Articles Posted in Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Recent studies commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington State after it legalized usage of the drug. This fact makes it clear that states need good ways to get drivers under the influence of marijuana off the road. But there’s a big problem. To date, there’s no reliable and widely accepted method of measuring levels of marijuana in a driver’s system.  marijuana-breathalyzer-300x169

It would be great if companies could develop the equivalent of an alcohol breathalyzer for testing for motorists who are DUI for cannabis. Law enforcement officials have been relying on breathalyzer technology to estimate blood alcohol levels for decades. In addition, there’s a clear-cut agreement of what constitutes DUI; all 50 states accept a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater as the dividing line.

But it isn’t that easy when it comes to determining DUI for marijuana.  First, police need a roadside method of measuring levels of cannabis’s main active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in a driver’s system. There are a few companies and university researchers that are attempting to solve this challenge right now, and some are already marketing devices.

A growing number of drivers charged with DUI in Los Angeles and throughout California have been accused of operating under the influence of some drug other than alcohol. In one recent case in Los Banos, California, police arrested a young driver and charged him with operating under the influence of marijuana.pot-dui-los-angeles-underage

On Friday, May 28th, Los Banos police officers investigating a crash on Dove Street at Highway 165 called on the California Highway Patrol for assistance. According to the Merced Sun Star, a Los Banos officer had pulled over a 1998 Ford Windstar after he saw it swerving on the road. The driver did pull over and opened the sliding door of the vehicle, but then took off at high speed. The officer, who said the vehicle smelled strongly of pot, pursued the vehicle for a short distance, but it drove into an irrigation ditch and hit a dirt embankment.

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Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion famously quipped about the town of Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”no-two-duis-in-los-angeles-alike

This notion – that we all think that we are special – has pretty profound implications for your Los Angeles DUI defense.

Obviously, no two DUIs are exactly alike, and many factors might particularly distinguish your arrest from the pack. But rather than think that you are a unique defendant, it might help to take the opposite approach – to begin with the assumption that your case is standard.

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Eleven U.S. states have now legalized or decriminalized marijuana. California, which approved of the use of the drug for medical purposes, also seeks to legalize the drug completely in the next few years. But the move to legalization raises the question of how marijuana impacts a driver. How much THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) would have to be in the bloodstream before police could charge someone with a DUI in Los Angeles?marijuana-DUI-test-los-angeles

A Florida state legislator, Dave Kerner of Lake Worth, believes that there should be a standard for determining marijuana intoxication when it comes to driving, just as there is a blood alcohol content for people who drink. He thinks that at 5 nanograms of active THC in the bloodstream, the courts should presume that the person is driving under the influence of cannabis.

Kerner introduced a bill into the Florida Legislature to make this standard the law in the Sunshine State. He named the bill the Naomi Pomerance Victim Safety Act in honor of a 16-year-old girl killed in a crash caused by a person high on marijuana. Kerner isn’t a marijuana opponent, however; he supports medical marijuana.

Other states are addressing this issue as well. Colorado, where marijuana is legal, already has a law that presumes that someone is operating under the influence if the THC level in the bloodstream is 5 nanograms or higher.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says that data from road traffic arrests and fatalities indicate that after alcohol, marijuana is the most frequently detected psychoactive substance among drivers. Marijuana has been shown to impair performance on driving simulator tasks and on open and closed driving courses for up to approximately 3 hours.
“Decreased car handling performance, increased reaction times, impaired time and distance estimation, inability to maintain headway, lateral travel, subjective sleepiness, motor incoordination, and impaired sustained vigilance have all been reported,” according to the NHTSA. The organization has not taken a position, however on the use of THC levels to measure driver impairment.

Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, Michael Kraut, of the Kraut Law Group is standing by to offer critical insight into your case and potential defense options. Call him and his team today to begin regaining control over your case and your life.

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Drivers charged with a Los Angeles DUI could face more than just legal penalties. As this story from Alabama shows, they might have to live with the fact that they’ve ruined somebody else’s life.leg-los-los-angeles-DUI

In Birmingham, Alabama, a 26-year-old woman on the way home from a wedding hit construction worker Bobby Joe Smith, who was working on a nighttime project for his company. Amanda Brown pinned Smith between a bulldozer and the bumper of her GMC Yukon. The accident severed one of Smith’s legs, left the other hanging by the skin and caused severe internal injuries to his colon and spleen. Fortunately, his co-workers had enough presence of mind to use their belts for tourniquets and to apply duct tape to stop the bleeding.

