Articles Posted in DUI on Prescription Drugs

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.

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.

Most people are fairly familiar with the effects that drinking alcohol can have on their driving performance. Alcohol loosens inhibitions, so people are apt to take more risks even as their reaction times are slowed, and they can become more easily distracted and unable to concentrate on driving. Alcohol can also impact a driver’s sense of direction and their ability to judge situations on the road and make good decisions.drug-dui-los-angeles-defense-attorney

Other types of drugs have similar, although not identical effects. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers found that the number of drivers with alcohol in their system had declined by nearly one-third since 2007. But there wasn’t much cause for celebration; the survey also found a large increase in the number of drivers using marijuana or other illegal drugs. Nearly one in four drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could affect their safety on the road, according to the NHTSA.

Here’s a look at how several other types of drugs can impact drivers’ performance.

With Election Day just a few weeks away, proponents and opponents of California’s Proposition 64 are weighing in on how the legalization of marijuana could impact the incidence of DUI in Los Angeles and other jurisdictions throughout the state.prop-64-los-angeles-DUI

Proposition 64 would decriminalize the use of marijuana in California by adults 21 years of age or older. The law would allow people to grow up to six marijuana plants in their own homes, as long as the public couldn’t see those plants. The state would reap big financial benefits, collecting a tax on the sale of marijuana (15 percent) and on the cultivation of marijuana flowers ($9.25 per ounce) and marijuana leaves ($2.75 per ounce).

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When you hear a report about someone arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, your immediate thought might be that the person had been drinking too much alcohol before getting behind the wheel. But other substances can cause impairment similar to alcohol’s effects.xanax DUI los angeles

Television station WAFF in northern Alabama reported in June that state police are seeing more and more cases of motorists driving erratically after taking prescription drugs like Xanax. In one case, a man used Xanax and codeine before driving, eventually running off the road in an accident that killed his seven-year-old daughter.

Police officers have a problem when it comes to determining whether a motorist has been impaired because of prescription meds. They can immediately get a fairly good gauge of blood alcohol levels by administering a breathalyzer test. But the breathalyzer can’t detect the presence of prescription drugs. Police officers need a laboratory to conduct those tests, and long waits for processing samples at state labs gums up the system and leads to lots of delays.

Critics say this “how do we stop prescription drug DUI” problem now challenges law enforcement all over the country. In Fresno, California, on Friday, June 5th, police responded to two separate accidents that involved DUI and prescription drugs. ABC 30 reported that Alyssa Gonzales, age 18, slammed into David Torres when he was stopped at a red light. The accident killed Torres and resulted in charges against Gonzales, who allegedly had been taking a prescription for a spinal condition.

A few hours later, 38-year-old Denise Lago, under the influence of prescription drugs, swerved into oncoming traffic. She caused a four-vehicle accident that killed Ken and Jeannine Balderrama, who were riding a motorcycle. In an ironic twist of fate, the defense attorney representing Lago is a cousin of David Torres, the man killed in the earlier accident.

As a frequent contributor to respected media, like The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Good Morning America, Los Angeles DUI attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers understands what it takes to build successful defenses in complex DUI cases. Contact him and his team today to schedule a consultation.

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The recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington – in addition to the widespread and growing approval of medical pot — has spurred some fascinating research. Scientists want to understand how the growing wave of marijuana users is influencing the landscape of DUIs. Many police officers and other professionals working on this problem contend that drug DUI driving could become increasingly disruptive and deadly as marijuana laws soften.drug-dui-pot-los-angeles

Medical marijuana use is legal in California, but smoking and driving can still easily land you a drug DUI in Los Angeles and around the state.

Very few studies have been done to assess the risks of driving while high on marijuana. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the NHTSA are wrapping up one such study — a 3-year investigation that researched the drug’s effects on driving. Using one of the most powerful driving simulators on the planet, researchers gave test participants either a placebo or varying concentrations of the drug and asked them to use the simulator.

The study yielded a surprisingly negative result. The data analysis software can detect subtle changes in driving behavior; and participants on marijuana exhibited hardly any change.

Police officers are not convinced that THC is innocuous, however, and don’t hold your breath waiting for the law to keep up with the science. Roadside THC detection tests are being developed and sold to law enforcement agencies in areas where pot is legal. Drivers pulled over while under the effects of marijuana can still be given a DUI – even in states like California where consumption can be legal. In California, police test for marijuana impairment using blood tests, which can indicate recent use.

