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Ever since you woke up the morning after your Los Angeles DUI arrest, you have been obsessed with your case and deeply worried about what will happen to you and your life.meditation-after-dui-arrest

• Will a six-month California driver’s license suspension be in the offing?
• Will you have to go to jail for hurting or seriously injuring someone else?
• Will your insurance rates go up?
• Will your boss fire you?
• Will your girlfriend or boyfriend break up with you?
• What will happen to you, if you ever get in trouble with the law again?
• Are you doomed to be a slave to your impulses to consume alcohol and/or drugs and/or prescription medications?
• How can you fight the charges and get best results?
• Etc.

These and dozens of other questions and scenarios are likely floating around in your head and causing you tremendous agitation and stress. They are important to address.

But given your current fragile state, you may not be able to address them effectively. Try the following exercise to give yourself some space – almost a mini mental vacation – from the chatter about your DUI.

Find 15 minutes where you can be alone and in peace, and practice doing meditative breathing as follows. Sit comfortably in a chair — ideally, upright with your body relaxed but alert. Then just watch your breath flow in and out of your body. You don’t have to try to force the breath or take deep breaths or anything. Just watch the breath as it goes into your lungs, and then watch it as goes out of your lungs. You can breathe naturally: just try to focus all of your attention on the act of breathing – watching the process as if you were an objective observer watching the ocean waves flow in, hit the shore, and flow out.

You will notice that there are basically four distinct parts of the breath. There is the “in breath.” There is a kind of pause that happens at the top of the in breath. There is the “out breath.” And there is the pause after the out breath. Try to become very interested in all the minute details of this process.

If and when thoughts about your DUI pop up – and they likely will, and the chatter may grow intense as you get into this exercise – acknowledge them, but let them go. You will have time to think those thoughts later. For now, you just want to focus on the breathing. Set a timer behind that will go off in 15 minutes, and tell yourself that you can “touch” those thoughts and worries once the timer goes off. Every time you have a non-breath related thought, let it float away from you, as a child might let a helium balloon float into the clouds.

Hopefully, that exercise can give you a little sense of peace and quiet and help you improve your concentration. For practical help with your Los Angeles DUI defense, get in touch with attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is a Harvard Law School educated ex-prosecutor who can help you make smarter decisions about your case.

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A recent San Diego story presents a complicated issue for those affected by Los Angeles DUI laws. Melissa Tennent, daughter of Arthur Jacobs, recently became distraught when she discovered the woman responsible for her father’s death had left prison three years and eleven months early.dui-manslaughter-los-angeles

Julianne Thompson, 25, struck and killed Jacobs on July 27, 2011, while driving under the influence in Carlsbad. After hitting Jacobs, Thompson abandoned her vehicle and hid in nearby bushes before police located and arrested her. She pled guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter and intoxicated hit-and-run charges. Upon receiving a guilty verdict, Thompson began serving a six-year sentence in prison.

However, Tennent recently ran into Thompson in a local grocery store – just two years after Thompson was sent to prison. Although she expressed dismay over this unexpected encounter, early releases for such offenses happen fairly often in the state.

Currently, California law does not classify the hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter charges for which Thompson was convicted as “serious” or “violent” offenses, which means displaying good behavior – as Thompson did – typically reduces the length of a prisoner’s sentence.

Gross vehicular manslaughter, while a lesser charge than vehicular homicide or second-degree murder, still represents a serious offense under California law. The penalty for DUI driving that kills another individual can lead to prison sentences of up to ten years, to say nothing of the devastation it causes to the victims’ families.

Thompson has legally served her time and now has the opportunity to rebuild her life, but the repercussions of her actions will stay with her for many years to come.

