Articles Posted in DWI

According to a September 30th article in The Oregonian, Warren Edwards, an 89 year-old from Vale, Oregon, has been booked on charges of manslaughter and DUI after he struck and killed 60 year-old David Messer on a stretch of Oregon’s Route 26 West. Although the incident occurred far from the hustle and bustle of Southern California’s tangled freeways, Los Angeles DUI experts are paying close attention to the details, particularly since the defendant is of such advanced age. The Oregon State Police have alleged that neither driver was wearing a seat belt at the time and that Edwards did not have a driver’s license on his person.edwards_dui.jpg

If you have been involved in a head-on collusion that resulted in fatalities or serious injuries, it makes sense to speak with a Southern California DUI attorney as soon as possible regarding your legal rights and responsibilities.

Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is defined in California by penal code statute 191.5 (a). If you were drinking prior to your crash, and someone involved (in your vehicle, in other vehicle, a pedestrian, etc.) ended up dying, you may feel tremendous guilt. You may even feel so defeated that you’re reluctant to put up a vigorous defense. However, it’s critical to act now — both for your future and for the service of justice — to test the prosecution’s case.

Often, key evidence that potentially could exonerate you gets overlooked. For instance, maybe the sobriety tests used to ascertain your BAC level were biased, mishandled, or faulty. A probing investigation can turn up exculpatory evidence. Or maybe the driver of the other vehicle was intoxicated or negligent. Alternately, maybe your vehicle had a mechanical problem that made safe handling more difficult.

A savvy Los Angeles DUI defense attorney, such as Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group, may be able to poke holes in the prosecution’s arguments. Attorney Kraut spent years working for the city of Los Angeles prosecuting DUI cases. He now draws upon his vast and deep experience to build intelligent, forward thinking arguments for Southern California DUI defendants.

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According to an October 2nd article in the New York Times, a Brooklyn grand jury is set to hear testimony in the case of an NYPD officer who struck and killed a young woman with his jeep, allegedly while under the influence of alcohol. Experts in Southern California DUI law are closely following the matter.kelly_dui.jpg

According to the Times article, Officer Andrew Kelly drove into a 32 year-old woman, Vionique Valnord, as she was exiting a wedding party. Officer Kelly was off duty at the time, and he refused to take a blood alcohol test at the scene. Under subpoena, he was compelled to take a blood test seven hours later; the test revealed that he had no alcohol in his system. Nevertheless, eye-witnesses have claimed that Officer Kelly exhibited signs of intoxication, including “red watery eyes” and “slurred speech.” The prosecution also alleges that Officer Kelly’s jeep smelled of alcohol. The matter has elicited public outrage and Mayor Bloomberg himself has planned to attend Ms. Valnord’s wake.

Given the ambiguous evidence regarding whether or not Officer Kelly was intoxicated, it’s unclear how the prosecution will make its case. As a practiced Los Angeles DUI attorney might tell you, roadside sobriety tests and blood alcohol tests alike are notoriously unreliable.

Most people understand that blood, urine, and breathalyzer tests can be biased by improper handling, misinterpretation, and design defects. But few realize that even so-called “obvious” signs of intoxication may not be so obvious after all. When police pull suspects over for driving under the influence in Southern California, they usually look for symptoms, such as:

• Lack of physical coordination
• Careless or reckless driving
• Mumbling speech
• Odor of alcohol on or around the suspect
• Eyes that are bloodshot
• Slurry speech
• Poor kinesthetic awareness
• Disheveled appearance
• Changing stories about what events took place and in what order they took place

Taken together, these signs can be extremely suggestive. However, most DUI examinations yield less than conclusive results. Any number of factors can potentially explain why, for instance, a driver has watery eyes and slurred speech. Perhaps he or she is just fatigued. Or perhaps he or she is having a bad reaction to a medication. Similarly, some people are more or less coordinated than others. This doesn’t mean that people who exhibit these symptoms are not intoxicated. (Nor, conversely, does it mean that individuals who fail to exhibit these symptoms are not DUI.)

The general point here is that, to make an accurate assessment of a suspect’s level of intoxication, one must scrutinize other possible hypotheses that could explain the symptoms.

