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drive-into-pond-DUISome Los Angeles DUI arrests are very subtle and not at all obvious.

Police may stop a driver who’s following all the traffic laws and driving at the speed limit for having an out-of-date license plate, for instance. After this stop, the person may raise police suspicions by lacking coordination or answering officer questions incoherently. Over time, thanks to field sobriety tests and breath tests, the authorities suspect DUI.

But sometimes, the signs are far less subtle!

Consider an October 14 story reported out of Virginia — a local man faces DUI and driving without a license charges after local authorities discovered his vehicle submerged in a pond in the town of Lansdowne, VA. Fortunately, no one got hurt in the incident, although the driver, 46-year-old Arturo Romero, had at first feared that a family member had been trapped inside the sinking car.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Virginia, a woman faces more serious charges of driving DUI with her 3-year-old daughter in the vehicle… and then fleeing the scene of an accident. Authorities arrested 26-year-old Rachael Brand for DUI and child neglect, connecting her with a hit and run accident on I-95. When police pulled her over, they allegedly noticed that her airbags had been deployed, suggesting that she had been in a recent wreck.

As we discussed in our recent post on the terrifying field trip DUI bus ride in Utah, driving under the influence with kids in the car is just not okay. California law severely punishes people who engage in this type of behavior with more jail time and steep fines and fees. A parent who drives with a child in the car can lose parental rights. A parent going through divorce who drives with a child in a car can lose custody or visitation rights.

For help defending against your complex charges, call a qualified Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer with the Kraut Law Group today to set up a free and confidential consultation with former prosecutor Michael Kraut.

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Lycia-Martinez-school-bus-duiIt’s obviously dumb, dangerous, and illegal to drive under the influence in Los Angeles, under any conditions. But it’s particularly dumb, dangerous and illegal to drive DUI with kids in your vehicle – especially if you are a professional bus driver.

39-year-old Lycia Martinez faces very intense charges, after she allegedly drove DUI in Utah with 67 elementary school kids on her bus. Per reports, the Salt Lake City bus driver apparently took antianxiety drugs as well as muscle relaxers — Utah Highway Patrol apparently found these pills in her purse — and nearly struck a car on a busy freeway with the elementary school kids in tow. A motorist called 911 and reported “she can’t stay in the lanes, she is crossing the double lines, and the adults are getting scared … oh my hell … I don’t get scared very easily, but my heart is pounding.”

Police later stopped the bus on Interstate 15, nearly 40 miles from its location. Blaine Robins of the Utah Highway Patrol said “we really dodged a bullet.” The bus had been traveling on a major five lane highway, and the situation could have easily sparked an awful and fatal crash. Chris Williams, a spokesperson for the local school district reflected: “talk about precious cargo… we are very fortunate nothing happened, not only with the students on the bus but with other drivers on the road.”

Drug DUI, like an alcohol DUI, can lead to punishments ranging from serious jail time (particularly if you hurt anyone), forced alcohol school, license suspension, and other indirect consequences, such as higher insurance rates and the loss of your job.

Driving DUI with a minor in your car (under 14 years old) can be charged as an additional crime, meaning that you could get more jail time and other penalties. If you or someone you care about faces such charges, contact an experienced former city prosecutor at the Kraut Law Group today to talk to a qualified Los Angeles DUI defense attorney about your possible next steps.

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phelps-dui-los-angelesMany people – including celebrities, actors, sport stars and captains of industry — underestimate the damage that non-injury Los Angeles DUI arrests can do to their careers.

Even if you didn’t hurt anybody — and you likely won’t be charged with a felony per California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (the injury DUI section) — you may still have to face nominal jail time as well as other inconveniences, like probation, license suspension, community service, etcetera. But if you have enough resources, those punishments may not feel like much. After all, if you have millions of dollars, a thousand dollar fine won’t make much of a dent in your pocketbook. If you have a limo service, losing your license won’t be a game changed, necessarily, although it still could be quite inconvenient.

But DUIs can have repercussions that go far beyond the legal penalties. To wit, witness the stunning turn of events for Olympian Michael Phelps – the most gold-medal-decorated athlete in the Olympic history – who found himself under arrest for DUI in Baltimore two weeks ago, after police stopped him for driving 80+ miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone and weaving across lanes.

Phelps allegedly behaved in a gentlemanly fashion and cooperated with officers. He even took to Twitter and apologized to his fans around the world. But that was not good enough for USA Swimming, the official governing body of his sport, which suspended Phelps for six months from competing. That means that he won’t be able to represent the U.S. during the FINA World Championships next year.

