Articles Posted in DUI and Child Endangerment

dui-manslaughterLos Angeles DUI manslaughter charges are incredibly serious but also surprisingly diverse.

Let’s say you’ve never driven DUI before, and you didn’t engage in an act of gross negligence, like driving 100 miles the wrong way on the freeway. But you did get into a DUI accident that caused someone to die. You could still go to jail for a long time, lose your license, and face an array of other punishments.

However, prosecutors could try to convince the court that you engaged in a more serious crime — “gross vehicular manslaughter” — which can lead to even steeper punishments.

And if you had been convicted of a prior DUI — and you had signed a document known as a Watson Advisement, which indicates that you understand the lethality of driving DUI –prosecutors can even go after you for an even more intense count, known as DUI Murder.

Bearing that in mind, let’s reflect on a tragic case in Anaheim. On October 18, a 10-year-old boy died in a multi-car DUI-related collision at North Euclid Street and West Oklahoma Avenue, per Anaheim Police Department reports. A black pickup truck smashed into the boy’s Toyota Camry from behind, throwing the vehicle into another car. Everyone in the Camry suffered critical injuries, and the 10-year-old boy died at a local hospital. Los Angeles police later arrested Gary S. Hunt, the driver of the black pickup truck.

The accident moderately injured the driver of the third car.

Whether Hunt actually had been under the influence of alcohol or not, he could face serious criminal and civil charges. The media coverage understandingly focuses on the awful tragedy that befell Ramirez and his family, but it’s important to appreciate that DUI crashes also devastate the lives of people charged with crimes.

For instance, perhaps Hunt also has children, who now may be forced to deal with the fact that their dad could go to prison for many years.

To respond conscientiously, compassionately and effectively to complex criminal charges, contact a Los Angeles DUI injury defense attorney at the Kraut Law Group right now to schedule a consultation with former prosecutor, Michael Kraut.

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bus-driver-dui-los-angelesObviously, we are of the opinion that the crime of driving under the influence in Los Angeles is a complex issue and that many people who stand accused of this charge need compassion and insight as opposed to punishment and neglect.

However, we also deeply believe in protecting our community and making sure that the roads are safe for everyone. The whole point of what we aim to do (and also what police officers and prosecutors aim to do) is to make our city safe and livable.

To wit, the arrest of 59-year-old Robert E. Murphy of Ashland, Massachusetts raises profound questions about how and when convicted DUI drivers should be allowed to engage in certain types of commercial driving activity.

Mr. Murphy was a school bus driver who had been convicted twice of DUI. Police just arrested him yet again for allegedly driving DUI with a bus full of high school age cross-country athletes. According to local reports from the Boston Herald, police arrested him Saturday evening in the parking lot of a local high school after a coach alerted authorities. Police put Murphy through a series of field sobriety tests and arrested him on charges of operating a motor vehicle to endanger and a third DUI offense.

Obviously, Murphy’s story is less dramatic than the tale we covered a few weeks ago about the Utah bus driver who allegedly drove DUI for nearly 40 miles on the freeway, weaving around the road, while carrying elementary school kids.

In both Murphy’s case and the case of the Utah bus driver, no kids suffered injuries, fortunately.

Murphy’s arrest raises questions about how and when convicted DUI drivers should be allowed to engage in commercial driving again. Imagine you’re a truck driver or a bus driver who has no job skills other than your commercial driving ability. What if you lose your driving privileges because of the DUI? How would you earn a living? If you got your driving privileges back, how could you ensure that you won’t make similarly dangerous decisions again?

These and other questions can keep you up at night. Fortunately, you don’t have to ponder them all alone. The team here at the Kraut Law Group can help you establish an effective plan to deal with your charges and rebuild your life. Call a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney at the Kraut Law Group right now to schedule a consultation with an ex-prosecutor about your strategy.

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woman-7-kids-duiDriving DUI in Los Angeles is a dangerous and scary act, always. It puts everyone on the road at considerable risk. When you get behind the wheel after drinking, you assume responsibility for what happens to other drivers, as well as to your passengers. In light of that, consider the case of an Ohio woman recently arrested for driving DUI with seven young children in her SUV.

