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Our Los Angeles DUI attorneys were heartbroken upon learning of the tragic story of Jacqueline Rivera and her 11-old daughter, Aailiyah. Both died after being rear-ended at a Fresno, California intersection on November 22, 2014. The man charged with the DUI that allegedly caused their deaths, Rafael Arce Pedroza, could face life in prison.DUI-manslaughter-charge

Prosecutors don’t have all the necessary details yet, but an AB30 report explains Pedroza allegedly has a DUI conviction in San Diego. He has also faced assault charges in Los Angeles.

For the alleged killing of Jacqueline Rivera and Aailiyah, Pedroza faces charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol. On their own, these charges would be Pedroza’s second DUI offense. However, the charge of gross vehicular manslaughter carries a much harsher penalty than a normal second Los Angeles DUI offense.

Pedroza’s prosecutors now also allege that he fled the scene of the accident that killed Ms. Rivera and her daughter. Bystanders tried to help the Riveras escape their burning SUV, but Pedroza ran from the scene and was later apprehended. Legal analyst Tony Capozzi explains, “If [police] can tie the person they found under the bed to this accident… that’s going to be told to the jury [as] an indication of his guilt.”

The deaths of Jacqueline and Aailiyah Rivera could have been prevented, and surely many people are anxious to see justice. Yet the exact sentencing will depend upon what prosecutors charge Pedroza as well as the strength of the evidence in the case. Many people don’t know all the differences among DUI manslaughter, DUI manslaughter with gross negligence, and DUI murder. Knowledge of these terms can provide potential DUI defendants with the power to fight wrongful convictions if they occur. The attorneys at the Kraut Law Group define them here:

DUI Manslaughter: This occurs when the driver was under the influence of alcohol but was not “extremely negligent.” This can also apply to cases involving traffic violations or any case in which the driver did not “take reasonable care to prevent injury or death.”

DUI Manslaughter with Gross Negligence: This is the charge brought against Rafael Pedroza. It refers to cases in which the driver was DUI and drove “in [a] reckless manner that is significantly more than ordinary negligence.” A judge can sentence the defendant up to ten years in prison for each person killed.

DUI Murder: Also called Watson murder, this occurs when a DUI driver is cited with gross negligence and committed with malice aforethought or vicious will.

Do you need help defending against a serious charge? Call a qualified Los Angeles DUI defense attorney with the Kraut Law Group immediately.

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Fingers crossed, your history of driving under the influence in Los Angeles looks nothing like that of David Louis Layne, a fifty-five-year-old resident of Alabaster, Alabama who was recently cited for driving under the influence…. For the 25th time. Come on!David-Louis-Layne-DUI

The Shelby County Circuit Court charged him with DUI and third-degree assault, saying Layne drove “recklessly” and injured an occupant of the other vehicle when the auto crash occurred.

If Layne is convicted, this will be his latest in a string of serious DUI convictions that date back decades. Layne has received at least 24 previous DUI convictions in Alabama and remains in Shelby County jail on $101,000 bond. He was formally indicted in October 2014 for causing a crash that injured at least one other person on September 4, 2014. Layne’s next hearing is set for February 24, 2015.

Layne pled not guilty to his most recent DUI charge based on “reason of mental disease or defect.” In recent years, Layne’s DUI convictions have also involved charges of driving on the wrong side of a roadway and driving with a revoked or suspended license. Alabaster police chief Curtis Rigney calls Layne and his circumstances “a tragedy waiting to happen.” Shelby County district attorney Jill Lee corroborates this view, adding that she perceives Layne to be “a danger to the public at large.”

In Los Angeles, DUI penalties can include informal probation for a first offense to DUI school attendance from three to thirty months. Other penalties can include jail time from sixteen months to four years, revocation of a CA driver’s license, and fines up to $5,000. If convicted of felony DUI or second degree murder DUI, the defendant could face revocation of his or her license for up to ten years and possibly life in prison. If released from prison, a defendant in a second degree murder DUI case must be on parole status for up to five years.