As a frequent contributor to respected media, like The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Good Morning America, Los Angeles DUI attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers understands what it takes to build successful defenses in complex DUI cases. Contact him and his team today to schedule a consultation.

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If you got stopped for DUI on Whitworth in South Beverly Hills, you might have been charged with Beverly Hills DUI or Los Angeles DUI, depending on which side of the street you had been driving.beverly-hills-or-los-angeles-dui

The pavement tells the story: the north side is Beverly Hills territory, while the south side belongs to the City of Los Angeles. In practice, this slight distinction almost never causes any legal issues. After all, the City of Beverly Hills and the City of Los Angeles have very similar laws with respect to DUI driving and punishment. But the jurisdiction of your case can matter in some pretty important ways. For instance, it can help determine the judge and prosecutorial team in your case. It can influence the logistics of the trial.

Here’s the broader point, however, and you probably didn’t see this coming: if you’ve spent any time really thinking about this issue (or similar issues), you’ve almost certainly been wasting your time!

It’s not that jurisdictional issues don’t matter. Rather: you almost certainly lack the experience, knowledge, and resources to make sound legal decisions about such subtleties of the law. You don’t want to spend your very limited time and energy on the wrong things.

For instance, you may be fretting about the potential jail time (totally natural) but not paying much attention to your license suspension. After all, it’s scarier to think about spending a week behind bars than it is to contemplate the difference between a one and three month driver’s license suspension.

In terms of real costs, though, two extra months without a license can be a tremendous, costly inconvenience. For instance, let’s say that, without a license, you’re going to need to take a cab to work every day until you get your license back. Thus, you might spend literally thousands of dollars in cab fees just to keep your job.

So fighting a license suspension could be hugely important. But because you don’t have the experience to prioritize your DUI defense items, you might wind up missing or mishandling your DMV hearing and thus getting a less than ideal outcome.

Fortunately, an astute Los Angeles DUI attorney with the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers can help you make more effective choices. Get in touch with Mr. Kraut and his team for a free consultation today.
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As someone who’s been arrested for Pasadena DUI, you were probably more sympathetic than most when you learned that 50-year-old Dina Lohan (mother of actress, Lindsay Lohan) got arrested on September 12th for driving under the influence in Long Island, New York. Dina-Lohan-arrested-for-DUI-pasadena.jpg

Police pulled Dina Lohan over, after they saw her speeding. Based on her Field Sobriety Test performance (and other measures), they figured that she over the influence, and they arrested her just a few miles from her home in Merrick, New York. The bust came only a few months after 27-year-old Lindsay finished her 6th rehab stint connected to her Los Angeles DUI arrest.

On September 24, the elder Lohan entered a not guilty plea at New York’s Nassau County District to charges that she had been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Judge Joy Watson did suspend her driver’s license. But that apparently wasn’t a problem: Dina returned home in a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, and she is schedule to appear in court again on October 23.

Police said that Dina had been doing 77 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone, and that she had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.20%. For those of you keeping score, that’s two and half times the legal limit for driving under the influence in Southern California.

A Family in Trouble
Lindsay and Dina are not the only members of the family to run a foul of the law. As this Pasadena DUI blog (and other sources) reported months ago, Lindsay’s father — Michael Lohan — has also been tormented by drug and alcohol issues, and he ALSO faces criminal charges.

What’s the Takeaway?

One salient takeaway from all the Lohan DUI drama is that dealing with addiction is complicated, emotionally challenging stuff. Fortunately, you don’t have to fight this battle on your own. An experienced, widely respected Pasadena DUI criminal defense lawyer with the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers can help you develop a sound strategy to deal with your charges.

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The act of driving DUI in Los Angeles is dangerous enough. But when you combine a DUI charge with animal cruelty, the situation is almost unspeakable. John-Thomas-Naylor-los-angeles-dui.jpg

People do bad things, for reasons both understandable and opaque. Bearing that in mind, let’s take a look at a recent Los Angeles Weekly story about a local man named Thomas Naylor, who was arrested on July 7th, after witnesses saw him drive DUI on Washington Boulevard. They say Naylor stopped his car, and took out a “severely ill” dog named Cruiser, and dumped the dog on the ground. Fortunately, people saw this happen, and they took the dog to get emergency veterinary care. The animal was ultimately stabilized.