That’s right: SEVEN children.

Not exactly an ideal situation.

DUI-under-21-years-old-los-angelesA Los Angeles DUI conviction can result in severe penalties to drivers over 21. However, individuals who are under the legal drinking age can face even greater legal, social and emotional consequences for driving under the influence.

A Woodridge, IL teenager is learning this lesson the hard way.

On September 14, police arrested eighteen-year-old Hope Brown after an alleged DUI-related “joy ride” resulted in property damage. The young woman apparently lost control of her Mustang while driving south in a residential area. Per news reports, after she struck multiple parked cars, Brown veered into a front yard, where she hit a vehicle in the driveway before colliding with the house itself. The impact further damaged another car in the garage.

Brown fortunately sustained only minor injuries during the accident, but she did require medical treatment. Authorities released her after she posted bail, and she will appear in court on October 21.

What Happens When Underage Drivers Get Arrested for DUI?

In many states (including California), individuals under the legal drinking age face a distinct legal process after a DUI arrest. This process differs from the process that a driver over 21 must face in several important ways:

•    Automatic license suspension. Any underage DUI conviction comes with a license suspension of one year. If you don’t already have a license, you will be unable to receive one for an additional year.

•    Zero tolerance. Drivers of legal drinking age must stay within the BAC threshold of 0.08%, but those under 21 can face serious penalties even for testing at a very low blood alcohol level — just 0.01% or higher.

•    Additional penalties. Besides the required civil repercussions, underage drivers with 0.08% or higher blood alcohol levels are also subject to the state’s regular DUI consequences, such as jail time, fines, probation, and alcohol classes.

If you are under 21 and you face DUI charges — or if you’re a concerned parent or friend of a minor accused of underage DUI — call Los Angeles DUI attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Attorney Kraut can work with you to craft a strong, strategic defense to protect your freedom, your license and your rights. Contact us today to set up a consultation.

 

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The problem of Los Angeles DUI, on some level, seems intractable.robot-car-dui-prevention

After all, even if we collectively could reduce DUI incidences as low as possible, we’re never going to eliminate the problem completely. Even the very definition of the problem changes over time. How much marijuana do you have to smoke before you will be over the limit for a drug DUI, for instance? Will the National and Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) succeed in lowering the legal DUI limit to 0.05% BAC from 0.08% BAC, as defined by California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (b)?

Human beings – and our laws – are both unpredictable and ever-changing. The best we could ever hope for, in terms of reducing DUIs, is probably some low, but non-zero number.

So can we ever get to a zero-DUI society?

Every few years, futurists speak grandly of the promise of “robot cars” and “robot drivers.” Some of this speculation is idle. Some of it involves good science and promising engineering (e.g. Google’s automated car experiment).

Unlike humans, robots are never tempted to drink alcohol or do drugs or take prescription medications. They do not fatigue, although their batteries can run out. They are not susceptible to road rage or depression, and they would never take their eyes of the road to text their robot friends behind the wheel.

In theory, therefore, if we all collectively switched to robotic driving (a la Google cars), we could probably get the DUI accident rate down to zero. Unfortunately, this utopian scenario may never come to pass, since even if a company like Google develops a perfect autonomous vehicle, human hackers may render the project fundamentally and intrinsically dangerous.

Until the time when we can solve all robot-car-related safety issues, we’ll be stuck with vexing human-driving issues, like DUI. As a defendant, you can trust the effective, ethical services of the Kraut Law Group. Find out more about what sets Los Angeles DUI lawyer Michael Kraut apart, here on our website, or call or email the firm today to schedule your free consultation.
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Picture a “standard” Los Angeles DUI arrest in your mind’s eye.times-square-DUI

You might imagine a driver in a Honda Accord getting escorted into a squad car after a nasty wreck on the 405 or the 101. Or you might picture a Hollywood exec in a BMW stopped at a checkpoint on Sunset after a raucous night out with some potential clients.

You probably do NOT picture a double-decker bus toppled over or an ambulance spun out of control.