Michael Kraut and the Los Angeles DUI attorneys of the Kraut Law Group would agree people like Layne can be quite dangerous, but most people who get arrested for similar crimes do not have anything like that kind of checkered driving history. Mr. Kraut would like to remind readers that multiple DUI convictions in Los Angeles and the greater area can result in escalating punishments, including the elevation of what would be a misdemeanor to a felony. The increasingly harsh discipline for multiple DUIs can affect a person’s physical and mental health, self-concept, career prospects, and more.

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The holiday season is meant to be fun, relaxing, and cheerful. Unfortunately, some drivers take these concepts to the extreme when they drive under the influence in Los Angeles on roads filled with holiday crowds eager to get the Grove and/or Century City Mall (it seems like everyone in the city pours into these malls this time of year, doesn’t it?).smith-dui-los-angeles

Our attorneys have seen an unfortunate plethora of Christmas DUI cases over the years, both in and out of Los Angeles. We would like to educate drivers on what can happen if someone commits a DUI during the holiday season and how to drive safely while enjoying the many associated festivities.

Twenty-seven-year-old Jeffery Smith of Chicago knows the pain of a Christmas DUI all too well. On December 24, 2013, Smith was found pinned in his crushed Chevrolet Impala, which had plowed into a tree on West Garfield Boulevard. The roof had been crushed below the seat level, trapping both Smith and his eight-year-old daughter Lauren. Rescue crews worked for over forty minutes to extricate Smith from the vehicle and didn’t discover Lauren was there until Smith had been removed.

Lauren’s grandmother, Lorie Hall, had been expecting Jeffery and Lauren to arrive at her house for a Christmas celebration before the crash. “We were going to make gingerbread houses,” she told a reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times. Instead, Lauren was taken to Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital and pronounced dead the next morning.

Jeffery Smith now faces three years in prison, with credit for a year of time served since his initial arrest in 2013. Cook County prosecutors said Smith’s blood alcohol level was .137 at the time of the wreck.

A tragic story like Lauren Smith’s can make even the most carefree driver want to handle his or her vehicle more safely. Yet some drivers struggle with how to do this, especially during the holiday season when crowds and crashes naturally increase. The Kraut Law Group offers these tips.

•    Drink early, if at all. If attending a holiday party at work or a family celebration, drivers should limit themselves to one drink early in the afternoon or evening. Beyond that, stick to punch, water, soda, or coffee.

•    Drive within the speed limit at all times.

•    Check local weather reports – if snow or freezing rain is predicted, try to stay home or finish activities as early as possible.

•    Don’t attend parties or other holiday functions alone. Go with a friend or two, and designate a driver early in the evening.

Respond strategically to your arrest and charges by calling a former Senior Deputy D.A. and highly successful Los Angeles DUI defense attorney with the Kraut Law Group today for a complimentary consultation.

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Some Los Angeles DUI crashes are more “picturesque” than others.Golden-Gate-Bridge-DUI

Most people enjoy visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, but few tourists actually drive Ford Mustangs onto the bridge and get stuck there, even if they’re driving under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, this is exactly the position 44-year-old Daniel Soto found himself in last Tuesday.

Allegedly, Soto had been traveling southbound through San Francisco trying to beat morning rush-hour traffic, when he lost control of his Ford Mustang, plowing over one of the Golden Gate Bridge’s steel barriers and through a steel gate before landing on a nearby sidewalk. Soto’s airbags were deployed, so his car became “wedged” on the narrow sidewalk according to California Highway Patrol Officer Andrew Barclay. Soto sustained only minor injuries.

Barclay called the incident “uncommon,” and in its own way, the story may seem humorous. However, Soto’s poor decision last Tuesday could have easily resulted in severe injuries or death for him and the citizens around him. Every DUI incident must be taken seriously, and its consequences examined thoroughly to prevent similar incidents.

Driving under the influence can lead to poor decision making on several levels. For example, high blood alcohol levels tend to affect one’s sensory perception. It often becomes difficult for an inebriated driver to see the road, the median, or surrounding traffic.

