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Articles Posted in DUI & Drunk Driving

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Marijuana is becoming legal in more states, including in California. But this is causing an issue on the road. Although studies on the subject are still underway, reports that have already been conducted show that those under the influence of marijuana are less likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than those under the influence of alcohol.

The Effects Of Marijuana When Driving

Marijuana DUI lawsAlthough many marijuana users feel more in control than those under the influence of alcohol, the effects of marijuana can impact your ability to drive. Being under the influence of marijuana could cause the following issues:

  • Decreased concentration
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Impaired judgment
  • Lessened coordination

All of the above factors increase the risk of getting into a traffic accident or being observed driving impaired by a police officer. But one question has been left unanswered: How much is too much?

The Legal Conundrum

As of 2014, only six states had set legal limits for the amount of THC in the bloodstream when operating a vehicle.1 Colorado and Washington both set the limit at five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. In states without a legal limit, any THC found in the urine or blood can result in a DUI. It can take a week to get back test results, regardless of the testing method used.

This creates a legal conundrum, especially in states where recreational or medical marijuana use is legal. Without a legal behind-the-wheel limit, how can law enforcement officials assess whether a driver is intoxicated?

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Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime that most of us associate with alcohol. As anyone who has ever had experience with alcohol knows, the symptoms of alcohol intoxication are easy to spot: problems with balance and coordination, slurred speech, and bloodshot and watery eyes. The familiarity that we have with these symptoms makes DUI cases involving alcohol easy for any prosecutor to explain to a jury.

Orange County DUI attorneysThis is not the case with DUI involving drugs (DUID). California Vehicle Code Section 23152(e) makes it a crime to drive while under the influence of drugs. While that seems simple enough, the truth is that there are countless ways that drugs can affect your ability to drive. This law applies to both legal and illegal drugs, meaning that the number of substances for which you can be prosecuted for driving while under the influence is virtually limitless.

However, unlike alcohol, there is no corresponding “legal limit” that measures the amount of drugs in your blood. With alcohol, there is a presumption that you are intoxicated if your blood-alcohol level exceeds 0.08 percent. This makes prosecution of DUID cases much tougher because the prosecution has less evidence to present to a jury. To secure more convictions, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office now uses special prosecutors who have been trained in drug toxicology to better explain to a jury the effects of the drug for which you are being prosecuted.

The Infinite Range of Drug Impairment

California law defines a “drug” as any substance (other than alcohol) that affects the nervous system, brain or muscular control that impairs, to an appreciable degree, the ability of a person to drive a vehicle in the manner that an ordinary and reasonably careful person would. Taken in high enough doses, even over-the-counter drugs could result in a DUID arrest.

The most common DUI drug cases involve:

  • Marijuana
  • Stimulants
  • Depressants; and
  • Opiates

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California SCRAMAfter a long day at work you decide to head to your local bar to relax with a few drinks. A couple of cocktails later and you start to think about heading home. On the way, though, your stomach drops as you see red and blue lights start to flicker in your rearview mirror.

This is likely a scary time for you. A DUI conviction could lead to jail time and expensive fines, and going to jail is a fate nobody desires. Fortunately, California has a number of alternative sentencing programs that may help you avoid spending time in jail. One such program for alcohol-related crimes is known as Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM).1 SCRAM is an electronic monitoring system that is used to detect alcohol consumption. Here is how the program works:

How Does the SCRAM Program Work?

If you have been charged or convicted of DUI or another alcohol-related crime, a judge may order you to abstain from drinking alcohol in lieu of jail time. SCRAM provides a way for the court to make sure that you are abiding by the terms of this agreement. An electronic device is worn around the ankle, and the device detects alcohol in the perspiration of the wearer.

Typically, SCRAM participation can be ordered when there are aggravating factors, such as:

  • DUI with a blood-alcohol content of 0.30% or higher
  • Multiple DUIs
  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • DUI with a child present1

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Your first misdemeanor DUI conviction in California could cost you $16,000, according to an article in the LA Times. A recent report calculated the total cost of a first-time DUI conviction, including fines, legal fees and increased insurance rates. Not drinking and driving or setting up other modes of transportation is the best way to avoid the high costs of a DUI conviction, but if you are charged with DUI, it is important to retain an experienced Southern California DUI defense attorney who can help you avoid large fines and high fees.

The True Cost of a DUI

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The LA Times article cited a report by the Automobile Club of Southern California, which calculated that a first-time misdemeanor offense for DUI can cost up to $15,649. Teenagers are hit even harder by a first-time DUI offense. If you are under the age of 21, a misdemeanor first-time DUI conviction costs up to $22,492.

The total cost calculated by the Automobile Club of Southern California includes state and local fines, penalties, restitution and legal fees. It also accounts for increased insurance rates. However, the sum does not include thousands of dollars in potential additional expenses such as bail fees, costs of damage to your vehicle, bodily injury or any salary lost from missing time from work.