DUI driving that causes the death or injury of another individual is a tragedy for everyone involved. Those facing such charges should not do it alone. With the help of a Los Angeles DUI attorney, such as Michael Kraut, you can present a legal defense that addresses all the circumstances surrounding your accident. Contact the Kraut Law Group today to discuss your case.
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Individuals facing Los Angeles DUI charges would do well to take a lesson from the case of Ronald Searl, a Chicago area man recently arrested for drunk driving.dui-mug-shot-laughing

Police stopped 54-year-old Searl on July 3 when they spotted him driving in the center turn lane of a city street. After smelling alcohol on his breath, officers administrated field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer, which revealed Searl’s blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit.

In addition to DUI charges, Searl received a citation for operating his vehicle in the wrong lane. Perhaps due to his “polite, cooperative and respectful” demeanor during the arrest process, police released him on his own recognizance.

Although Searl may have behaved well throughout the booking process, his bizarre mug shot tells a different story. In the photo, Searl is visibly laughing and neglects to look at the camera. The lackadaisical response to his arrest may appear to some as an utter disregard for the seriousness of his offense.

California law imposes serious penalties on individuals who commit DUI offenses, regardless of whether they cause accidents or injuries to others. First-time drunk drivers may receive jail time, fines, license suspensions, probation, and installation of interlock devices in their vehicles.

Although no one should drink and drive, mistakes happen. Should you find yourself under arrest for driving with a prohibited blood alcohol content, cooperating with authorities and taking full responsibility for your actions affords you the best chance of a minimal sentence. Maintaining a serious demeanor – particularly in a mug shot – shows genuine remorse for unlawful behavior and may sway a judge in the accused’s favor.

If you have been charged with DUI in Los Angeles, you may feel confident you’ll get off with a “slap on the wrist.” However, an experienced DUI attorney such as Michael Kraut helps defendants better understand the laws regarding their cases and achieve the best possible outcomes. To discuss your case, contact Kraut Law Group to set up a free consultation.

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Driving DUI in Los Angeles — as defined by California Vehicle Code Sections 23152 (a) and 23152 (b) — is dangerous, destructive, and potentially lethal. mental-chatter-los-angeles-DUI

When you are under the influence of alcohol, your ability to process and react to events on the road changes in bad ways. For instance, alcohol slows your reaction time. (The difference between a fatal, fiery crash and a scary “swerve at the last minute” near-miss might be just a few fractions of a second.)

Also, consumption of alcohol can lead you to engage in other risky behaviors, such as shouting on the cellphone while driving. For instance, if you are sober, and you get into an accident, you might do the smart thing and stop and wait for police. But if you are DUI, and you get into an accident, you might impulsively leave the scene and later get charged with a felony hit and run, which obviously would make your defense much more tricky.

But DUI driving is not the only bad type of driving. Here are two other subtle mistakes that many people make behind the wheel:

•    They drive while not well rested.

An Australian study found that sober drivers kept awake for over 24 hours drove worse than DUI drivers. We all know that acute under-sleeping is bad for you, but chronic under-sleeping may also be bad. Perhaps the aggregate risk of sleeping one or two hours fewer than your need, day in, day out, may be worse than the risk of a single drive while exhausted.

•    They drive while distracted by their own thoughts.

Driving while distracted by anything can also incrementally increase your risk. Distractions can include: loud music on the radio, a cellphone in your hand, a chitter-chattery passenger, and even the clamor of your own internal monologue. Everyone knows that texting and chatting on the cellphone while driving is a no-no. But how many accidents are caused because drivers are busy composing emails in their head or running through an internal monologue of some sort – as opposed to concentrating fully on the task of driving? Again, it’s riskier to text while driving than it is to space out while driving. But the amount of time that people spend spaced out while driving probably vastly exceeds the amount of time people text. So “spacing out” might actually cause more accidents than texting.

The point is that it’s not just our acute bad habits that put us at risk. It’s the chronic bad habits — the “minor” bad habits — that may arguably do more damage because we do them with so much more frequency.