The outcome was not as positive for Naylor, however.

Police tracked him down and arrested him. He was charged with DUI, driving without a license, and intimidating witnesses as well as animal cruelty. Naylor recently pled no contest to the animal cruelty charge as part of the plea deal, and he got the other charges dropped. Naylor still faces a hefty sentence, however — a full year in county jail along with three years of formal probation.

Plus, he is no longer allowed to own a pet, and he must pay for the poor pit bull’s hospital bills.

The story does have a silver lining: Cruiser managed to heal from his sickness and get adopted into a new home.

Do Los Angeles DUI drivers always receive such hefty punishments?

One year in county jail is a long time. You can earn nearly that amount of jail time just for a conviction of a misdemeanor DUI, per California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) or 23152(b).

But punishment for Los Angeles DUI is not just limited to jail time.

Other kinds of nastiness may await you, even for a first time, non-injury misdemeanor DUI:

• The court may compel you to pay for and install an interlock ignition device (IID) in your vehicle. This machine will prevent you from operating your car or truck, unless you blow a sober breath into the machine;
• Mandatory alcohol education school;
• Spikes in your auto insurance rates (almost inevitable, if you’re convicted of DUI);
• A California driver’s license suspension;
• Stringent terms of probation;
• Serious court costs, fees, fines, etc.;
• Points on your license;
• Ratcheted punishments if/when you ever get arrested and convicted again for DUI or other crimes in Southern California.

So what can you do?

First and foremost, if you haven’t spoken with an experienced Southern California DUI defense attorney, connect with one ASAP. Michael Kraut is a Harvard Law School educated former prosecutor who has a wide range of experience with DUI cases. When he was a prosecutor, he earned a success rate in jury trials in excess of 99%. Connect with attorney Kraut now for help.

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Hopefully your Glendale DUI accident and/or arrest was not nearly as horrendous as was 20-year-old Karlie Tomica’s. dui-homicide-los-angeles.jpg

The South Beach, Florida bartender recently pled not guilty to DUI manslaughter charges stemming from the hit-and-run death of Stefano Riccioletti, a chef at the local Shore Club. The Circuit Judge in the case set bail for the so-called “Party Princess” (her Twitter handle) at $77,000 because of the brutal facts about the fatal crash.

Local police from Miami Beach allege that Tomica sped into Riccioletti, while he was walking to work early morning January 28. The following description is pretty graphic, so feel free to skip to the subsequent paragraph if you don’t want to have to read these difficult words: “the impact was so violent that her car was severely damaged, covered in skull fragments and brain matter… A nearby street barricade was painted in blood… Tomica refused to stop, and started driving several miles to her 17th floor condo, even as a good Samaritan followed and tried to get her to stop.”

Ultimately, the police caught up with her and took her to the station, where they gave her a toxicology test. They found that she had a staggeringly high BAC of 0.225%. For you record keepers, that’s nearly three times the legal limit for driving under the influence in Glendale. Meanwhile, they also found she had stolen another woman’s driver’s license (likely to use to buy the alcohol).

It’s really a very sad situation. Not only will this woman now face a DUI manslaughter charge, but she will also face many ancillary charges. It goes to show that DUI drivers often engage in not just one but multiple acts of incompetence or bad decision making — creating a kind of a “bad move” snowball effect.

It would have been bad enough if she just hit and killed the chef while DUI. But she insisted on driving home after the fact, so now she will be saddled with an additional hit-and-run charge.

This “making a bad situation worse” behavior does NOT indicate a fundamental lack of moral fortitude. It just suggests that one bad decision can trigger multiple bad decisions. The famous rock group, Pink Floyd, put it best in their song “A Momentary Lapse of Reason”: “one slip, and down the hole you fall. It seems to take no time at all. A momentary lapse of reason that binds a life to life. It’s a small regret, and we won’t forget, there’ll be no sleep in here tonight.”

Of course, after your momentary slip (or slips) of reason, you still need and deserve a solid defense. Connect with the Glendale DUI defense lawyer Michael Kraut now for a free consultation. Attorney Kraut is a Harvard Law School educated ex-prosecutor who has plenty of experience and tremendous compassion for DUI defendants.

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