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adam-hill-dui-murderDriving under the influence of drugs in Los Angeles is a dangerous crime, as even a child could tell you. But what distinguishes a “run of the mill” drug DUI from an arrest that leads to a second degree murder conviction and a 17 year-to-life jail sentence?

The answer is: the circumstances.

Consider, for instance, the nightmarish series of events that unfolded on the morning of February 13, 2011. Adam Harrison Hall spun out of control in his Ford SUV, smashed into a Toyota SUV at a red light, injuring the occupants, then veered onto the sidewalk and hit and killed 40-year-old Mara Steves, who had been walking a lost labrador retriever.

Hall allegedly killed a pedestrian and caused a massive wreck that led to other injuries… AND he had two prior DUI convictions.

In Southern California, after you get convicted of a DUI, you receive what’s known as a Watson Advisement. This is basically a “last warning” that affirms that you understand that driving DUI can lead to severe injury and death. People who receive the Watson Advisement and then later go on to commit another DUI crime and kill someone can be charged with DUI murder, also known as a “Watson Murder” because of the eponymous advisement.

In any event, Hall apparently had nearly a pharmacy’s worth of drugs in his system, including morphine, amphetamine, temazepam, oxazepam, hydroxyalprazolam, alprazolam, nordiazepam, diazepam, and methamphetamine as well as THCA. In February this year, a jury found Hall guilty of a smorgasbord of charges, including misdemeanor drug DUI, two felony counts of obtaining drugs via a forged prescription, one felony prescription forgery charge, and of course one felony murder count. Hall had appealed the verdict, because he argued his trial attorney had been inadequate and that the prosecution did not have enough evidence to prove that he had been the driver burning through the red light. But the three justices disagreed and upheld the murder conviction.

If you or some you love faces a severe charge, like DUI manslaughter or murder, call a qualified, compassionate Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer with the Kraut Law Group to get effective insight into your possible options.

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sex-after-dui-los-angelesImagine in your mind the worst things you could do after being arrested for driving under the influence in Los Angeles.

You could, for instance, assault the police officer, make self incriminating comments after hearing your Miranda’s Rights, or commit sundry other crimes, offenses and misjudgments. But it is pretty hard to top what a 33-year old man and 29-year old woman from Oconto County, Wisconsin allegedly did last week.

Heather Basten and Travis Husnik allegedly started having sexual intercourse in the back of a police car while being driven to jail after a DUI stop and arrest. County Circuit Court Judge Riley later wryly noted: “what do I sentence a guy who had sex in a squad car to?” The judge later charged Husnik and Basten with lewd and lascivious behavior and disorderly conduct. The arresting officer apparently forced Husnik to get out of the backseat and sit in the front seat next to him, so he and Basten wouldn’t paw at each other during the ride.

Unfortunately, as we’ve discussed again and again and again on this blog, people arrested for driving under the influence often do silly or dumb things after the fact that create extra hassles and legal complications for themselves. In more serious cases, for instance, a DUI driver might leave the scene of an injury accident and wind up with a felony hit and run charges to go hand in hand with a felony DUI injury charge.

So what can you do to manage your crisis?

First: call an experienced and qualified Los Angeles DUI criminal defense attorney, like Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is a widely respected former prosecutor who maintains excellent relationships with his former prosecutorial colleagues as well as with police officers and judges in Los Angeles. Please contact him today for a free consultation.

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full-moon-duiOne of the consistent themes we’ve discussed on this Los Angeles DUI defense blog is the tragic observation that drivers often make their legal situations far, far worse after getting stopped for DUI. We’ve covered stories about drivers who have attacked police, driven off in a panicked rage from a stop, and even charged through DUI checkpoints.

Unfortunately, one “bad night” can lead to a series of criminal charges, which can land you in jail for many months or even years, depending on what you did, whom you hurt, and whether you have a criminal record. To wit, consider the case of 49-year old Michele Ann Rivera of Coral Springs, Florida. Per a local paper, she and her husband, Stancel Ganus Kinsley, 68, had been driving home from Kinsley’s birthday in the early afternoon on Sunday, when some kind of “road rage” incident broke out. One motorist called the police and reported that Rivera had been winding all over the road on North University Drive in her Toyota 4Runner.

Allegedly, the 49-year-old got out from the driver seat and screamed at a driver for tailgating her. Meanwhile, Kinsley took the driver seat. Police alerted by the ruckus determined that both Kinsley and Rivera had symptoms of DUI, including bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and a distinct smell of alcohol. Authorities also allegedly found an open bottle of Vodka in her purse. Police put her through the paces of field sobriety tests, which she allegedly couldn’t complete. Police then arrested both her and Kinsley for DUI, at which time she apparently became abrasive and loud and mooned a police officer, yelling “this is the best you will ever have.”

