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.