Articles Tagged with dui defense los angeles

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Los-Angeles-DUI-Defense-Attorney-25-300x200When 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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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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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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There’s often some sense of relief when a driver convicted of multiple deaths due to DUI in Los Angeles goes to jail; at least that person will be off the road for a few years. But in Anderson County, South Carolina, a recent DUI sentencing has left little more than a sense of loss and waste due to a young man’s poor decision one evening.McDermott-in-hearing-DUI

According to WYFF News 4, Riley McDermott, age 25, had gone out with his roommate to get chicken wings on the evening of November 8, 2014. He ended up drinking too much, getting behind the wheel, and crossing the center line of the road. He was going 73 mph when he slammed into a car carrying five young people. The crash killed Amber Hope Perkins, 17, Jessica Roberts, 20, and Cory Simmonds, 20. Jessica’s sister, 17-year old Samantha, suffered injuries in the crash. Amber’s sister, Cheyenne Queen, will face lifelong problems because of her extensive injuries.

McDermott reached a plea agreement with the Anderson County prosecutor. In return for a sentence of 18 years in prison, he pled guilty to three counts of felony DUI with death and two counts of felony DUI with manslaughter. The maximum sentence could have been 135 years in prison.

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When drivers arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles hire attorneys to represent them, they expect that their counsel will help them resolve issues quickly. But Jason William Gale had a different experience. He discovered—20 years after his DUI arrest!—that his attorney had not followed through in handling Gale’s 1995 DUI arrest in Grand Forks, North Dakota. So when Grand Forks prosecutors (finally) caught up with Gale about a year ago, they took him to court, where the judge found him guilty and fined him $500.north-dakota-dui-ruling-los-angeles-DUI-blog

Now the North Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that the 20-year delay violated Gale’s right to a speedy trial.

According to the Bismarck Tribune, Gale’s attorney in 1995, Henry Howe, reported to his client that the case was resolved and closed. Gale left North Dakota shortly after that time. But a background check for a security job Gale was applying for turned up an outstanding arrest warrant for the DUI case. Cass County, which was prosecuting the case, said it had sent three notices to Gale. However, Gale said the court had his address because of other legal actions and claimed that he had never received any such notice.

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While the typical DUI in Los Angeles involves police actually seeing someone driving their vehicle, that’s not always the case. Officers sometimes make arrests when they haven’t seen the car moving, but have good reason to surmise that the driver was DUI.everclear-dui-los-angeles

KEYE TV in Austin, Texas, reported that John Thomas Watts, 26, was trying to change his tire in a Pizza Hut parking lot when police arrested him for driving while intoxicated. Watts told officers that he had hit the curb and needed to change his tire. But Watts was finding the task difficult – not surprising when he couldn’t stand up without falling over and when he was trying to insert the jack handle into the wrong hole. Police officers also found nine empty beer cans in Watts’ front seat, earning him a trip to the booking station.

An officer in another Texas town, College Station, found Connor James Bond naked in the front seat of his vehicle with his clothes on the seat beside him. Bond’s vehicle wasn’t moving when police spotted him, but it was situated on the railroad tracks, where he had apparently stopped after driving off the road. There were two more indications that Bond might be intoxicated. One was that while the police officer was talking to him, Bond tried to start the car with scissors. The other was the half-empty bottle of Everclear liquor they allegedly found in the back seat of the vehicle.

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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 Criminal & DUI Lawyers 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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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 Criminal & DUI Lawyers 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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Whether you’ve already found a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, or are you still interviewing prospective firms and weighing your options, you recognize the dire nature of the legal challenges you face. To structure an effective relationship, follow these 4 tips.los-angeles-DUI-dos-donts

1. Be an obsessive note taker.

The “little things” often prove crucial in DUI defense cases. For instance: did the arresting officer say or do something that the court might construe to be Unconstitutional or otherwise over the line? Were you on a special diet or taking any medications that could have thrown off your breathalyzer test readings?

