Articles Posted in DUI probable cause

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As you’ve been contemplating your recent arrest for DUI in Los Angeles, you’ve probably been focusing on your own emotions and situation.quote-sun-tzu-los-angeles-dui-defense

Perhaps an officer pulled you over on Wilshire “unfairly,” after he noticed that one of your taillights was out. Or perhaps you caused a minor accident on La Brea and then failed field sobriety tests and blew a 0.09% BAC on a breathalyzer test. Almost certainly, you’ve been preoccupied with concerns about what’s going to happen to you, your family, your driver’s license, your freedom, your career, your relationships, etc.

Such a preoccupation is totally understandable. Punishments for even a relatively trivial DUI conviction — one involving no injuries or property damage or additional charges or previous criminal history – can include:

•    Substantial time behind bars;
•    Mandatory installation of a device called an IID, which makes it impossible for you to drive your car unless you blow a sober breath into a machine;
•    Tough probation terms;
•    Fines, court fees and attorneys fees;
•    A lengthy suspension of your California drivers’ license.

In your rush to contemplate your defense, you probably haven’t thinking about the motivation of the people on the other side of your case — law enforcement agents, judges and prosecutors.

Why should you bother considering your case from their point of view?

The ancient strategy manual, Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” explained the following idea, a concept that’s as elegant today as it likely was 3,000 years ago:

•    If you don’t know yourself, and you don’t know the enemy, you are doomed to lose every battle;
•    If you know yourself, but you do not know the enemy, you will win one battle for every battle you lose;
•    If you know yourself AND you know the enemy superlatively well, you will win every battle.

You need to appreciate the motives and strategies of prosecutors and law enforcement. What do your prosecutors want? What does the judge want? What do other stakeholders in the situation want? You must answer these questions to construct a great defense.

That may sound like an intimating proposition. Fortunately, you do need to do this intelligence work on your own. Michael Kraut, an experienced former prosecutor — who worked for nearly a decade and half as a Senior Deputy District Attorney — can help you prepare and execute your Los Angeles DUI defense. Find out more about Mr. Kraut and his philosophy online, or call or email to schedule a free consultation.

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You’ve already retained an attorney for a DUI in Los Angeles charge, and you’re hoping that your first few uncomfortable experiences with the attorney (or his or her law firm) were just a hiccup.Red-Flag-DUI-lawyer-los-angeles

But you’re not so sure.

No lawyer is perfect. Your case might just be very hard to manage. That is, the police may have such compelling evidence against you that your best-case prognosis would still be pretty grim. For instance, maybe you hit another car and then later tested to have a BAC of 0.20% – two and half times the CA DUI limit. In addition to the DUI, you also have a hit and run charge and a charge of resisting arrest. So if you expect that your charges will be dismissed entirely, your goals may be too aggressive for any lawyer to meet.

On the other hand, the following 3 “red flags” might indicate that something is wrong with the relationship with your lawyer and that something needs to change:

1. The law firm is super, super slow getting back to you.

Every time you call the office, you speak to a different person who needs to be reminded about the particulars of your matter from the ground up.

2. You just “get a bad vibe” every time when you talk to your attorney.

You can’t exactly put your finger on what’s wrong. But our intuitions are often able to pick up on information that our conscious minds miss. As the expression says, “trust your gut.” If you sense something is odd, try to articulate what’s wrong by writing it down.

3. You’ve spoken to another Los Angeles DUI lawyer about your situation, and he or she has been appalled by what your current attorney is doing.

If you want a second opinion, please connect with Harvard Law School educated Los Angeles DUI lawyer, Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is an ex-prosecutor – he achieved a level of Senior Deputy District Attorney before changing career directions and representing criminal defendants.

One of the reasons why so many defendants like working with Mr. Kraut is that he is an excellent communicator. He answers his clients’ questions, when they need help. He customizes the defense experience, and he’s passionately devoted to helping his clients achieve not just excellent results but also peace of mind. Free yourself from the frustration and uncertainty: get a second opinion from the Kraut Law Group.

