Defending Against Underage DUI in California

Many young people come down with what is known as “spring fever” this time of year.  This disease is not a health condition, as the name might imply. Spring fever, rather, is an excess of energy, difficulty concentrating, and a proclivity for mischief. The sun is shining, the weather warming, flowers blooming, and life is magnificent in all its rich possibilities. This at times overwhelming confluence of good vibes is felt with special intensity by students looking forward to college while in their last semester of high school.

We have all heard of the sometimes outrageous senior pranks by outgoing high school grads.  These acts of mischief are almost always in good fun and seldom cause problems. Problems do arise, however, when spring fever involves a minor consuming alcohol and then getting behind the wheel of an automobile.  The state of California has no tolerance for this behavior and punishes it harshly. If you or your child has been charged with underage drinking in driving, it is imperative that you contact a skilled and experienced California DUI defense attorney.

Conviction for underage drinking and driving in California can have serious ramifications. Beyond the typical fines, probation, mandatory DUI education, and potential jail time, there is the damage done to a minor’s reputation. This reputational damage goes beyond the abstract and can have real consequences on a minor’s educational and vocational aspirations. To protect your reputation, legal rights, and future, contact an experienced California DUI defense attorney to begin mounting the strongest possible legal defense.

Drivers Under the Age of 21 Are Not Allowed to Have Any Alcohol in Their System

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is the scientific measurement used in testing for driving while under the influence of alcohol. BAC is the ratio of alcohol per milliliter of blood in the body. For adults, the .08% BAC is the threshold for unlawful drinking and driving. In other words, a BAC reading of .08% is grounds for a DUI arrest. For minors, the BAC threshold is much more stringent. Even a .01% BAC test result is grounds for a DUI arrest. The reason for this strict law is, as you have probably already guessed, is that minors are barred from purchasing and consuming alcohol.

The legal drinking age is 21.  As such, the law regards it as a flagrant violation for a minor to both unlawfully consume alcohol and get behind the wheel. To punish this serious disregard for the law, underage drinking – even for a low BAC reading that does not correspond with impairment – is punishable by a one-year driver’s license suspension, a fine of $100 or more, compulsory attendance in DUI school, three to five years of probation and possible jail time. Punishments are even more severe if the underage drinking and driving resulted in accident, especially one in which personal injuries resulted.  If you or your child has been charged with underage DUI, contact an experienced California DUI defense attorney immediately.

Defending Against DUI Charges in California

This past weekend, many celebrated the Easter holiday. As with many holidays, Easter brings time with family. Unfortunately, this family time is not always all fun Easter egg hunts, honey-baked hams, and polite conversation. Time with family members, for all too many people, is a time of great stress. When stress runs high and wine or other alcoholic beverages are being served with family meals, there runs the risk of over-indulging. With this unexpected over-indulgence in alcohol at a family event comes a second problem – the unanticipated need for transportation home. This can be difficult in suburban or rural areas, so individuals sometimes feel caught between a choice to spend more stressful time with family members or the poor, and more importantly unlawful, decision to drive under the influence of alcohol. When this unpleasant picture results in a DUI arrest in the state of California, you need an experienced California DUI defense attorney to protect your legal rights and mount the strongest possible defense.

It is Possible to Defend Against DUI Charges in California

Not every DUI arrest is proper, and not every DUI charge is merited. You have many important legal rights, including the right against unlawful searches and seizures. In respect of these rights, California requires its police officers to strictly abide by certain rules and regulations in making a DUI stop and arrest. First and foremost among these requirements is the existence of probable cause. Probable cause is a legal concept that amounts to a “reasonable suspicion.” To even pull you over in the first place, a police officer must possess a reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence of alcohol. Examples in the DUI context include the visible presence of alcohol in the vehicle, erratic driving, swerving, and speeding.  

After making a valid stop with probable cause, a police officer must conduct a valid DUI test that generates a result consistent with driving under the influence of alcohol. Most commonly, this test is administered by breathalyzer – a device that measures Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).  Law enforcement would have you believe that BAC tests are a black and white matter, but the truth is that countless interfering substances, legitimate health conditions, and breathalyzer malfunctions can produce inaccurate readings. A skilled and experienced attorney will thoroughly explore every one of these reasons for a possibly false BAC reading.

The same is true with regard to DUI blood tests – the second most common means of testing for DUI. Issues occur with blood samples, as well, as re-testing frequently confirms. From the initial stop to the DUI testing to the arrest, a skilled and experienced California DUI defense attorney will go over every detail with a fine-toothed comb, holding the state responsible for meeting the strict probable cause and testing requirements for DUI. This combination of work ethic and experience could make every difference in your defense. To mount the strongest possible defense, contact an experienced attorney today.

