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As you research prospective Los Angeles DUI attorneys, you’re bound to stumble across many, many different blogs and websites of potentially viable candidates.choose-a-los-angeles-dui-lawyer

Some sites may look austere, dry and professional. Others may be far more involved and feature lots of multimedia whiz-bang business – video tutorials, white papers, in-depth free online slide shows, etc.

Unfortunately, the most effective DUI attorneys don’t necessarily have the most spectacular websites, and vice versa. There are some excellent attorneys who just don’t have the time/energy/need to build a massive online presence, because they get tons of business through referrals or through a minimalist online marketing system.

So where does that leave you, as you try to sift through the noise?

Obviously, since this is a DUI blog run by a particular law firm (the Kraut Law Group), we can’t exactly offer objective guidance! But there are some universally sound ways of vetting prospective attorneys. For instance:
•    Look at both objective and subjective measures of success. For instance, has the attorney won plaudits not just from past clients but also from objective third-party sources?
•    Can the lawyer or law firm recite impressive statistics (such as the fact that Mr. Kraut can say that he achieved over 99% success rate at jury trials, while serving as a criminal prosecutor)?
•    Have there been any business or ethics complaints against the firm?
•    Is the firm willing to provide a free and confidential consultation?

No vetting process is perfect. Given the nature of your case, many different attorneys may be up to the task of dispatching your matter effectively. But remember: your goal is to pass the “good enough” threshold. For a very minor matter, many lawyers might be up for the job. For more complex situations, your choice of attorney might matter more — a lot more, in fact.

What may appear to be a minor case could turn out to be something major. So that’s the tricky part! For instance, let’s say that police stopped you on Santa Monica Boulevard, after you and some friends had been partying, and cited you with a misdemeanor Los Angeles DUI charge. You didn’t hurt anybody. You didn’t fight with police. There was no additional “drama.” But the simple nature of your case may be an illusion. As your attorney delves into the evidence, he may find that the police behaved unconstitutionally, and your case may hinge on his ability to prove some obscure, very complex point of constitutional law.

Given the high stakes you face – the potential for jail time, massive fines and fees, and restrictions on your freedom and California drivers’ license – your attorney’s ability to find and debate that subtle piece of constitutional law suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

The point is this: take your time. Do due diligence, and really investigate potential legal resources. Feel free to connect with Harvard Law School educated, ex-prosecutor Michael Kraut today for a free, thorough, and confidential consultation about your Los Angeles DUI defense. You can trust the Kraut Law Firm for ethical, resourceful insight.
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It hasn’t exactly been the best of times, since your Los Angeles DUI stop. But at the very least, you survived the stop and/or accident. Now you’re trying to figure out what you need to do to protect your rights and minimize the collateral damage to your life and freedom.los-angeles-dui-license-suspension

One of the biggest inconveniences you face is the loss of your California driver’s license. Whether you lose it for a few days, a few months, or a few years, inconveniences abound:

•    How are you going to drive to and from work or school?
•    How are you going to shop at places like IKEA, Vons, etcetera?
•    How will you drive to social events, like dates and parties?
•    How will you get to LAX?

If you lived in D.C. or New York, your situation would be substantially easier. You could take buses, taxis and trains to go basically anywhere you wanted to go. But in LA, going from “car” to “no car” is not a simple, nor intuitive transition.

Is there a solution? Are there workarounds you can use to get results?

Los Angeles does boast a few train stations and a thriving bus system, so you can “get around.” But you might find yourself stranded, isolated, and generally far more dependent on friends and family members. If you are a student, maybe this means that you’ll need to drop out for a semester until you get your license back. Or maybe you’ll need to move closer to school, so you can walk to classes. If you are a single parent, who is already stretched, you may need to take your kids out of day care or hire yet more help to drive your kids to and from their schools.

The duration of the suspension can also be hugely impactful. If you’re only going to be without a drivers license for a few weeks, that might be manageable. For instance, you could ask your boss to let you take your vacation early this year.

The moral is that the outcome of your upcoming California Department of Motor Vehicles hearing could prove pivotal — not just for your short term interests but also for your long term future. If you must move to another part of the city – or quit a job or break off a relationship – due to the Los Angeles DUI inspired license suspension – the ramifications could literally change your life… and not in ways that you’d be particularly excited about!