Of course, challenging charges of DUI in Los Angeles — particularly in cases where other people have been hurt or killed — can be monumentally difficult. That’s why many defendants turn to expert Los Angeles DUI attorneys, like Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. Prior to becoming a criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Kraut spent years as a prosecutor for Southern California DUI cases. His unique vantage allows him to construct strategic options that many attorneys would never think of, simply because they’ve never argued for the other side before.

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In 2002, actor Nick Nolte was pulled over for a routine Southern California DUI arrest. His mug shot from that arrest — which depicted him as scary looking and out of control — took its place among the pantheon of the most infamous celebrity Los Angeles DUI mug shots of all time.

On October 7th, 2009 — seven years later — Nolte’s son, Brawley, followed in his father’s footsteps and received his own Los Angeles DUI charge after colliding with another car in Santa Monica. The 23 year-old Brawley also works as an actor; he starred as Mel Gibson’s son in the movie Ransom. According to TMZ.com, when the police arrived to investigate the crash, they subjected Brawley to roadside sobriety tests, which he apparently failed. Bail was set at $5,000.
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No doubt, Nolte will require the services of a high caliber Los Angeles DUI attorney to develop an effective defense. Fortunately for both Nolte and the other driver, no one was seriously injured. Notwithstanding, the young actor still could face serious penalties for this first time violation, if he’s convicted.

Penalties for violating California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a) and/or 23152 (b) can run a wide gamut. If you are convicted of a first time misdemeanor DUI in Southern California, the court can impose:

• Mandatory alcohol school — six weeks minimum, nine months maximum.
Suspension of CA drivers’ license — no restricted license to travel to work/school, one year suspension possible.
• Fines and court costs — a maximum fine of a thousand dollars may be imposed on top court costs, which can add up to much more than a thousand dollars.
• Strict probation terms — convicted offenders may be barred from drinking alcohol during probation; the police may be able to search your belongings without probable cause.
• A mandatory interlock device installation — this is a device that’s fitted to your car that prevents you from driving unless you blow into it first. If your breath contains alcohol, the car won’t start. Offenders must also pay for this service out of pocket.
• Jail time — misdemeanor DUI offenders must spend at least 48 hours in police custody and can get a sentence of up to six months behind bars.

Given the range and severity of these punishments, it’s helpful to discuss your Southern California DUI matter with a practiced attorney, such as Michael Kraut. Prior to founding the Kraut Law Group to provide services for criminal defendants, Attorney Kraut worked directly for the city of Los Angeles investigating and prosecuting DUI matters. Not only does Attorney Kraut boast a stellar record and positive client reviews, but he also boasts a wealth of unique legal knowledge and an impressive academic pedigree.

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Actress and model Tawny Kitaen was arrested for driving under the influence in Southern California when Newport Beach Police pulled over her Range Rover mid-afternoon last Saturday. Kitaen starred in a provocative music video for the band Whitesnake in the 1980s and more recently has appeared on reality shows like Doctor Drew’s Celebrity Rehab and The Surreal Life. According to an AP report, she was released shortly after her arrest on a $2,500 bail. Kitaen had been arrested back in 2006 on charges of possession of cocaine.tawny-kitaen-mugshot.jpg

Celebrities like Kitaen often turn to an experienced Southern California DUI lawyer to deal with the many complicated legal entanglements that result from arrest. Without good representation, a DUI suspect may miss out on opportunities to challenge the prosecution’s case and/or plea bargain down the charges.

Even seemingly straightforward misdemeanor Los Angeles DUI matters can turn exceedingly complex. Nuances in the law abound. For instance, consider that Southern California DUI law is actually covered by two key vehicle code sections: California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) and California Vehicle Code § 23152(b).

California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) stipulates that if you are driving a car and the police pull over your motor vehicle, and you are then found to be “under the influence” of alcohol or drugs, the police can arrest you. If you’re convicted, you face a panoply of punishments, including jail, license suspension, points on your DMV record and fines.

California Vehicle Code § 23152 (b), on the other hand, stipulates that someone who drives with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or above can be charged with a crime.

Los Angeles DUI suspects may be screened for alcohol or drug intoxication at the scene vis-à-vis tests like the roadside sobriety test, the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test, the breathalyzer test, and urine or blood tests.

