Articles Posted in Case Summaries

Changes to California’s DUI laws can affect hundreds or even thousands of drivers accused of DUI in Los Angeles.
To that point, consider the big legal dust up currently transpiring in the Show Me state. Missouri legislators recently ended their 2016 legislative session without addressing a typo in regulations regarding calibration of breathalyzers used to measure blood alcohol content. The regulations, written by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, should have read that breathalyzers had to be calibrated to 0.10 percent, 0.08 percent OR 0.04 percent. missouri-dui-law-typo-los-angeles-dui-lawyer-reports

Instead the regulations said that the calibration had to be to 0.10 percent, 0.08 percent AND 0.04 percent.

The regulations were in effect from December 30, 2013 until April 2014, when the DHHS corrected the error. Missouri’s Supreme Court ruled that drivers charged with DUI during that time could get their breathalyzer results thrown out as evidence, if the instrument had not been calibrated at all three levels.

According to local reports, however, the court suggested a way that the state legislature could fix the issue. While the Missouri Senate and the Missouri House of Representatives had actually both passed laws to that effect, these different bills were never reconciled.

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Should the government be able to seize a vehicle driven by someone convicted of multiple DUIs in Los Angeles? California’s vehicle codes do permit temporary impoundment of motor vehicles driven by anyone convicted of even a first-time DUI. Although the law also allows for permanent seizure of vehicles of repeat (three or more time) DUI offenders, few jurisdictions take this option.New-Mexico-Lisa-Torraco-Daniel-Ivey-Soto-DUI-law

For DUI drivers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, however the scenario is quite different. They could permanently lose their vehicles after being arrested for DUI, despite an attempt by state legislators to curb this practice. Now a

District Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the city’s seizure practice.

Under California law, drivers charged with DUI in Los Angeles have the right to demand a jury trial. That’s not the case in every state. In a May 12th ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court said that defendants facing trial for repeat DUI driving charges should not be entitled to jury trials.NJ-supreme-court-los-angeles-DUI

According to an article in the New Jersey Law Journal, the New Jersey Supreme Court justices decided 5-1 in State v. Denelsbeck that the penalties faced by drivers charged with third and subsequent DUIs face penalties are not serious enough to warrant jury trials. Those penalties include up to six months in jail as well as fines. The court stated that “the need for a jury trial is outweighed by the state’s interest in promoting efficiency through non-jury trials.”

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Since the passage of AB 91 in 2010, California has required all drivers convicted of DUI in Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento and Tulare Counties to install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) in their vehicles if they want to qualify for a restricted driving license. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has supported this effort and similar policies adopted by other states.Luis Reluzco DUI

Now Maryland legislators have passed their own version of the IID law. In their 2016 session, which ended in mid-April, Maryland legislators unanimously adopted Noah’s Law, named in honor of a Montgomery County police officer struck and killed by a drunk driver last December. Ironically, Officer Noah Leotta was working at a sobriety checkpoint at the time.

The new law will apply to anyone, including first-time offenders, who have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. They’ll need to keep the IID for six months or lose their license. Anyone who refuses a breathalyzer test at the time of arrest will have to install the IID for nine months after conviction or give up their driving privileges for that time.

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Drivers who appeal their conviction for DUI in Los Angeles always hope that an appeals court will rule in their favor. A Nebraska driver had that wish come true—only to have the state’s Supreme Court overrule the appeals court, so his conviction still stands.Nebraska Supreme Court DUI case

The Lincoln Journal Star reported on the case of 27-year old Adam Woldt, arrested for DUI in September 2013. A police officer had pulled over a truck that was traveling in front of Woldt’s vehicle, because the officer thought that truck had knocked over some traffic cones. Woldt said that the truck and the police vehicle, with its door open, were blocking the road, so he started backing up in order to drive around the two stopped vehicles.

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Prosecutors sometimes use a “relation-back” calculation to determine blood alcohol content when charging someone with a Los Angeles DUI. The theory is that chemists or other experts can look at the results of a blood test taken a few hours after an arrest and calculate what the BAC content would have been at the time the police officer pulled the driver over. judge-rules-in-DUI-case

Now a judge in Vermont has ruled that the state can’t use such evidence.