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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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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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Few recent Los Angeles DUI cases match the scope or tragedy of a 2012 collision in Miami, FL that killed 13-year-old cheerleader Kaely Camacho.sandor-dui-manslaughter

The accident occurred when Sandor Guillen, 30, struck the Camacho family’s minivan with his Land Rover, tearing the van in half before fleeing the scene. The police later apprehended Guillen in a nearby field and charged him with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and leaving the scene of an accident. In March, a jury found Guillen guilty on all three counts.

On June 6, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Sue Venzer sentenced Guillen to 20 years in prison, as well as 2 years of house arrest, 7 years probation, and a yearly charitable donation in Camacho’s honor.

This tragic case has rocked the community, its notoriety attracting crowds of spectators and much media attention. Although Guillen made no statement of remorse at his sentencing hearing, family members accused the media of making the case into a “modern-day lynching,” depicting the defendant as a monster rather than an upstanding individual who made a terrible mistake.

Cases such as Guillen’s present heartbreaking scenarios to everyone involved. Driving under the influence is a serious charge with heavy consequences, and when a person has died, the tragedy extends to the perpetrator, the victims, their families, and the community.

California DUI Law

Under California law, an individual can be charged with vehicular manslaughter when the defendant violates a traffic law or engages in negligent behavior leading to the death of another person. When alcohol is involved, the offense becomes more complex and severe.

In some DUI manslaughter cases, law enforcement agencies may file premature and excessive charges against the defendant to try to force a plea deal. The media may portray defendants as villains, when in reality, they are simply individuals who have made grave errors.

If you are facing DUI manslaughter charges, you are likely frightened, overwhelmed, and full of regret. You don’t need to face this on your own. A Los Angeles DUI attorney well-versed in California law and the legal system will use every tool available – from accident reconstruction to toxicology to eyewitness reports – to resolve your case.

Contact Kraut Legal Group today to begin your defense.
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Given all the sturm und drang over your Los Angeles DUI arrest, you’ve had very little time to reflect about events. The little thinking you’ve done has likely been “surface level” thinking. For instance, you’ve probably spent some time puzzling out:understanding-los-angeles-DUI-arrest

•    What to do about your job;
•    How to get by without a license;
•    What to tell your parents or peers about what happened;
•    How to find an effective Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer to represent your interests and help you avoid (or at least minimize) punishments for your crime, which could range widely and include tough probation terms, forced installation of an interlock ignition device in your car, mandatory CA license suspension, fees and fines and prison time.

But could you benefit from considering your Los Angeles DUI in a different kind of context? What if you tried to figure out what drove you to drink too much (if you did, indeed, drink too much)? What if you spent time puzzling out WHY you got behind the wheel while DUI?

These questions sound almost sophistic and possibly irrelevant. After all, who really cares why you did what you did? You just want to get out of trouble, stay out of jail, avoid the fines, etcetera. But reflecting on your mistakes (if you made any) is vitally important, if you hope to achieve the best outcome.

Such thinking could possibly inform your defense strategy. It could help your attorney figure out what kind of evidence to collect. It could help you figure out what you need to do to avoid future DUI trouble. For instance, let’s say you have a history of driving problems or trouble with drugs and alcohol. If you’re honest about that history, your attorney can help you find a good therapist and other resources to keep you on the straight and narrow, going forward.

So how CAN you figure out what “tipped you” into making your fateful decision?

Try to think back to the key moments of the day or evening of your DUI arrest. What were you thinking about right before you grabbed the keys and got behind the wheel? What were you thinking about right before you chose to have that fourth beer or glass of wine? What were you thinking about just before you drove away from the scene of your Los Angeles DUI accident? What were you thinking about just before you got into the verbal fight with the police officer?

Seek to understand the thoughts and emotions that triggered your strange/unwanted behavior. Your attorney can use this thought process as a springboard to contrive an intuitive and effective defense.

For help getting to the bottom of your Los Angeles DUI situation, get in touch with attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is a vastly experienced ex-criminal prosecutor with a long history of successes in complex criminal trials.

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If there’s any state with crazier DUI stories than Southern California, it is Florida.taser-los-angeles-DUI

To wit, consider a bizarre arrest last week out in Manatee Country, where 42-year-old Larry Ryans was busted for multiple charges, including DUI, possession of a concealed weapon and resisting arrest without violence, after he bolted from police while sherriff’s deputies tried to handcuff him.