The Huffington Post dramatically framed the situation: “It’s possible that USA Swimming didn’t just remove Michael Phelps from the 2015 World Championships. It’s possible USA Swimming just ended his career.”

Now, Phelps obviously has accrued tremendous wealth and prestige – and he had intimated previously that he wanted to retire from his sport. But USA Swimming dealt a very vigorous blow to its most well known athlete.

If a DUI could end Phelps’ career, what could it do to your?

To defend yourself from the scary consequences of a DUI charge, contact an experienced former prosecutor with the Kraut Law Group today to schedule a free consultation. Call a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer immediately to protect and preserve your rights.

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amanda-bynes-drug-DUIOf all the celebrity Los Angeles DUI cases that we’ve covered on this blog over many years, the peculiar case of Amanda Bynes has stood out, because the actress’ encounters with the law have had less to do with willful rule breaking and more to do with mental illness.

The ex-child star, who earned fame in movies like Hairspray, found herself in handcuffs again on Monday, after police arrested her for driving under the influence of drugs. According to news outlets, the actress had stopped taking her antipsychotic medication and “started smoking pot again and drinking again.” Previously, she had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, after she threw a bong out of an apartment building in New York City and later lit a fire in the driveway of a complete stranger. She had enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Southern California after completing a court-ordered parentally supervised conservatorship. An anonymous source claimed to RadarOnline that the 28-year-old actress “is absolutely out of control.”

Per, Bynes had been driving high on the drug Adderall when police stopped her in the San Fernando Valley. They administered toxicology tests, and police said it will take 60 days to determine what, if anything, she had been using. Leland Tang, an officer for the California Highway Patrol, said “we would have released [information about what drugs she had in her possession] if we knew it was a stimulant…we won’t know for sure until the toxicology comes back.”

Getting arrested for drug DUI can be complex, but you may be able to challenge the arrest on multiple grounds. An experienced, strategic and compassionate Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, such as ex-prosecutor Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group, can help you understand your options and develop and execute a consistent defense.

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michael-phelps-dui-mugshotWhen ultra Olympian Michael Phelps got arrested in 2004 for DUI, he had not yet become an uber Olympic legend. When he got caught with a bong in 2009, he had already transformed the Olympics, but he had not yet become the most gold-decorated Olympian in history.

Today, however, Phelps has more gold medals than any one out of the 100 billion people who have ever walked the face of the Earth… and he also has not one but two DUIs under his belt.

According to Baltimore police, Phelps had been driving 84 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone on I-395 in his 2014 Land Rover. Police stopped him near the toll plaza of the Fort McHenry Tunnel at around 1:40 AM and charged him with driving under the influence. The swimmer allegedly behaved in a gentlemanly fashion and cooperated with the officer. He then almost immediately took to Twitter to apologize to his fans and to the world for what happened. He wrote a series of three tweets: “(1/3) Earlier this morning, I was arrested and charged with DUI, excessive speeding and crossing double lane lines. (2/3) I understand the severity of my actions and take full responsibility. (3/3) I know these words may not mean much right now but I am deeply sorry to everyone I have let down.”

The 29-year-old champion – who has 18 gold medals in his possession – may soon find himself struggling with corporate sponsors.

The New York Daily News quoted Dean Crutchfield, a brand consultant, about Phelps’ brushes with the law and what they might mean. Crutchfield said, “the difference between a rut and a grave is the depth – and Phelps is digging deep.” He also said “I hope Michael has saved a lot of money because… he is about to have his income curtailed and future sponsorships blocked.”

On the flip side, the Daily News quoted Darren Marshall, a top VP at a major Chicago sports marketing film, who said “Phelps won’t lose sponsors due to this.” Of course, while the financial implications of a DUI could be pretty severe for anyone – including a sports celebrity – the legal implications could be even more severe.

If you’re convicted multiple times for DUI in Los Angeles, you can face extra penalties, such as increased jail time, longer probation, steeper fines and fees, and the possibility that prosecutors may try to elevate what would ordinarily be a DUI misdemeanor to a felony charge (if you’ve had 3-plus DUIs within the last 10 years).

For help understanding what you can do to protect your rights and freedom after a DUI, contact an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney here at the Kraut Law Group for a free and confidential consultation with a former high level Los Angeles city prosecutor.

