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In California, there are many laws in place to help prevent and punish drunk driving. Despite the efforts of lawmakers and police officers, drunk drivers get on the roads and cause accidents, property damage, injuries and deaths. What else can officials do to prevent people from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

A potential new method has been brought forward by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who recently introduced a bill that would get bartenders involved in intervening with drunk driving.

How Bartenders Will Be Involved

Assembly Bill 2121, titled the “Responsible Interventions for Beverage Servers Training Act of 2016,” has been introduced by Assemblywoman Gonzalez to serve as another way to combat the amount of drunk drivers in California.

If made into law, it would require bartenders and servers of establishments that serve alcohol to complete a Responsible Interventions for Beverage Servers training course. If a person has had too much to drink, the server would be able to intervene.

Employees would also be required to complete the course within three months of being hired and then take the course again every three years after as a means of re-education. Training courses would include information on state laws and regulations, and how alcohol affects the body.1

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control would be required to publish a list of approved training courses and requirements on its website on or before Jan. 1, 2019. Applicants would receive a certificate or card indicating they have completed the course. Additionally, the training course would not have to cost the participant more than $15.

Could Bartenders Face Criminal Charges?

The proposed law introduces a way to require bartenders and servers to be educated on alcohol and its consequences, but it doesn’t discuss what could happen to bartenders who refuse to take the course or do not comply with the law. So could a bartender face criminal charges for not taking the course? What happens if a bartender does not intervene when a patron is going to drive while under the influence of alcohol? Continue reading →

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If a proposed set of bills is signed into law in California, it could drastically affect how many people are allowed to smoke tobacco and use vaping devices. The proposed laws are meant to address the amount of teen smoking in the state by raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, including e-cigarettes and similar products.

What Does This Law Do?

The proposed laws would include e-cigarettes in the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act that keeps businesses from selling tobacco products to minors. In addition to raising the legal smoking age to 21 (active military members would be exempt), the law would not allow anyone to vape where smoking is prohibited, such as workplaces, schools and restaurants. It would also be possible for local governments to tax e-cigarettes like other tobacco products.

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Nyjah Huston is just 21 years old and already is at the top of his profession. Huston is one of the world’s top professional skaters. Armed with an income from competitions and a slew of corporate sponsors like Nike, Huston bought a $2.7-million mansion in San Juan Capistrano in 2013, as well as a skate park in San Clemente. He is young, successful, and invites his friends to share in his good fortune.

His neighbors have been less than thrilled.

Orange County Sheriffs have been called to his home more than 20 times since he moved in, responding to complaints about noise, traffic, and littering. Huston has turned his home into the premier party destination in South Orange County.1 He was repeatedly warned by local law enforcement to cease the partying or face criminal charges.

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When you have been driving for a while, it is easy to slip into some habits in the way you drive. Some of these may not be entirely within the law. You might consistently drive a few miles per hour over the speed limit. Maybe you roll through a stop sign at an intersection you have been through thousands of times. Perhaps you often pick up your cellphone to read texts while driving. Any one of these habits can be a reason for a police officer to pull you over and issue you a citation.

Overwhelmingly, the top reason that scores of Californians do not pay their traffic fines is that they simply cannot afford to pay. As a result, approximately 612,000 people in California have a suspended driver’s license for failure to appear in court or to pay their tickets.1

Gov. Jerry Brown recognized the disproportionate impact of traffic fines on California’s lowest income drivers, who often lose jobs for lack of transportation or face additional fines for driving on a suspended license. Calling the traffic court system “a hellhole of desperation,” Brown introduced an amnesty program for unpaid traffic tickets. Since this program began recently, 58,000 drivers have already had their fines reduced up to 80 percent from their original fine amount.

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First-time DUI offenders in all of California may soon be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID). Lawmakers are looking to expand a pilot program that requires those convicted of DUI to install an IID on their vehicle in exchange for softer punishment. The program has had success in Los Angeles, Tulare, Alameda and Sacramento counties.

Senate Bill 1046, authorized by California State Senator Jerry Hill, looks to expand this program statewide. So what’s next for this potential law?

Ignition Interlock Devices for First-Time DUI

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California is one of a small number of states that allows for the use of medical marijuana. This may lead some marijuana users to feel more comfortable driving while under the effects of marijuana. As efforts to further legalize marijuana in California continue, some lawmakers want to use a new method to catch the growing number of drivers under the influence of marijuana.

Senate Bill 1462, authored by Republican Senator Bob Huff, is a proposed law that would introduce a new method for law enforcement to instantly test drivers for marijuana during DUI stops. The bill would allow law enforcement officers to use an oral swab drug screening test on drivers if there is probable cause the driver is impaired and the driver has also failed sobriety tests.

Accuracy of the Swab Test

To test for the presence of marijuana, police would use an oral swab on the driver and a hand-held electronic device that tests oral fluid. The test is also used to detect the presence of cocaine, amphetamines and pain medications, including opiates.

The swab tests are not accurate enough to replace the more complicated blood and urine tests law enforcement currently uses to test for drugs, but they are much more portable and instant. Swab tests wouldn’t be accurate enough to tell the exact concentration of THC or other illegal and legal substances in a person’s body. However, Senator Huff says that the oral swab tests are the quickest way to test for drugs like marijuana at a DUI stop. Continue reading →

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Have you ever been to a party that’s gotten out of hand? Everyone is having a good time and suddenly the police arrive to state that the noise level is just too high.

In situations like these, police will often make contact with the owner of the house and inform them that the noise level needs to go down or issue the owner a citation. When police have to issue that citation, no one is really that much worse off. Besides, if a person hosts a party that gets too loud, they should be the ones to suffer the consequences, right?