Many people drink because they are depressed or angry. Once someone in this emotional state gets behind the wheel, his or her potential for injury to self or others skyrockets. The driver’s strong emotions cloud judgment and critical thinking skills, making him or her vulnerable to poor decisions.

Finally, some drivers decide to drive under the influence because they think it will be adventurous or fun. Unfortunately, what starts out as a joyride with friends often turns into a DUI citation, a trip to the local jail, fines, and probation. Poor decisions made out of a desire to have fun while under the influence can also result in gratuitous property damage and embarrassment, as Daniel Soto discovered.

To respond effectively to your charges, call a qualified Los Angeles DUI lawyer with the Kraut Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.

 

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Our Los Angeles DUI blog has reported on dozens (hundreds?) of celebrity DUI arrests over the years, but each new story offers us an attempt to explain critical laws and concepts to defendants and their families.xzibit-DUI-los-angeles

Our aim is not necessarily to discuss and promote these stories salaciously but rather to start a more productive conversation to make our community safer and to prevent the core problems that drive people to drink and/or use drugs and get behind the wheel.

Over the weekend, Alvin Nathaniel Joiner, more famously known as Xzibit, found himself behind bars only hours after tying the knot. The Pimp My Ride host allegedly had been speeding in Laguna Beach just after midnight on Sunday when authorities stopped him. Jason Kraveetz of the Long Beach Police told ABC News “another office caught up to [Xzibit’s] vehicle and made a traffic stop… the officer contacted the driver and smelled alcohol. They started a driving under the influence investigation which ended with the arrest of Alvin Nathaniel Joiner.”

Police arrested the 40-year-old rapper on a single misdemeanor DUI count.

Just prior to the arrest, Xzibit had posted a montage of pictures from the wedding to his social media profiles and wrote: “I had to do a LOT growing up and over time came the maturity I needed to be able to make a commitment stronger than anything that I have done in my life outside to being a father to my two beautiful sons.”

Most people think that DUIs happen during or after “dark times” in life. For instance, you lose your job, get dropped by your agent, etc., and the pain of that rejection provokes you to drink and get behind the wheel. However, emotionally stimulating events of almost any type – including very happy events, like marriage or child birth — can also lead to arrests. For instance, if you sell a script or win the lottery, you might go out and carouse with friends… and then lose your judgment, get behind the wheel and so forth.

Whether you made a terrible mistake and caused injury to yourself or someone else or you wound up unfairly arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge per California Vehicle Code Section 23152, the team here at the Kraut Law Group can help you. Call an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney (and former city prosecutor) now for insight and strategic assistance.

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At what point should the law say “enough is enough” when it comes to Los Angeles DUI arrests or convictions?16-los-angeles-dui

Obviously, almost any person – no matter how vigilant or careful – can make a misstep or can find himself or herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. If police arrest you once or twice or maybe even three times, you can potentially chock up your problems to bad luck or a lack of impulse control.

But what happens if police arrest you five or ten or even 16 times?

First off, California DUI law is structured to preclude such a terrible eventuality. For every subsequent conviction, within ten years, your penalties get increasingly stringent. Even after just one misdemeanor DUI – in which you hurt nobody and break no other traffic rules – you could still get several days’ worth of jail time, substantial fines and fees, forced alcohol school, license suspension and intense probation terms. Subsequent arrests and convictions can lead to major escalations in punishments. For instance, if you are arrested three times within 10 years, prosecutors can automatically ask for a felony charge for what ordinarily would have been a misdemeanor – meaning that you might spend a year or more behind bars for what ordinarily might have only netted you a few days or even hours in jail.

In that context, let’s check out what happened to a Colorado man, Danny Lovern, a 57-year-old who recently netted his 16th DUI conviction.

According to local reports, a grand jury in Arapahoe County just indicted Lovern not only on DUI but also on eight other charges, including attempted manslaughter and first degree assault. A local District Attorney, George Brauchler, put the situation into context “by the time someone achieves five, ten, fifteen DUI convictions, they have reached a rarefied air that puts them in 1% of the population… and this is no longer a matter of “hey should we send him to jail for a year? Let him get out and then pour themselves back into the car to drive recklessly through our community?” We are not going to do that anymore… We are going to take a more aggressive approach to this, and treat it for what it is.”

