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This Los Angeles DUI blog constantly scours the national landscape (or at least attempts to do so) to identify important legal trends in the field. State lawmakers – often out of desperation – sometimes decide to “get tough” on DUI by arbitrarily imposing harsher sentencing.ok-dui-law-proposed

The general efficacy of this tactic is dubious, as this blog has argued in the past. If nasty anti-DUI punishments are failing as deterrents, why would slightly nastier ones suddenly succeed as deterrents. As Will Rogers once quipped, if you’re in a hole, stop digging.

In any event, let’s turn to Oklahoma, where Patrick Anderson, a local Republican Senator, just wrote and started promoting Bill 30, a measure that would ban DUI offenders from purchasing alcohol for a specified amount of time. The bill parallels a similar law in Alaska.

If Bill 30 passes, the legislation would mandate that an offender’s driver’s license be altered to include a stamp that restricts all alcohol purchases. If that person buys alcohol while banned, he or she will be sent back to court to face probation violation charges. Furthermore, the owner or managers of the establishment that sells alcohol to a restricted license holder could face felony charges.

Other laws that address issues like repeat DUI offenses and levels of intoxication would have to be revamped to accommodate the Bill 30 related changes. Further legislation modifications might be needed to address issues concerning:

•    Repeat offenders
•    Timeframe for the purchasing restriction
•    Exceptions regarding religious services
•    Etc.

Opponents of the law maintain that Bill 30 is a form of public shaming. They worry that the myriad of changes to current legislation would create confusion and sew public distrust. Opponents also complain that the law would put strain on bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, because every patron would have to be carded, including those clearly over the legal drinking age. Advocates argue that this legal tactic could serious deter potential repeat DUI offenders.

Debate over the new bill is set to open in February.

Currently, California DUI laws impose no such restrictions. The Golden State does have strict DUI laws that permit harsh sentencing. To protect yourself and your rights, contact a trusted, respected Los Angeles DUI defense attorney with the Kraut Law Group to explore your possible defenses and responses.

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All but four states in the nation have laws on the books that increase penalties for people who drive DUI while transporting children. In California, police recently arrested a man named Joel Feseer for precisely this crime and hit him with charges of DUI and child endangerment.kids-in-car-dui

Feseer’s job consisted of driving children between schools and their homes. He allegedly flipped his Ford van north of Anderson, California while driving two autistic children. Miraculously, the accident did not lead to any serious harm. Police insisted that he failed a field sobriety test at the scene.

Child endangerment typically makes California courts far less sympathetic toward defendants. In California, child endangerment on its own can be considered a “wobbler” charge, in that the court can consider it either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on circumstances.

Feseer, for instance, could have to contend with a sentencing enhancement for child endangerment if the court finds him guilty of DUI; alternatively, he may face separate charges. If the children had been under the age 14, his DUI would automatically trigger even more severe sentencing.

Defense strategies in cases like these typically involve some sort of plea bargain in order to secure sentencing under reduced charges. Other circumstances in the case will determine whether the charges are combined and if there are other, aggravating factors that need to be considered. It is unlikely that Feseer has ever been convicted of a DUI before if he was transporting children as a job, but anyone who does have prior convictions will automatically face harsher sentencing.

Being convicted of a complex suite of DUI charges can change your life in ways that you may not be able to anticipate. In addition to the standard punishments – being required to serve time in jail, pay thousands of dollars in fines, use a breathalyzer every time you get behind the wheel, etc – you face additional obstacles such as loss of support or confidence from a boss or partner, lowered self-esteem and higher insurance rates.

Securing representation early from a qualified Los Angeles DUI attorney can help you not only develop a strategy to fend off the charges but also examine the parenting and other life challenges that may have led you, unwittingly or accidentally, to put your children at risk.

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As Los Angeles DUI attorneys can attest, some CEOs, politicians and celebrities really do feel entitled to special treatment in the legal system, even though the law strives to treat everyone equally. Long-time Kentucky Congressman Brandon Smith stands accused by many in the media of asking for this kind of princely treatment in light of a DUI incident a few weeks ago.Senator-Brandon-Smith-DUI

On January 6th, the senator allegedly had been driving 20 MPH above the speed limit. A police officer who pulled Smith over detected alcohol on his breath. Smith exercised his right to deny taking a breathalyzer, so the police arrested him and hit him with an aggravated DUI charge.

In statements that he later made to the press, Smith insisted that his past history as a good guy should exculpate him, to a degree. He insisted that he’d “never been in any kind of trouble. You can’t just change overnight.” In a different interview, he said that his DUI shouldn’t affect his career as a lawmaker.

