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Have you ever noticed how high-profile DUI arrests seem to come in spates? You’ll read nothing about celebrity DUI in Los Angeles for a few months, and then police arrest a number of stars and/or elected officials within a week or two.vince-young-dui-arres

On January 22, police in Austin, Texas, picked up former Tennessee Titans and Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Vince Young for driving under the influence. Young allegedly was speeding and drifting between lanes when officers pulled him over. The arresting officer said that the sports star was slurring his words, had glassy eyes, smelled of alcohol and was swaying as he walked.

Young apologized on his Facebook page after the charge against him–a single misdemeanor count of DUI–became public. So far his current employer, the University of Texas, has opted to keep him on the job.

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Want to get police officers to pay more attention to you? Try pulling one of these dumb stunts when you’re at risk for a DUI in Los Angeles.

A woman from Baraboo, Minnesota, apparently couldn’t find her own vehicle when she stumbled out of a BP gas station and convenience store in Juneau County. So she did the next best thing–she got into a waiting deputy’s vehicle and drove away.
The deputy and a state trooper dealt with the unnamed 29-year-old woman and her intoxicated male friend at the gas station around 4 a.m. in the morning. The woman apparently got tired of the discussion and left.  Fortunately, witnesses saw her take off and pointed the trooper and the deputy–who were riding in the state police car–in the right direction. They soon caught up with her and managed to pull her over.Clonazepam and los angeles DUI

Turns out, this wasn’t the woman’s first DWI charge; she already had two on her record.

Bradley James Mitchell, on the other hand, didn’t try to flee the scene when officers stopped him on suspicion of DWI. But the 38-year-old from Weirsdale, Florida, should have tried a different excuse for swerving across two roads late in the evening of January 13th.

Mitchell told officers his low blood sugar caused his erratic driving. But medics called to the scene confirmed that his blood sugar was just fine.  After Mitchell failed sobriety tests, officers searched his car and found methamphetamine and Clonazepam. He was also driving on a license suspended because of a previous DUI. Continue reading →

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Pity the poor judges who have to spend multiple hours in court each week hearing cases involving DUIs in Los Angeles. The stories they hear about deaths and destruction caused by people driving under the influence are often devastating.
One judge in Laramie County, Wyoming, has had enough. A recent article in the online Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported that Judge Steven Sharpe is taking a hard line when it comes to plea deals for drivers accused of DUI.  When faced with a repeat offender, he now won’t accept a deal unless it includes some jail time for the driver. 18000-cost-of-los-angelesDUI

In a case highlighted by the Tribune Eagle, Jeremy Shutt, now 28, had appeared before the judge last year on his fourth DUI charge in four years.  Under Wyoming law, that would make Shutt’s latest arrest a felony, which meant incarceration time.
Shutt’s attorney had negotiated a plea deal with the county: five years of probation, with three to five years in prison if Shutt failed to live up to his end of the bargain (i.e. stay sober and stay out of trouble). But the judge, noting that Shutt had spent only a single day in jail on this latest charge, said that wasn’t enough. He’d keep Shutt out of state prison, but only if Shutt agreed to spend 120 days in jail.

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Suppose you lent your vehicle to a relative who had a problem with a Los Angeles DUI in the past. You thought that your relative had sorted out all the legal issues, but when police pull her over for a traffic violation, they charge her with driving on a suspended license. losing-car-los-angeles-DUI

That’s bad enough—but then you find that the state is going to seize your vehicle because of your relative’s misbehavior!

A woman in Moline, Illinois, is living that scenario. Last summer, 70-year-old Judy Wiese gave her grandson the keys to her 2009 Jeep Compass because he said he needed it to get to work. The young man told his grandmother that he had taken care of all his court obligations related to a 2014 DUI. He neglected to mention that didn’t include getting his license back.

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Some celebrities arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles appears to get off with a very light punishment. Although justice is supposed to be blind, the truth is that people with money and/or connections frequently do get a better deal. affluenza-los-angeles-DUI-defense

Take the case of the Texas teen whose defense for killing four people in a DUI accident was that he had “affluenza.” The attorney for Ethan Crouch, who had a blood alcohol content of .24 when arrested, claimed that his client had never learned to take responsibility because his parents’ wealth had shielded him from the consequences of his actions. Crouch received a controversially light sentence of 10 years of probation and treatment in a residential, in-patient treatment facility. (Apparently hisaffluenza hasn’t been cured; he fled to Mexico, and he is currently fighting extradition back to the U.S.)