But people drive DUI in all sorts of vehicles, including, boats, lawnmowers, and even jerry rigged contraptions that defy classification.

Let’s analyze two such events that were recently in the news.

First, a spectacular DUI-related bus crash rocked New York City. Fortunately, the accident did not cause life threatening injuries, but it certainly created a big ruckus in the Big Apple. The double-decker bus driver smashed into a plaza on Times Square and hurt over 15 people, three of whom suffered serious injuries. Fortunately, no one died.

Authorities arrested 58-year-old William Dalembert, charging him with a DUI. According to reports, Dalembert has a checkered driving history, including a record of multiple license suspensions over the years as well as administrative infractions.

Meanwhile, closer to home in Orange County, a crash at the intersection of Garden Grove and Beach Boulevards between an ambulance and a vehicle in the town of Stanton led to the hospitalization of four people as well as an arrest for DUI. A preliminary investigation led authorities to blame 27-year-old John Dantzler; they booked him on DUI charges and held him on a $100,000 bail. Again, by the grace of God, no one died or suffered critical injuries; things could have been much, much worse.

Do people who drive vehicles like ambulance, double-decker buses, trucks, fire trucks, government vehicles and school buses have special safety responsibilities? Can prosecutors hit them with special punishments for DUI?

The answer depends. Drivers of specialty vehicles can be held to higher standards. Depending on what happened, they can lose special licenses, get fired, face enhanced fines and fees, and more.

No matter what kind of Los Angeles DUI charges you face — or how complicated the matter seems to be – the team here at the Kraut Law Group is here to help you make sense of what happened and develop an appropriate response. Call our offices now to schedule a free consultation.
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Not all Los Angeles DUI incidents are terrifying.dui-truck-crash-on-101

But when truck drivers get behind the wheel while DUI or under the influence of drugs — and then drive recklessly — they can endanger not just themselves but also dozens of people.

Witness what happened earlier this year, when a FedEx truck driver careened out of control on the 5 near San Francisco and hit a school bus, leading to dozens of injuries and many fatalities. Fortunately, a Sunday evening accident on the 101 at Lindero Canyon Road did not lead to fatalities, but it certainly could have.

The big rig driver — who was later arrested on suspicion of DUI — allegedly had some serious driving issues on Sunday night prior on the 101. According to California Highway Patrol Officer, Monica Posada, “the big rig was eastbound with an empty trailer and prior to the collision was reported reckless… the driver drifted to the right shoulder and travelled left across all lanes, colliding into the center divider. The driver exited the big rig, and it caught fire from the spilled diesel.”

In addition to burning up to concrete divider, the big rig spilled debris and diesel fuel all over the road, creating a big mess, not to mention serious hazards for police and cleanup crews.

Luckily, emergency workers did not have to navigate that hellish complex of obstructions and dangers to rescue anybody. However, in other similar accidents, the situation can be far grimmer.

If you’re a truck driver accused of driving DUI, you can lose your license, your job and your ability to drive other commercial trucks. Your insurance rates can spike, making you less hirable, and you can go to jail. You can also be subject to special approbation, if you drove a commercial or government vehicle.

The point is that you may face an amalgam of trouble.

Fortunately, the team here at the Kraut Law Group can provide a confident, thorough and compassionate defense for you. Please contact us immediately to schedule your Los Angeles DUI truck defense, or peruse Mr. Kraut’s website to learn more about him, his team, and their approach.
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Most Los Angeles DUI stories that get serious play in the media are often tinged with irony somehow.Angela-Mazzocco-dui

For instance, as we covered several months ago, authorities recently stopped one unfortunate young man and busted him for DUI while he wore a t-shirt proclaiming that he was “Drunk As Sh*t.”

People who make their living promoting sobriety or safe driving – e.g. Los Angeles DUI attorneys, lawmakers and police officers — tend to be held to higher standards of behavior behind the wheel. When these folks falter (and sometimes they do), the irony of their arrests motivates media coverage.

Along those lines, consider the sad story of Angela Mazzocco, a woman from Jupiter, Florida, who works as a guidance counselor for the Palm Beach County School District.