Any person pulled over in Kentucky (or in California) on suspicion of DUI can be subject to mandatory blood testing under the state’s implied consent law. If police arrest you for DUI, you also must take a blood test. Police encourage drivers not to refuse a chemical test, because such a refusal can create complications for the defense and potentially lead to excess jail time, longer license suspensions and other consequences.

In California, any driver pulled over on suspicion of driving while under the influence can be subject to a breathalyzer test. Assuming you’re not a minor and you don’t have a criminal history, in general, you do not have to take this test. However, refusal to take a test after arrest could lead to loss of license and fines, even if you’re not ultimately convicted of DUI.

No matter what happened during or after the event that led to your arrest, the experienced team at the Kraut Law Group has the compassion and deep knowledge of relevant laws and statutes to craft an appropriate defense strategy. Please call a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer now to review your options.

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A felony Los Angeles DUI hit and run resulted in the recent death of a young woman in West Covina, horrifying the community and motivating a public cry for justice.Raymond-Alvarado-DUI

On December 30, a man named Raymond Alvarado fled from the scene of a crash after slamming into a small car, injuring both the driver and passenger. That passenger, Sherry Yu, ultimately died from her injuries

Police later arrested Alvarado and charged him with a battery of counts, including DUI causing injury, driving with a BAC level higher than .08 causing injury, a felony hit and run causing injury, and driving without a valid driver’s license. He pled not guilty to all charges. If convicted on all accounts, he faces up to 11 years in state prison.

Based on a superficial read of the evidence, Alvarado might be facing an uphill battle. Assuming he did could the crash, what if he had stayed and called for an ambulance? Would the extra time have saved Yu’s life? This is the kind of question he might have to answer in court.

It is never advisable to leave the scene of a crime. In California, any hit and run while under the influence is considered aggravated DUI, and the crime can be harshly prosecuted. If you get a DUI while driving without a valid license or driving while speeding, you could also face aggravated DUI charges. Depending on the circumstances, your extra sentencing could range from community service and rehabilitation to prison time and fines.

If you committed a hit and run while possibly DUI, seek qualified legal advice quickly. A Los Angeles DUI attorney like Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group can help you achieve a solid outcome. Mr. Kraut spent nearly 15 years working as a prosecutor in similar cases, and his deep network within the Los Angeles criminal defense community – as well as his knowledge and skill — can help protect your rights and give you clarity about your options.

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Our Los Angeles DUI lawyers were saddened to learn about a terrible fatal tragedy that rocked Maryland a few weeks ago and left a major church embroiled in public relations damage control. Heather Cook, an Episcopal bishop in Baltimore, Maryland, was arrested in early January for a hit-and-run incident while allegedly intoxicated. That collision left a bicyclist dead at the scene.bishop-cook-dui

44 year old Tom Palermo had been riding his bike when Cook — who allegedly had been texting while driving — struck him from behind while swerving on the road. Tests later suggested that she had three times the legal amount of alcohol in her system. (Per both Maryland and Los Angeles laws, the legal limit is 0.08% BAC).

The bishop then allegedly panicked and drove off for over half an hour, leaving witnesses to call for an ambulance. Mr. Palermo died of his injuries a short time later. Bishop Cook later returned to the accident scene and gave herself up to the police.

This is Bishop Cook’s second DUI charge. Four and a half years ago, police arrested her for possession of marijuana and driving under the influence. After that incident, her diocese failed to inform most of the church’s administration of the crime. Shortly after, church higher-ups promoted her to bishop.

Cook’s alleged actions left a wife and two children without a father; critics say the church has failed to punish her behavior appropriately. The diocese placed Cook on leave with full pay and compensation. In a statement made to the press, the church said it’s putting faith in the judiciary system to render a fair and just response. If the bishop successfully avoids prison, the church has indicated that she will get to return to her position without any repercussions.

Critics say that Bishop Cook has received special treatment from the state attorney’s office. They say that attorney Marilyn J. Mosby waited nearly two weeks to file charges against Cook; meanwhile, the cycling community and general public has fumed. Critics said that a layman similarly charged would have been treated much more harshly by the system.

If you got pulled over for a DUI, don’t panic, but do take strategic action to deal with your charges. An experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer with the Kraut Law Group can help you respond strategically to your arrest and avoid common errors that can complicate cases.