In Los Angeles, if you are arrested more than three times in a 10-year period for driving under the influence, authorities can charge you with a felony, even if you committed what would ordinarily only be a misdemeanor DUI. To protect your rights and make smart strategic choices about your Los Angeles DUI defense, contact a lawyer with the Kraut Law Group immediately to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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dui-motorcycle-wreck-los-angelesWhen it comes to Los Angeles DUI crashes, authorities often implicate drivers who test to have illegal blood alcohol levels after a collision. However, authorities sometimes struggle to determine fault in cases involving multiple variables.

A September 21 accident in Santa Ana provides an example of how DUI crashes can occur due to other factors besides a driver’s alcohol-related impairment. The incident – a combination of two crashes – left a motorcyclist dead and another driver injured.

The series of crashes began when a motorcyclist collided with the back of a car on southbound 55. After veering off the freeway and striking a chain-link fence, the motorcyclist flew from his vehicle, landing on adjacent Ritchey Street.

As a good Samaritan approached the motorcyclist, Jesus Mendoza Hernandez struck both individuals, severely injuring the Samaritan and killing the motorcyclist. Hernandez now faces DUI driving charges; whether authorities will charge him with DUI manslaughter or DUI murder remains unclear.

Factors that Can Complicate DUI Accidents

The tragic accidents in Santa Ana highlight how aggravating circumstances can complicate a DUI accident. Considerations making it more difficult to assign responsibility include:

•    Multiple drivers. The more vehicles collide in an accident, the more complicated questions of liability become.

•    Two DUI drivers. Although uncommon, when both drivers involved in a collision are over the legal limit, the case can lead to surprising complexities.

•    Unusual intersections. Intersections with confusing traffic patterns – or those lacking adequate lighting or signage – often increase the likelihood of accidents, DUI or not.

Even when your Los Angeles DUI case involves one or more of the above complexities, simply having a blood alcohol level above the legal limit places extra responsibility on your shoulders. An experienced defense attorney with an understanding of California DUI laws can analyze the circumstances of your case to determine how to help you form a defense. Contact the Kraut Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.

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injury-DUI-los-angeles-4Among the most severe Los Angeles DUI offenses are those causing injury to passengers or other drivers. As a San Diego man recently discovered, the consequences of a DUI-related crash can last for several years – or a lifetime.

On September 19, a judge sentenced Daniel Castro to nine years and eight months in prison for a felony DUI that led to the serious injury of another driver. The third conviction for Castro came after he jumped bail, escaping to Ensenada, Mexico.

The accident occurred on May 22, 2013, when an intoxicated Castro drove the wrong way down Interstate 5, crashing head-on into 29-year-old Jessica Creed’s Ford Fusion. Creed sustained extensive injuries, including a severed arm, broken pelvis, shattered facial bones, and fractured vertebrae.

According to the judge, Castro failed to show remorse, character, or courage during the court case. As a result, he earned the maximum sentence allowable under California law.

How Authorities Punish Repeat DUI Offenders and DUI with Injury

When individuals receive multiple concurrent DUI convictions or injure others, the consequences increase significantly. For repeat DUIs, these can include:

•    Increased jail time. From 48 hours for a first-time offense to 3 years for a fourth or subsequent offense, continued DUIs often lead to more time behind bars.

•    Driver’s license suspension. Each DUI conviction leads to an additional year during which the individual can lose his or her license.

•    Fines. The amount a person must pay in fines and court fees can increase with each subsequent conviction.

When a DUI includes an injury to another driver or passenger, the related charge automatically becomes a felony, per California Vehicle Code 23153. These charges generally lead to more prison time, forced restitution for victims, job loss, and other life-altering repercussions.

If a pending DUI case with repeat offenses or injuries threatens to destroy your life, contact a qualified Los Angeles DUI attorney at the Kraut Law Group today to set up a free consultation.


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firefighter-DUIWhen it comes to DUI in Los Angeles, uniformed men and women can be either victims or perpetrators. Recent incidents in Carlsbad, California, and Lexington, Kentucky, shed light on this dichotomy.