There is a very short window of time that you have to act to fight your Los Angeles DUI arrest and protect your California drivers’ license. Get in touch with experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, Michael Kraut, of the Kraut Law Group right now to set up your free consultation about how to proceed, strategically.
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Some really sad Los Angeles DUI news out of Sun Valley — a veteran LAPD officer suffered massive injuries following a weekend crash. He is reported to be in “very critical condition” at the Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, and 100 police officers and members of the community have donated blood in an attempt to aid his treatment.police-officer-hurt-in-dui-crash-los-angeles

Valley Traffic Division Commanding Officer, Maureen Ryan, reported that “he has spinal injuries. They are trying to stabilize to get him ready for a serious surgery regarding his back.”

According to reports, a woman driving a Chevy Blazer hit his motorcycle from behind. Her driver’s license had expired nearly 10 years ago, and authorities later arrested her for drug DUI. Ryan said that “it’s ironic. It’s tragic. This woman chose to drive while being impaired. That’s why we are out there, to save lives.”

On Saturday evening, the 26 year veteran officer had been stopped at a red light, when a Chevy Blazer traveling southbound failed to see light and smashed into the motorcycle, crushing the officer against a Honda Accord that had stopped in front of him. The 33-year-old driver, Qaneak Cobb, is being held at the Van Nuys jail on $185,000 bond.

Per Los Angeles Superior Court records, Cobb has a significant criminal history, including charges that she possessed narcotics and a theft conviction. She was also driving on a license that had expired way back in June of 2005.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the brave officer, and we hope that he pulls through despite the horrific injuries.

In a DUI case in which someone gets hurt, prosecutors can ask to elevate what ordinarily would be a misdemeanor DUI charge (per CVC 23152) to an injury DUI charge (per CVC 23153). Even a misdemeanor charge carries substantial penalties, such as mandatory jail time, mandatory license suspension, forced alcohol school, probation, and (in some cases) forced installation of an interlock ignition device on the offender’s vehicle.

But charges per 23153 are even more intense. Depending on the nature of the alleged crime and what happened to the victim, the offender could face over a year behind bars – perhaps substantially longer.

The team here at the Kraut Law Group can help you build a defense to a Los Angeles DUI injury charge. Call former prosecutor and experienced criminal defense attorney, Michael Kraut, and the Kraut Law Group team today for a confidential assessment of your case.
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It’s a case that bares eerie and unsettling parallels with 20 year-old Oliver Culbreath’s recent fatal Los Angeles DUI crash on the 60 freeway.kayla-mendoza-dui

21 year-old Kayla Mendoza faces an array of charges, pursuant to a fatal accident that rocked Florida 5 months ago on the Sawgrass Expressway. Prior to the crash that claimed the lives of two young women, Marisa Catronio and Kaitlyn Ferrante, Mendoza allegedly sent out a tweet that she was “2 Drunk 2 Care.”

Mendoza recently appeared before Circuit Judge John Hurley to face two counts of DUI manslaughter due to impairment, two counts of vehicle homicide, two counts of driving without a license causing death, and two other counts of DUI manslaughter (with unlawful BAC).

Judge Hurley set Mendoza’s bond at $600,000. Even if she makes that bond, she must to stay under house arrest and may not leave Broward County. The families of the two victims showed up in court to watch the process. Catronio’s father expressed his outrage: “she changed the lives of our family forever… You took my baby girl. You took my wife’s best friend. You made bad decisions that night. The right decision was to have a friend to drive you home.”

Ferrante’s sister, Ashley, also wanted justice. She said “she made her bad and she has to lie in this now.” The families of both victims are suing the Tijuana Taxi Company for furnishing alcohol to then 20-year-old Mendoza. The lawsuit says “throughout the evening of November 16, 2013, and the early morning hours of November 17, 2013, Tijuana Taxi Company, willfully sold and furnished alcohol beverages to Mendoza, a minor not of the lawful drinking age.”

California law also is very strict on minors who drive DUI. Per California Vehicle Code Section 23136, a minor under the age of 21 who has BAC of just 0.01% or more can lose her driver’s license for a full year or face a full year delay in obtaining a license. This BAC level is extremely low – 8 times less than the legal limit for adults, 0.08%, as defined by CVC 23152.