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The Los Angeles DUI community has been hotly debating the pros and cons of a recent stunt that drivers in Florida have been pulling to avoid getting arrested at checkpoints.controversial-DUI-Checkpoint-defense

A recent video posted to Youtube shows several drivers passing through a DUI checkpoint in Florida and passing through unscathed. The drivers allegedly printed a document disseminated online by a Florida attorney. The document read as follows:

“I Remain Silent
No Searches
I Want My Lawyer

Please put any tickets under windshield wiper.
I am not required to sign.
I am not required to hand you my license.
Thus I am not opening my window.
I will comply with clearly stated lawful orders.”

In the video, officers can be seen approaching each car at the DUI checkpoint. The drivers then each hang their printed notices outside of their driver’s side, wrapped in plastic. They slow down to let the officers read the paper. The vehicles are then waved along without being subjected to searches.

The action drew outrage from various online media channels. Critics say this strategy unfairly protects inebriated drivers, giving them a free pass to drive on and possibly cause even fatal injuries to themselves or others. Champions of this tactic say that the police have no right to unfairly search a car without suspicion. The question remains: should a police officer be required to witness reckless behavior before stepping in, or is it better to be safe than sorry?

The Supreme Court ratified the legality of DUI checkpoints a few decades ago, but police stull routinely violate the Constitutional rights of drivers both at checkpoints and at random stops. If you suspect that police pulled you over without probable cause – or because of the color of your skin – you may be able to use that information to construct a powerful defense against your charges.

A Los Angeles DUI lawyer with the Kraut Law Group can provide detailed, smart assistance with your legal challenges.

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Los Angeles DUI arrests spiked over the New Year’s holiday, as this blog (and other sources) predicted. But we had no idea that the damage would be as bad as it was.2015-new-years-los-angeles-DUI-stats

From 6 PM on December 31 through 6 AM on the 1st, local officers in Los Angeles arrested 219 people across the county, and nearly a thousand people throughout the Golden State celebrated the ringing in of 2015 by getting handcuffed and charged per California Vehicle Code Section 23152 or 23153.

Talk about starting 2015 off on the wrong foot.

Depending on the nature of these allegations, defendants can face punishments ranging from severe fines and fees, to license suspensions, to probation, to significant jail time. In addition, their insurance rates can skyrocket, and they can face all sorts of indirect problems in their lives, including relationship troubles, getting reprimanded at work, and struggling with logistics, such as grocery shopping and child care.

The CHP noted that, over the 84 hour window that constitutes the New Year’s holiday, two people died in DUI crashes in Los Angeles County and 14 people across the state died.

To put these numbers in context – and to understand why this story is so important – we need to look at last year’s numbers. According to CHP records from 2014, only 104 people got arrested in Los Angeles County and only 457 people got arrested for DUI in California during the same time period.

Peter Bishop, a CHP Officer, told the Los Angeles Times that the spike in DUI arrests was “actually shocking because we have so much available [in the way of safe riding services Lift and Uber] now.”

When analyzing numbers like accident statistics or DUI statistics, you need to be very careful to avoid over-interpreting surprising results. For instance, does the doubling in DUI arrests across the state indicate an odd statistical artifact and nothing more? Or should we read the signal as indicating that driver behaviors have somehow taken a turn for the more dangerous?

Without more data points – and carefully controlled studies – we really can’t know.

If you have been struggling to try to figure out how to respond effectively to your recent charges, a Los Angeles DUI attorney with the Kraut Law Group can assist. Call us now to connect with a former prosecutor with nearly two decades of experience working on Los Angeles DUI cases.

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2015 opened with quite a spectacle, at least in the world of Los Angeles DUI.pasadena-dui-gold-cart

Authorities arrested a 19-year-old man for driving DUI on a golf cart that he allegedly stole from the Rose Bowl and used to motor around on the 210 Freeway. As the Oregon Ducks and Florida State Seminoles clashed on Pasadena’s famous gridiron, 19-year-old Andrew Aldridge was clearly distracted by thoughts of how to get back to his car. Instead of taking a shuttle or a cab or hitching a ride with friends, he allegedly decided to do something a little more off-kilter and nabbed a 9-person golf cart from the stadium.

Driving an exposed and slow golf cart on surface streets is dangerous enough, but taking such a vehicle onto a Southern California freeway is an act on the verge of madness.

Police stopped him around 10 PM and discovered Aldridge’s odd motivation. Sergeant Mike Munoz later told reporters: “He took the cart and was trying to get to his car on the other side of Pasadena… it’s definitely chalked up as one of the new experiences for a lot of people here.”

As long-term readers probably remember, this blog has covered over a dozen instances of golf cart DUI over the years. While each story often appears ridiculous, reckless golf cart driving can be a serious concern. Caddyshack is not real life. If you flip over a golf cart or hit someone with a golf cart or crash into a speeding truck on the freeway, you can get hurt or killed… or you can hurt or kill someone else.