Local highway patrol officers arrested her on the morning of May 9th, when troopers allegedly saw her vehicle weaving on the southbound lanes of Florida’s Turnpike, unable to confine her vehicle to just one lane.

Per the Florida Highway Patrol report, Mazzocco’s vehicle “came within inches” of hitting another car and left the road multiple times. Authorities stopped her and tested her blood alcohol concentration. They found that she had a 0.20% BAC. For those of you at home keeping score, that’s exactly 2.5 times the legal limit for DUI in Southern California, as defined by California Vehicle Code Section 23152.

Mazzocco also relayed to investigators that she had consumed the drugs Lexapro and Xanax prior to getting behind the vehicle on her way to school. The 46-year-old faces charges of DUI under drugs and alcohol and will be back at Palm Beach County North Courthouse on June 9th to face her charges.

Mazzocco initially denied to the officer that she had consumed alcohol (per WPTV). But what if she had refused to take a chemical test at the scene?

There are different rules for different folks. If you are under 21 years old — or if you are on probation for some other offense — you need to take your PAS test, even before police arrest you. California law changed in 2008 — now it’s a crime for someone on probation to refuse a chemical test at a DUI stop.

Meanwhile, ANY driver arrested for Los Angeles DUI must submit to a breath test or blood test. If police suspect that you consumed substances like Xanax or narcotics, you also have to submit to a urine-based drug test.

The police must warn you about the legal consequences of refusal, if prosecutors later want to use the refusal against you in court.

What’s the best way to respond?

The facts can be critical to your defense. Perhaps the police delayed the breath test or misunderstood your response. Your attorney may be able to get the refusal related charges dismissed. But rather than puzzling this out on your own, contact an experienced Los Angeles DUI defense attorney with the Kraut Law Group immediately for a free consultation.
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Most Los Angeles DUI incidences don’t make the news because they are mundane and commonplace. Cases involving celebrities, politicians, athletes, etc., do get media attention, but some of the most interesting cases are also the most bizarre events.mcdonalds-dui-crash

Today, we’re going to look at two such “wild DUI” crashes.

The first occurred in Urbana, Illinois, when 47-year-old Leslie Srajek allegedly drove her car into McDonalds. No, she didn’t use the drive-thru to order food. She literally “drove through” the restaurant, knocking over a booth and a table as she tried to extract her vehicle.

Rescue workers took her to the Carle Foundation Hospital, and authorities later hit her with charges of driving without license and DUI. She faces a court date on May 16th. Her Honda Coupe was destroyed in the crash.

Kate Garbacz, an eyewitness, described what happened in detail: “The Honda was close to a stop, then [Srajek] gunned it and crossed into the McDonald’s parking lot entrance and accelerated quickly… It looked like [she] accelerated, cut the wheel, no slowing, no attempt at stopping, just boom, straight in … She went over that parking hump and the sidewalk and literally took out that whole wall. The car was three-quarters of the way into the dining room.”

Fortunately, no one in the restaurant was injured.

Meanwhile, out in South Dakota, a local man named Heith Jibben lost control of his vehicle while drag racing another driver on a local road. During the “race,” Jibben’s Taurus hit a white SUV, causing the car to flip over three times, like something out of The Dukes of Hazzard. Authorities took the SUV driver to the hospital: fortunately, he suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Jibben reportedly tested at a BAC level of 0.167 percent – that’s more than double the legal limit in SD and here in Southern California.

Jibben collected his fifth lifetime DUI arrest.

In Los Angeles, if you are convicted multiple times of DUI within a 10 year period, your punishments can become quite intense. For instance, a first time offender (for a misdemeanor) may face just a few hours to a few days behind bars. A third time offender, meanwhile, can face up to 180 days behind bars (minimum); and prosecutors can even ask that what normally be a misdemeanor charge be elevated to a felony charge.

For help understanding what to do to construct a defense to your Los Angeles DUI charges, call attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is a former city prosecutor (senior deputy district attorney) with close relationships with many people in the Southern California justice community. Mr. Kraut can advise you effectively and help you develop a strategic plan.
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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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