If you are a minor who needs to defend against a Los Angeles DUI charge – or if you are the parent of someone who needs good legal assistance – consider calling the Kraut Law Group to schedule an immediate and free confidential case consultation. Mr. Kraut is a former senior level city prosecutor who is renowned for providing excellent, fair, and ethical defense services.
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Last Monday, actor David Cassidy pled no contest to charges that he had driven DUI in Los Angeles back in January near LAX. The former teen star was sentenced to 60 months’ probation and 90 days live-in rehabilitation. The 63-year-old actor will also have to pay fines and attend a nine month alcohol education class.david-cassidy-lax-los-angeles-dui

Ironically, Cassidy had been in town to deal with legal business – he is suing Sony Pictures Television for money he claimed that the company owed him for merchandizing his image. Cassidy’s manager said that the stress of being deposed led him to fall off the wagon and drink.

Cassidy’s DUI was not his first brush with law enforcement.

Last August, police arrested him in upstate New York for a felony DUI. Investigators report that plea deals were being worked out in that case, and Cassidy will most likely plead guilty to a misdemeanor DUI.

Prior to even that, the Partridge Family actor got arrested fro DUI in November 2010 in Florida — he allegedly blew 0.14 percent on a BAC test (nearly twice the Southern California legal limit). In 2012, he pled no contest to these charges, lost his license for six months, and faced a year of probation.

Cassidy’s situation brings up an interesting point: what happens when you try to “plea down” your DUI charges? What does that actually mean?

The California Vehicle Code identifies two major reduced charges – “wet reckless” and “dry reckless.”

California Vehicle Code Section 23103 and 23103.5 define the charges and their punishments. “Wet reckless” is a driving offense in which alcohol plays a role (hence the word “wet”). It is not as serious as a DUI. You don’t get a license suspension imposed by the court (although the DMV can still suspend your license). It comes with little or no jail time and lower fines.

A “dry reckless” is an even lesser charge. Effectively, it’s just reckless driving. This is even better, because it reflects less on insurance premiums, and it cannot be used to enhance your sentence, if you ever get charged again for DUI.

Los Angeles DUI defense attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group would be happy to discuss your case. Mr. Kraut is a former prosecutor (Harvard Law School educated) who is renowned for providing excellent service for his clients and for maintaining extensive connections with judges, police officers, and former prosecutorial colleagues.

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Our Los Angeles DUI blog reported several weeks ago on a very sad case out of Diamond Bar: 21-year-old Olivia Carolee Culbreath caused a crash on the 60 Freeway early February that killed six people.Culbreath-dui-los-angeles-deaths

Last week, the young woman went to court to answer the judge’s questions – she will be arraigned on May 21. Before causing the awful wreck, Culbreath had been convicted of a DUI in San Bernardino County and cited for traffic violations on two other occasions.

17 separate witnesses said they had seen a driver barreling down the 57 and 60 Freeways going the wrong way, just before the collision. Witnesses said that Culbreath was traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour.

The crash involved Culbreath’s vehicle and two other vehicles. All told, there were only two survivors from the awful wreck – Culbreath herself and Joel Cortez, the driver of one of the other vehicles. Two of Culbreath’s passengers — 21-year-old Kristin Melissa Young, and Culbreath’s sister, 24-year-old Maya — died in the crash. Four people driving a Ford Explorer involved in the crash — Gregorio Megia-Martinez, Leticia Ibarra, Jessica Jasmine Mejia, and Ester Delgado — all died.

Culbreath herself suffered serious injuries, including a ruptured bladder and a broken femur. She is being held on a $6 million bail, and she faces life behind bars. As the judge asked her questions, she allegedly “softly answered” and “did not look towards her family.” Her family members were said to be “disheartened – an obvious reaction, given that one sister had been killed and the other faces a life prison sentence.

Culbreath had to be wheeled into the courtroom on a stretcher, because she still cannot walk due to her injuries.

Obviously, Culbreath’s case is extreme – fortunately, most DUI incidents do not lead to such horrific results. However, if you or a loved one did get into an accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could face vehicular manslaughter or murder charges, depending on your past and what happened during the event.

One of the more serious types of vehicular manslaughter charges is called “gross vehicular manslaughter while DUI” — it is punished per Penal Code Section 191.5(a). Prosecutors have a high burden of proof in such a case. To prove gross negligence, you need to show that what happened was beyond the realm of normal negligence – for instance, you acted in a way that a reasonable person would conclude could cause serious harm or death. (Driving 100 miles per hour the wrong way on a freeway would certainly qualify, per this definition.)

For help defending against your Los Angeles DUI charges — whether you face vehicular manslaughter or much less serious charges — please turn to attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group for a free, confidential consultation.