Becoming a safer driver is not something you can do overnight, but there are many lessons that you can learn from your charges, if you are willing to listen and learn. Step one is to get in touch with an experienced Los Angeles DUI criminal defense lawyer, like Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Connect with attorney Kraut today for guidance. Continue reading →

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Los Angeles DUI attorneys are closely following the case of 25-year-old Yocio Jonathan Gomez, who received a lengthy sentence on Friday, July 11 for DUI conduct that killed two construction workers in 2012. The guilty verdict included two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and second-degree murder, for which Gomez will spend 34 years to life in prison.yocio-los-angeles-dui

On July 22, 2012, Gomez got behind the wheel of his Ford Explorer with a blood alcohol level of 0.21 percent, almost triple the legal limit of 0.08 percent in California. While driving approximately 90 miles per hour through a construction zone on the 405 Freeway in Torrance, Gomez struck another vehicle, pushing it into construction workers Ricardo Zamora and Ramon Lopez. The collision killed both men.

This arrest, Gomez’s third drunken driving offense, happened while he was serving probation for another offense, which likely contributed to the long length of his sentence. Another factor may have been his lack of emotion or remorse throughout the sentencing hearing, despite emotional testimony from the families of the deceased.

Under California law, second-degree murder charges for DUI drivers are rare and represent a profound disregard for the lives of others. While the standard sentence for such a conviction is 15 years to life in prison, this sentence is increased for each individual killed, and prior offenses do make a difference.

Based on the circumstances of this case, Gomez represents an anomaly among DUI drivers. While a rare number of individuals may act with blatant disregard for the safety of others, the vast majority of DUI drivers get behind the wheel without intending to harm anybody. However, all DUI drivers must take responsibility for their actions and the consequences that follow.

If you currently face Los Angeles DUI charges, you may feel remorseful and afraid. Kraut Law Group understands the complexities of California law and can help you form a strong legal defense. Contact us today for a free consultation regarding your case.

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Your Los Angeles DUI arrest might have been your single lowest moment since you moved out to Los Angeles to study at UCSC or UCLA or try to “break in” to the film and television industry. And you’ve had a lot of challenging moments!Reticular-Activating-System-Los-Angeles-DUI

Fortunately, you survived the incident. But maybe you hurt yourself or someone else. Or maybe you simply got in so much trouble that your entire career out here (or educational opportunity) has been threatened.

You want to know: will there be any light at the end of the tunnel? Will you be able to move beyond this difficult period in your life and gain stability? Or will you wind up a Los Angeles DUI recidivist and get gobsmacked with penalties, such as a long California driver’s license suspension, months of jail time, and a felony charge permanently etched into your record?

Our memories and past experiences deeply and unconsciously inform our life trajectories. If you were bullied as a kid, for instance, and you suffered social problems at school, the psychological residue of those traumas decades ago can live on and cause you to act out in bizarre or potentially dangerous and self-destructive ways.

When you look at your personal history in a certain light, you can easily fall into a fit of doom and gloom. What’s past is just prologue – or is it?

To answer our question, we really need to look at neuroscience research. Some of the most promising scientific inquires have focused on a region of the bran known as the Reticular Activating System or RAS, which helps you control your focus. The brain receives far too much input on a day-to-day (and moment-to-moment) basis to process, so it intuitively filters out what “you” become conscious of, so you can make effective decisions.

If you are driving, for instance, your RAS will help you focus on the key sensory observations you need to steer your vehicle safely and obscure unnecessary data. For a great example of how powerful the RAS is, go for a walk out in the park. Concentrate on the color green as you walk: focus on green, green, green. Then close your eyes and try to think of all the red objects that you saw. Odds are, you won’t have seen many, if any, because your RAS was telling your brain to look for green stuff.

Likewise, if you have in your mind this conscious or unconscious belief that your Los Angeles DUI is just the beginning of (or punctuation of) a downward spiral in your life, your RAS is going to pull up information that’s going to make that story sound correct and lead you to feel like your life is hopeless or going nowhere.