Jarad McCargo, a firefighter in Lexington, lost his job September 22 as a result of an accident in which he struck three people with his vehicle while allegedly under the influence. The 36-year-old reportedly backed his Ford Expedition into a local bar, The Beer Trap, critically injuring Noel Espino and hitting two others. After the collision, he fled the scene and hid behind several trash cans before police located and arrested him. McCargo’s charges include:

•    Driving under the influence
•    First-degree assault
•    Leaving the scene of an accident
•    Driving without insurance

Conversely, the Carlsbad community continues to honor two Oceanside California Highway Patrol officers who lost their lives to DUI drivers recently. On September 20, police set up a DUI checkpoint on Carlsbad Boulevard to identify potentially impaired drivers.

While the checkpoint served to raise awareness regarding the dangers of DUI driving, authorities also dedicated it to the memory of two officers:

•    Officer Sean Nava. Nava died in October 2000 when a DUI driver struck him as he responded to a DUI crash.

•    CHP Officer Stephen Linen. A DUI driver collided with Linen’s patrol car on Interstate 5 only months after Nava’s death, killing the officer.

Officers and bereaved family members alike hope the memorial checkpoint will cause people to think twice about driving under the influence and hold their friends and loved ones accountable.

Regardless of your professional background, injuring or killing another person when driving drunk is a devastating offense for everyone involved. The potential repercussions for your freedom and future are severe, but an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney can help. Contact the Kraut Law Group today to discuss your case and begin forming your defense.

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woman-7-kids-duiDriving DUI in Los Angeles is a dangerous and scary act, always. It puts everyone on the road at considerable risk. When you get behind the wheel after drinking, you assume responsibility for what happens to other drivers, as well as to your passengers. In light of that, consider the case of an Ohio woman recently arrested for driving DUI with seven young children in her SUV.

That’s right: SEVEN children.

Not exactly an ideal situation.

Police pulled over 31-year-old Heather Horner on September 20 after witnessing her swerving in and out of marked lanes. At the time, seven children between the ages of 2 and 11 were riding as passengers in the car.

A breathalyzer test allegedly indicated Horner had a BAC that was twice the legal limit. Authorities charged her with DUI, failure to stay in marked lanes, and seven counts of child endangerment.

What Are the Consequences of Driving DUI with Children in the Car?

Although this case occurred across the country, the ramifications are profound and relevant. Prosecutors take the crime of driving DUI with children under 14 in the car incredibly seriously in the state of California. In addition to applicable misdemeanor or felony charges, DUI drivers can face additional sanctions, including:

•    Mandatory jail time. From 48 hours for a first offense to 90 days minimum for a fourth or higher conviction, anyone convicted of driving DUI with an underage passenger can spend a long time behind bars.

•    Separate child endangerment charges. California Penal Code Section 273(a) classifies driving under the influence with children in the car as either a felony or misdemeanor. (This type of charge is also known as a “wobbler” because it “wobbles” between a felony and a misdemeanor count.) If convicted, an individual can expect to spend six months to four years in prison.

Most Los Angeles DUI defendants who had young passengers with them at the time of their arrest had no intention of putting their children in harm’s way. The team at the Kraut Law Group can help you understand the charges you face, strategically fight back, protect your family and handle the diverse challenges of DUI defense. Call a qualified former city prosecutor now to discuss your defense.

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DUI-under-21-years-old-los-angelesA Los Angeles DUI conviction can result in severe penalties to drivers over 21. However, individuals who are under the legal drinking age can face even greater legal, social and emotional consequences for driving under the influence.

A Woodridge, IL teenager is learning this lesson the hard way.

On September 14, police arrested eighteen-year-old Hope Brown after an alleged DUI-related “joy ride” resulted in property damage. The young woman apparently lost control of her Mustang while driving south in a residential area. Per news reports, after she struck multiple parked cars, Brown veered into a front yard, where she hit a vehicle in the driveway before colliding with the house itself. The impact further damaged another car in the garage.

Brown fortunately sustained only minor injuries during the accident, but she did require medical treatment. Authorities released her after she posted bail, and she will appear in court on October 21.

What Happens When Underage Drivers Get Arrested for DUI?

In many states (including California), individuals under the legal drinking age face a distinct legal process after a DUI arrest. This process differs from the process that a driver over 21 must face in several important ways:

•    Automatic license suspension. Any underage DUI conviction comes with a license suspension of one year. If you don’t already have a license, you will be unable to receive one for an additional year.

•    Zero tolerance. Drivers of legal drinking age must stay within the BAC threshold of 0.08%, but those under 21 can face serious penalties even for testing at a very low blood alcohol level — just 0.01% or higher.

