Bringing a Personal Injury Suit Against a Driver on Prescription Drugs

Have you or a loved one been injured as the result of the negligent or reckless conduct of a person driving while experiencing side effects related to a medical prescription? Did you know that the law holds these drivers accountable just the same as drivers who caused personal injuries or property damage as a result of other types of careless, reckless, or intentionally wrongful driving? Neither the legality of a prescription nor ignorance of its side effects are valid bases for avoiding liability for the damages caused by a breach of the duty of safe driving. So, if you have been injured by driver under the influence of even a legal prescription medication, it is within your right to seek compensation from them for your injuries, medical bills, lost income due to missed work, pain and suffering, and other losses. To hold the at-fault driver responsible for these damages, contact a skilled and experienced California criminal defense attorney.

Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs is Dangerous

Properly prescribed and responsibly consumed, most medications pose little danger to driving safety. However, some medications come with serious side effects including drowsiness, audio-visual distortions, irritability, and even seizures. These side effects, which can result from either the presence or absence (e.g. withdrawal) of a prescription medication, pose serious – even lethal – risks when coupled with driving. Just imagine if a driver, traveling at 65mph on the highway, unexpectedly falls asleep or experiences convulsions or a seizure. Terrifying, isn’t it?  

Of course you may know firsthand of the terrible consequences if you or a loved one have been seriously injured by a driver who lost control of a vehicle while experiencing medication-related side effects. While you may not harbor the same bad feelings for this type of driver as you would a drunk driver, you may still hold him or her responsible for the tragic toll taken on your person and property. Ignorance of the existence of side effects or the possibility of their occurrence while driving is no excuse. It is the responsibility of a driver to know the effects of the prescription medications they are on, just as it is the responsibility of the driver’s prescribing physician and pharmacist to inform the driver, in writing, of any possible side effects.  

When lack of awareness or forgetfulness leads to an accident, legal liability may still be rightly imposed.  This is the basis for you seeking compensation for your personal injuries, medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income due to missed work, and other losses – even from a driver who was unaware of the potential side effects that played a role in the accident that caused your injuries. To seek the compensation you need and deserve for your losses, contact a dedicated and skilled San Diego personal injury attorney. Time is of the essence in filing a personal injury lawsuit, so do not delay in contacting an experienced attorney.

Recovering Compensation for Personal Injuries From a Drunk Driver

Have you or a loved one been injured as a result of another person’s decision to get behind the wheel after drinking too much alcohol? May, for all its beauty, is also a time of danger. With millions of young people celebrating graduation, whether from secondary school, college, or beyond, alcohol will inevitably be consumed. All too often, when alcohol is consumed in the context of celebration, it is consumed to the point of excess. Excessive alcohol consumption leads to drunkenness, and when this state of impaired mental faculties is combined with the poor and dangerous decision to get behind the wheel of a car, truck, or other vehicle, tragedy can ensue. This grave possibility lingers around every graduation celebration in which alcohol is involved – and especially those in more remote areas in which there is no access to public transportation, taxis, Uber, or Lyft.

If this dark possibility has become a reality and resulted in an accident in which you or a loved one were injured by a drunk driver, contact a skilled and experienced California personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney will hold the at-fault driver responsible for his or her dangerously selfish decision-making, and seek the full compensation you are entitled to for your injuries, medical and auto repair bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Damages Awarded in a Personal Injury Suit Against a Drunk Driver

When a person chooses to get behind the wheel of an automobile while under the influence of alcohol, he or she has acted negligently. Negligence is a legal doctrine. Specifically, negligence is a breach of a duty of care owed to another person that results in damages. Driving under the influence (DUI) is a breach of the duty of safe driving. Alcohol impairs the mental faculties, slows reaction times, and can lead to speeding, swerving, and even passing out at the wheel.  This brings us to damages, the final aspect of establishing negligence. It is the element of causation – of linking the breach of the duty of safe driving – to the personal injuries you have suffered that completes the tort of negligence. This linking is what justifies imposing legal and financial liability on the at-fault driver.  It is about justice – about holding the at-fault party responsible for the harm suffered by the innocent party.  

While court imposed liability cannot, unfortunately, “unbreak” your bones, it can provide financial restitution. Specifically, in a personal injury lawsuit against a drunk driver, you may seek compensation for your injuries, medical bills, car repair bills, lost income due to missed work, pain and suffering, and other losses. Finally, if you were not injured, but instead tragically lost a loved in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver. To discuss the specifics of your situation, contact a skilled and experienced California personal injury attorney. A dedicated attorney will fight to obtain the full compensation to which you are entitled.  