Smith and his co-workers had been in a well-lit area marked off by cones when the accident occurred. The crew prevented Brown from driving away in her vehicle after the accident, but she then fled on foot to her nearby apartment. Police eventually charged her with leaving the scene of an accident with injuries and first-degree assault, which includes DUI.

Smith ended up losing his right leg below the knee, and he may lose the other as well. Brown faces penalties for getting behind the wheel while allegedly intoxicated, and she will have to live with the knowledge that she’s taken away another person’s ability to walk and to make a living.

Brown could face pretty severe legal consequences if she lived in Los Angeles and prosecutors convicted her of causing an injury while driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher. Per California Vehicle Code 23153, that action raises ta DUI charge to a felony. Even a first-time offender could be looking at prison time, high fines and the need to make restitution payments to the victim.

Do you or a family member need insight from a qualified Los Angeles DUI attorney? Contact Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group to set up your free consultation.

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In the wake of a recent Los Angeles DUI accident or arrest, you have been reflecting a lot on how to be a better driver and just become more generally conscientious and mindful in your life.better-habits-stop-los-angeles-DUI

You recognize (wisely) that poor driving habits can affect you not just in acute terms but also over the long term. There is a reason why insurance adjusters and officials at places like the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA) measure the risks of DUI driving in terms of hundreds of millions of miles.

For instance, if you drive averagely, you can expect to die one time for every 100 million miles you travel – roughly the distance from the Earth to the sun. Fortunately, most drivers do not drive anywhere close to that amount of miles, so the risk of dying from a car crash is obviously less than 100%. But the point is that if you can engage in better driving habits, you can reduce your lifetime risk for accidents and injuries. Here are some ideas about how to slash your odds of future arrests, crashes and mayhem:

•    Keep the radio at a very moderate to low volume. High volume radio can cause distractions and prevent you from hearing critical signals from the road;

•    Never ever talk or text or even chat on a mobile device when you are behind the wheel. Even using a hands free headset can be a major distraction, because it mentally forces you to be “someplace else” and not behind the wheel. Consider swearing off using a cellphone in any capacity behind the wheel.

•    Avoid driving while fatigued, angry or in an emotional “state.” Research from Australia shows that fatigue can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence if you are tired enough. Likewise, driving while angry or depressed or otherwise in a bad emotional way can increase the likelihood that you will get into a crash, because your head is not fully “in the game.”

•    Talk to a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer not only about how to construct an appropriate response to your current problem but also about how to develop the tools and habits you need to be safer going forward.

Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group has seen all sorts of cases over the past nearly 20 years, as both a prosecutor and a defense lawyer. He would be happy to talk with you in-depth and in confidence about your case. Call now to schedule a consultation to get his strategic insight to move forward.

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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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Attending a Los Angeles DUI hearing is a stressful and sometimes frightening prospect. However, facing the hearing officer is a better idea than avoiding the situation altogether. Rapper Chief Keef is currently learning this lesson the hard way.Chief-Keef-DUI-arrest

The 19-year-old Chief Keef’s predicament began in March 2014, when police pulled him over on suspicion of DUI. When a potent marijuana smell prompted officers to administer a sobriety test, Keef failed and was placed under arrest. Keef sustained additional charges for failing to provide proof of insurance and driving on a suspended license.

The troubled rapper’s previous legal problems include involvement in a shooting, rehab stints, and child support disputes. Perhaps his aversion to the law is what caused him to skip his August DUI hearing. Currently, a warrant for Keef’s arrest is pending, and authorities plan to arrest and hold him on $50,000 bail.

In California, the DUI hearing is an important procedure, setting the tone for the remainder of the court process. The accused may choose a phone or “live” hearing, the latter of which gives him or her the best chance of presenting a compelling legal defense. A DUI attorney and witnesses may speak for the defendant, as well.

Missing a DUI hearing not only gives you no chance to state your case, but it also shows disrespect and disregard for the legal process. Should you choose to skip the hearing, you may be arrested and held until your arraignment. Further risking your freedom is an unwise way to begin a defense.