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LeVeon-Bell-DUIIf you’re facing DUI charges in Los Angeles, you may begin experiencing negative consequences before the court even hears your case. Consider, for instance, the challenges that confront Pittsburgh Steeler, Le’Veon Bell, who may face a two-game suspension and other sanctions from the league and from his club, as the result of a recent DUI arrest.

Authorities arrested Bell for DUI in August. After police pulled him over, he allegedly admitted to having smoked marijuana earlier in the day and to possessing a bag of the substance. He also allegedly claimed that he was unaware of the law prohibiting driving under the influence of marijuana, claiming he wasn’t “high” enough for the drug to have impaired his driving.

The NFL’s new substance abuse policy imposes a mandatory suspension on players arrested for DUI. The suspension occurs only after a player has failed to resolve the matter within the league’s stated “grace period.” Under this policy, Bell must resolve his DUI charge before November 1 to prevent a suspension from going into effect. However, he may receive a one-game suspension for marijuana possession, regardless of the outcome of the DUI case.

Bell’s Legal Woes — Just the Most Recent among NFL Players

Bell is certainly not the only NFL player who has experienced a run-in with the law in recent months. High-profile cases in which the NFL has suspended or banned players include:

•    Ray Rice. After video footage emerged of running back Rice punching his wife in an elevator, corporate sponsors and fans alike expressed outrage and disbelief. Prior to the release of the footage, the NFL had only punished Rice with a 2 game suspension. After the revelation, however, the NFL suspended Rice indefinitely, and the Ravens terminated him.

•    Adrian Peterson. The Minnesota Viking running back faces allegations that he abused his 4 year old son by hitting him with a tree branch. The Vikings responded to the horrifying news by deactivating the player until he resolves his legal issues.

An arrest for DUI can be a serious legal matter that can have profound personal and professional consequences. A Los Angeles DUI attorney can help you defend against such charges and return to work as soon as possible. Contact the Kraut Law Group today to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.

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Chris-Nunez-DUIGetting arrested for DUI in Los Angeles often comes with additional complications. Although a DUI charge alone can be bad enough, police often identify more than one infraction when apprehending suspects. Such was the case with the September 20 arrest of “Ink Master” judge Chris Nunez in Florida.

Authorities pulled Nunez over after the tattoo artist and TV star ran a stop sign. When police allegedly observed signs suggesting that he had been under the influence of drugs or alcohol behind the wheel, they arrested him.

In addition to the DUI charges, Nunez will likely face a citation for running a stop sign, a traffic violation for which drivers can receive a $125 fine.

Complicating Factors in DUI Arrests

A DUI arrest can create diverse and annoying challenges for any driver, including the threat of fines, fees, jail time, license suspension, probation, and high insurance rates. However, several circumstances can exacerbate the severity and consequences of a DUI, including:

1.    Additional traffic violations. If you break traffic laws (e.g. driving the wrong way, speeding, or making illegal passes) while under the influence, prosecutors can ask the court for higher fines and other penalties.

2.    Resisting arrest. Drivers who interfere with arrest or resist an officer making an arrest can face misdemeanor charges in California.

3.    Prior offenses. The severity of DUI charges – and the resulting sanctions – increases with each DUI arrest.

4.    Injuries. Per CVC 23153, California law automatically subjects DUI drivers whose actions harm others to felony charges. If you cause severe injuries, you can wind up going to prison for several years.

5.    Fatalities. If an alcohol- or drug-related crash leads to the death of an individual, the responsible party could spend from several years to life in prison, depending on whether the court finds him or her guilty of manslaughter or homicide.

The easiest way to avoid such escalated charges is to avoid driving under the influence altogether. However, if you already face a DUI charge that has been complicated by accompanying citations, misdemeanors, or felonies, a Los Angeles DUI attorney with knowledge and experience can help you create a compelling and strategic defense. Contact the Kraut Law Group today to discuss your legal options.

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Bryan-Voltaggio-DUIIf you face Los Angeles DUI charges, you might be struggling to figure out what you should plead at your arraignment and how else you should structure your defense. Some defendants plead “not guilty” because they believe the police erred and the stop was Unconstitutional. But other defendants submit “guilty” pleas to try to reduce the consequences of conviction.

Celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio likely wrestled hard with this very choice. On September 19, the former “Top Chef” contender entered a guilty plea in a Baltimore District Court; prosecutors had charged him with driving under the influence of alcohol on June 6.

As part of the plea deal, the court sentenced Voltaggio to “probation before judgment.” Rather than spending time in jail, he will undergo a period of probation. Once this time has passed, he will have the option to expunge the incident from his legal record.

