cited for a violation California VehicleCode § 23152(a) and § 23152(b), after you were stopped at a checkpoint, it is important to contact an experienced DUI Attorney right away.  There may be various arguments that your attorney can raise both during the negotiations process, and in a suppression motion, if they know what to argue. A good DUI attorney may successfully challenge the Constitutionality of checkpoint stops, both in court and at the appellate level.  If a checkpoint stop is found to be Unconstitutional by a Judge, then your case will get dismissed.  The right attorney can truly impact your case, especially when they are knowledgeable, experienced, and have a proven track record in the field of DUI. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

If I'm Pulled Over for DUI Should I Refuse the Breathalyzer Test?

The only circumstances under which you should submit to a preliminary breathalyzer test in the field in California, is if you’re under 21 and requested to do so by an officer, on DUI probation and are required to submit as part of your terms and conditions, or if you did not consume any alcohol within 24 hours.

The preliminary breathalyzer is generally a voluntary test and the results are usually not reliable. BAC results, with these devices, commonly read higher than someone’s actual BAC level.  Scientific studies have shown that breathalyzers provide false high readings during the absorptive phase, which can last for an extended period of time after your last drink. Also most of these devices do not have certain mechanisms, such as a “slope detector,” which factors in contaminants like mouth alcohol and provides a safeguard for the reliability in the results. Thus, the results do not reflect your BAC level and are likely to register higher than what your BAC level actually is.

So when confronted by an officer conducting a DUI investigation in California that asks you to submit to a breathalyzer in the field, before you are arrested, you must politely inform him that you know your constitutional rights to refuse this test.  Tell him you’ve been advised that the breathalyzers may falsely misrepresent your actual BAC level and that you don’t want to submit to anything that could improperly incriminate you. You should have the same response ready when the officer requests field sobriety tests.

A common public misconception is that this preliminary breathalyzer test will show you’re innocent (below 0.08%), and the officer will then let you go.  But, as explained above, you may be below 0.08% and still register well above if you’re still absorbing alcohol.  Also, even if you’re below 0.08%, you can still be arrested and charged with a DUI under California Vehicle Code § 23152(a).

By refusing to submit to the breathalyzer in the field, and refusing the field sobriety tests, you can limit the amount of evidence the officer and prosecutor can use against you. This would allow a qualified DUI attorney to potentially challenge the constitutionality of the arrest, with a suppression motion.  It would also help in negotiating a plea, because it would limit the prosecutor’s evidence in your case.  Finally, it would make it more difficult for a prosecutor to prove you were DUI, beyond a reasonable doubt, in trial.

Remember, this information is specifically in regard to breathalyzer tests in the field, not after an arrest is made.  There are a lot of separate things to consider about the issue of whether to submit to a breath or blood test, which is not mentioned above.   Again, in order to fully utilize this information, you must have a good DUI attorney on your side.  A qualified DUI attorney can truly impact your case, from getting you a much better result, to helping ease your mind during the process.

For more information, visit: What to do when arrested for a DUI