Articles Posted in DUI Defenses

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For some people, the thought of autonomous vehicles opens up a range of partying possibilities. They imagine hanging out all night with friends, drinking whatever they’d like, and then getting into their own cars, which will drive them safely home. They won’t have to worry about getting pulled over for a DUI because the vehicle won’t swerve, run stop lights or travel erratically. The artificial intelligence that’s controlling their vehicle won’t be affected by its owner’s alcohol consumption. self-driving-car-los-angeles-DUI

While that scenario could become a reality at some point, it’s not likely that it will occur any time in the immediate future. For one thing, self-driving vehicles have a long way to go before they become feasible and/or widely accepted everywhere in the U.S. Plus, under most current scenarios, at least one human occupant has to sit behind the wheel of the vehicle and that human occupant (not the computer) is ultimately responsible for its operation. To accept that responsibility, that person will have to remain sober.

Autonomous Vehicles Today

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The media often popularizes driving under the influence (DUI) arrests, using them as plot points in comedies, action films, and crime mysteries. You have probably seen or read about fictional DUIs before, but experiencing a DUI in person is much different. Still, we can learn what not to do from examining famous fictional arrests.los-angeles-DUI-in-fiction

1. The Longest Yard: Paul Crewe’s DUI Car Chase

The Arrest: In the Adam Sandler comedy, The Longest Yard (2005), police arrest Paul Crewe after a police chase and car accident. Crewe mocks one officer for his large ears and reveals an open container of beer. A televised police chase ensues, ending in Crewe crashing the Bentley and getting arrested.

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los-angeles-dui-defense-processWhen you see a police car’s flashing lights in your rearview mirror, your first thought is probably something like “I hope they’re not after me.” But when it becomes clear that your vehicle is indeed the one that the officer is motioning over to the side of the road, you may start to panic—especially if you’ve spent the last few hours in the company of friends and have enjoyed an alcoholic beverage during that time.

Your behavior during the traffic stop and in the hours immediately following that stop could have a significant impact on your life, affecting everything from your ability to drive to your bank account. Follow these guidelines to ensure that you are taking every possible step to protect your rights and your future.

When the officer motions you over:

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Was one of your resolutions this year not to get behind the wheel of your vehicle if you’ve been drinking? How are you doing at keeping it? If you’re like most other people, now that we’re almost one month into 2017 many of your well-intentioned goals for changing your life have already gone by the wayside.  if-then-los-angeles-DUI-300x169

But there is a way to increase your success dramatically—and it’s not that hard to put into practice. It’s a technique that psychologists call implementation planning (or in less formal terms, if-then planning). You can employ this technique when you’re trying to lose weight, get a better handle on your emails at work or even when you’re trying to ensure that you don’t end up with a DUI conviction on your driving record.

The concept of using if-then statements to achieve a goal is not new; Peter Gollwitzer, a psychology professor at NYU, introduced the idea back in the 1990s. But people are revisiting the technique because studies have shown that this technique works extremely well in changing habits and helping people achieve desired behaviors.

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Since the penalties can be so severe, drivers convicted of causing death or injuries in crashes involving a DUI in Los Angeles and other jurisdictions usually seek out every avenue of appeal. Many of their arguments center around the way that police and other personnel collect, store and handle the blood samples used to determine blood alcohol content.john-goodman-appeal-DUI

In mid-October, the Florida Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by John Goodman of his conviction on DUI manslaughter. According to the Florida Sun Sentinel, Goodman is arguing (through his lawyers) that the state’s rules for collecting and analyzing blood are inadequate and that they violate the rights of drivers charged with DUI.

