Articles Posted in DWI

From Perez Hilton on downwards, bloggers and other media players who cover stories about driving under the influence in Long Beach (and elsewhere in SoCal) love to obsess over, speculate on, and pontificate about celebrity DUI arrests. The blogosphere lights up whenever a politician in Oregon is busted for riding his lawn mower while DUI, a pop star princess is busted for a Long Beach drug DUI on a return trip from Vegas, or a football player embarrasses his franchise by hitting three parked cars in one night after partying with his pals at a fancy South Miami club.perez-hilton-celebrity-DUI.jpg

Obviously, these cases are entertaining, though theories abound as to why. Some deep thinkers suggest that the whole “let’s take a celebrity down a notch or two” attitude has its roots in the nature of the American myth. Others point to more simplistic Freudian and other physiological reasons. Irrespective of why we engage in voyeurism over celebrity DUI arrests, we do it.

A better question is: Is this media coverage helping people, harming them, doing both or doing neither? Let’s take a look at each of these possibilities.

Helping People

When the blogosphere exposes the latest careless or negligent celebrity, he or she is often painted as a clown or a danger to society. In other words, you don’t want to emulate that person. Thus, one can argue that Long Beach celebrity DUI news serves as a social deterrent.

The coverage also raises discussions about the perils of DUI driving by ruminating over the punishments (jail time, license suspensions, destruction of reputation, you name it), and thus these stories can serve as cautionary tales.

Hurting

On the flipside, one could make a compelling argument that these stories cheapen the problem of DUI. Since these stories circulate so often, our impression is that this is a relatively common thing to do. If people we look up to are doing it, we can probably do it ourselves.

Then there is also the problem of celebrities “getting off” relatively easily. For every story about Lindsay Lohan being tearfully condemned to a jail sentence, you can find three or four Long Beach celebrity DUI stories about football players, politicians, pop stars, etc. getting off with a proverbial slap on the wrist. Readers might be led to believe that driving DUI is (relatively) inconsequential.

The Neutral

Some readers might think this analysis is unnecessary, that a news story is just a news story. Drivers don’t really “take their cues” from what celebrities do or do not do on the roads. And there might be some truth to this side as well.

All of the Above

We also need to consider that there might be some truth to all three positions. Depending on the circumstances –the celebrity involved, the nature of the offense, your ability to relate (or not) with the celebrity, etc. –a news story might be helpful, harmful, or neutral to you.

For practical help with a Long Beach DUI, turn to an experienced attorney: Mr. Michael Kraut of Long Beach’s Kraut Law Group (444 West Ocean, Suite 800 Long Beach, California 90802 Phone: (562) 531-7454). Attorney Kraut is a Harvard Law School educated former prosecutor who can give you powerful advice about how to deal with any charges, no matter how complex.

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As this blog reported many months ago, the world of Los Angeles DUI got shaken up significantly last year when a pilot program went into effect in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Tulare, and Alameda Counties that mandated that convicted DUI drivers install ignition interlock devices (IIDs) in their vehicles – even for first time DUIs. These “test counties” have demonstrated surprisingly lackluster results, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis published last Monday.Los-Angeles-DUI-IID.jpg

Before we dive into the analysis, let’s recapitulate what this law mandates, so that if you or someone you care about has been pulled over for driving under the influence in Pasadena, DUI in Glendale, Los Angeles DUI, or Burbank DUI, you will understand a little bit more of what’s at stake.

The law – champion by Mike Feuer, a Democratic assemblyman from L.A. — requires DUI convicts to install a breathalyzer-like device called an ignition interlock device in his or her automobile for five months. Until if you blow a “sober” breath into the device, you can’t start your car. The IID should, at least theoretically, thus prevent recidivist (repeat) Los Angeles DUI drivers from endangering themselves and others on the road.

Unfortunately, statistics suggest that the DUI law is not working as planned. Since its incipience, over 13,000 people have been convicted of DUI in the test counties. But California officials confirm that just 1,335 of these convicted drivers got IIDs in their vehicles. Some experts believe that many convicts might be driving illegally – without an IID or even a valid driver’s license.

Assemblyman Feuer is not oblivious to the problem. The Friday before last, he admitted that it may be time to assess the efficacy of the law: “lives are at stake… it’s extremely important we implement this properly.”

From a policy standpoint, we can draw a lesson here. Sometimes solutions that seem “extremely obvious” lead to weird consequences. The cure can be worse than the disease.