When Reckless Driving Causes Personal Injuries in California

This week, a star NBA player posted an image on Snapchat of his speedometer reading 118 miles per hour while driving his BMW on one of California’s highways. The question has since been asked “why would someone post evidence of themselves breaking the law?” After all, 118 mph is well over the speed limit on any California street or highway – a flagrant violation of state law.  Secondly, while driving at such a dangerous and unlawful speed, why would someone take his or her eyes off the road – even for a moment – to document the unlawful activity? Finally, why would that person then brag about breaking the law and potentially endangering other drivers or pedestrians?

The answer to all three questions likely involves a combination of youth, stupidity, and daft “brand building” in the age of social media. What if the driver’s decision to speed and take his eyes of the road had caused an accident in which personal injuries resulted? For the speeding driver, potentially career-ending injuries, criminal prosecution by the state, loss or restriction of driving privileges by the state’s department of motor vehicles, and potential financial liability stemming from a civil suit by any injured parties. If you have been injured by the reckless and unlawful driving of another person, you may be entitled to recover financial damages in a personal injury lawsuit. To defend your legal rights and hold the other driver responsible for your losses, contact a skilled and experienced California personal injury attorney.

Driver’s Owe Other Drivers and Pedestrians a Duty of Safe Driving

There is a social contract between drivers and other drivers and pedestrians encountered on the state’s roads, streets, highways, and freeways. This contract imposes a duty of safe driving in accordance with the rules and regulations of the state of California. As a part of this duty, we are required to abide by the speed limit, possess car insurance to protect others and ourselves in the event of an accident, drive free from distraction, and refrain entirely from driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medications. When a driver violates this duty of safe driving and causes an accident resulting in property damage, personal injuries, or fatalities, that driver may be held both criminally and financially responsible for their breach of the duty to drive safely.

The criminal side of the equation punishes the driver for his or her decision to drive reckless, carelessly, or in an intentionally wrongful manner. But what about the property damage or personal injuries inflicted on others? Liability for causation of these losses is the province of the civil justice system. So, if you have been injured by a reckless, careless, or intentionally malicious driver, you may file a personal injury lawsuit in the civil justice system to recover the damages you have suffered, including repair costs, medical bills, lost income due to missed work, and much more. To discuss the specifics of your losses, contact an experienced California personal injury attorney.

Wrong-Way Car Crashes Often Prove Deadly

Fatal wrong-way car crashes are some of the worst occurrences on our nation’s roads. This is because a wrong-way car crash can do so much devastation, and involve persons, property, and both state and private businesses and institutions. Take, for example, a recent wrong-way car crash that killed five people in Ohio. There, it is suspected that the driver had been drinking and driving in the wrong direction before causing an interstate crash. The driver died in the collision, as did four people in the SUV that the driver’s vehicle slammed into.

There are multiple twists to this story.  First, the driver had been arrested the day before for the drinking and driving offense of “operating a vehicle without reasonable control” after his car collided with a parked car. This fact raises questions as to why the authorities allowed the man to even be in a position to drive again so soon after the arrest. Second, there is the wrong-way aspect of the crash. Were directional signs on Ohio’s freeways not sufficiently large and visible? The fact that 10 other fatal wrong-way crashes occurred in Ohio in 2014 may suggest that off-ramp/on-ramp signs are ineffective or defective in some way.

Here, in California, there has been a spate of fatal wrong-way car crashes, as well. The fact that Caltrans – the state agency in charge of highway, bridge, and rail transportation, planning, construction, and maintenance – has been making recent efforts to improve on-ramp/off-ramp signs suggests a relationship between the quality of the signs and the occurrence of wrong-way crashes. Still, in the Ohio case, it is hard to know whether the accident was purely the result of drinking and driving or of a number of factors, including inadequate signage. For both survivors and for loved ones of those killed in the accident, many questions – some factual, and some legal – remain. If you have been involved in a wrong-way crash, or lost a loved one to a wrong-way car crash here in California, contact an experienced California personal injury and wrongful death attorney.

Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits Seek Damages in the Form of Financial Compensation

If you have been injured in a wrong-way car crash as a result of the carelessness, recklessness, or intentionally harmful driving of another, you can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party for damages. Damages include the cost of past, present, and future medical treatment, lost income due to missed work, pain and suffering, and more. If you have lost a loved one in a wrong-way car crash as the result of another’s careless, reckless, or intentionally bad driving, you may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the party responsible. In a wrongful death lawsuit, as an eligible survivor, you essentially step into the shoes of the deceased – seeking the damages they would have been entitled to seek had the survived the crash. In either case, contact a skilled and experienced California personal injury and wrongful death attorney today.