In addition to monetary punishment, a first-time conviction for DUI is punishable by up six months in county jail and the suspension of your driving privilege for one year. If you caused injury to another person while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can be charged with a felony and sentenced to up to three years in county jail.

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According to the OC Register, more than 100,000 visitors packed into Newport Beach, California to celebrate the Fourth of July in 2012. Newport Beach has approximately 85,000 permanent residents.

If you plan to celebrate this year’s festivities in Newport Beach, remember to party responsibly. The Newport Beach Police Department’s crime statistics indicate that the following five crimes typically experience a significant rise during the month of July:

1. Public Intoxication (California Penal Code section 647(f))

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In July 2012, there were a reported 145 public intoxication arrests in Newport Beach. It is interesting to note that this was the only month to see a triple-figure amount for this offense. In fact, no other month saw more than 81 reported public intoxication offenses.

To convict you of public intoxication in Newport Beach, the prosecutor will need to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You were willfully under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or a controlled substance;
  • You were in a public place while under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or a controlled substance; AND
  • You were unable to exercise care for your safety or the safety of others; OR
  • You interfered with, obstructed, or prevented the free use of a street, sidewalk, or other public way because you were under the influence.

One of our skilled attorneys recently got a public intoxication charge against our client completely dismissed. Our client was facing up to 90 days in county jail and 1-year suspension of his driver’s license if convicted. Due to the attorney’s tremendous efforts, the district attorney agreed to drop the charge after agreeing that the charge could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Click here to continue reading.

2. Petty Theft (California Penal Code section 488)

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In July 2012, there were a reported 116 petty thefts in Newport Beach. This accounted for 16% of the city’s petty thefts in 2012.

To convict you of petty theft under PC 488, the prosecutor will need to prove the following elements:

  • You took possession of property owned by someone else;
  • You took possession of the property without the owner’s permission;
  • When you took the property, you intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or remove it from the owner’s possession for an extended period of time such that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property.

The prosecutor also carries the significant evidentiary burden of proving three additional facts in order to convict you of petty theft:

  • The stolen property had a market value of $950 or less;
  • The property was not taken directly from the owner (e.g. pickpocketing); AND
  • The property is not of a special type, such as an automobile, firearm, or farm animal.

Recently, an experienced Wallin & Klarich defense attorney helped one of our clients avoid time in a juvenile detention facility after she was accused of petty theft under PC 488. If convicted, our client faced up to 6 months in juvenile detention. The attorney used his extensive legal knowledge to raise a successful objection to the arresting officer’s testimony against our client. Read the full story here.

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Ventura DUI attorney

You recently attended a friend’s birthday party and had a few drinks. You made certain to control your alcohol intake in order to remain under the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for drivers. Just before arriving home, you were stopped by a police officer and asked to perform a breathalyzer test. You were charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) under Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) after blowing a .05%.

The legal limit for BAC in California is .08%. So, why were you charged with DUI if you had a BAC level of .05%? Can you be charged with a DUI even though your BAC was under the legal driving limit?

Understanding California DUI laws (VC 23152(a), VC 23152(b))

VC 23152(a) states that “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.”

Under VC 23152(b), “It is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.”

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DUI%20Defense%20Attorneys%20888-280-6839.jpg On May 14, 2013, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all states drop the legal limit for a DUI from 0.08 to 0.05.

If this law were to be passed in California it would drastically increase the number of DUI arrests.

The NTSB claims that by reducing the legal limit from 0.08 down to 0.05 it would cut the deaths in DUI accidents by more than half. It cited in its report that more than 100 countries have adopted the 0.05 standard. The result has been that the share of traffic deaths related to drunk driving was reduced by more than half over a ten year period.

The problem with lowering the limit is the reality of how much alcohol needs to be in a person’s body for them to reach a .05 blood alcohol level.

Experts report than a woman who weights less than 120 pounds will reach .05 after just one drink. A man weighing up to 160 pounds will reach a 0.05 level after two drinks.

If you were to ask a woman who had consumed one drink if she was “under the influence” the answer would be NO in about 100% of cases. The same would be true if you ask a male if he felt he was “under the influence” after consuming only two drinks. What this means is every day thousands of California residents would get into their vehicles believing they were fine to drive, only to be pulled over and prosecuted for a DUI.

The impact of reducing the legal limit for a DUI must be studied very carefully. Nobody wants even one person to be injured or killed by a drunk driver. On the other hand it seems the impact of lowering the current blood alcohol level will make it extremely difficult for persons to consume even a small amount of alcohol and drive their vehicle.

Many would say we should err on the side of “caution” because if we can save lives by lowering the legal limit we should do so.

Others will say that reducing the limit to .05 will result in far too many unwarranted DUI arrests and convictions. The consequences of a DUI conviction in California are severe. The total cost of a DUI can exceed $20,000. Many people convicted of a DUI will lose their driving privilege and their employment.