This isn’t to say that the Los Angeles DUI program can’t be somehow rehabilitated or made to be more effective – just that policy makers need to have a certain amount of humility and need to rely more on data than on emotion when constructing creative solutions to make our roads safer.

From a practical point of view, if someone you care about has been charged recently with a crime like DUI, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney (such as Michael Kraut, a Harvard Law School educated former prosecutor who has offices at: 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, California 90028) can provide crucial advice. Build a better defense by connecting to a knowledgeable, results proven (99% success rate at jury trials) lawyer now.

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Blogs and tabloids devoted to the topic of celebrity Southern California DUI arrests lit up last week after Sonja Morgan — one of the newest members of the “Real Housewives of New York City” cast — was busted for DWI in South Hampton Village, New York. According to the New York Post, the 46-year-old actress hurtled through a stop sign near First Neck Lane just after 2 in the morning. Allegedly, she had been partying with friends on East End over the holiday weekend. Morgan recently divorced John Adams Morgan, the great grandson of financial tycoon J.P. Morgan. Allegedly, she refused to take a breathalyzer at the scene. No court date has been set yet for her DUI charge. It’s also unclear whether or not her arrest will impact her appearance on Bravo’s hit reality TV series.sonja-morgan-dui.jpg

When you read about arrests like Morgan’s – whether they are celebrity run-ins with police or more “pedestrian” arrests for, say, DUI in Glendale — the focus is often on breathalyzer tests. But what are breathalyzers? Do they really work? And if you have been pulled over for driving under the influence in Pasadena, can you challenge the results of these tests?

Breathalyzers are chemical tests for DUI. Essentially, a breathalyzer is a portable chemical analysis machine. You blow into it. The machine analyzes the chemical composition of your breath. From there, a police officer is supposed to be able to extrapolate your level of blood alcohol concentration.

The machine is a great idea in theory. The problem is that, in practice, many things can skew the results.

For instance, if you are diabetic, you might have chemicals in your breath that might read as alcohol and thus yield a false positive. Also, men and women process alcohol at different rates and this can skew the results. Even the depth of the breath you breathe out can radically swing the results. If you breathe out shallowly, you will have a lower BAC rating (in general) than if you breathe a deep breath out. (Note: This may explain why many police officers encourage Los Angeles DUI breathalyzer suspects to breathe deeply into the breathalyzer).

An experienced Southern California DUI attorney can help you challenge breathalyzer results on a number of grounds – from challenging the care and handling of the machine itself to attacking the administration and testing to calling into question other details of the arrest or police work.

To build a solid case, however, you need an attorney who has been around the block with Southern California DUI defenses.

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Many DUI in Beverly Hills cases begin when an intoxicated celebrity drives way over the speed limit in a fancy car and gets nabbed by the police for his or her hubris. Well, All Star NHL Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin was arrested last week for doing just that, when he was cuffed near Scottsdale, Arizona. Here is the story:goalie_dui.jpg

On February 8th, the goaltender blasted his red Ferrari down a Scottsdale road at 70 miles per hour — more than 25 miles per hour over the speed limit. Local police pulled over the 37-year-old and gave him a field sobriety test after noticing the odor of alcohol on him. Khabibulin was subsequently arrested and charged with DUI and speeding. According to the General Manager of the Oilers, “Nikolai has been fully cooperative with the authorities.”

Khabibulin, who signed a $15 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers in 2009, has been out since mid November thanks to a lower back injury. The Oilers have struggled without his finesse — racking up the worst record in the league (19-36-6). (For comparison, Khabibulin’s record was 7-2-9 with just over three goals scored against on average for the ’09-’10 hockey season.)

When police officers make DUI stops — whether they do so in Scottsdale or Southern California — what kinds of tests do they conduct?

Beverly Hills DUI police typically handle roadside stops ritualistically. In other words, they adhere tightly to a pre-scripted procedure:

The first kind of Southern California DUI field sobriety test usually given is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This is an eye exam designed to see whether the driver can track an object across a field of view. If the eye bounces around, this might indicate that the suspect is DUI.

The following test is the walk the line test. This is a balance test. A suspect must step nine paces in two directions over a line (such as a yellow dividing line). If she falls over, that might indicate she has been driving under the influence in Beverly Hills.

The next test is the one-leg stand test. This is another balance test. The driver stands on one foot for half a minute. Again, if he or she loses balance, this might indicate DUI.

The next test is the Rhomberg test, in which a driver tilts his head back and counts from 1 to 30. Again, a loss of balance might indicate DUI.
Officers can also employ coordination tests, such as the finger to the nose test.

Finally, mental coordination tests may be employed as well — such as reverse counting tests.