•    Additional penalties. Besides the required civil repercussions, underage drivers with 0.08% or higher blood alcohol levels are also subject to the state’s regular DUI consequences, such as jail time, fines, probation, and alcohol classes.

If you are under 21 and you face DUI charges — or if you’re a concerned parent or friend of a minor accused of underage DUI — call Los Angeles DUI attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Attorney Kraut can work with you to craft a strong, strategic defense to protect your freedom, your license and your rights. Contact us today to set up a consultation.


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Chilean-President-Michelle-BacheleAdhering to Los Angeles DUI laws can keep you and other drivers safe and preserve your freedom. But these laws are always in flux. Authorities are constantly seeking stronger enforcement capabilities to thwart DUI driving and punish offenders. This is true here at home and abroad.

For instance, legislators in Chile just radically revised how that country handles and punishes DUI driving. The new law, which Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed on September 15, decrees that any DUI driver who causes the severe injury or death of another individual must spend at least one year in prison.

Named for a 9-month-old girl who died in a DUI driving accident in 2013, “Emilia’s Law” expands upon established sentencing guidelines. Previously, DUIs involving death or injury in Chile carried a 5-year to lifelong license suspension, but no prison time.

“Emilia’s Law” also defines two additional infractions, including professional drivers caught drinking and individuals fleeing accident scenes or refusing breathalyzer tests. Given that 20 percent of fatal car accidents in Chile have been tied in some way to alcohol use, the President hopes to reduce the devastating impacts of such incidents.

In Los Angeles, most drivers understand that drinking and then driving is unacceptable behavior. However, not everyone realizes how severe the penalties can be. Here are DUI concepts all drivers should understand and internalize:

•    Sentencing guidelines. From six months for a first offense to several years for DUI manslaughter or homicide, a conviction can mean significant time behind bars.

    Substance use. Alcohol isn’t the only drug that can lead to a DUI conviction. Did you know that California authorities check drivers stopped for DUI for illicit drug use (and for the use of some prescription drugs) via blood tests?

•    DUI checkpoints. In the state of California, law enforcement uses DUI checkpoints to randomly examine drivers for signs of impairment.

•    Underage restrictions. Those under 21 with any amount of alcohol in their blood will face penalties.

The best way to avoid the increasingly severe penalties of a DUI is not to drive while DUI. However, people make mistakes. Whether you believe police wrongfully stopped you at a checkpoint, or you got into a crash while allegedly under the influence of drug or alcohol, call a qualified Los Angeles DUI attorney at the Kraut Law Group to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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Only a few days ago, San Diego Padres’ shortstop, Everth Cabrera, was arrested in eastern San Diego County. The charge: driving under the influence of marijuana. If you or a love one faces similar charges, Cabrera’s story might be able to provide you pivotal insight into what to do and not to do to manage a marijuana-related Los Angeles DUI case.cabrera-DUI

Cabrera’s Arrest

Border patrol stopped Cabrera and sent him back to the California Highway Patrol office. When he arrived, the star did not appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and authorities released him to the custody of his mother-in-law.

Cabrera apparently claimed in his defense that he had been using a medical substance and that he didn’t know what was in it. But even if someone’s on a legal drug, such as an over the counter medication, he or she can face serious drug DUI charges for getting behind the wheel while under the influence.

According to the Padres, the investigation is still underway. The team is currently communicating with Major League Baseball about how to handle the situation.

This is not the first time Cabrera has gotten in trouble with the law. In 2012, Cabrera was arrested on a charge of domestic violence misdemeanor assault. That charge was ultimately dropped.

DUI Marijuana Charges in LA

In California, almost all cultivation and possession of marijuana is illegal. Federal and state laws differ with respect to how and when marijuana use or sale constitutes an illegal act. It is unlawful to drive under the influence of marijuana, regardless of whether the driver has a medical justification. Additionally, prosecutors don’t have to show how much marijuana was in the driver’s system; they only need to show that the driver was generally under the influence.

Marijuana stays in the body far longer than alcohol and other drugs. Blood samples can show evidence of metabolites of THC, a psychoactive compound in marijuana.

If you were not under the influence, but you had been in possession of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia, you may be charged with a misdemeanor. Possession of marijuana for sale is a felony. Whether or not an officer witnesses a sale taking place, he or she can penalize you for having a scale, pager, or large amount of cash along with possession.

If you’ve been arrested for a marijuana-related DUI in Los Angeles, the first thing to do is contact a criminal defense attorney with extensive knowledge and experience about such cases. Michael Kraut is a Los Angeles DUI attorney with years of experience dealing with drug crimes in the region.

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