According to local reports, a deputy stopped Ryans at around 2:20 a.m. on Sunday (a common time for DUI busts, since that’s when Saturday night parties tend to end) at 14th Street and Bayshore Gardens Parkway. Deputies apparently put Ryans through the paces of a field sobriety test and found probable cause that he had been DUI.

And so began the arrest process… But Ryan was having none of it!

Before officers could handcuff him, he twisted and bolted, tearing across the parking lot of a local Target. A deputy brought out his taser gun and zapped Ryans with the taser. The man collapsed onto the parking lot but then got up again and kept running. Another deputy fired a second taser shot, knocking Ryan down and allowing officers to cuff him and book him.

Paramedics treated Ryans for abrasions to his arms and hands and found two taser probes embedded in him – one in his lower left leg and one in his lower back. Deputies also alleged that Ryans had a concealed dagger inside his shirt. Authorities held him on a $50,000 bond.

We’ve discussed in the past how DUI defendants often make their situations (much, much) worse after they get caught, because they resist arrest, leave the scene and otherwise engage in unwise/illegal practices. The job of the defense attorney, therefore, becomes more complicated. The goal is not just to figure out why you got the DUI and what you can do to fight it but also to understand the gamut of other coincidental charges.

Along those lines, police can also say or do things during or after a stop that can complicate the process. Sometimes, the police are justified in taking extreme measures, like using tasers to stop people from fleeing arrest. In other cases, police use excessive force, pull people over without probable cause or otherwise violate people’s Constitutional rights.

The moral is that you need an attorney who can understand the entire context of your arrest — as well as all the charges at play — and construct a defense that’s tailored to your needs.

Fortunately, the team here at the Kraut Law Group has a great track record of building effective defenses. Contact former city prosecutor and Harvard Law School educated Los Angeles DUI attorney Michael Kraut immediately to set up a free consultation.

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As regular readers of our Los Angeles DUI blog know, penalties for getting convicted even for misdemeanor DUIs can be quite intense and can lead to lengthy license suspensions, substantial time behind bars, massive fees, spikes on your insurance rates, unpleasant probation terms, and more — and that’s just for first time offenders who don’t hurt anyone or commit other crimes.dui-law-passes-15-0

But DUI law is constantly in flux.

Consider, for instance, a new proposed law out of Springfield, Illinois, where members of the state House voted last Wednesday 15-0 to approve legislation to allow DUI offenders with revoked licenses to get a second chance to get behind the wheel.

Even members of the anti-DUI advocacy group, Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, backed the legislation, because it gives deserving people a second chance. The legislation would let people who have been convicted for DUI up to four times obtain restricted permits to drive… with lot of caveats:

•    First of all, they must wait five years.
•    Secondly, they must demonstrate that they have been sober for three years by completing alcohol treatment programs.
•    Finally, they need to install breathalyzer devices in their vehicles permanently.

State representative, Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat from Northbrook, sponsored the bill, and it will now be sent to the floor for a vote.

Is SB 1996 a “good thing” for the community? Does it create hazards for drivers? Should motorists and pedestrians applaud it or condemn it?

These are all very important questions, and they speak to a critical point, which is that DUI legislation really should be based on good science and objective research.

What actually works, in the real world, in terms of reducing fatalities and DUI related accidents on the road?

What actually works in terms of rehabilitating drivers and preventing them from repeating their mistakes behind the wheel?

What actually works in terms of developing auto and road engineering systems to minimize the likelihood of crashes?

California law punishes recidivist (repeat) DUI offenders more harshly than it does first time offenders. For instance, if this is your first DUI, and you are convicted, you may face 48 hours in custody (up to six months behind bars), a one year license suspension, a minimum of six weeks of alcohol school and other penalties.

However, if this is your third or fourth arrest within 10 years, your minimum jail time, license suspension time, and alcohol school time will be jacked up significantly. You may lose your license for three or more years and face way more 48 hours behind bars, depending on circumstances.

No matter what happened in your case, an experienced Los Angeles DUI defense attorney here at the Kraut Law Group is standing by to assist and help you make smarter decisions. Call or email us today for a free consultation.
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