To make an accurate defense, you’ll likely need the services of a veteran and proven lawyer like Attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. After serving as one of LA’s most reputable and successful Deputy District Attorneys (in which capacity, he prosecuted literally dozens of DUI cases), Attorney Kraut switched several years ago to represent criminal defendants. In every DUI case, he brings to bear his uniquely deep and vast knowledge of how Southern California prosecutors operate.

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Bobby Rydell, a former teenage heartthrob and musical theater actor, careered his Bentley into the side of a yoga studio and was subsequently arrested for DWI. While Rydell’s story sounds like a typical Southern California DUI story of an “aging celebrity in trouble with the law,” the events actually occurred in Merion, Pennsylvania — on Montgomery Avenue, to be even more specific. Rydell, who starred in musicals such as Bye Bye Birdie and Wild One, admitted to drinking a few cocktails prior to getting behind the wheel of his ‘69 Bentley and plowing it into the side of the Jai Yoga Studio. BAC tests later revealed that the actor had had a BAC of 0.17% – more than twice the legal limit of 0.08% for a Los Angeles DUI.bobby_rydell.jpg

Rydell’s wife claimed to reporters that the actor only failed his roadside sobriety test because a recent hip replacement had made it impossible for him to perform the physical actions requested by the arresting officers.

Had Rydell consulted an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney following his accident, chances are that he and his wife would have been more discrete about disclosing information about the accident. Even seemingly innocuous comments can be taken out of context by both the media and the police and be leveraged against you in a court of law.

What kind of Los Angeles DUI field sobriety tests would someone like Rydell have been subjected to, to determine whether or not he actually was DWI? Sobriety tests tend to go in and out of fashion, but here are some of the more common ones:

Finger to the nose test:

This checks driver coordination. The driver is asked to extend the arms and touch the nose while keeping the eyes closed. Uncoordinated/intoxicated drivers tend to miss the mark more often than sober/coordinated ones.

Rhomberg test:

A driver must close his eyes and tilt his head back and count up to thirty. Intoxicated drivers theoretically are more likely to stumble as a result of this exercise.

One leg stand test:


This is the test that Rydell presumably failed. In it, a driver is asked to stand on one leg for half a minute. DUI or DWI drivers will purportedly lose their balance easier than will sober drivers.

Walk the line test:

This is the “classic” sobriety test often depicted in movies and television. A driver is asked to pace in a straight line back and forth for nine steps. If he or she falls off the line, the police may have grounds to suspect intoxication.

Gaze test:

Officially known as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, this test is designed to measure pupil reaction time. Intoxicated drivers theoretically will have a harder time following a light or an officer’s finger as it moves back and forth across the field of vision.

All these sobriety tests are of course imperfect. But challenging the validity of their results can be quite difficult, unless your DUI defense attorney has done the proper investigation and preparation. Fortunately, if you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in Southern California, you can turn to Attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group. As a former Deputy District Attorney for LA, a Harvard Law School graduate, and a widely respected figure in the field of criminal defense, Attorney Kraut can bring his many talents and resources to bear on your situation. Given how much is at stake for your freedom and future, it makes sense to find the best possible attorney to represent you.

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Gabe Pruitt, the Boston Celtics guard who was arrested back in February for DUI in Los Angeles, has signed a contract with the New York Knicks. Pruitt’s arrest on February 26 provoked great discussion at the time. According to an AP report, police pulled Pruitt over after he stopped his car at a green light. Pruitt was also driving with “dark tinted windows,” which are not legal in California. The LA native and USC grad failed a roadside sobriety test. Consequentially, the Celtics suspended him for two games.GabePruitt-DUI.jpg

Sports figures arrested in Hollywood for driving under the influence often turn to an experienced Southern California DUI attorney to navigate the legal system. This makes good sense. After all, while non-specialized attorneys can handle some aspects of DUI defense, the law can be tricky and subtle. It often takes years for lawyers to develop the knowledge necessary to build smart defenses for their clients.

The AP report on Pruitt’s arrest said he “failed a sobriety test.” What kinds of examinations constitute a typical Los Angeles DUI sobriety test?

Rhomberg Test

A driver leans his head backwards and counts up to thirty. Intoxicated suspects tend to lose their balance and fall over after being distracted by the task of counting.