The Goodman case is attracting a great deal of attention in Florida because the defendant is a millionaire known for founding the Wellington polo club. He’s currently serving a 16-year sentence in the death of Scott Patrick Wilson, age 23. Goodman’s Bentley slammed into Wilson’s Hyundai, sending the vehicle into a canal. Wilson drowned in his vehicle.
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In most cases, only a few passing motorists, pedestrians or nearby residents catch a glimpse of the grisly details when a driver who is DUI in Los Angeles causes a fatal crash. But when Richard Anthony Sepolio’s truck plunged over the guardrails on the Interstate 5 bridge between San Diego and Coronado Island, dozens of people may have witnessed the horrific results. bridge-fall-los-angeles-dui

Around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 15th, Sepolio’s GMC pickup went off the bridge and landed below in Chicano Park, where a crowd was gathered for the La Raza Run motorcycle festival. The truck crushed a vendor booth, killing two couples: Cruz Elias Contreras, 52, and Annamarie Contreras, 50, of Chandler, Arizona, and Andre Christopher Banks, 49, and Francine Denise Jimenez, 46, both from Hacienda Heights near Los Angeles. Nine other people, including Sepolio, suffered injuries.

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Many state legislators hope that the new DUI law in California, which mandates ignition interlock devices for anyone convicted of a DUI in Los Angeles or any other part of the state, will help reduce the number of repeat offenders. California Vehicle Code 23152 already requires tougher penalties for anyone with multiple DUI convictions on their record. denver-post-DUI-editorial

In some states, however, new laws have failed to discourage repeat DUI offenders. On September 14, the Denver Post published an editorial entitled. “Colorado’s new felony DUI law needs another look.”

The editorial pointed out that “long-overdue” legislation passed in 2015 brought Colorado in line with 45 states that already had felony DUI laws. But it said that the new law “too often results in letting repeated drunk-driving offenders get away from serving any real time—and away from the roads and the lives they put at risk.”

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You might think that drinking lots of caffeine along with alcohol would help a driver avoid charges of DUI in Los Angeles. But a recently published study in a scientific journal (Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research) suggests that may not be the case; in fact, the more super-caffeinated beverages a person has, the more likely it is that he/she will drive under the influence.  energy-drink-DUI-los-angeles

According to the Arstechnica website, researchers at the University of Maryland conducted a six-year study of 1,000 college students. They questioned the students every year, asking them about their alcohol use, their energy drink use and DUI driving frequency in the previous 12 months. The researchers found that:

•    Nearly all of the students (most were about age 23) reported that they drank alcohol at least once the previous year
•    25 percent said they had driven while under the influence
•    57 percent said they had drunk at least one energy drink; of that number, 56 percent said they drank the energy drinks both alone and with alcohol, 15 percent said they drank them only when mixed with alcohol and 27 percent said they drank the energy drinks and alcohol separately.

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Having a friend on the force may occasionally help someone avoid charges for a Los Angeles DUI. But that’s not the case when the aftermath of the drinking and driving includes two deaths.elner_DUI

In Cook County, Illinois, a jury found 47-year-old Lisa Elner guilty of charges stemming from a January 2013 crash. Elner and two friends, Michelle Miranda, 37, and Sandra Frankum, 36, had been out celebrating Frankum’s birthday at a local bar. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, prosecutors said that Elner was under the influence of both alcohol and cocaine when she grabbed her keys and said she was okay to drive because she had her “cop card.” She was referring to the business card of her husband, a Chicago police officer.

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Would closer monitoring of drivers convicted of repeated Los Angeles DUIs make the roads any safer? It probably couldn’t hurt. The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration says that “Drivers with prior DWI convictions are also overrepresented in fatal crashes and have a greater relative risk of fatal crash involvement…Intoxicated drivers with prior DWI convictions had 4.1 times the risk of being in a fatal crash as intoxicated drivers without prior DWIs. Another study showed that fatal crash risk increases with the number of prior DWI arrests.”Tulare County DUI

California’s Tulare County is going to monitor drivers with multiple DUI convictions more closely in an attempt to avoid DUI and drug-related crashes, according to an online article in the Porterville Recorder. In 2015, DUI-related crashes in the County killed 20 people and injured 298.

The California Office of Traffic Safety has given the County $168,301 as part of its Intensive Probation Supervision for High-Risk Felony and DUI Probation program. With these funds, the county is launching a DUI Probation Supervision Program to “quickly and aggressively” respond to felony DUI offenders. Probation officers will monitor their assignees by:

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