Contrast that to the sentence imposed on a 23-year-old Texas man of moderate means who killed four people in a DUI accident at the South by Southwest Festival in 2014. Rashad Owens, who had a .114 BAC reading at the time of his arrest, received a sentence of life in prison. (There were a few aggravating factors, however: Owens was driving a stolen car at the time and fleeing from police.)

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If a judge had accepted your guilty plea case involving a Los Angeles DUI, and new evidence turned up, would you take the time and spend the money to have that verdict overturned? What if your conviction dated all the way back to 1986? Some people in Massachusetts who pleaded guilty to DUI are willing to do it.

District Court in session. Edgartown.

District Court in session. Edgartown.

A recent article in the Vineyard Gazette (the newspaper for the upscale Martha’s Vineyard) reported that attorneys who practice in the Edgartown District Court are taking a look at the operating under the influence (OUI) cases handled by Judge Brian Rowe over his 20 years in office. When accepting an accused DUI driver’s guilty plea, Judge Rowe apparently neglected to follow a procedure called colloquy. According to the Gazette, the judge was supposed to advise the guilty party that he/she had the right to a jury trial if desired and to ask each defendant if he or she fully understood the consequences of the decision to make a guilty plea. There’s a box on some court forms that the judge should have checked if the discussion had taken place.

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The results of court cases in other states may not directly impact the outcome of Los Angeles DUI arrests, but they sometimes indicate the direction in which the judicial wind is blowing across the U.S.refusal-california-vehicle-code-23612

The State of Georgia has already made it harder for prosecutors to win DUI convictions because of a ruling that people suspected of DUI may be too intoxicated to give their true informed consent to a breathalyzer test. Now an administrative law judge has thrown out the state’s attempt to suspend the license of a driver accused of DUI.

Atlanta Police Officer Justin J. Brodnik pulled David Leoni over for exceeding the speed limit by 20 miles per hour. The officer smelled alcohol on Leoni’s breath and noticed that his eyes were watery. (Leoni said he had just woken up from a nap.)

Despite the fact that Leoni answered questions without any difficulty and didn’t have trouble passing a balance test, Brodnik arrested him for DUI. That meant the Department of Driver Services automatically suspended his license. The law judge ruled that the watery eyes and a moderate smell of alcohol weren’t enough to prove that Leoni was impaired, so he ordered the state to restore Leoni’s license.

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Sometimes people who’ve had a few too many seem to go out of their way to make poor choices. Take the case of Juan Pablo Garcia, a 22-year-old Uber driver arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles on New Year’s Day.uber-dui-in-los-angeles

As a Uber driver, Garcia didn’t have to pick up passengers, but he decided to respond to a 1 a.m. call from 19-year-old Arlene Mendez, who was looking for a ride. According to CBS Local Los Angeles, Mendez later related that she felt uncomfortable with Garcia’s driving almost from the start. Her fears increased when she peered over the back seat and saw that Garcia was hitting 80 miles per hour on city streets. Garcia ignored her pleas to slow down and ended up slamming into another vehicle, overturning his own car in the process. Fortunately, Mendez wasn’t seriously hurt.

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Last November, a man eventually charged with DUI in Los Angeles killed two people and injured several others when his car hit a minivan and then swerved onto a sidewalk. A similar accident—fortunately non-fatal so far—occurred in the District of Columbia on New Year’s Day. fatal-dui-dc-los-angeles

Twenty-five year old Malik Lloyd was apparently trying to turn from northbound 17th Street onto L Street in the early morning hours of January 1. Lloyd’s depth perception must have been off, however, because instead of making the corner he ended up skidding his car across the road, jumping the sidewalk and crashing into a floral planter and utility pole. His car continued down the sidewalk for several more feet, hitting seven people who were standing outside the “Bar Code” nightclub. Emergency crews took the victims to the hospital. Most were released, suffering only minor injuries, but one, the bar’s bouncer, was in critical condition the next day.

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Under California law, police officers arresting a driver for a Los Angeles DUI don’t use a urine test for determining blood alcohol content at the time of an arrest. AB 2020, which became effective in January 2013, requires law enforcement officials to employ the more accurate blood test. The idea behind the law is that relying on the more reliable blood test will prevent DUI defendants from contesting the charges against them (if they’re based on a urine test).minnesota-dui-los-angeles

But Minnesota still permits urine tests for DUI—and it just got a little harder for police officers to get that type of evidence when they suspect a driver of DUI. According to the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on December 28th that a state law that makes it a crime for a driver to refuse a urine test without a warrant is unconstitutional. This court said that making it a crime to refuse a blood or urine test in a DUI case implicates a defendant’s fundamental right to be free from unconstitutional searches. The court reversed the conviction of a driver found guilty of refusing to submit to a blood or urine test.

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