Walk the Line

A driver must walk nine paces in two directions across a marked line. If he steps off the line, the police may suspect him of intoxication.

One Leg Stand

A driver is asked to stand on one foot for half a minute. If he or she falls over, intoxication may be suspected.

Finger to the Nose

This is a coordination test. A driver closes his eyes and then touches the tip of his nose after extending his arms.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

A driver is asked to follow a moving object from left to right and then back again. Intoxicated drivers may have a difficult time following the stimulus.

Just because a driver fails any one of these tests (or even all of them) does NOT mean that he or she is legally intoxicated. (Conversely, just because someone passes all tests doesn’t mean that he or she is sober, either.) Numerous factors can influence the performance, such as fatigue, anxiety/ stress, underlying health conditions, general disposition, personality, and so on. If you failed a roadside sobriety test in Los Angeles, it makes a lot of sense to connect with an attorney who knows how to challenge the validity of these results. Attorney Michael Kraut of Kraut Law Group spent fourteen years as a Deputy District Attorney for the city of Los Angeles prosecuting Southern California DUI cases similar to yours. Now as operating as a criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Kraut brings to bear a deep understanding of how prosecutors work to cultivate arguments and strategies that get his clients results.

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Ronald Belisario entered a plea of not guilty on Thursday August 27th in response to a charge of misdemeanor Southern California DUI. Belisario was arrested two months ago, after CHP officers saw him speaking on the cell phone while driving (which is, in and of itself, a violation of CA law). The Los Angeles Times reported that the police “observed the symptoms of possible alcohol intoxication.” Just prior to his arrest, Belisario had helped the Dodgers triumph over Seattle Mariners by pitching a scoreless ninth inning. The Venezuela native was released after making a bail of five thousand dollars; his pre-trial hearing is set for October.ronald_belisario_DUI.jpg

While a top caliber Southern California DUI defense lawyer can develop and deliver powerful defenses for misdemeanor DUI suspects like Belisario, such cases are often delicate, as they are tried simultaneously in the California court system and in the court of public opinion.

That said, even in situations in which the evidence at first glance appears to support the prosecution overwhelmingly, defenses can be found. For instance, consider the blood test — one of the DUI prosecutor’s most potent weapons. Blood tests are more reliable than other tests, like breathalyzers and field sobriety tests. But they are by no means flawless.

An array of objections can be made, including but not limited to:

• Perhaps the technician who took the sample was not qualified.
• Perhaps the sample was not stored, transported, or tested correctly.
• Perhaps the test was performed correctly but officer bias skewed the results.
• Perhaps the officer used alcohol on the skin of a suspect, and that alcohol contaminated the sample.
• Perhaps the sample got mixed up with someone else’s.

All these situations can result in unjust and unfair Los Angeles DUI convictions. To challenge the evidence effectively, however, you likely need a veteran lawyer who has practical experience with hundreds of similar cases. Many Southern California DUI defendants trust attorney Michael Kraut. Attorney Kraut spent nearly a decade and a half as a DUI prosecutor before switching to become a criminal defense attorney. Very few other attorneys – even experienced criminal defense lawyers – have that kind of experience from the other side. Attorney Kraut leverages his knowledge of procedures and common prosecutorial arguments to best effect for his clients.

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Not all celebrity sports arrests are for driving under the influence in Southern California. According to an AP report, on August 26, Billy Gillispie, a former basketball coach for the Kentucky Wildcats, was pulled over for DUI in Louisville for “driving erratically.” The arresting officer reported that the coach had insisted that he had been out “golfing,” even though it was 2:45 a.m. at the time. Gillispie was released Thursday morning on his own recognizance. This was Gillispie’s third arrest for DUI, and the incident marks another unfortunate turn for the coach, who had been battling fan criticism about his performance.Gillispie-DUI.jpg

A savvy Southern California DUI attorney might have advised Gillispie to be more prudent with respect to his statements to police. Often, making incongruous statements — such as claiming to be on the way to play golf at three in the morning — can greatly complicate one’s DUI defense.

