Articles Posted in DUI Defenses

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top-3-DUI-300x206When you get pulled over by police and asked to perform a field sobriety test, the issue of DUI becomes very real to you and affects you directly. However, sometimes it helps to put the topic in a greater context. How has DUI enforcement changed over the years? How does drug DUI now come into play with the legalization of pot in California and other states? Are the current laws and technologies doing a good job in deterring people from making a mistake? If not, what can we do better?

To explore these questions, let’s take a look at some the most significant DUI stories from the past decade—not just high profile cases like celebrity arrests, but stories that help paint a picture of different aspects of the issue—to see what we can learn from them. We’ll start with a recent news story that actually discusses an eye-opening trend over the past decade.

1. DUI Convictions Drop, DUI Dismissals on the Rise

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“You can’t arrest me, I’m a rockstar.” –Sid Vicious

Vince-Vaughn-DUI-lessonsGetting arrested on suspicion of DUI is not a pleasant experience. Resisting the police, however, almost always makes a bad situation worse. As a case in point, let’s look at the recent charges against 48-year-old actor Vince Vaughn.

On the early morning of June 10, Vince Vaughn was stopped at a DUI checkpoint, where he was subsequently arrested. Last month, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles County prosecutors announced Vaughn was facing three misdemeanor charges: driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher and refusing to comply with a peace officer.

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los-angeles-DUI-stories-300x200“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.” –Mark Twain

One of the most common tactics utilizes to try and dissuade people from DUI is to describe what could happen if someone gets behind the wheel while intoxicated. In reality, we can learn just as much (if not more) from things that actually did happen during DUI incidents. Quite often the events are completely unpredictable and frequently disastrous.

We believe these true-life stories hold lessons for us all, so let’s take a look at a recent compendium of rather crazy stories of DUI that have happened in recent memory to see what we can learn from them.

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DADSS-los-angeles-DUI-296x300In almost every industry and field, technology continues to disrupt old systems and open up new pathways for advancement. None more so than in the field of law enforcement, where researchers, inventors and tech geniuses are working on more advanced tools not only to enforce DUI, but also to prevent it. Perhaps the most promising of these initiatives is the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), a federally funded research program developing a technology that will automatically prevent an intoxicated driver from operating a motor vehicle.

How the Technology Will Work

Intoxication occurs because our bodies are unable to metabolize alcohol at the rate at which we drink it. As a result, most of the alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the walls of the stomach and intestines. This blood alcohol content (BAC) can actually be measured by the amount of alcohol on our breath, and even through the membranes of our skin.

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dumb-los-angeles-DUI-300x300Let’s start by acknowledging the obvious: No one begins with the express intention, “I’m going to get arrested for DUI tonight.” Although sadly, some people don’t care one way or the other, the average person doesn’t set out with an intent to drive under the influence. Usually, a DUI arrest happens as a result of bad judgment, bad choices, unforeseen circumstances or a combination of these things.

Unfortunately, once you’ve been arrested, you can’t hit the “rewind” button on the bad choices that led to that moment. Additionally, if your arrest ends in a conviction, the consequences may be long-lasting and permanent. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as the saying goes—so let’s discuss a few of the ill-advised ways people set themselves up for DUI and how to avoid them.

1. Hanging Out with the Wrong People

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alcohol-in-the-body-los-angelesDUIHumanity’s relationship with alcohol has always been a complicated one. Even before we had vehicles to operate—even before DUI became a significant risk—human beings have enjoyed the immediate effects of alcohol consumption only to “sober up” to extended risks like addiction, health issues and death. One key ingredient to avoiding DUI for the long term is understanding how alcohol interacts with your body. Most of us know that alcohol can damage the liver, but that’s not the only danger. Let’s look at 12 other facts about how the body responds to alcohol that you might not have realized.

1. Alcohol in Moderation Can Actually Be Good for You.

Are you surprised that we started with something positive? As Time reports, multiple studies have indicated that moderate amounts of alcohol may actually provide a few health benefits, decreasing our risk for heart disease and possibly even helping us live longer. This information comes with some caveats, though, because every human has a different tolerance level for alcohol—meaning the amount considered “moderate” may be different for each of us. It also doesn’t negate some of the other health risks associated with alcohol. And of course, even “moderate” drinking can raise your blood alcohol content above the legal limit, so you should still avoid driving after indulging.

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No one especially likes to be pulled over by a cop—and for most of us, the experience can be highly intimidating, even if we feel we have nothing to worry about. We go through a litany of internal questions: Was I speeding? Is my tail light out? Did I not come to a complete stop? Was I swerving? If you had anything to drink before getting behind the wheel, these concerns can multiply: Did I drink more than I thought? What if I’m asked to take a test? Could I pass a breathalyzer?

stopped-by-police-los-angeles-DUI-300x225

Policeman giving driver speeding ticket

That said, most of us think of a traffic stop or even a DUI arrest as something that is happening to us—we don’t necessarily look at it from the perspective of law enforcement. So let’s take a few minutes to explore that experience in the mind of the police officer—look at her rationale and thought process when pulling someone over, to see what insights we might gain from it.

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If you’ve ever been pulled over by a cop on suspicion of DUI, chances are you have been asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. This small device presumably (magically?) somehow measures the alcohol content in your blood by analyzing your breath, and whatever it reveals may influence the officer’s decision whether or not to arrest you.breathalyzer-test-los-angeles-300x168

But what, exactly, is the breathalyzer measuring? Is the reading accurate? What are your rights if an officer asks you to blow into a breathalyzer? Are these devices a truly effective deterrent against DUI? Let’s take a closer look at this technology—how it works, how it is used in real-life contexts with police, and what the future may hold as the technology develops.

How Alcohol Is Detected through Your Breath

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If you’ve been charged with any crime—whether the charge is Los Angeles DUI, domestic abuse or something else—neither the prosecutor nor your defense attorney will rely solely on physical evidence to prove your guilt or innocence. Much of the evidence presented comes in the form of verbal testimony from witnesses—people who saw what happened, people who can attest to your whereabouts, experts called to weigh in on certain matters, etc. The problem is this: Verbal testimony is based mostly on memory, and memory can be a fleeting thing.rashomon-defense-los-angeles-DUI

And the result is that, many times, when different witnesses offer conflicting testimony, it doesn’t necessarily mean one of them is intentionally lying. Sometimes it’s simply that those people remember the events differently. The jury then has the unhappy task of figuring out the truth, by listening to these alternative versions.

The Science of Memory and the “Rashomon Effect”

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Despite California’s strict laws concerning driving under the influence, the state’s number of DUI arrests remains fairly future-DUI-los-angeles-repercussions-300x168high. According to the Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System for 2015, there were more than 172,000 DUI arrests in 2012 alone; 73.8 percent of these were first-time offenders. Here in Los Angeles, law enforcement is known for its aggressive pursuit of DUI, with increased numbers of sobriety checkpoints. Some reports estimate as many as 100 people per day are arrested for DUI in Los Angeles County.

Moreover, year after year, the conviction rate for California DUI arrests hovers around 73-75 percent. Because three-quarters of arrests resulting in convictions, more than 120,000 California drivers a year will face long-term repercussions for their first DUI offense—and those who live in L.A. have a greater chance of being caught than in other parts of the state.

Suffice it to say you do not want a DUI conviction on your record. Let’s take a look at some of the ways a Los Angeles DUI conviction could impact your future.

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