Prosecutors can charge offenders according to California Vehicle Code Section 23152, which mandates all sorts of intense punishments for DUI, including jail time, forced alcohol education classes, probation, fines, fees, and driver’s license suspension.

For help defending against your allegations – whether you did something wrong (ridiculous or not) or you believe that the police made a mistake or that the breathalyzer tests give an errant result – talk to an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney with the Kraut Law Group today to explore your potential legal options. Call us now for a free consultation.

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Los Angeles DUI accidents are dangerous at any time. Unfortunately, many people think they are less dangerous in the winter because California doesn’t does not experience much snow and ice. The DUI attorneys at the Kraut Law Group know the exact opposite is true. Winter makes DUI significantly more dangerous for at least five reasons:winter-dui-los-angeles

1. Rain

Winter often marks the first time California experiences rain in several months. If the roads have been dry for a long time, the slightest bit of precipitation makes them especially slick. Rain also loosens the greasy lubricants in people’s cars such as oil, causing oil slicks and dangerous skidding. Rain makes for poor visibility that is only compounded if someone is driving under the influence.

2. Changing Traffic Patterns

The holidays mean an increase in traffic, which leads to traffic jams and accidents. To avoid these, transportation officials and police may put up detours or otherwise reroute traffic. The changing traffic patterns can be disorienting, particularly for intoxicated drivers. Drivers also get frustrated when a traffic pattern takes them away from their usual route. Angry drivers are likely to cause more accidents, and alcohol only fuels frustration.

3. Time Changes

Winter signals the end of daylight savings time. Although large urban areas like Los Angeles still have plenty of city lights at night, the earlier darkness disorients many drivers. Some people who drive intoxicated may try to get home under cover of darkness, thinking they won’t be spotted as easily. Unfortunately, hidden obstacles can trip up both inebriated and sober drivers, leading to accidents.

4. Unequipped Cars

Drivers must always ensure their cars are equipped for winter weather. As discussed, even warm states like California are susceptible to rain and wintry mixes. Small, compact cars like Volkswagens or trucks without four-wheel drive are particularly vulnerable.

5. Distraction

During the holidays, people tend to be distracted easily. Drivers are more likely to make calls while traveling or try to multitask while on the road. This leads to carelessness, accidents, and possible fatalities.

Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, Michael Kraut, of the Kraut Law Group is standing by to offer critical insight into your case and potential defense options. Call him and his team today to begin regaining control over your case and your life.

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Los Angeles DUI deaths and injuries are tragic no matter what time of year they occur. During the holidays, however, both the tragedy and the frequency of these incidents increase. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that many fatal traffic collisions that occur at Christmas involve DUIs. 57% of New Year’s traffic collisions, meanwhile, involve DUIs. It’s estimated that at least 1,200 deaths will occur across the U.S. this year because of DUIs this holiday season, with only a small percentage resulting in convictions. Many people face life-altering sentencing for DUI convictions, even for a first or second offense, because of circumstances such as children in the car or damage to multiple vehicles.christmas-eve-DUI

Why do people drive under the influence during the holiday season? The attorneys at the Kraut Law Group hope to illuminate a few reasons and in so doing, educate readers and their loved ones.

Stress

The holiday season is perhaps the most stressful of all. Constant pressure to buy the perfect gift, host the perfect party, or entertain relatives make most people long for an escape. For too many, that escape involves intoxication.

Depression

The holidays occur in winter, which is peak time for depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and flare-ups of mental illnesses. Many people with mental illness turn to alcohol to numb their pain, but drinking also impairs their judgment.

Increased Driving

Trips to visit relatives, long-distance shopping trips, and other necessary travel means more people drive during the holidays. More vehicles mean more opportunities for reckless driving and collisions.

Distraction

The most well-meaning driver is often easily distracted during Christmastime. The need to arrive at a certain location on time or the need to answer urgent calls can prevent drivers from keeping their eyes on the road. Although the driver may not have been drinking, distraction makes him or her more vulnerable to an accident involving someone who was.

Tips to Stay Safe

•    Try to drive in daylight as much as possible, as people are less likely to drink during the day.
•    Designate drivers for every party or get-together.
•    If depressed or upset, seek help from a counselor, trusted friend, or clergy.
•    Limit drinks to one or two per day, or abstain completely.

How should you respond to your recent and disarming charges? Call a qualified Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer (and ex-prosecutor) with nearly two decades of relevant legal experience.