Articles Posted in Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

DUI-myths-vs-realityAs much as we are bombarded with media messages and warnings to avoid drinking and driving—and the consequences if we ignore those warnings—it’s remarkable how much the public doesn’t understand about DUI, especially here in Los Angeles. In particular, people who get pulled over on suspicion of DUI frequently have inaccurate preconceived ideas about what officers can and cannot do, what might cause an arrest, whether or not the charges will stick, and so on.

To be clear, you should never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking, and nothing we’re about to say should be construed as suggesting otherwise. However, people frequently misjudge their own thresholds, and even people who haven’t been drinking sometimes find themselves under roadside investigation for DUI. Let’s dispel a few commonly held myths about DUI in Los Angeles (and the rest of California, for that matter) and replace them with the facts.

MYTH: Only people who have been drinking are arrested for DUI.

DUI-child-endangerment-CA-300x199Here in California, a single DUI can disrupt your life significantly. Even if you’ve been arrested for your first DUI, it can cost you fines, jail time and license suspension if you are convicted.

However, if you were arrested for DUI with children in the car, your world is about to get a whole lot more complicated. If you drive under the influence, you are considered a threat to public safety, let alone yourself. But if your kids are in the car when you do it, now you’re looking at possible child endangerment—a whole other issue that can add mandatory jail time and more to your sentence.

The repercussions of driving DUI with kids in the car extend well beyond the arrest itself. Let’s look at the numerous possible consequences of doing so.

DUI-drug-los-angeles-defense-300x172On September 7, 2017, Stergios Economos was driving in Burbank, CA when he struck Michelle Ann Landes, age 64, who was walking to her job at Walt Disney Studios, striking three other vehicles and injuring at least one other person in the process. Landes was rushed to the hospital but soon died from her injuries. Last month, as KTLA reports, Economos was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of a drug.

While tragic stories like these are far too common, this incident in particular holds several important lessons because of the details surrounding it. Let’s unpack this story and see what we can learn.

Alcohol Is Not the Only Substance that Can Impair You.

doctor-license-and-DUI-los-angelesOn February 20, 2016, Dr. Rex Lloyd Patrick Rhoten, a neurosurgeon with Kaiser Permanente, was driving his Tesla along a stretch of road in Rancho Santa Fe, supposedly on his way to work, when official documents state he crashed his vehicle into some trees, according to NBC 7 in San Diego. The responding officer noticed possible signs of intoxication which were confirmed with several field sobriety tests. His BAC level was registered as .26, over three times the legal limit. A few months later, Rhoten was convicted on charges of DUI; shortly after, the California Attorney General filed a Matter of Accusation with the state Medical Board, putting Rhoten’s professional license in jeopardy.

According to official documents filed one year after the incident, Rhoten is prohibited from the solo practice of medicine for five years pending an evaluation—his medical license revoked, but stayed, during the five-year probation.

A DUI conviction can cause widespread repercussions, including jail time, fines, required treatment, driver’s license suspension and social embarrassment—but for people whose jobs involve professional licensing, a DUI can have even more serious repercussions. Licensing boards may invoke disciplinary action on members who receive DUI convictions—anything ranging from official reprimands to fines, mandatory treatment, suspensions and even permanently revoking their licenses.

Here in California, even a single DUI conviction can complicate your life greatly. A first-time conviction can cost you jail time, license restrictions, fines and mandatory classes—not to mention embarrassment in your home and professional life. However, these difficulties pale in comparison to what you could face for multiple DUIs. By the time you reach three or more convictions, California law places you in an entirely different category, in part thanks to the “three-strike” criminal penalty structure. If you are facing your third (or more) DUI conviction, you’ll need to be prepared for some major changes in your life.three_DUIs-los-angeles-300x199

The penalties for three or more DUI convictions within 10 years are spelled out in California Vehicle Code 23546 and 23548. We’ve summarized the key points below so you’ll know what to expect and how to prepare.