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If you’ve been arrested on a Los Angeles DUI charge, odds are that you’re probably facing a relatively minor (but still serious) charge, such as misdemeanor DUI. If your case is extreme – for instance if you hurt someone – you might face a felony. This is a very serious charge that can lead to over a year behind bars.Ever-Olivos-Gutierrez-dui

However, unless your situation is very intense, you probably won’t face a first degree murder charge.

Not so for Ever Olivos-Gutierrez, a native Mexico living in Colorado, who hit and killed a man last Monday morning. Authorities say Olivos-Gutierrez ran a stop light and smashed his Ford Expedition into a Chevy Camaro driven by Juan Carlos Dominguez-Palomino, killing the 17-year-old on the scene. Olivos-Gutierrez then fled the crash, but police tracked him down. Per the arrest affidavit, he tested over four times the legal limit for DUI.

Prior to the fatal crash, Olivos-Gutierrez had been arrested multiple times on DUI-related charges and other traffic incidents. Approximately half of his arrests and offenses happened when he was living in the United States illegally – he never had a Colorado driver’s license.

Authorities say that his fatal wreck last week mirrored a similar crash in September 2008, when an illegal immigrant named Francis Hernandez hit a pickup truck while DUI — driving 80 miles per hour — on a street in Aurora. The force of the accident thrust the truck into a nearby ice-cream shop, where it killed a 3-year-old boy and two women who had been eating inside.

Despite the fact that Olivos-Gutierrez had been arrested twice for DUI – once in 2000 and once in 2007 — and that he committed multiple driving offenses and infractions, while driving without a license and living in the country illegally — he served less than a year of jail time. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) only had documentation of one of his arrests. (When the Denver Post reported on this story, officials from ICE did not comment.)

Recently, in California, our Supreme Court decided to give the green light to prosecutors to pursue DUI murder charges – also known as Watson Murders. This charge is a second degree murder charge, and it can be punished by up to life in prison. Part of what makes this charge particularly strong is that it contains an element of what’s known as “implied malice” – i.e., the driver clearly understood the dangerous risks of his actions but engaged in bad behavior anyway and then killed somebody. After you have been convicted of a DUI, you need to sign a statement known as a Watson Advisement that acknowledges that you understand how dangerous DUI driving can be.

For help unpacking your Los Angeles DUI defense, connect with attorney Michael Kraut. Mr. Kraut is a former prosecutor (Deputy District Attorney). He has appeared on Good Morning America and written in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times about DUI cases in the news.
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You just got arrested for DUI in Los Angeles. Your mind is racing with questions:deja-vu-los-angeles-dui

•    ”What attorney should I hire?”
•    ”What can I do, if anything, to fight the automatic drivers license suspension?”
•    ”How will I manage my life, if I have to spend substantial time behind bars or spend months without a valid license to drive to work?”
•    ”What will my friends and parents think about me?”

You’d love to concentrate on solving those issues, but your mind just can’t stay focused. You keep getting drawn back into remembering the drama of what happened. Perhaps the event was actually dramatic, in an objective sense. For instance, maybe your car flipped on the 210, and you hit a concrete barrier. Or maybe you almost ran into (and killed) some pedestrians.

You can’t stop yourself from thinking about the different ways the accident or arrest could have “gone worse.”

Or maybe you keep recalling the feeling of fear that jolted through your body when the red and blue lights flashed behind you, or the maddening conversation you had with the arresting officer.

In any case, the following lesson is abundantly clear: you need to manage this non-stop, destructive mental monologue.

To the extent that you feel out of control about you case is to the extent that your mind will likely “hold onto” these negative thoughts and drive you nuts. But once you know what to expect about your case — and what to do in the next few hours and days — you’ll likely find yourself spontaneously letting go of the looping mental chatter. So that’s one key: get clarity on your case!

Here’s another suggestion. Practice deep breathing and meditation exercises. And/or get therapy, particularly if you were involved in a traumatic incident.

Lastly, connect with a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer here at the Kraut Law Group. Attorney Michael Kraut is a Harvard Law School educated former prosecutor – he used to work as a Senior Deputy District Attorney for the City of Los Angeles, during which time he obtained a 99%+ success rate at jury trials. He’s won respect as a criminal defense lawyer not just from clients but also from his peers, such as judges and prosecutors.
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Reporting for KPCC, journalist Erica Aguilar recently published a “deep dive” examination into female DUI arrests in Los Angeles. Her two-part series is obviously well worth read.female-dui-los-angeles

Let’s examine a few key themes she discusses in her article. The information will probably shock you!