Just because you fail a Beverly Hills DUI field sobriety test doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be convicted. But you may need solid legal representation to help you build a good defense.

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Super Bowl Sunday is a dangerous day for Southern California DUI incidents. Statistically, only New Year’s Eve sees more Los Angeles DUIs. We’re going to take a look at Southland DUI statistics for Super Bowl Sunday. saints-colts-super-bowl-xliv.jpg

• According to the Orange County Register, in 2009, 11 people died in DUI related accidents – more than 3 times the average for Southern California DUI deaths. Also last year, 160 DUI crashes were reported in CA – twice the daily average.

• The DUI spike is a known and serious problem. The Automobile Club of Southern California recently analyzed crash data and found that DUI crashes on Super Bowl Sunday leap 27% (220 people hurt/killed in DUI crashes vs. 174 people hurt/killed in DUI crashes on an average day in CA.)

• In Los Angeles proper, the spike is even spikier. We see a whopping 33% increase in Los Angeles DUI crashes/deaths on average for Super Bowl Sunday (72 people hurt/killed vs. 54 hurt/killed on a normal day).

Fortunately, the majority of Burbank DUI arrests and auto accidents end without injury to any party. Here in California, injury DUIs are covered by California Vehicle Code Section 23153(a) and 23153(b). Let’s dive into these two laws to get a better understanding of what they prohibit and how the mete out punishments.

According to 23153(a), a driver who would ordinarily be charged with a misdemeanor Beverly Hills DUI can be hit with a felony charge if she injures another person in an accident that can be clearly linked to her alcohol/drug use.

Section 23153(b) says that someone who drives with a BAC of 0.08% or more and who then violates California traffic laws and directly or indirectly hurts another person can be sent to prison. This section also lays out other punishments that can be imposed, such as court fines, jacked up insurance rates, and forced restitution to the victim or the family of the victim.

That being said, just because you’re arrested for driving under the influence in West Hollywood (or elsewhere in Southern California, such as Long Beach or Burbank), and someone got hurt in the accident doesn’t mean that you will be slapped with a felony charge. For the prosecution to succeed with a case against someone for violating 23153(a) or 23153(b), they must show that the driver violated traffic laws, behaved negligently, and caused the accident.

For instance, if you drove DUI (BAC of 0.08% or above), but the other driver caused the accident: you can still get a misdemeanor DUI, but you won’t likely get a felony DUI. Likewise, if you drive DUI and caused an accident, but you did not violate any traffic laws or act in a negligent way then you will be susceptible to a misdemeanor charge but likely not to a felony.

To sort everything out, it helps to work hand in hand with an attorney who has lots of experience.

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The NFL is abuzz with reports of the latest celebrity sports DUI. This one’s not the typical charge of driving under the influence in Southern California; rather it is a DWI arrest in the otherwise sleepy city of Indianapolis, Indiana. The suspect in question is Tajiddin Smith, a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts. Smith had been called up to the NFL just months ago (September), and he played last weekend in the Colts’ battle against the New York Jets.Taj_Smith_Arrested_DUI.jpg

The 26-year-old Smith allegedly had been driving erratically — swerving over the center divider in an area called Monument Circle — when a police officer pulled him over. According to a local media outlet, Channel 6, Smith allegedly smelled like alcohol and had difficulty exiting his vehicle. He failed police-administered roadside sobriety tests and blew a BAC high above the state’s legal limit. News Channel 6 also reported that Smith was charged with ‘driving while intoxicated’ (DWI) — a potentially more serious charge than ‘driving under the influence’ (DUI).

If you’re pulled over for driving DWI in Beverly Hills or DWI in West Hollywood or anywhere else in Southern California, it can help to have a working understanding of the standards by which officers must conduct themselves. In California, DWI suspects can be arrested in essentially two ways:

1) At predesignated ‘DUI checkpoints,’ which are set up explicitly to catch drivers in the act of violating California Vehicle Code Sections 23152 (a) and (b).

2) Drivers can be arrested via ad hoc traffic stops. Indeed, most Southern California DUI arrests occur after an officer observes a traffic infraction or other road violation — such as swerving over the center line as Smith allegedly did. Other typical ‘trigger’ violations include: running stop signs or stoplights; speeding excessively; going too slow for traffic; and driving recklessly or aggressively.

In California, police may not act with impunity during these pullovers. Both the California Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court have stipulated precise rules of conduct by which arresting officers must abide. If an officer makes a stop illegally, or if a suspect is denied due process, for instance, the charges against the defendant may be thrown out, irrespective of the validity of the allegations.