Be Prepared to Spend Time in Jail

It’s the scenario we all hope never happens—and one that in truth should never happen. Someone has a lapse in judgment, gets behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or another substance, gets into an accident—and another person dies as a result. Aside from the overwhelming sense of loss and guilt of knowing his actions have caused this death, now that person may be facing more serious criminal charges on top of the DUI.DUI-murder-300x200

In a perfect world, you should never find yourself in this situation, but if you are charged in California with a DUI incident involving a fatality, what can you expect? What, exactly, are you facing?

Three Possible Charges

Juslos-angeles-DUI-celebrity-DUIstin Bieber. Lindsey Lohan. Paris Hilton. Kevin Hart. Chris Pine. Reese Witherspoon. Bella Hadid. This list represents a mere handful of known names who have been charged with DUI in Los Angeles (and elsewhere) over the past 10 years, with many others right alongside. It seems so commonplace that, as HuffPost reports, during an appearance on, Jason Priestly joked with Chelsea Handler on her show Chelsea Lately about his own DUI. “What self-respecting Los Angeleno doesn’t have a DUI under their belt?” he said. The joke was accompanied by high-fives with Handler, who, not surprisingly, also has a DUI on her record.

Aside from the controversy of famous people downplaying the seriousness of impaired driving, salacious reports of celebrity wrongdoing have been the guilty pleasure of millions of people for as long as anyone can remember. These impulses of ours are what keep websites like TMZ and The National Enquirer in business.

The question is: Why?

As the Ne2018-habits-to-improve-driving-for-DUI-defedants-300x150w Year gets underway, millions of people are trying to keep those resolutions they made over the holidays. Some of the most common resolutions are health related (e.g., get in shape, quit smoking, lose weight, eat healthy). However, let me propose an alternative resolution if you haven’t picked one yet: What about learning better driving habits (especially if police recently stopped you for a Los Angeles DUI)? Becoming a safer driver could be the healthiest choice of all—because it affects not just you, but everyone around you. Here in California where good driving habits seem scarce, why not become the exception to the rule? Let’s take a look at three smart driving habits you should consider adopting this year.

1. Know When Not to Drive

Ironically, one of the most important decisions you can make as a driver is the decision to let someone else get behind the wheel. If you’ve ever been arrested for DUI, this issue should be top-of-mind. However, avoiding DUI begins long before you find yourself in a bad situation. It starts with a quality decision not to drive if you indulge in alcohol or drugs, and moves forward from there.

santa-DUI-los-angeles-300x225For many of us, the holiday season is intended to be a time for celebrating with family and friends, a time of joy and merriment. However, few things can put a bigger damper on the celebrations quicker than a DUI arrest—and DUI incidents spike considerably over the holidays, compared to the rest of the year.

Here in Southern California, the Los Angeles Police Department has already announced an increased number of sobriety checkpoints throughout L.A., from December 15 through January 1, as part of their “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. Officer Inman of the Traffic Coordination Section explained:

“This holiday season, drivers will notice increased enforcement watching closely for anyone who is driving impaired.… With extra travelers on the roads and people celebrating, we will likely see an uptick in impaired driving. The LAPD will be arresting anyone caught driving impaired.”

Under California law, “driving under the influence” (DUI) doesn’t just apply to alcohol. It also encompasses the use prescription-drug-DUI-los-angelesof any drug that may impair your ability to operate a vehicle. That includes illegal drugs, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications. In other words, if an officer pulls you over and suspects you are impaired due to the use of drugs—even those you’re legally allowed to take—he can still arrest you under suspicion of DUI.

Most of us understand the dangers of combining alcohol with driving, but statistically, far fewer people understand or recognize prescription drugs’ effects on our ability to drive. Let’s look at a few startling numbers, courtesy of AAA:

• Nearly 50 percent of Americans say they have taken prescription drugs within the past 30 days. Thirty-one percent take at least two prescriptions.

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