Unlike California, Colorado does not treat multiple DUIs as felonies. Only four other states in the Union are like that.

If you stand accused of a recidivist DUI in California, you do need to be concerned about a potential felony count.

Fortunately, you are not without resources. The team here at Los Angeles’s Kraut Law Group can assist. Mr. Michael Kraut is a highly qualified Los Angeles DUI criminal defense attorney with nearly 20 years of experience as a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer.

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LAPD officers engage in the dangerous work of patrolling our streets and stopping drivers suspected of Los Angeles DUI and other crimes. Without these courageous men and women, it is absolutely true that our surface streets and freeways would be more dangerous and more people would die and get hurt.furious-dog-bite-los-angeles-DUI-stop

We applaud these efforts.

But we also want to make sure that patrol officers obey the law and respect the rights of suspected DUI drivers. So what restrictions on officer behaviors are appropriate and required? And when can officers effectively break standard procedure?

A sad but compelling case out of Mesa County, Colorado speaks to these two questions.

According to AP reports, a sheriff’s deputy near Grand Junction Colorado shot and killed a dog that allegedly attacked him while he was struggling with a DUI suspect. Reports say that police responded to an emergency call at a grocery store last Monday night. A man allegedly had been driving all over the road. When police arrived, the suspect ran away, and his shepherd mix dog jumped onto the deputy and bit him on the upper thigh. The deputy instinctively shot the dog and killed it.

According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the suspect, Joseph McMillan, said that his dog had not been vaccinated for things like rabies, so now local animal services is submitting the dog’s body for tests for rabies.

In this case, at least according to reports, what the officer did sounds completely appropriate.

Although officers generally do not like to brandish their weapons against dogs or people, they do deserve and need the right to protect themselves (and victims) from harm caused by wild, erratic and dangerous people and animals.

Some cases, however, are ambiguous.

For instance, the shootings in Ferguson, Missouri this summer catalyzed intense and divisive debate over the use of police force in emergency situations. And we have covered many instances in which police officers have said or done things that are either inappropriate or downright ridiculous/Unconstitutional after DUI stops.

What should you do if you suspect that police behaved inappropriately (or even Unconstitutionally) during your DUI stop, tests or arrest?

The short answer is: take action by getting in touch with a qualified Los Angeles DUI lawyer as quickly as possible. Call attorney Michael Kraut and leverage his knowledge to obtain the results you need.

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Try to imagine the worst place to drive DUI in Los Angeles.405-crash-dui-in-los-angeles

If you said “the 405,” you would probably have a lot of people who would agree with you.

The 405 is notoriously clogged with Sig alerts and other nasty types of traffic not just during business rush hour but at many other (often unpredictable) times of day and night. It’s not uncommon, for instance, to wind up in a Sig alert on the 405 at 9 pm on a Sunday, for instance.

The 405 is a crazy road.

Of course, one way to make any trip on the 405 worse is to drive under the influence of drugs, alcohol or prescription medication.

To wit, let’s take a close look at a case out of Costa Mesa; police arrested a woman early last Sunday after a crash on the 405. She apparently drove onto the off ramp and shortly thereafter smashed head first into a car exiting the 405 on Fairview Street. The accident critically injured the driver of the second vehicle, and paramedics rushed that person to Western Medical Center in Santa Anna for treatment. According to a California Highway Patrol dispatcher, the crash took place at around 12:26 am. The name of the suspected DUI driver has not been released, but news reports said that she collided with a white SUV.

This story illustrates why DUIs can be so particularly pernicious and dangerous.

It’s not just that driving under the influence slows down your reaction time; driving DUI can also lead to terrible decision making.

If news reports are correct, this woman could wind up in jail for well over a year, even if the victim in the white SUV survives, because of California vehicle code 23153, which charges injury DUIs as felonies.