When Road Rage Results in Personal Injuries

We all know driving can be frustrating at times. Traffic jams, delays, and detours are but a few of the unpleasant realities of the road that can increase stress. This is especially the case when one is trying to arrive at a destination on time, such as the workplace, airport, or hospital. These stressors are coupled with the fact that the inside of one’s vehicle represents something of a sacred space within culture – a place where one is free to sing along with the radio, talk to oneself, scream, cry – any number of things so long as one does not disobey the many important rules and regulations of the road. When the emotions one is feeling within the confines of their vehicle cause one to drive in a careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful manner, a line has been crossed.

The term used to describe this angry driving scenario is “road rage.” It is a serious problem on America’s roads, highways, and byways, resulting in accidents, personal injuries, and even fatalities. Such was the tragic case in San Diego this month when a community activist was struck and killed by a road rage driver while doing community service. The victim, a 69-year old woman, was painting over graffiti in San Diego’s Mission Beach neighborhood as a gesture of kindness to beautify the community when she was hit by a 23-year old male driver. The driver made a cowardly attempt to flee the scene, but was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, DUI, and hit and run – all serious felony charges that will result in jail time if the man is convicted. While nothing can bring the community activist back, there are actions her surviving loved ones can take with the help of a skilled and experienced San Diego personal injury and wrongful death attorney.

A Wrongful Death Lawsuit is Available to Loved Ones of a Wrongfully Killed Person

The state of California will prosecute the 23-year old man in the criminal courts with regard to the vehicular manslaughter, DUI, and hit and run charges. Punishment and rehabilitation are the domains of the criminal courts. But how does that help the victim and her surviving loved ones?  A conviction can bring a sense of justice, of course, but that does not help with the cost of medical treatment following injuries, funeral, and burial expenses, loss of income, and loss of love and affection.

In the civil courts of California, certain surviving loved ones of the victim of a wrongful death can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the party responsible for the wrongful death. As with a personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit is a suit for damages in the form of financial compensation. If you have lost a loved one to the careless, reckless, or intentionally wrongful conduct of another, contact a skilled and experienced California wrongful death attorney about your legal options today.

Bringing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against a Hit-and-Run DUI Driver

Imagine that you are enjoying a quiet Monday evening in Pacific Beach. The sun is setting, the breeze is warm and light, and you are strolling peacefully down the sidewalk. Then, suddenly out of nowhere, a car crashes into you, breaking your bones, traumatizing you, and entirely upending your life. Then, to add insult to very serious injury, the driver, instead of apologizing, offering to help, and be held accountable for injuring you, attempts to flee the scene.

This nightmare scenario actually happened in Pacific Beach this month. The pedestrian was a 23-year old man just minding his own business. The driver was a 26-year old woman traveling with a 3-year old child in the back seat, and was arrested on suspicion of DUI, hit and run, and endangering a child after causing a second accident – a collision with a parked car – shortly after the initial incident. Shocking as the whole account may be, it really happened. What you need to know is what to do if something like it happens to you. Step 1 is getting to the hospital for treatment of your injuries. Step 2 is contacting a skilled and experienced San Diego personal injury attorney to seek compensation for your medical bills, lost income due to missed work, pain and suffering, and other losses.

A Personal Injury Lawsuit is a Civil Claim For Damages

The DUI, hit and run, and child endangerment suspect described in the nightmarish account above will face two kinds of liability: Criminal and Civil. The state California hates drinking and driving, and punishes it harshly. That is the case even when no one is hurt or endangered. When an injury or fatality results from drinking and driving, or when a minor or child is endangered, the criminal actions are prosecuted as a felony rather than a misdemeanor, and punishments stemming from conviction increase dramatically. This is all just on the criminal side of the justice system. On the civil side, the DUI, hit and run, and child endangerment suspect is looking at a personal injury lawsuit for damages from the pedestrian  This person – the pedestrian – suffered a broken leg and pelvis. These are very serious injuries that require substantial medical treatment and recovery time. 

During the treatment and recovery time, the victim may not be able to work, and thus lose much-needed income. In addition, there is the severe emotional trauma that results from being violently struck by a vehicle while walking down the sidewalk. All of these wrongs caused by the allegedly drunk driver are termed “damages” by the law. A personal injury lawsuit seeks to recover these damages, in the form of financial compensation, from the party responsible for causing them. If you have been injured by the careless, reckless, or intentionally wrongful acts of another, contact a skilled and experienced California personal injury attorney to bring a personal injury lawsuit to recover financial compensation for the damages you have suffered.