Collect all potentially relevant evidence — even facts that you might not even recognize as important. This note-taking can make the difference between an acceptable outcome and a miserable one. When you document your experience and conversations regarding your DUI, you can give your attorney that much more potential ammunition to use on your behalf.

2. Ask questions and make sure you understand everything you need to do (and NOT do).

Your attorney is on your side. He or she understands that you might be in a distraught state of mind or that you may need to hear certain important instructions more than once. That’s fine. Just speak up for your needs; make sure you understand the exact tactics and strategies that your attorney lays out for you.

3. Avoid lying or “airbrushing the truth.”

First of all, what you tell your attorney will be held in confidence. So you can feel safe and secure. Second of all, if you hold information back from your attorney — out of guilt, embarrassment or mistrust — and the prosecution discovers your secret, the other side could torpedo your defense and leave you in a very bad position. Your attorney needs to have a full and deep appreciation for what you did, why you did it, and how.

4. Avoid waiting to retain a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer.

As the clock ticks, the prosecution may be busily preparing to hammer you with draconian charges. Attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers knows this, because he served as a prosecutor (Senior Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles) for nearly 15 years. Look to Mr. Kraut and his experienced, decisive team to help you navigate your defense.

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A profound debate is going on in the Los Angeles DUI defense community (and the DUI community at large): What techniques and strategies work best for preventing so-called “recidivist” behavior?24-7-sobriety-los-angeles-dui

Even though the justice system can be quite punitive with respect to DUI driving, all stakeholders in the system want the same things – safer roads, fewer people killed, and drivers who strive to be safe and mindful.

Of course, authorities have tried various strategies to achieve those ends.

One common technique used to stop recidivist behavior is the so-called Interlock Ignition Device (IID). Here in Los Angeles – and other spots around the country – even first time offenders can be ordered to install IID devices in their vehicles. Basically, you cannot start your car unless you blow into a permanent breathalyzer device on your vehicle. If any alcohol taints your breath, your car won’t start.

Offenders must pay to install and maintain these devices, and IID programs bring in millions of dollars a year to various state coffers. However, there is a new type of anti-recidivism strategy — championed by the National Sheriffs Association and other groups — called “24/7 Sobriety.”

South Dakota and two other states have been using this program in place of IIDs to stomp out recidivism, and some evidence suggests that it may be quite effective. Basically, an offender must take breath tests twice a day, every day, for a duration of time. Apparently, drivers who constantly monitor their sobriety tend to be far more mindful and less likely to hop behind the wheel while over the limit.

Mike Leidholt, a South Dakota sheriff who helped to implement the first statewide 24/7 Sobriety Program, has spoken highly of the initiative “Of all the wonderful programs that sheriffs are initiating, I have not seen one that as successful in reducing recidivism, managing corrections problems, and reducing alcohol-related crashes as the 24/7 Sobriety Program.”

Meanwhile, however, the program has met stiff resistance from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Jan Withers, MADD’s National Director, recently wrote an editorial protesting the National Sheriffs’ Association’s push for 24/7 sobriety in Florida, writing: “MADD believes that amendments allowing for twice a day testing or 24/7 sobriety programs are okay, but these programs should never replace the use of ignition interlock for a convicted drunk driver.”

While groups like MADD and the National Sheriffs’ Association hash out how to stop recidivism, it’s well worth taking time to consider the legal consequences of recidivism in the Golden State. Every time you get convicted for a new DUI (within 10 years), your punishments ratchet up substantially. You might face:

•    Additional jail time;
•    Additional alcohol school;
•    Stricter probation terms;
•    A longer license suspension.
•    The elevation of a misdemeanor to a felony.

For help coming to terms with your Los Angeles DUI charges, call Michael Kraut of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers immediately to set up a consultation with him and his team. Mr. Kraut is a former city prosecutor who bring years of successful work, great relationships, and a Harvard Law School education to help his clients succeed.
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