You need not be a sports celebrity to avail yourself of the best possible legal defense against charges of Beverly Hills DWI (or DWI elsewhere in Southern California).

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Dallas Maverick coach and 11 year NBA veteran Popeye Jones was pulled over Sunday night for driving while intoxicated, according to a breaking story from the Dallas Morning News. Although the incident was not specifically a Southern California celebrity DUI, it has nevertheless fired up the bloggers and twitterers who spend their days searching for Hollywood dirt to till.popeye_jones_dui.jpg

Jones allegedly had been driving his GMC Yukon erratically when Dallas police officers pulled him over. He refused a breath test, prompting the arrest. Jones reportedly resisted at first and somehow wound up face-planting on the pavement. (In his mug shot, his bruises and abrasions are quite visible.) Officials reported that Jones fell because he “lost his balance,” but some in the blogosphere have accused the police of possibly administering unnecessary force in the arrest.

An experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney might advise a client in a similar situation to refrain from making comments to the press about the case until the case has been methodically analyzed. A rigorous investigation is key to a solid defense. In fact, if a DWI defendant fails to divulge key facts about his arrest to his attorney, he risks inadvertently creating a slew of problems for himself.

Jones’ breathalyzer test refusal seems to have set off the complications in question. According to Los Angeles DUI law, a refusal to take a chemical test can be grounds for arrest under certain circumstances. For instance, if you have previously recently been arrested for DUI; or if you’re on probation for another crime; or if you’re under the age of 21, California law requires that you take a PAS test or face arrest.

That being said, determining whether a certain behavior constitutes a legally actionable “refusal” can be complicated business. For instance, if the driver delays taking a test, does this constitute a refusal or not? The answer may depend on factors such as whether the police contributed/caused the delay or whether the defendant was sick or injured.

A refusal can be penalized in multiple ways. If you’re convicted of the DUI, the Department of Motor Vehicles may not allow you to obtain even a restricted license — your one-year driver’s license suspension will be total and complete. You may also face additional jail time and conditions for your probation.

To draft a forward thinking and persuasive defense, consult veteran Los Angeles DUI attorney Michael Kraut. As a Harvard Law School graduate and former prosecutor (Deputy District Attorney) for the city of Los Angeles, Attorney Kraut has distinguished himself as a powerful advocate for justice, an impressive legal tactician, and a results-oriented thinker. With your rights and possibly even your freedom on the line, you need and deserve a top caliber attorney to build you the stiffest possible defense.

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On Tuesday, movie star and director Mel Gibson finally saw his July 2006 Southern California DUI conviction expunged from his record. Gibson’s arrest in the summer of 2006 riveted the nation after Gibson allegedly threw an anti-Semitic tantrum subsequent to his being taken into custody, in which he unleashed a fusillade of insults and racist remarks, including saying that “the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”Mel%20Gibson%20DUI.jpg

Judge Lawrence Mira consented to clear Gibson of his Los Angeles DUI charge because the actor/director had conformed to the terms of his probation, which included attending AA meetings, paying nominal fines, and avoiding further arrests for driving under the influence.

Had Gibson consulted a knowledgeable Los Angeles DUI lawyer after he had been pulled over on PCH for driving around 85 mph, he likely would have been advised against behaving rudely and aggressively towards the deputy officer who made the arrest.

That being said, being courteous to an arresting officer does not mean being compliant or submissive. In fact, if you’re overly forthcoming about your activities, you can exacerbate your legal woes. Admitting to “only having had a few drinks,” for instance, can significantly complicate your case.

Under what conditions can a suspect refuse an alcohol test? The law is murkier than most people realize. You can refuse under certain circumstances; but under other circumstances, refusal can constitute a criminal offense. For instance, if you’re on probation for driving under the influence of Los Angeles, or if you’ve just been arrested, you must take a test. (And if you’ve been arrested under suspicion of drug use, you may also have to take a urine test.)

You can also be penalized if you delay taking a test. That said, if the conduct of the arresting officer contributed to or caused the delay, then said delay may not actually constitute a refusal, legally speaking. If the police do not advise a suspect about penalties for refusal, the court can choose to ignore a refusal, even if one did in fact take place. According to Southern California law, arresting officers can obtain blood samples for BAC testing by force if need be. For instance, if a suspect has passed out at the wheel and has evinced signs of DUI, an officer can take a sample — even in spite of the suspect’s unconsciousness.