How to change your story – Step 1

Often, even if we want to, we have a very difficult time to changing our internal stories, even with great conscious effort. Fortunately, other people can assist. Look to a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney at the Kraut Law Group to help you and send your life back on an upward trajectory. Mr. Kraut is a former prosecutor with immense practical experience with DUI cases just like yours.
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On Saturday, 18-year-old Billy Unger, star of the show Lab Rats on the Disney Channel, was pulled over in Malibu on PCH for driving under the influence in Los Angeles.billy-unger-dui

Police say that he took a breathalyzer test and blew a 0.08%. That BAC would be over the limit for an adult — in other words, if a 40-year old blew a 0.08% on his breath test, he would face an array of disturbing penalties, including jail time, a one year license suspension, spiked insurance rates, probation, alcohol school and fines and fees.

But when a minor (under the age of 21) consumes alcohol and then gets behind the wheel, he can get in trouble for having an even LOWER BAC level. In fact, underage drivers cannot drive with a BAC level of more than 0.01% — that’s hardly any alcohol at all. This makes sense, since people who are under 21 are not legally allowed to drink.

If you’re a young driver booked for DUI, your consequences can range widely, depending on what happened, and what your BAC level tested to be. If it was really low — like 0.01% — you can face a license suspension, but you won’t necessarily go to jail and have a misdemeanor on your record.

If your BAC level is higher (e.g. 0.05% to 0.08%), the penalties can be enhanced and more diverse.

Other ways to increase your punishments include:

•    You left the scene of an accident (committed a hit-and-run).
•    You hurt someone while driving DUI, which can subject you to punishments per California’s Felony Injury DUI law – CVC 23153;
•    You had been arrested in the past for DUI or have an extensive criminal record;
•    You resisted arrest or behaved in a dangerous or obnoxious way towards police officers;
•    You committed other driving infractions, such as speeding, reckless driving, driving without a driver’s license, etc.

Unger fortunately did not hurt anybody during the incident, and he was released shortly after his arrest. Per TMZ, he joins a long line of Disney stars who have wrestled with drug and alcohol problems. These stars include Orlando Brown, Zac Efron, J.T. Austin and of course Lindsay Lohan.

If you have questions about how to deal with your charges, contact a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney with the Kraut Law Group immediately to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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How should you handle your Los Angeles DUI charges?good-enough-dui-losangeles

That question might sound trite. Obviously, you want to minimize/avoid punishments that prosecutors might ask for, which could include jail time, cumbersome probation terms and alcohol school, as well as unfortunate spikes in your insurance rates.

In an ideal world, your DUI lawyer could just snap his fingers and make it as if police never pulled you over on the 210 for cutting across lanes or stopped you at a checkpoint near Caltech. But we don’t live in an ideal world, so “good enough” has to be enough.

Perfection Vs “Good Enough” — Why the Debate Matters for Your DUI Defense

In the world of math, the search for a perfect solution is called an “optimization problem.” Here is a vivid example. Imagine it’s raining torrentially. You need to seek shelter at a high place or you’ll drown. How high do you need to climb above the flood plane to save your life? The answer depends on an astonishing number of variables, including the amount of rain, your swimming ability, how far it is to the nearest high place, whether you can climb aboard a lifeboat or not and just float it out, etc.

The IDEAL solution would be to hike up to the top of Mount Rainer, where the rain is least likely to drown you in the U.S. Obviously, this solution is impractical for many reasons: you just want to find a “good enough” solution, so you can ride out the storm in relative safety.

Likewise, you want to think of your defense in the same way. What does the equivalent of “not drowning” look like for you? Would it mean avoiding a lengthy jail term? Would it mean being able to keep your California driver’s license? The clearer you are about what success means to you, the easier it will be to create a customized battle plan for your defense.

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Most Los Angeles DUI stories that make it into the mainstream press (and get a lot of “buzz” in the blogosphere) involve celebrities, politicians, ironic DUI scenarios, and heartbreakingly dramatic/tragic news.fatal-dui-defense-los-angeles

Unfortunately, “low profile” victims often do not get the attention they probably deserve.

