Articles Posted in DUI Checkpoints

Every 51 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies in an alcohol-related motor vehicle accident. Everyone—DUI defendants included!—agrees that we need to “do something” to dramatically reduce this number, but there’s no agreement on what that solution should be. Traditionally, our system has been heavy on the sticks, light on the carrots. We punish DUI drivers tremendously—by stripping them of driving privileges, fining them, sending them to jail, hiking their insurance rates, and beyond. How well is this “heavy on the punitive” system working? Well, take a look at the first sentence in this paragraph—one death every 51 minutes. If we want to do better—and we can—we need to look beyond the punitive and consider other ways to shore up our system, deter unwanted behavior, reward compliant behavior and solve the (challenging and often deeply psychologically rooted) issues that encourage unfortunate behavior behind the wheel.DUI-51-minutes-300x94

In a previous post, we looked at the current and future technologies that could address DUI deterrence. Now we’ll consider some of the other proposed solutions.

Lowering the BAC limit?

In California, penalties for a first time DUI can take a big chunk out of a bank account—at least $1,800 in penalties and fines, plus the cost of attending DUI driving school (if required), and the expense of installing an ignition interlock system, which courts can now require for even first-time offenders. DUI-los-angeles-effect-on-auto-insurance-300x199

But there’s another expense that some drivers convicted of DUI don’t immediately consider—the huge rise that they’re likely to see in their auto insurance premium rates. According to the financial website nerdwallet.com, average good drivers in California can expect their insurance premiums to more than double if they are convicted of DUI. The nerdwallet research revealed that a 25-year old with a DUI would pay about $1,300, while one with a DUI on record would pay about $4,000. A 50-year-old who normally paid about $1,060 could expect to pay $3,275 after a DUI conviction.

The extra cost of auto insurance as a result of a DUI will depend upon:

When someone arrested for DUI in Los Angeles is under the influence of alcohol, law enforcement officials have a fairly easy way to measure the degree of intoxication with a breathalyzer test and/or a blood alcohol concentration test. But it’s not that easy when it comes to measuring how marijuana affects a person’s ability to drive. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, remains in the bloodstream for a long time and there are no good ways for police officers in the field to measure its presence in the bloodstream.THC-test-DUI-los-angeles

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Drivers arrested for DUI in Los Angeles usually have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. But there are times when a DUI suspect’s BAC measures much higher—so high that you wonder how they ever managed to even get behind the wheel of a vehicle, much less drive it.high-bac-level-dui-los-angeels

In Henrico County, Virginia, 44-year-old Angela Gittings faces DUI charges after she hit several vehicles outside an area high school. Police measured her blood alcohol content at 0.38, more than four times the legal limit.  Gittings was also driving without a license; the DMV had revoked it because of previous DUIs.

According the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a BAC of 0.31 to 0.45 poses a “significant risk of death in most drinkers due to suppression of vital life functions.” People with this level of alcohol may lose consciousness and/or suffer from life-threatening alcohol poisoning.

The NIAAA also states that a BAC reading of 0.16 to 0.30 significantly impair a person’s speech, memory, coordination, attention, reaction time and balance. It also has a very negative impact on a person’s driving-related skills, judgment and decision making.

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Would you be able to tell if someone you knew was at risk for a charge of DUI in Los Angeles? Would you take away a friend‘s or a guest’s vehicle keys if you felt they had consumed too much alcohol to drive?losangelesDUI-survey

Just in time for the holiday season, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility released the results of a national poll it took in September 2015. The purpose was to gauge American’s alcohol awareness.

Apparently Americans still have a lot to learn. More than half of all adults in the U.S. (63 percent) don’t know that the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration in their state (and in every U.S. state) is .08 percent.

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Driving DUI in Los Angeles can result in a veritable smorgasbord of problems — legal, personal, financial and even emotional. These might include license suspension, forced installation of an interlock ignition device in your car, jail time, rising insurance costs, loss of employment (because you no longer have a car to drive to work), feelings of depression and doubt, legal and court fees, and so forth.los-angeles-DUI-too-hot

The hot and sultry months of summer in Southern California can actually exacerbate both the dangers of driving DUI and the after effects of an arrest. Here are 3 reasons why:

1. Commuting without air conditioning in the summer can drain your energy and put you at health risks.

Traveling in an un-air-conditioned vehicle (or going by foot or by bicycle) can expose you to the elements, which can be quite uncomfortable on days when it crests 100 in the Valley and can put vulnerable individuals at risk for dehydration and heat stroke.