Whether you stand accused of injury DUI or a non-injury misdemeanor DUI, you probably need legal help right away to calculate how to respond. Call former prosecutor and widely respected Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group, right now to schedule a consultation about your possible next steps.

 

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Los Angeles DUI charges involving celebrities inevitably attract ridiculous amounts of attention from the press and from the lay public – and for understandable reasons.cake-boss-dui-los-angeles

We look up to celebrities, even if they became famous because of bad behavior or brash, outstanding opinions. Celebrity DUI arrests also force us to reflect on our status, since we often pin our hopes, dreams, fears and expectations on famous people with larger than life personalities.

In that light, let’s take a look at the recent DUI arrest of Buddy Valastro, much better known as the “Cake Boss.” According to reports from CBS New York, police arrested Valastro for DUI in Manhattan last Thursday morning, after officers saw him swerve in his yellow 2014 Corvette near 10th Avenue. Police pulled him over and said that Valastro exhibited symptoms typical of DUI, including bloodshot eyes and the odor of alcohol on his breath.

According to an Assistant DA, who is dealing with the case, Valastro told police “you can’t arrest me! I am the Cake Boss!” And he also apparently asked them for lenience: “can you just put me in a cab? I don’t have to be arrested. I am not a bad guy.”

Officers say that he failed a field sobriety test, which likely included tests similar to the ones used here in Southern California, such as walk the line test, finger to the nose test, count backwards by threes test, stand on one leg and balance test, and so forth.

Authorities hit him with two counts of DUI. He later released a statement: “please know that I want to share and explain to you what happened today and I look forward to doing so at a later date.”

In addition to starring on TLC’s “Cake Boss” reality show, Valastro owns bakeries in Los Vegas, Queens, Manhattan and New Jersey. Valastro is due back in court on January 2015; this was his very first offense.

When you read stories like this in the news, you might instantly assume that Valastro was guilty (or likely guilty) because he allegedly failed the field sobriety tests and exhibited so called symptoms of DUI. But as we’ve touched on many times, those tests can lead to false positives. For instance, you can fail sobriety test because you are tired, confused, or just nauseous and sick. Likewise, you can exhibit symptoms of DUI because you are on a ketogenic low carb diet… although it’s probably unlikely that the Cake Boss has been eschewing all carbohydrates.

For help exploring your potential defense options, call Mr. Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group today to schedule a complementary and confidential consultation with an experienced Los Angeles DUI criminal defense lawyer.

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Many people think about Los Angeles DUI accidents or incidents in a monolithic fashion. In other words, a DUI is a DUI.winnebago-los-angeles-DUI

However, as anyone who has dealt hands on with these types of cases can tell you, DUIs are incredibly diverse. For instance, some incidents involve people who are just on the cusp – who have never committed even a traffic violation before. Others involve serial recidivists who clearly engaged in reckless, negligent or outright stupid behavior who have hurt people.

In other words there is a huge range.

The question is: how can you tell whether your particular DUI situation will be a severe and complicated one or a relatively simple one?

One way to distinguish between these two outcomes is to look at the number of cars involved in a particular accident.

To that end, let’s take a look at a nasty accident in Coronado that involved seven (7!) vehicles. According to local authorities, a 52-year-old man in a Winnebago hit seven different vehicles on Orange Avenue last Thursday night. Police arrived on the scene near Bank of America around 7:30 pm, near to where one of the hit and run crashes occurred. Six other vehicles were hit on the 900 block of Northbound Orange. Sergeant Shawn O’Neill of the Coronado Police said police arrested the driver five blocks from the scene. Even though the Winnebago did hit a taxi with people in it and pushed a car onto the sidewalk, miraculously, no one got hurt.

The police said the only occupants of the Winnebago were a 52-year-old man and a dog.

Obviously, such an accident can lead to a complicated insurance situation. For instance, this accident will almost certainly generate tremendous insurance paperwork.

What can you do if you caused a multi-car crash and police arrested you on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or prescription medications?

The first step is to contact a qualified Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, like Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut has nearly two decades of experience working as both a prosecutor and defense attorney; he can help you understand your rights and options and develop a strategy that makes sense to achieve your outcomes.

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