How Pleading Down Helps DUI Defendants

“Pleading down” is a process by which defendants acknowledge guilt for lesser charges in exchange for less severe sanctions. The potential benefits can include:

•    Reduced charges. Instead of a DUI, a court may find you guilty of “wet reckless” or “dry reckless” — these do not constitute misdemeanors or felonies, although the court can punish them with fines and license restrictions.

•    Less impact on your insurance rates. A DUI conviction can cause your car insurance rates to skyrocket, creating a drag on your budget for months or even years.

•    Expunge the charge from your record. Criminal convictions on your record can create long term challenges. For instance, if or when you get arrested again for DUI or some other crime, after you’ve been convicted once already, you can face far more stringent penalties, per CVC 23152.

If you’re wondering whether a plea deal might make sense for you, an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer at the Kraut Law Group can help. As a former prosecutor, attorney Kraut has an extensive knowledge of applicable California law, and he has also cultivated strategic relationships with local judges and prosecutors.

Contact the Kraut Law Group today to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.

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A Los Angeles DUI conviction carries severe implications, even with a “typical” first misdemeanor offense. However, “extreme” DUIs can be perpetuated when you engage in highly reckless behaviors or repeat offenses; or when you face charges like DUI manslaughter or murder.14-dui-arrests

A 19-year-old Sonoma County DUI suspect represents an example of an escalated DUI case. On September 15, police arrested Isaac Elvira after clocking him at 117 MPH on Highway 101. When officers opened the driver-side door of his Mercedes, the underage driver literally fell out of the car. He now faces DUI, concealed weapon, driving without a license, and speeding charges.

In Montana, 63-year-old Edwin Cuch received his 14th DUI conviction after a 12-person jury deliberated for 20 minutes. Cuch presented a defense highlighting his efforts to overcome significant hardships. The judge imposed a 3-year prison sentence, shorter than the 5-year maximum for repeat DUI offenses.

In the state of California, extreme DUIs – such as those involving multiple offenses or convictions – come with higher penalties. These include:

•    Higher classifications of charges. Although a first DUI offense often represents a misdemeanor, courts may classify a fourth or higher DUI as a felony.

•    Longer jail time. While a first DUI with no additional citations carries a maximum sentence of 6 months, subsequent offenses can result in several years of prison.

•    Longer license suspensions. With each DUI offense, the length of license suspension increases by one year. Additional behaviors – such as speeding or reckless driving – carry additional suspension time.

No two Los Angeles DUI cases are the same. However, when additional exacerbating circumstances increase the number of charges or the severity of potential penalties, obtaining legal assistance becomes more important than ever. Contact the Kraut Law Group today to learn how we can help you achieve a fair and positive result in your extreme DUI case. Attorney Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles — a well respected ex-prosecutor who understands the prosecutorial mindset.

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Lynn-Anderson-DUIWhen it comes to Los Angeles DUI cases, men aren’t the only ones who get into major alcohol or drug-related traffic collisions. Recent incidents in Florida and Tennessee reveal the impact DUI accidents can have on female drivers.

In Nashville, country singer Lynn Anderson faces DUI driving charges for a September 12 car crash. When authorities questioned her regarding her seemingly “impaired” behavior, she admitted to using alcohol and prescription drugs prior to the accident. This was her second DUI incident; the first occurred in 2004.

Another DUI accident recently struck Lighthouse Point, Florida on September 14, injuring 55-year-old Kim Smith. Previous DUI offender Michael Anguille struck Smith’s SUV, causing it to flip and collidd with a tree in North Federal Highway’s center median. Anguille is being held in jail awaiting DUI test results. The accident paralyzed Smith, who remains in critical condition.

These two accidents reflect the universal consequences of drunk driving. Although such collisions are devastating regardless of gender, exacerbating circumstances for women drivers can include:

•    Lower alcohol tolerance. Men and women metabolize alcohol differently. Especially in women with smaller frames, the negative effects of intoxication can be a greater threat.

•    Injury. Paralysis and other severe injuries impact the ability to work, care for children, and live independent lives.

•    Loss of or harm to children. Mothers driving with children in the car can experience devastating consequences, from injuries to deaths. DUI convictions can also cause mothers to lose custody of their children and face the additional possibility of criminal charges related to negligence.

If you are a woman who faces DUI driving charges, you are likely deeply concerned about your challenges and worried about the potential outcomes of a conviction. Los Angeles DUI attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group can help you understand the challenges you face and work to craft a strong defense. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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