For help navigating the complexities that have resulted from your DUI arrest, turn to attorney Michael Kraut. For many years, attorney Kraut worked as a DUI prosecutor in Los Angeles. He knows how to critically dissect prosecutorial arguments and brings to bear a tremendous and detailed knowledge of how Los Angeles DUI cases are fought. He also boasts an impressive academic pedigree (Harvard Law School).

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Thomas Dekker — the star of the short-lived TV series: “Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles,” was arrested on Wednesday for driving under the influence in Los Angeles. According to a report from the celebrity blog TMZ.com, the 21-year-old actor slammed into a bicyclist and was booked on charges of felony DUI in Southern California. The accident took place at around 9 PM in the San Fernando Valley. Dekker’s being held on a bail of $100,000.thomas-dekker-dui.jpg

It’s unclear from reports how serious the bicyclist’s injuries are; nor is it clear whether Dekker himself suffered injuries or whether any property was damaged.

Given the serious consequences associated with a conviction for felony DUI, Dekker will likely require the services of a qualified and experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney.

California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (a) mandates that, in the event that a DUI driver causes injury to another person or persons, his charge may be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony. California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (b) outlines many of the penalties that can result from a felony DUI conviction. These can include fines and court costs, jail time, forced restitution to victims, and loss of other privileges and licenses.

That being said, a felony injury Los Angeles DUI conviction is by no means guaranteed. The prosecution must meet a heavy burden of proof. First of all, the prosecution must show that the defendant had been driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater. Second, the prosecution must show that the defendant had committed some act of negligence or traffic violation that caused the accident that resulted in the injury.

To illustrate this point, let’s consider a scenario in which a driver is DUI. But then a bicyclist blows through a stop sign and drives right in front of his car. The cyclist gets hit and injured. In this case, the driver can be convicted of a misdemeanor DUI, since he was under the influence. But he shouldn’t be convicted of a felony injury DUI, since he had been obeying the traffic laws; the bicyclist provoked the accident by driving negligently.

As you can see, DUI legal issues can come become incredibly complicated. To make sense of your rights and obligations, you need to analyze and investigate. That’s why many defendants trust attorney Michael Kraut to provide savvy guidance. Prior to representing criminal defendants, Attorney Kraut spent years prosecuting Los Angeles DUI cases — essentially working for the “other side” — and he leverages his intimate knowledge of the prosecutorial system to deliver superior results time and again.

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It’s a case that rivals a celebrity Los Angeles DUI escapade — and it took place in Montana, of all places. At the center of the storm is Senator Greg Barkus (R- Montana) who, on the night of August 7th, allegedly drove a boat into a rocky coastline at speeds approaching 45 miles per hour. barkus_DUI.jpg

Senator Barkus (along with his wife, fellow Congressman Denny Rehberg, and two staffers) were all hurt in the accident. Prosecutors have revealed that Senator Barkus’ blood sample tested at 0.16 percent nearly two hours after the crash occurred. That’s twice Montana’s legal limit for driving (0.08 percent). The senator has been tagged for DUI previously. In 2004, he pled guilty to driving under the influence in the city of Polson, Montana.

If convicted of felony charges against him, the senator could face up to ten years in prison — for each of the three charges — and he could face tens or thousands of dollars worth of fines. He is due to appear in Flathead District Court in Montana on October 22nd for his arraignment.

As a veteran Southern California DUI defense attorney would likely have told the senator, building a rock-ribbed legal defense in a case as complex and public as this requires careful investigation. For instance, a deep analysis might lead the senator to challenge the validity of the results of his blood test. (According to a report in The Billings Gazette, the senator’s passengers did not (at the time) believe him to be intoxicated. Another report revealed that a political rival (a Democrat state representative) ran the lab where the senator’s blood sample was first sent to be analyzed.)

Contrary to many people’s beliefs, blood tests often yield unclear or even biased results. Many factors can cause the test to indicate a higher BAC level than the subject actually might have had. For instance, the chemicals inside the test may have been expired or poorly preserved. The sample may have been misidentified, mishandled, mistested, misinterpreted, or stored improperly. Problems with sterility, refrigeration, and contamination can all influence results.

Of course, given that courts generally consider blood tests to be more reliable than breathalyzer and urine tests, it’s almost always a good idea to retain a top notch Southern California DUI attorney to assist with your case. If you have been arrested and charged with DUI in Los Angeles, connect today with Attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Attorney Kraut is a Harvard Law School grad and a former LA District Attorney with a tremendous track record. Since he once prosecuted DUI cases for a living, he understands better than most how to shore up potentially shaky defenses and aggressively battle back.

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