Being charged for a DUI under the current situation is already daunting enough. However if you are facing a DUI charge, you do not have to handle it alone. The DUI attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been defending clients facing DUI charges for over 30 years. With offices all over Southern California, do not hesitate to call us at (888) 280-6839. We will be there when you call.

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There are a number of severe punishments associated with a second DUI, a violation of California Vehicle Code (VC) Section 23152.

Orange%20County%20DUI%20Attorneys%20888-280-6839.jpg If the second DUI happened within 10 years of a separate DUI or reckless driving charge that resulted in a conviction, you face imprisonment in county jail for up to one year and a fine ranging between $390 and $1000. See VC 23540.

Also, if you are convicted under VC 23152, the DMV will suspend your license for two years. See VC Section 13352(a)(3).

You will be put on probation (CVC 23600) for 3 to 5 years, requiring, among other things, that you do not drive a motor vehicle with ANY measureable amount of alcohol in your blood.

The court will also require you to complete either an 18 month or 30 month driving-under-the-influence program.

If you are on a path to become a lawyer, a second DUI will put your admission at risk, since the conviction would put your moral character into question.

The Prosecutor’s burden in a DUI case

To prove that the you were driving under the influence of a drug or alcohol, the prosecution must prove that

  1. You drove a vehicle; AND
  2. As a result of drinking an alcoholic beverage or taking a drug, your mental or physical abilities were such that you no longer were able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care.

California DUI Attorney

An aggressive Wallin & Klarich attorney can help to lessen, or entirely avoid, the severe consequences that could result from a second DUI charge. Wallin & Klarich attorneys are well-versed in DUI defense strategies. After a close examination of the case, your Orange County DUI attorney can oftentimes raise viable defenses or persuade the prosecutor to lessen your punishment. For example, if the prosecution cannot prove that you were driving, the charges will likely be dismissed or you will be found not guilty at trial. If you or a loved one is facing a second DUI charge, call an experienced Orange County DUI attorney at (888) 280-6839 for a phone consultation. With offices located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance, and Sherman Oaks there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney available wherever you happen to live. We will be there when you call.

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If you face allegations for driving under the influence of alcohol or a drug for the second time within 10 years, you face all of the challenges of a first DUI, but with more severe punishment. However, there are several ways to reduce your punishment or get a dismissal of your DUI case. First, you have to understand what you are facing. Let’s start by understanding DUI in California.

DUI Prosecution in California

California Vehicle Code section 23152 and related sections criminalize driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A DUI charge prosecuted under VC 23152 is a misdemeanor in California. However, if you injure someone as a result of your DUI, the DUI becomes a felony under Vehicle Code Section 23153.

Sub-section A and B are the most commonly prosecuted types of misdemeanor DUI. Section 23152(a) makes it illegal toSecond DUI operate a motor vehicle while “under the influence” of alcohol or a drug. VC 23152(b) makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher.

To convict you under VC 23152(a), the prosecution must prove:

  • You drove a vehicle; AND
  • You drove while under the influence of a drug or alcohol.

The second element in VC 23152(a) requires the prosecution to show that you were under the influence of alcohol or a drug. So, the prosecutor needs to present evidence that you were intoxicated. This evidence usually comes from testimony from a person who saw you drinking, the arresting officer, and even other drivers who witnessed your driving.

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California has a “zero tolerance” policy for juveniles who are found to be guilty of DUI. If you are juvenile who has been charged with DUI, you may be charged not only for underage DUI, but also traditional DUI if your blood-alcohol content is over the legal limit of 0.08%. If you are a minor and you have been charged with DUI, it is important that you seek an experienced DUI defense attorney to assist you through the legal process.

California’s “Zero Tolerance” Law (California Vehicle Code 23136)

underage DUIUnder California Vehicle Code section 23136, it is unlawful for you to drive a vehicle if you are under the age of 21 and have a blood-alcohol content of 0.01% or greater. This is commonly called California’s “Zero Tolerance” law because it does not require that you be under the influence of alcohol, just that you have some measurable amount of alcohol in your system.

California Vehicle Code section 23136 explains that the law considers you to have already consented to an alcohol screening test or blood-alcohol content test if you are under the age of 21 and operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol.

If you are convicted of DUI under California Vehicle Code section 23136, you face an infraction and the DMV will suspend your driver’s license for up to one year.

Under 21 DUI with a BAC of 0.05% – 0.07% (California Vehicle Code 23140)

California Vehicle Code section 23140 states that it is unlawful for you to operate a vehicle if you are under the age of 21 and your blood-alcohol content is between 0.05% and 0.07%.If you are found guilty under California Vehicle Code section 23140, you face a sentence of up to six months in county jail and a fine of $100. If you are found guilty of a second violation under California Vehicle Code section 23140 within one year, you could face a sentence of up to one year in county jail and the fine increases to $200. The fine increases to $300 for a third offense within one year and you could face up to one year in county jail.

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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.