The Los Angeles DUI attorneys at the Kraut Law Group understand how intimidating a DUI hearing can be; in fact, attorney Michael Kraut once acted as a prosecutor in such cases in his role as Senior Deputy District Attorney. Rather than running away from the court, contact us today to learn how we can put our knowledge of California law and experience with DUI cases to work for you.

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Fortunately for police, most Los Angeles DUI arrests are not dramatic and do not threaten the life and limb of the people involved in the process.anna-dittmer-dui

That’s not always the case.

For a spectacular example, we turn our sites to Atlanta, Georgia, where on Monday, a local woman named Anna Dittmer was involved in a catastrophic, freakish accident that sent a police officer to the hospital and left Ms. Dittmer with plate full of criminal charges.

Local officers said they saw her vehicle stopped next to some railroad tracks in the Northwest section of Atlanta. They had reason to believe she was impaired, so two officers approached her. Meanwhile, a train approached at that very moment and blew a warning sign, which woke Dittmer up. She allegedly saw the police come for her and tried to hightail it out of there.

Officer Kevin Thigpen reached in to try to stop her, but she took off and dragged him along with her car and then smashed into a telephone pole. Fortunately, Thigpen survived, but he did suffer abrasions and lacerations over all his body as well as a broken left hand. Medics treated him at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

Other officers, meanwhile, arrested Dittmer on a laundry list of charge, including: reckless driving, driving on a suspended license, possessing methamphetamines, felony obstruction, aggravated assault, giving a false name to police officers, causing a serious injury with a motor vehicle, and drug DUI.

Prior to the incident, police had a warrant out for her arrest on possession of dangerous drugs.

The whole situation is obviously very sad and disturbing. Just a charge of hurting someone while DUI can elevate a standard misdemeanor (per California Vehicle Code Section 23152) to a much more serious felony charge (per California Vehicle Code Section 23153).

And if you hurt a police officer, drove on a suspended license, or did any of the other crazy things that this Atlanta woman allegedly did, your charges can be more intense, and your defense can become more complicated.

No matter what charges you face, you can turn to the team here at the Kraut Law Group for effective, fair and responsible Los Angeles DUI defense help. Call or email us now for assistance.
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The Los Angeles DUI blogosphere has been having a field day with the DUI case of pop singer, Justin Bieber.justin-bieber-dui-defense

Over the past several months, “the Biebs” has found himself in scads of trouble – legal and otherwise. We covered his January 2014 DUI arrest in Miami extensively. In case you forgot, the pop star had allegedly been drag racing with 19-year-old Khalil Sharieff on January 23rd in a rented sports car.

According to TMZ, Bieber will soon be entering a guilty plea to “reckless driving” charges in that case in exchange for the dismissal of other charges against him. (Those counts had included driving without a license, resisting arrest and DUI). Although Bieber will have to go to anger management classes and pay a fine (which will obviously be nominal, given his income), he won’t have to serve jail time or even probation.

The judge initially wanted Bieber to star in an anti-DUI service announcement, but Bieber’s legal team suggested that that measure was “inappropriate,” given that his BAC tested at 0.014% – far below Florida’s (and California’s) legal limit for DUI of 0.08%. (However, he did test positive for traces of the drug Xanax, an antianxiety medication, and marijuana’s psychoactive compound, THC).

Meanwhile, he will apparently face criminal vandalism charges, in connection with allegations that he threw eggs at his neighbor’s property in Calabasas in January.

And last month, Bieber allegedly tried to steal a woman’s purse… but he won’t be facing felony counts in that case. (Bieber apparently got angry, when a woman tried to videotape him with her cellphone at a mini golf and batting cage establishment in the Valley.)

Also in May, Bieber earned public enmity, after recordings surfaced, in which he allegedly made racially insensitive remarks.

Bieber has been celebrating his recent legal exonerations: he recently Tweeted “new beginnings” to his followers.

An adroit Los Angeles DUI defense can, indeed, led to “new beginnings,” even for people who struggle mightily with diverse charges.

To that end, contact a Harvard Law School educated former city prosecutor (Senior Deputy District Attorney) with the Kraut Law Group today for a thorough, sensitive analysis of your defense options.
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