Litigating Probable Cause Issues in a California DUI Defense

If you have been charged with DUI in the state of California, you have a strong interest in defending against the charges. Besides the fines and unwanted blotch on your criminal record, a DUI conviction can wreak reputational damage, raise car insurance premiums, saddle you with a dizzying array of inconveniences, and much more. There exists a misperception that the road from a DUI charge to conviction is as straightforward as a parking ticket, but the truth is that stringent requirements imposed on police officers in making a DUI arrest and inherent problems related to DUI testing vastly complicate the picture. In other words, it is possible to successfully defend against the charges, whether through litigating deficiencies in the testing process, or shortfalls in police conduct at the time of the arrest. With regard to the police conduct aspect, the issue of probable cause often comes into play.

The purpose of this article is to explain the probable cause requirement imposed on all police officers. If you have been charged with DUI in the state of California, contact an experienced California DUI defense attorney to begin the process of defending against the charges against you.

Probable Cause Must Be Supported By a Reasonable Suspicion

We live in a nation of laws, and we are endowed with an array of important rights by the U.S. Constitution. One of these rights is to be free from unlawful arrests by the police. Make no mistake, the police fulfill an important role in our society and should be commended for it.  However, the police can not pull you over in your car, stop you on the street, or arrest you without good reason. This would be a travesty and, more importantly, a violation of your Constitutional rights.

To lawfully make a stop or arrest, an officer must possess what is known as probable cause.  Probable cause is a “reasonable suspicion” or reasonable belief that you are engaged in criminal activity. Without meeting this legal standard – without possessing a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity – a police owner cannot stop your car, detain you for the purpose of conducting a DUI investigation, or arrest you for a DUI in the state of California. For a police officer to engage in any such conduct absent probable cause is to act unlawfully. Importantly for your DUI defense, any evidence obtained during a stop, investigation, or arrest made without probable cause can be suppressed in court. Such evidence is deemed “fruit of the poisonous tree” in the eyes of the law and cannot be used against you by the state’s prosecuting attorney.

If you have been charged with DUI in the state of California, contact a skilled California DUI defense attorney. A skilled attorney will explore all and any deficiencies in probable cause, and work to have the charges against you reduced or dismissed entirely. For your future and for your reputation, contact a skilled attorney today.

Litigating Miranda Rights Issues in a California DUI Defense

If you have been charged with DUI in the state of California, you have a strong interest in mounting the strongest possible legal defense against the state’s efforts to convict you.  California punishes DUI severely. If convicted, you are looking at enormous fines, mandatory license suspension, as well as mandatory participation in programs for alcohol treatment, public works projects, community service, and, worst of all, jail time. In addition, and even for a first time offense, a DUI conviction is grounds for your car insurance provider to drastically reduce your premiums for years to come. Scared yet?

Well, the bad news does not stop there. Have you thought about the potential damage to your reputation? Your ability to maintain a professional license or certification could be adversely impacted. If you are younger and still on the path to achieving your educational and vocational goals, a DUI conviction could potentially threaten or altogether derail your efforts. All this and more is possible if you have already been convicted for DUI in the past – especially if the crime was prosecuted as a felony and involved property damage or personal injuries to other persons.  

Hopefully, this is your first time and the picture presented here is but a cautionary tale.  Regardless of your personal circumstances, you need to rely on the expertise of a skilled California DUI defense attorney. In making a DUI arrest, a police officer is subject to a number of important and stringent Constitutional requirements. Specifically, an officer making a DUI arrest (or any other arrest) must advise you of your Miranda rights. The purpose of this article is to explain those rights and how violation of them is potentially grounds for a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you.

An Officer Making a DUI Arrest is Required to Inform You of Your Miranda Rights

If you are an avid TV or Film fan, chances are that you have heard the words “you have the right to remain silent. If you do say anything, it can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have a lawyer present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire.” This series of statements comprise what is known as your Miranda Rights. Arising from the U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona, these rights exist to protect your liberty. In the DUI context, these rights come into play once you have been arrested and put into police custody and the arresting officer begins conducting an interrogation.  What can be inferred from these 3-part rule is that you do not have to be read your Miranda rights when you are initially stopped in your vehicle and subjected to DUI testing. It is at the outset of the interrogation – the officer’s efforts to elicit incriminating answers from after you have been arrested – when your Miranda right must be read.

If you have been charged with DUI, contact a skilled and experienced California DUI defense attorney to defend against the state’s efforts to convict you.