If you’re arrested and convicted of driving under the influence in Los Angeles three or more times within a 10 year period, the consequences can be dire. At minimum, you face 120 days of jail time — approximately 4 months. At maximum, you face a full year behind bars. Third time offenders also face a year and a half of alcohol school (at minimum), a driver’s license suspension of three years (with no chance to get a restrictive license), and steep fines and court costs. If your case is more complicated — for instance, if your BAC level was extraordinarily high or if you caused injuries — you could be charged with a felony, which carries much stricter minimums.

Whether this is your first arrest for DUI in Southern California or your third, it likely behooves you to retain a top-notch area attorney. Attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group can deliver. Attorney Kraut boasts extensive training. As a Harvard Law School grad and former prosecutor who’s tried dozens of Los Angeles DUI cases from the other side, Attorney Kraut knows how to win hard arguments and build smart and efficient defense strategies.

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Mike Pihl, one of the featured loggers on the History Channel’s hit reality series, “Ax Men,” has been arrested in an incident that’s intrigued people who follow celebrity and Los Angeles DUI cases. According to reports, Pihl drove a jeep with three children inside into a ditch. The vehicle flipped over three times. None of the children inside — all of whom were under five years of age — had been wearing seatbelts. Reportedly, one child sustained fairly serious injuries.mike_pihl_ax_men.jpg

Oregon police did not arrest Pihl for driving under the influence — not because they didn’t suspect that alcohol was involved — but because Pihl had been driving on private property (his own driveway). Nevertheless, police did charge him with reckless endangerment and assault.

Even with a strong and seasoned Los Angeles DUI attorney on your side, if you’ve been charged with driving under the influence with children in your car, you may face extremely aggressive treatment from prosecutors.

According to California Vehicle Code Section 23153(a), prosecutors can elevate what would otherwise be a standard misdemeanor DUI charge to a felony DUI charge, if another person or persons suffered injuries. Furthermore, according to California Vehicle Code Section 23153(b), if someone drives with a BAC of greater than 0.08% and then violates the law and causes injury, the Los Angeles DUI offender can face an array of punishments, including jail time, steep court costs and fines, and driver’s license suspension.

All that said, the law is not without subtlety. If you can prove, for instance, that you didn’t violate any traffic laws, you may be able to negotiate a felony down to a misdemeanor, even if you had been DUI and you did cause injury to another person.

To make your best case, however, you likely need to retain an experienced lawyer. Attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Law Group spent many years working as a Deputy District Attorney for the city of Los Angeles. In that role, he prosecuted dozens of DUI cases. Having switched to representing DUI defendants, Attorney Kraut brings his wealth of prosecutorial knowledge to bear on every DUI defense he crafts. He gets results because he’s intimately familiar with the system and knows what kinds of arguments and strategies to employ.

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The CHP has informed all news agencies and the general public that Southern California will be the top priority for Los Angeles DUI arrests and enforcement for driving under the influence laws. According to law enforcement, starting tonight, September 4, 2009 at midnight until Monday September 7, 2009 at the same time, will be a high enforcement time for all law enforcement.

Police will be maxing out the number of officers on the roads to either run a Los Angeles DUI check point or pull over those they suspect of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In California, an arrest for a violation of the California Vehicle Code section 23152(a) and 23152(b), can result in the following penalties occurring:

–Loss of driver’s license
–Jail sentence of us to 6 months for a first time Southern California DUI
–Huge fines
–Increased insurance bills for several years
–Criminal record
–Loss of job
–Strict terms of probation
These are just a few of the punishments that the court and the DMV can impose for a first time DUI. A conviction of a subsequent DUI will result in much more severe consequences and significant jail time.

A Los Angeles DUI defense attorney can make the difference between a Pasadena DUI, and beating the rap and remaining free. In many locations in around SoCal defense attorneys are attempting to protect their clients from the unfair treatment of over zealous cops.

For example, a Pasadena DUI defense attorney can reviews the facts concerning an arrest in the San Gabriel Valley.

A Burbank DUI defense attorney will review the facts of an arrest in the area between San Fernando and the Pasadena area. That is a prime location for driving under the influence arrests in the valley.

However, a Beverly Hills DUI defense attorney will be able to advise his clients on some of the more public arrests made by both the CHP and local police agencies. That is especially important since the paparazzi often hang out at the Beverly Hills courthouse to see the new celebrity DUI suspects.

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