According to WCAX and NECN (New England Cable News), Judge Howard Van Benthuysen of the Orleans County Criminal Court ruled that the “relation-back” calculations are unreliable. He cited scientific evidence that shows alcohol leaves people’s bloodstreams at very different rates.

With his decision, Judge Van Benthuysen threw out the BAC in 25 DUI driving cases before the court. There’s no word yet about whether or not the prosecutor will appeal the ruling to a higher court. In Michigan, meanwhile, the state’s appeals court has ruled that operating your car in a driveway while under the influence does not constitute DUI.

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When a police officer suspects someone of DUI in Los Angeles, the officer will usually ask the driver to take a breathalyzer test. Under California Vehicle Code 23612, a driver who refuses could face fines, mandatory jail time and loss of license for a year if the court convicts him/her of DUI.  4th-amendment-los-angeles-DUI

A case now before the Supreme Court of the United States could force California and 11 other states to change such laws. Judging from the questions posed by the Justices during oral arguments on April 20th, the court appeals skeptical about states’ contentions that public safety issues should outweigh Fourth Amendment concerns.

Both Minnesota and North Dakota have laws similar to California’s “implied consent” statute, making it a crime to refuse chemical testing when officers suspect DUI. The Supreme Court consolidated appeals in three separate cases–one from Minnesota and two from North Dakota–into one case, Birchfield v. North Dakota. The defendants in these cases either served time for refusing a breathalyzer or felt they were pressured into submitting to one, leading to convictions on DUI charges.

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Anyone facing trial for a Los Angeles DUI would be well advised to tell the truth when taking the stand. Lying to a judge and jury lead to serious consequences, including perjury charges. But if the truthfulness of a police officer’s statement is in doubt, that can be good news for drivers whose convictions depend on his or her testimony.losangeles-DUI-charges-thrown-out

To that point, the district attorney of Wake County, North Carolina, recently decided to dismiss charges against 104 drivers accused of DUI after a judge caught a sheriff’s deputy lying during his testimony during one trial. Prosecutors had planned to use Deputy Robert Davis as a witness in those DUI cases and in 71 other traffic cases, which the prosecutor also dismissed.

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Motorists stopped for speeding often face other problems, including charges of DUI in Los Angeles. The police can use the results of a field sobriety test to support the charge, but what happens if the results of that test are not clear?

interesting-DUI-case-TennesseeA ruling by Tennessee’s Court of Criminal Appeals will require Anthony John Silver to stand trial for driving under the influence, despite dispute over his performance on a field sobriety test. A Williamson County Circuit Court judge had thrown out Silver’s arrest, contending that the police officer on the case had inaccurately described what happened during the tests. The three-panel appeals court disagreed with that decision and reinstated the charges against Silva.

News agencies reported that Officer Adam Cohen of the Franklin Police Department pulled Silva over when he saw him driving 46 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone. Officer Cohen said Silva smelled like alcohol and admitted he had drunk three beers several hours earlier.

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If courts convicted you of a DUI in Los Angeles that caused serious injury and sentenced you to harsh penalties, you’d likely want to explore the possibility of appealing your conviction. But a court in Florida has ruled that one defendant needs to limit his appeal.

March 7, 2012 - West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. -   WEST PALM BEACH - John Goodman looks at potential jurors during the second day of jury selection in his DUI Manslaughter trial Wednesday. (Credit Image: © Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post/

March 7, 2012 – West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. – WEST PALM BEACH – John Goodman looks at potential jurors during the second day of jury selection in his DUI Manslaughter trial Wednesday. (Credit Image: © Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post/

In February, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled that attorneys for John Goodman, convicted of DUI manslaughter in 2014, had to keep their appeal down to 100 pages—12 more than they originally filed. Goodman’s lawyers are asking that the appeals court overturn his conviction or at least grant him a new (third) trial.

Miami’s Sun Sentinel reported that attorneys representing the State of Florida had argued that Goodman’s appeal was more than twice the length of the filings that appeals courts usually allowed. They contended that 85 pages should be the maximum number.

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