2. During the summer, more kids are out of school; thus, more party-going teens are driving on freeways and surface streets.

Obviously, it’s dangerous to drive DUI. But it’s even *more* risky to do so when other drivers on the road are also engaging in wild behaviors or activities. For instance, it’s safer to be the only crazy car on a road full of defensive, sober, attentive drivers than it is to drive DUI on a road filled with kids on summer vacation who are on their phones and drinking and doing who else knows what else.

3. The long days of summer can trick you in thinking that you are not as tired as you actually are.

In Los Angeles, the difference in the length of days between summer and winter is not as severe as it is in more northern latitudes. However, the lengthy days can lead us to feel alert when we are really actually pretty exhausted. If the sun is still beaming at us at 7:30 at night, we might subconsciously think “it’s day time,” even though our bodies are exhausted. Unrecognized fatigue can compound the dangers of DUI driving plus increase risk of things like accidents and bad judgment after a stop.

Do you need help defending against a serious charge? Call a qualified Los Angeles DUI defense attorney with the Kraut Law Group immediately.

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Thanksgiving should be a time for celebration, communion, and reconnection with friends and loved ones. However, as we discussed in an adjacent post, the day before the Thanksgiving is also the worst day of the year for Los Angeles DUI arrests and accidents. So how can you protect yourself, your loved ones and other people on the road from injuries (and worse) this holiday? Here are 4 tips.Thanksgiving-and-DUI

1.    If you are going to drink, make a plan well in advance of partying.

Studies suggest that once someone is the throe of merrymaking, judgments tend to go out the window. After you have already had two or three drinks is not the time to start to think rationally about how to get home. You need to “pre think” your exit strategy by identifying a designated driver in advance, hiring a taxi cab or just walking from place to place.

2.    Be careful to avoid walking while DUI as well.

Most people assume that if you walk instead of drive after consuming alcohol, you should be fine. However, as authors Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt point out in the book SuperFreakonomics, when you crunch the numbers, walking under the influence is, mile per mile, potentially more even dangerous than driving under the influence. The reason is that, when you make bad decisions as a pedestrian – particularly at night if you are wearing dark clothing — you can easily get seriously hurt or killed. If you are in a car and you get into collision, you at least can hopefully rely on the car’s safety mechanisms, like airbags and seatbelts, to protect you against the worst of the impact. As a pedestrian, you have nothing shielding you.

3.    Pay attention to near misses in the past.

Have you ever gotten into a DUI wreck before? Do you plan to hang out with anyone who has been arrested for that crime or who has gotten into serious injury accidents? The best predictor of future accidents is past driving behavior. Pick up on clues left by the past, so that you can more effectively manage your own behavior and minimize risk. For instance, say your cousin Arnie comes to town and wants to go bar hopping with you. But you know that cousin Arnie has two DUI priors on his record; you might want to aggressively suggest that everyone take a cab.

4.    Organize Thanksgiving events in a way that requires less driving overall.

One of the best ways to prevent problems is to negate temptations altogether. For instance, maybe you and your family typically go out to a restaurant that serves copious amounts of alcohol. Consider changing your plans this year, so that you all stay at someone’s house, so that you are not tempted to drink and then get behind the wheel.

For help dealing with the aftereffects of a crash or arrest, call a qualified Los Angeles DUI attorney with the Kraut Law Group today for a free consultation with a former Deputy District Attorney with nearly two decades of experience fighting on both sides of these types of cases.

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sex-after-dui-los-angelesImagine in your mind the worst things you could do after being arrested for driving under the influence in Los Angeles.

You could, for instance, assault the police officer, make self incriminating comments after hearing your Miranda’s Rights, or commit sundry other crimes, offenses and misjudgments. But it is pretty hard to top what a 33-year old man and 29-year old woman from Oconto County, Wisconsin allegedly did last week.

Heather Basten and Travis Husnik allegedly started having sexual intercourse in the back of a police car while being driven to jail after a DUI stop and arrest. County Circuit Court Judge Riley later wryly noted: “what do I sentence a guy who had sex in a squad car to?” The judge later charged Husnik and Basten with lewd and lascivious behavior and disorderly conduct. The arresting officer apparently forced Husnik to get out of the backseat and sit in the front seat next to him, so he and Basten wouldn’t paw at each other during the ride.