Serious Consequences Arising From an Underage DUI Conviction in California

Drinking and driving is taken very seriously be the state of California. A DUI conviction can bring fines, loss or restriction of driving privileges, court-ordered alcohol and substance abuse counseling, the installation of an ignition interlock device in one’s vehicle, community service, reputational damage, and even jail time – and that is if you are 21 years of age or older. For individuals under the age of 21 charged with DUI in California, the consequences can be even worse. This reason for this is obvious: underage persons are prohibited from consuming any alcohol. As such, the state does not look kindly on underage persons who elect to both consume alcohol AND drive. Individuals charged with the serious offense of underage DUI should speak with a skilled and experience California DUI attorney about protecting their rights.

0.08% for Adults, 0.01% for Minors

DUI, which stands for driving under the influence, is gauged in terms of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).  For adults, the threshold between permissible and impermissible alcohol content is 0.08%. For minors, on other hand, any detectable alcohol in the system is grounds for a charge of DUI. Thus, even a 0.01% BAC test result may result in a DUI charge. This is the case even if the influence of alcohol did not actually result in any impairment. This strict approach reflects California’s “Zero Tolerance” policy concerning underage drinking and driving.

What to Expect From a Conviction for Underage DUI in California

Even for a low level BAC test result in which there was no impairment, accident, criminal history, or other aggravating factor, an underage DUI may result in a one-year driver’s license suspension. For a BAC reading consistent with drunkenness and/or the existence of previous traffic and other driving violations, penalties may include fines, court-ordered DUI education, three to five years of probation, and even jail time. The more aggravating factors present, the more penalties. Aggravating factors include the presence of an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, the presence of passengers in the vehicle, and more.

Depending on the circumstances, consequences may come from both the California Department of Motor Vehicles and one of the state’s criminal courts. With regard to a driver’s license suspension, the DMV is the relevant agency. For other penalties, such as fines, jail time, and court-ordered DUI education, the court is the relevant state body.

What to Do if You Have Been Charged With Underage DUI in California

In addition to the criminal penalties, conviction for an underage DUI in California must be reported on college and job applications. This requirement may be the worst punishment of all – the reputational and potential occupational and educational damage – it can snowball into a lifetime of problems. For this reason and for every other reason stated above, it is imperative that you protect your rights when facing an underage DUI charge in California. For your rights and for your future, consult with a skilled and experienced California DUI attorney.

A California DUI Attorney Who Will Personally Oversee Your Case

California is inundated with “mill” and “1-800” DUI law firms. Quantity prevails where quality should.  When you are facing a DUI charge – when your rights are at stake – you need a skilled California DUI attorney that will be personally involved with your case. A DUI conviction can result in fines, jail time, loss of privileges, and reputational damage. With such serious consequences possible and with numerous important deadlines and procedural requirements to comply with, you need an experienced attorney with a strong track record.

DUI Depends on Blood Alcohol Level

DUI stands for driving under the influence. Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152-23229.1, it is illegal for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a car, truck, or other vehicle. In California as elsewhere, influence is measured in terms of blood alcohol concentration (BAC).  BAC is most commonly gauged via breathalyzer. The threshold between permissible and impermissible influence of alcohol is 0.08%. In other words, driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is grounds for DUI regardless of whether or not the influence resulted in any impairment. One might think, “What right does the state have to submit me to blood, breath, or urine tests?” A reasonable inquiry, surely. In the eyes of California law, you may be surprised to learn that you implicitly consented to such testing the moment you got behind the wheel. As such, a decision to revoke this implied consent may result in a loss of driving privileges. Depending on whether a DUI offense is one’s first, second, third, or more, refusal of testing may result in a driver’s license suspension of 1 – 2 years. Jail time, fines, court-ordered alcohol and substance education, and the installation of an ignition interlock devices are all distinct possibilities, as well.

The Difference Between DUI and “Wet Reckless”

In some DUI-related circumstances, it might be possible to reach a plea bargain agreement with the state’s prosecutor for a conviction of the lesser charge of “wet reckless.” This plea bargain downgrades the charge from drunk driving to reckless driving in exchange for a guilty plea. However, such a deal is contingent upon the absence of aggravating factors. Specifically, a “wet reckless” plea bargain may only be accepted by the state when the BAC is borderline (very close to 0.08%), there was no accident, and the defendant has no prior DUI convictions. The bargain may be unmade by a DUI conviction for a separate incident within 10 years of the “wet reckless” plea. Negotiating a plea bargain for the reduced charge of “wet reckless” requires the skill and expertise of a California DUI attorney.  

If you have been charged with DUI in the San Diego area, reach out to an aggressive, affordable, and skilled DUI lawyer. It is in your interest to mount the strongest defense possible, as well as exploring the possibility of a reduced plea. Time is of the essence with regard to a DUI charge, so do not delay in the protection of your rights.