San Diego Wrong-Way Car Crash Wrongful Death Claims

Late year in San Diego more than a dozen drivers and passengers died in car crashes caused by a driver driving the wrong way down the city’s freeways. The tragedies have shaken the San Diego community, leaving loved ones in anguish. To lose someone in an automobile accident is difficult enough. To know that their last moments involved the sight of another vehicle traveling in the wrong directions towards them at high speeds is, if possible, even more difficult – and disturbing. For families, along with the grief and loss, there is the effect of the loss of income and financial support provided by the loved one. While nothing can replace a loved one lost in a wrong-way car crash, a wrongful death lawsuit can bring compensation for present and financial losses – compensation that can make a substantial difference in life after loss. If you have lost a loved one in wrong-way or other automobile accident, contact a dedicated and experienced San Diego wrongful death attorney.

Why are So Many Wrong-Way Crashes Occurring on San Diego’s Freeways?

Why on earth are so many fatal wrong-way crashes happening on San Diego’s freeways?  Based on Caltrans, the state agency in charge of highway, bridge, and rail transportation, planning, construction, and maintenance, making recent efforts to improve freeway off-ramp signs, it stands to reason that the poor quality, visibility, or content of the signs have played a role – causing some drivers to be confused about the right direction to drive in. To reduce confusion and, most importantly, further injuries and fatalities, Caltrans is increasing the size of off-ramp signs, as well as including flashing lights in an effort to reduce the number of drivers who mistakenly attempt to enter the freeway on off-ramps (as opposed to on-ramps). This is all well and good for the state and its drivers, but what about for individuals and families who have lost a loved one to a wrong-way wrongful death on San Diego’s freeways?

A Wrongful Death Claim May Result in Compensation for the Loss of a Loved One

If your loved one was killed in a wrong-way car crash, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim for damages against the party or parties responsible. Wrongful death law is a subset of negligence law. Negligence is the breach of a duty owed that results in damages. Damages in the wrongful death context are many, and include medical bills for treatment prior to death, funeral and burial expenses, loss of income and financial support, loss of love and consortium, and more. In a wrong-way fatality, the negligence can take multiple forms. If your loved one was killed as a result of another driver wrongly entering an off-ramp, the negligence is likely attributable to the other driver and the state. If your loved one was killed as a result of inadequate traffic signs leading them to attempt to enter the freeway via an off-ramp, the negligence is possibly attributable to the state of California. For either scenario, contact a skilled and experienced California wrongful death attorney.

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.

Bringing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in the Wake of a Murder in California

Losing a loved one to murder is perhaps the most difficult thing one can be forced to go through in life. The future transforms from clear and bright to dark and unknowable when a loved one is taken. Shock, grief, anguish, anger, sense of loss – these emotions come first. At some point, whether early on or with the passage of time, there emerges a deep need for justice. Under California law, there are two avenues for seeking justice, criminal and civil. The criminal justice system punishes wrongdoers for unlawful acts. The civil justice system affords victims and survivors the opportunity to seek justice from wrongdoers in the form of financial compensation.  The purpose of this article is to familiarize victims and survivors with broad strokes of how justice is dispensed in each system. If you have lost a loved one to murder, contact an experienced California attorney about filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

The State Prosecutes Murder in California

In California, the state itself prosecutes individuals charged with murder. There is no need to independently hire an attorney to prosecute murder in the criminal justice system. The state has criminalized murder and works aggressively to convict and punish individuals guilty of this most heinous crime. To convict, the state must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Murder is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. A killing is unlawful when it is not justified – by self-defense, for example. A killing is committed with malice aforethought when it is done with one of four types of specific intent:

  • Intent to kill
  • Intent to inflict serious bodily harm
  • Reckless disregard of an unjustifiably high risk to human life
  • Felony murder rule (a killing that occurs during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony.)  

If the state proves beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of any one of these four types of intent in conjunction with unlawful killing of a human being, a conviction for murder is proper.

An Attorney Litigates a Wrongful Death Claim in California’s Civil Justice System

While the state prosecutes murder in the criminal justice system, it is an attorney who litigates a wrongful death claim in California’s civil justice system. While conviction in a criminal court will send a murderer to prison for many years, it will not result in financial restitution to survivors. To seek compensation for the lost future income a loved one was to provide, in addition to medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of love and affection, and other losses, you must file a wrongful death claim in California’s civil justice system. While the burden of proof in the criminal context is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it is the lower “by a preponderance of evidence” standard in the civil context. If you have lost a loved one to murder, contact a dedicated and experienced California wrongful death attorney.