Not so, says a new city ordinance that is being proposed by the Orange City Council. The broad language of the ordinance extends potential liability not just to the host of the party, but to the actual guests as well. Is this potential Orange ordinance unfair?

More Than Just a Buzz-Kill

Originally, the bill proposed by Orange County Republican Fred Whitaker only targeted the hosts of “a party at which there is loud and unruly conduct and/or to permit underage drinking.”1 Revisions to the bill have severely broadened its scope. Now, the language of the ordinance allows for a violation to be issued to any person “present at, attend[ing] or participat[ing]” in that party in Orange.

That means that guests can be in violation of the ordinance even if they are not acting irresponsibly or adding to the noise level. In fact, under the broad language, a person who was simply present when the police arrived but who might not have even been an actual guest could also be in violation of the ordinance. Continue reading →

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It is common knowledge these days that any given online profile on LinkedIn or Facebook might contain false information. It can also be assumed that many online profiles are entirely fake. In fact, in 2014 Facebook reported that about 170 million of its accounts are fake.1 While this number may only make up somewhere between 5 and 11 percent of Facebook users, the problem is not just that they exist—its what they are used for.

Many fake online accounts are used for malicious purposes, such as trolling, identity theft, or cyber bullying. While criminal laws address some of these issues once their criminal use becomes apparent, the actual creation of a fake profile is not a crime.

Recently, though, England has begun an effort to curb the creation of fake online profiles. As part of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act of 2015, British prosecutors are now being advised on how to criminally charge individuals who make fake online profiles with information that could damage a person’s reputation.2

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From early on in this nation’s history, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that the Fourth Amendment includes protections against arrests without warrants. However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. Should you be arrested under one of these exceptions, you will have the right to a hearing in which the police will have to prove probable cause existed to arrest you without getting a warrant first.1 These exceptions are:

  • You Committed a Felony in a Public Place

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable seizures, especially within a private home. However, these protections do not necessarily apply to arrests in public.

If an officer reasonably believes that you have committed, are about to commit, or are in the act of committing a felony in a public place, the officer may arrest you without first seeking a warrant.

  • You Committed a Misdemeanor in the Officer’s Presence

Similar to felonies, an officer may arrest you without a warrant if you commit a misdemeanor in a public place. However, unlike with a felony, the standard is a little tougher. The officer must have observed you with one or more of his or her five senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, or hearing) in order for the arrest to be upheld as valid.

  • You Violated a Traffic Law

Often, a person who is arrested without a warrant is first noticed by a police officer because he or she violated a traffic law in the officer’s presence. In most cases, a traffic stop only ends up with the driver getting a ticket or a warning, but if the officer sees evidence of a different crime during a traffic stop, he or she can arrest you without a warrant.

For example, if you robbed a bank, and the officer who pulled you over for speeding sees a bag full of cash in the back seat of your car, he does not have to wait for a judge to approve a warrant to place you under arrest.

  • The Police Arrested You with a Defective Arrest Warrant

Just as officers make mistakes, so to do some judges who issue warrants. A valid warrant is one that fulfills several technical requirements. For example, a judge must sign the warrant, and it must describe the criminal offense for which you are being accused. The warrant must also contain your name or a name by which you can be identified with reasonable certainty. The warrant must command that you be arrested and brought before the court without unnecessary delay. If the warrant fails to meet any of these requirements, it could be considered invalid, and technically gives the officers no authority to arrest you.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has held numerous times that if the officers are unaware of the problems with the warrant and they act in “good faith” in executing the defective warrant, your arrest may still be valid, so long as the officers made no attempt to trick the judge into issuing the warrant.2

  • The Police Arrested You with “Exigent Circumstances”

In challenges to warrantless arrests, one of the most common claims by law enforcement is that there simply was not enough time to obtain a warrant prior to arresting the suspect. Usually, this type of arrest involves the officers entering your home without a warrant for one of the following reasons:

  • The serious nature of the offense (such as the use of deadly weapons)
  • The chance that evidence will be destroyed
  • Entry into the home was pursuant to a “hot pursuit”
  • Danger to others in the home

Continue reading →

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Ever since California voters passed Proposition 47 into law in 2014, law enforcement and others have been quick to blame the new law for leading to an increase in criminal activity.

The same claims have been made of the 2011 Public Safety Realignment Act (PSRA), which shifted the responsibility for treatment of lower level, non-violent felons from the state to each county. While there have been no meaningful studies to show whether Proposition 47 caused an increase in crime, a new study by the University of California, Irvine, appears to show that the PSRA has not resulted in an increase in crime.1

The Overhaul of California’s Prisons

In 2011, the United States Supreme Court declared California’s prison system to be constitutionally flawed.2 Overcrowding represented a significant problem in maintaining the physical and mental health of the state’s prison population, which not only was viewed as cruel and unusual punishment, but also as a hindrance to the effective rehabilitation of prisoners. As an example of these conditions, Justice Kennedy noted in the majority’s opinion that as many as 200 prisoners had lived in a gym and as many as 54 prisoners had shared a single toilet. The court ordered California to reform its prison system.

California’s answer was the PSRA, which transferred 33,000 state prisoners into the custody of individual counties. In many cases, counties determined the appropriate treatment was to parole these inmates.

The Myth of Prison Realignment Increasing Crime

Law enforcement agencies were convinced that the sudden release of so many incarcerated persons would lead to a crime wave, but the UCI study shows that the true impact on the crime rate has been negligible. “We’ve seen no appreciable uptick in assaults, rapes or murders that can be connected to the prisoners who were released under realignment,” said Charis Kubrin, a UCI professor of criminology who co-authored the study. “This is not surprising, of course, because these offenders were eligible for release precisely because of the nonviolent nature of their crimes.” Continue reading →

About Wallin & Klarich

Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.