Auto Accidents In the News: Drunk Driver Flees Crash Scene, Walks to Gas Station

Garrett Gelrud was involved in a deadly crash at approximately 5:30 a.m. on August 6th. He initially fled the scene, but was detained shortly afterwards at a nearby gas station. The California High Patrol evaluated Gelrud for DUI after his vehicle and two others crashed approximately 50 miles from downtown San Diego. The accident occurred southbound on Old Highway 395, south of highway CA-76.

According to California High Patrol Officials, Gelrud was driving his Chevy Suburban heading north on Old Highway 395 when he drove through a curve in the roadway. Simultaneously, Juan Corza Gonzales, a 62-year old man from Escondido was driving his Nissan Versa heading south, and Alfonso Sumano, 56, and his wife Antonia Juarez, 58, both from Escondido, were driving in their Toyota Prius. As Gelrud drove into the curve, his Suburban crossed the yellow lines and crashed into Gonzales’ Nissan head-on. Gonzales was killed as a result of the impact. Sumano saw the crash and applied his brakes to avoid it, but he ended up rear-ending Gonzalez’s Nissan. Sumano and Juarez escaped with minor injuries.

NBC San Diego caught aerial footage of the aftermath of the crash, which showed a white SUV in one lane, a blue car in the middle of the road and the silver car half in the road, half on a rock wall that lines the road. The Nissan (the blue car) was completely destroyed. The other vehicles sustained damage to the front of each.

Gelrud was apprehended just after 6:00 a.m. He was leaving the crash site barefoot. Officials apprehended him at a nearby gas station. He sustained minor injuries. Gelrud will be charged with suspicion of felony DUI, vehicular manslaughter, and felony hit-and-run. The accident is still under investigation.

Contact the Leslie Legal Group

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a DUI auto accident, it is essential that you retain an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The Leslie Legal Group has extensive experience helping clients obtain damages in auto accident cases. Contact us today for a free consultation.

California Supreme Court DUI Ruling: Coffey v. Shiomoto

Last month, a California Supreme Court case made it more difficult to escape a DUI charge. The California Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Motor Vehicles is now able to consider circumstantial evidence (i.e. swerving in and out of lanes, failing field sobriety tests) to prove a driver was impaired behind the wheel. This decision has provided wiggle room for the DMV to suspend drivers’ licenses when a breathalyzer or blood test determines a driver’s blood alcohol level is close to the legal limit or a test result is inconclusive. The Coffey decision makes it more difficult for those drivers who are subjected to sobriety tests with borderline results to prove that they were not driving while impaired. This ruling could cause a spike in DUI convictions.

The facts of the case are as follows: Ashley Coffey was arrested in November of 2011 for driving under the influence of alcohol, when an officer observed her swerving on the freeway. The officer administered field sobriety tests, which Coffey failed. Approximately one hour after Coffey was pulled over; her blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.08 percent. Three minutes later she was given another test, which measured 0.09 percent. Later still, Coffey was given a blood test which measured 0.095 percent. Coffey had an expert testify on her behalf at an administrative hearing and at trial contesting the suspension of her driver’s license. The expert testified that her blood-alcohol content was rising at the time of the breathalyzer and blood tests, which suggested that her blood-alcohol level was below the legal limit at the time she was driving. This expert testimony was disregarded by both the DMV and the trial court.

Under California law, prior to this decision, the 0.08 blood-alcohol level creates a rebuttable presumption that the driver was impaired within three hours after driving. A defendant can rebut the presumption by presenting evidence negating the fact that the driver was impaired. Coffey tried to rebut the presumption that she was impaired, but was unsuccessful. The California Supreme Court concluded that “the Evidence Code says nothing about the quality of the evidence…only that, once the opponent introduces evidence of a fact negating the presumption, the [judge] has to weigh the inferences arising from the facts that gave rise to the presumption against the contrary evidence and resolve the conflict.” This essentially means that when a defendant presents evidence to rebut the presumption, the DMV is allowed to rely on evidence other than breathalyzer or blood tests to prove that a defendant’s blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit while driving.

The Court held that circumstantial evidence is relevant and admissible in a DUI hearing. The judge is the one who determines whether the evidence is credible. Further, the court said that prior case law that has held circumstantial evidence coupled with blood-alcohol level tests can be combined to prove that a driver was driving drunk. Though the court cautioned on the potential abuse of this ruling, it is not unlikely that it will make the defense of a DUI charge more difficult. This ruling allows much wider discretion for DMV hearing officers to penalize those driving legally below the limit.

If you have been charged with a DUI, the Law Offices of Sean F. Leslie can help. We have years of experience in reducing the charges of DUI clients. Contact us today for a consultation.

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