Aguilar opens by quoting Rosemary Earl, a juror who helped to convict a 38-year-old woman of second degree murder, after the woman hit and killed two other women while DUI and then fled the scene. Earl told KPCC: “I put someone in jail, and it impacts me … she took two lives that destroyed a lot of other people’s lives.”

KPCC analyzed two decades of DMV data and found that the number of female DUI arrests has gone up – both across the state and here in LA – for reasons that are befuddling to the experts. Stephen Bloch, a researcher at the Automobile Club of Southern California, told KPCC: “[The number of female DUI arrests] was somewhat stable in the 1980s, and then began to go up and just accelerated, particularly from 1999 to 2011.”

Meanwhile, the number of male DUIs fell during that same period.

Another analyst noted: “We don’t know if more women are drinking and driving … all we do know is that more women are being arrested.”

So why is this all happening?

One spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department suggested that an improvement in deputy and officer training could potentially explain the findings. For instance, around 2008, CHP began a concerted, aggressive push to bust drivers for driving under the influence. DUI arrests soon went up. But this doesn’t explain why MALE arrests went down during this time, while FEMALE arrests went up.

Another theory suggests that police have been getting better at identifying drivers who are not just DUI but also under the influence of prescription medications. Potentially, more women than men mix prescription drugs with alcohol. This might explain the discrepancy.

Yet another explanation is purely demographic. More and more women are entering the workforce. Thus, more and more women are driving, instead of staying at home and attending to kids. The surge in female DUI arrests, in other words, has nothing to do with enforcement and everything to do with the fact that the subset of female population that always been more inclined to drive DUI has increased due to socioeconomic and cultural factors.

Whether or not researchers will ever really understand the “big picture” stuff driving this peculiar trend – perhaps the numbers are just a statistical artifact? – you want urgent help with your Los Angeles DUI defense.

Contact attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group right now for ethical, thorough, and highly strategic assistance with your case.
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One of the worst aspects of being arrested for DUI in Los Angeles is the fact that your private moments of weakness can suddenly turn into viral video hits, causing obvious humiliation and potential damage to your brand and future employment and relationship possibilities.kate-major-dui

Of course, online tabloids, like TMZ, have no problem putting up such embarrassing videos – especially of celebrities – to generate hits and traffic. To wit, TMZ just published dashcam footage featuring Michael Lohan’s girlfriend, Kate Major, crying to a police officer after being pulled over on suspicion of DUI near her house in Florida. Allegedly, Lohan and Major had been involved in a “blowout argument” (per TMZ). Lohan is father of the famous (or, perhaps, “infamous”) actress Lindsay Lohan. He and Major have a young child together.

After their “blowout,” Major allegedly got behind the wheel. She didn’t make it far – she crashed. A police report says that Major had serious difficulty with her field sobriety tests. She “missed the tip of her nose on her second, third, fourth, and fifth attempts. Touched on her nostril on the second, third, and fourth attempt, touching the space between her nose and upper lip in the fifth attempt.”

She also didn’t do much better when it came to reciting her ABCs: “on her first attempt, she gave the sequence L M X twice and spoke at a really fast pace. On her second attempt, she did not keep her eyes closed and got stuck on the letter V. Major was never able to recite the alphabet A to Z.”

Police say that her BAC was an astonishing 0.243%. For those of you who are keeping at track at home, that’s more than triple the legal limit for DUI in Southern California, as defined by CVC Section 23152. In addition to facing a DUI charge, she also faces a charge of battery for her fisticuffs with Lohan. Her bail was set at $16,000.

Major’s arrest gives us a good segue to discuss the key field sobriety tests used by Southern California police officers to determine DUI:

•    The horizontal gaze nystagmus test. An officer looks into your eyes to see whether you can follow a prompt. A long lag time could indicate DUI.
•    Walk the line test. You’re asked to walk nine paces in both directions on a white line (such as painted line on the road). Loss of balance indicates possible DUI.
•    One leg stand test. An officer will ask you to lift a leg and stand on one foot for 30 seconds. Loss of balance or coordination might indicate DUI.
•    Rhomberg test. You will be asked to tilt your head backwards and count up to 30. Again, loss of balance could indicate DUI.

If you failed your field sobriety tests and got arrested for DUI in Los Angeles, connect with Attorney Michael Kraut today for a free, confidential consultation about your possible next steps. Mr. Kraut is a former prosecutor with an excellent track record (99% plus success rate at jury trials, for instance) and many connections in the Los Angeles criminal defense community.
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