However, occasionally, an accident is so horrific that it captures national attention, even if the people involved do not have their own reality TV shows. To wit: last Sunday, a homeless man died after a crash near the Fifth Street off-ramp of a San Francisco freeway. Authorities believe that a DUI driver hit a tent where the man had been sleeping near the freeway.

According to the California Highway Patrol, 27-year-old Jaime Juarez allegedly smashed into the homeless man and several other people in his Toyota Forerunner after mis-navigating the West Fifth Street exit of 1-80 and then smashing through the guardrail into the tent. The victim died on the scene. Police arrested Juarez for DUI, took him to the San Francisco County Jail and booked him on charges of vehicular manslaughter and felony DUI. Both counts could land him many years behind bars.

California law distinguishes between two main categories of DUI – standard misdemeanor, non-injury DUIs, defined by California Vehicle Code Sections 23152(a) and (b) and injury DUIs, defined by California Vehicle Code Sections 23153(a) and (b).

Prosecutors can also try to enhance your sentence under the following circumstances:

•    You had been driving with an extremely high blood alcohol concentration (e.g. 0.20%);
•    You severely injured or killed someone as opposed to “merely” hurting someone by breaking his arm, for instance;
•    You behaved with gross negligence as opposed to just standard carelessness;
•    You had been arrested and convicted for a DUI offense in the past. If you received a “Watson advisement” after your last DUI, and then you drove DUI again and killed someone, you could be charged with an offense known as a DUI murder;
•    You hit someone and left the scene (hit and run);
•    You evaded police or struggled or attacked police during or after the arrest;

No matter what happened in your case, you deserve a fair and thorough defense. The team here at the Kraut Law Group can help you understand your charges and construct an appropriate strategy. Speak with a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney right now to protect your rights.

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We see (and report on) so many disturbing Los Angeles DUI cases. Unfortunately, these events often seem to blend together.soukvilay-barton-dui-manslaughter

Whether you’ve been following this blog for several weeks or many years, you’ve probably noticed a recurring theme: people often make dumb/dangerous decisions to drive DUI and then compound their woes by doing other dumb/dangerous “stuff” after the fact, such as leaving the scene of an accident, spitting in the face of a police officer, etc.

A really distressing case out of Riverside presents a dramatic, deeply disturbing portrait of what can “go wrong” during a DUI. According to witnesses, 37-year-old Soukvilay Barton had been fighting with family members at her Riverside home on the 14000 block of Bush Avenue last Friday evening. In a fog of anger, Ms. Barton hopped into her BMW convertible and attempted to leave the home. Her father, 69-year-old Bounmy Rajsombath, did not want her to get in the car, because she had been drinking. He ran to the driveway to stop her from backing out of the garage, but she did so anyway and struck her father. Barton immediately stopped the car as soon as she realized she injured her dad and collapsed sobbing. Emergency workers rushed Rajsombath to Riverside Community Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Police arrested Barton, meanwhile, for DUI and escorted her to the Riverside Police’s Magnolia Station. Reports suggest that she could face enhanced charges, such as DUI manslaughter, in connection with the death of her father.

According to sergeant Dan Reeves, who investigated the tragedy, Rajsombath spent his final moments pleading with his daughter not to drive DUI, before she hit and killed him. The situation speaks to the often forgotten fact that DUIs can tear families asunder, sometimes literally. Obviously, this young woman did not want to hurt or kill her father, but a single bad decision or momentary lapse of reason can lead to lifetimes of agony and remorse, both for the offender (and for the offender’s family) and for the victim (and the victim’s family).

Depending on the nature of a DUI manslaughter, prosecutors can ask for enhanced charges, such as “gross negligence” – a special kind of negligence beyond standard carelessness – that can lead to extra jail time and more penalties.

For help understanding how to deal with your case, call an experienced Los Angeles DUI defense attorney with the Kraut Law Group today for sympathetic and sound assistance.
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