Articles Posted in Driving Under the Influence

self-driving-car-DUI-300x169Few people these days would dispute the idea that fully autonomous vehicles are in our future, probably sooner than we think. Many of our cars are already parking for us, many are equipped to brake automatically to avoid collisions, and many self-driving prototypes are already in development. But what will these advancements do to our current DUI laws? Will our cars truly be so autonomous that intoxicated drivers will be able to use them as taxis? Will DUI laws become obsolete?

Not so fast.

At the annual meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which took place in Louisville, KY in September, autonomous vehicles dominated the conversation, particularly in the context of open container laws. “Autonomous vehicles can be a designated driver,” said Russ Martin, director of government relations for the GHSA in comments after the meeting. “But at a certain point the law is going to have to draw a line somewhere as when it’s safe to do so…Right now, in most states it’s illegal to have an open container of alcohol while you’re driving…What about open container laws? Do they need to be modified or qualified, depending on the level of automation?”

With just two months to go until 2018 arrives, it’s a good time to take a look at some of the highlights—or lowlights—of DUI arrests that have been reported around the country this year.tiger-woods-DUI-300x168

1. Off course

Tiger Woods, once the most celebrated golfer in the world, hasn’t been at the top of his game for some time. But his May arrest for DUI may have marked an unfortunate new low in the athlete’s life.

Dealing with the aftereffects of a DUI is never easy. It’s especially difficult, however, when you’re living on the economic edge: if you’re a single mom who’s working two jobs and struggling to make ends meet, a student working your way through school or a veteran or retiree living on a fixed and very limited income. no-car-los-angeles-DUI

You’ll have to find a way to pay the cost of fines and court-mandated DUI classes. If you’re depended on your car to get to your job or to your school, you’ll have to search for an alternate mode of transportation. But one good thing about living in the Los Angeles area is that you may have more options for coping with the crisis than someone who lives in more rural areas.

Getting around

A conviction for DUI can shatter your life. You may have spent some time in jail. You could be facing thousands of dollars in fines. You may have to go DUI classes. You can lose your license; and even after you get it back, you may face the embarrassment of having an ignition interlock device installed in your car. The incident can take away not only your self-respect but also the respect of your family, your friends and your work colleagues.comeback-after-a-DUI-conviction-300x169

So how do you get past a DUI conviction? What can you do to rebuild your life and get it back on track? You might want to extract insight–not from the experts—but rather from people who have lived this experience and who really understand what true recovery is going to take.

Life After DUI: Attempting to Start Over without Really Starting Over

New technologies will be changing the approach to dealing with DUIs in the coming years. Drivers will have better ways to monitor their own blood alcohol levels, and the vehicles they drive could come equipped to prevent them from driving if they’ve overindulged. Meanwhile lawmakers and law enforcement officers may gain at least one new tool to help them detect DUI drivers and get them off the road.tostitos-dui-prevention-tech

Determining sobriety

Suppose you’ve gone to a bar with a few friends and had a couple of drinks over the course of an evening. When it comes time to leave, you feel completely sober…but you have to wonder, since you’re a responsible driver, if it’s really safe to be behind the wheel. (As you probably know, alcohol impairs your ability to make good decisions.)

One of the most discouraging aspects of being a police officer on the lookout for cases of DUI in Los Angeles must be the number of repeat offenders that they find on the road. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not limited to LA or to the State of California, as this case from Tulsa, Oklahoma, clearly illustrates.multiple-DUI-arrests

The website Tulsa World reports an officer with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol arrested Ivan Ramirez on Thursday, October 20th, for DUI and transporting an open container (among other offenses). The same trooper had just stopped Ramirez three days earlier and arrested him for DUI at that time, too.

Getting picked up twice in one week for DUI is bad enough, but Ramirez made matters worse on that Thursday night. The trooper pulled over Ramirez’s Honda, which had been moving erratically. The trooper recognized Ramirez and smelled alcohol on his breath. He also knew that Ramirez didn’t have a license, because the officer had confiscated it on the night of the first arrest.

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last June requiring warrants for blood tests for drivers suspected of DUI has continued to have repercussions throughout the United States. Now the Minnesota Supreme Court has decided that police cannot compel a driver to provide a urine sample for a DUI test unless they have a warrant. This ruling could set a precedent that dramatically changes the way that police in California handle cases of DUI in Los Angeles and other jurisdictions.MN-supreme-court

The Minnesota Supreme Court handed down a unanimous ruling in two cases: State v. Thompson and State V. Trahan. (Two justices did abstain, however.) In the Thompson case, the judges rejected arguments that a urine test is just part of a Constitutionally-valid search that police can conduct when they arrest someone.

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Police officers are all too familiar with injuries and deaths caused by a driver who is both speeding and DUI in Los Angeles. A few hours south of LA, a race between two young and allegedly intoxicated drivers in the San Diego area has left a passenger in one car dead.Los-Angeles-DUI-and speeding

Residents along East H Street in Chula Vista have often complained to authorities about the vehicles that race along that road. In the early morning hours of Saturday, October 8th, Jose Molina Ramirez, 22, and Nicholas Nesbitt, 22, pitted their vehicles against each other with fatal consequences. While traveling at 100 mph, Ramirez lost control of his car, went careening across the median (cutting two magnolia trees in half) and then moving across the traffic lanes opposite from the ones he had been traveling on. (Fortunately he did not hit any vehicles traveling in this direction.)

While Ramirez and his front seat passenger managed to escape unharmed, the back seat passenger, 22-year-old Sergio Isai Ramirez, was not wearing a seatbelt. He was killed on impact.

Neighbors reported hearing screeching tires and a loud crash at the time of the accident.

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Drivers convicted of DUI in Los Angeles, Alameda, Sacramento and Tulare Counties are no longer the only Californians required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for a first-time DUI. On Wednesday, September 28th, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1046, which extends the four-county pilot programs to the entire state. Motorists do have some breathing room, however; the law won’t go into effect until January 1, 2019.Senate Bill 1046

Senator Jerry Hill, who sponsored the legislation, said that the new law will save lives. “We’ve already seen this to be true in the four counties conducting the pilot program: Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) have saved lives by preventing more than 1 million attempts to drink and drive since 2010,” he noted.

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Would the number of DUIs in Los Angeles decrease if drivers and/or police officers had an easier, more reliable way to measure blood alcohol content? los-angeles-DUI-sweat-test

Researchers at the University of San Diego have developed a wearable, flexible sensor that can accurately measure a person’s BAC from sweat. The device, a temporary tattoo, actually induces sweat and then detects the alcohol levels electrochemically. The device communicates the information to a mobile device—laptop, tablet or phone—via Bluetooth.

Nano engineering professor Joseph Wang and electrical engineering professor Patrick Mercier led the team that developed the sensor. “This technology provides an accurate, convenient and quick way to monitor alcohol consumption to help prevent people from driving while intoxicated,” said Wang. He envisions interfacing the device with an ignition interlock device, or people using it to monitor their own alcohol levels so they could refrain from driving if they were legally under the influence.

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