Unfortunately, as we’ve discussed again and again and again on this blog, people arrested for driving under the influence often do silly or dumb things after the fact that create extra hassles and legal complications for themselves. In more serious cases, for instance, a DUI driver might leave the scene of an injury accident and wind up with a felony hit and run charges to go hand in hand with a felony DUI injury charge.

So what can you do to manage your crisis?

First: call an experienced and qualified Los Angeles DUI criminal defense attorney, like Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Mr. Kraut is a widely respected former prosecutor who maintains excellent relationships with his former prosecutorial colleagues as well as with police officers and judges in Los Angeles. Please contact him today for a free consultation.

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dui-motorcycle-wreck-los-angelesWhen it comes to Los Angeles DUI crashes, authorities often implicate drivers who test to have illegal blood alcohol levels after a collision. However, authorities sometimes struggle to determine fault in cases involving multiple variables.

A September 21 accident in Santa Ana provides an example of how DUI crashes can occur due to other factors besides a driver’s alcohol-related impairment. The incident – a combination of two crashes – left a motorcyclist dead and another driver injured.

The series of crashes began when a motorcyclist collided with the back of a car on southbound 55. After veering off the freeway and striking a chain-link fence, the motorcyclist flew from his vehicle, landing on adjacent Ritchey Street.

As a good Samaritan approached the motorcyclist, Jesus Mendoza Hernandez struck both individuals, severely injuring the Samaritan and killing the motorcyclist. Hernandez now faces DUI driving charges; whether authorities will charge him with DUI manslaughter or DUI murder remains unclear.

Factors that Can Complicate DUI Accidents

The tragic accidents in Santa Ana highlight how aggravating circumstances can complicate a DUI accident. Considerations making it more difficult to assign responsibility include:

•    Multiple drivers. The more vehicles collide in an accident, the more complicated questions of liability become.

•    Two DUI drivers. Although uncommon, when both drivers involved in a collision are over the legal limit, the case can lead to surprising complexities.

•    Unusual intersections. Intersections with confusing traffic patterns – or those lacking adequate lighting or signage – often increase the likelihood of accidents, DUI or not.

Even when your Los Angeles DUI case involves one or more of the above complexities, simply having a blood alcohol level above the legal limit places extra responsibility on your shoulders. An experienced defense attorney with an understanding of California DUI laws can analyze the circumstances of your case to determine how to help you form a defense. Contact the Kraut Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.

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Perhaps police stopped you for DUI in Los Angeles at Wilshire and Rodeo, right after you closed a sweet deal with an international advertising client. Or maybe police arrested you at a checkpoint and hit you with your second DUI in 10 months. In either case, you’re in a bit of a panic. los-angeles-DUI-dos-donts

You need sound advice, but you’ve been getting conflicting information not only from friends and family but also from your internet research. Instead of asking yourself what you “should” do after your DUI, reflect on these 3 things that you should NOT do.

1. Do NOT forget to document evidence or conversations that could be important to your defense.

What words, exactly, did the police officer say to you when he stopped you? What happened during your field sobriety tests and subsequent arrest? Did you notice anything about the breathalyzer tests (or other tests) that struck you as “unfair” or odd? If an accident happened, did you take pictures of the scene, keep a copy of the police report and collect witness statements? The more you document your situation, the easier it will be for your lawyer to figure out what happened and what might be the most appropriate defense strategy for you.

2. Do NOT panic.

You might feel unbalanced, scared, ashamed or angry about what happened. These are all normal feelings. But avoid reacting emotionally; you could make things worse. Some panicked drivers impulsively drive away from the police or leave the scene of accidents — these dangerous/illegal acts can lead to extra punishments. People also act impulsively days or even weeks after DUIs. For instance, let’s say you believe police stopped you unfairly. Out of umbrage, you refuse to go to your DMV hearing and thus lose your California driver’s license for months or longer.

3. Do NOT wait too long to connect with a Los Angeles DUI defense attorney.

An attorney, like the Harvard Law School educated Michael Kraut, may not be able to solve all your legal problems or even get your charges dismissed or plead down. But Mr. Kraut and his team can equip you with tools, resources and strategies to manage the chaos in your life and stay calm, focused, and even optimistic about your future.

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