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 From an emotional standpoint, a case where someone is accused driving under the influence and killing another person is one of the toughest.  With the victim, you usually have someone who did not deserve to die.  They are often young, in the prime of their lives.  They are usually also close to the driver.  The victim is often a spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, or sibling of the accused.  Unfortunately, that person is not available to express forgiveness to the driver.
 
As for the driver, you often have a person who has never been in trouble in his life.  He may be college educated, have a great job, and a loving family.  But for this horrible incident he would have continued to be an upstanding citizen.
 
Recently, a San Jose woman pled guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter after hitting and killing a 79 year old grandmother.  She is waiting to be sentenced by a Santa Clara County judge.  Her maximum possible sentence is 12 years in the state prison.  In fact, the judge is precluded from granting this woman probation unless he finds “unusual circumstances” where the interests of justice require it.  According to statements, the family of the victim has forgiven the defendant, and believes that the victim would forgive her as well.  Unfortunately, California DUI sentencing law provides somewhat less opportunity for the Court to forgive her. 

As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that, regardless of the outcome, nobody wins in these cases.  Regardless of what side you are on there is nothing but tragedy in these cases.  An innocent victim loses her life, and a contrite survivor is cast into the hell of the California prison system.  

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11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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What can you do when you are pulled over for a DUI by the San Francisco Police Department?  Here are some basic things you can do, and have the right to do:

1. If you see the police lights, try to pull over carefully, but not too carefully.  Show you are in command of your vehicle.  Turn on your turn signal.  Slow down and brake gradually. 

2. How do you look?  Is your shirt tucked in, do you look ruffled or disheavaled?  Is your makeup smeared?  Make adjustments accordingly before you roll down the window.

3. Remember that the police officer is noting EVERYTHING you do and say.  The first impression is most important.  In other words, be nice to the officer, be cooperative, and not defensive.

4. Before you go out for the evening, put your car registration and insurance in an easily accessible place in your car.  Make sure you can easily find your driver's license.  It saves you searching your vehicle while you're nervous.

5. You should remember that you do not have to submit to a preliminary breath test.  This test is used by the officer to determine whether to arrest you.  You also do not have to submit to the field sobriety tests.  Will this get you out of an arrest?  Probably not, but these tests are unreliable, and will be used against you.  

6. Other than your name and address, you do not have to talk to the officer about your activities.  Invoke your right to an attorney during any questioning.

A qualified California DUI attorney can help advise you regarding your rights during a stop, and if you have been stopped and subsequently arrested, the DUI attorney can evaluate the circumstances of the stop to determine if anything was done improperly.



Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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If you have been arrested for a DUI in San Francisco or the Bay Area, there is the tendency to simply admit you're guilty, and avoid the costs of hiring a qualified DUI attorney.  In some criminal cases, such as traffic tickets, that may be the case.  In a DUI, it is not, especially in California. 

The DUI arrest itself has already created chaos in your life for you and your loved ones.  Having an experienced attorney on your side will minimize the stress related to a DUI. 

This is especially true when you are looking at your second or third or more DUI charge.  The punishments go up incrementally each time.  Also, if there are extentuating circumstances in your case that could increase the punishment, such as driving under the age of 21, having minor children in the vehicle, or having a high BAC.  You need to hire a qualified DUI lawyer.

If you are in an accident, and someone, even you, have been injured, there are a multiitude of reasons why you need an attorney, not only for the DUI, but also the tangent consequences of the injuries, including a possible civil lawsuit.

The results of a DUI conviction can be costly to you and your loved ones.  You could lose your job if you lose your license.  You could spend time in jail.  You could pay large fines and penalties.  An experienced lower can reduce or minimize these consequences, or get rid of the DUI charge all together.

In other words, i you don’t know what you need to do, or what steps you need to take, hire a DUI attorney.  A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can walk you through the steps of the entire DUI process at the criminal level and the Department of Motor Vehicles.  The attorney can review the facts of your case and challenge the charge in a trial, or plea bargain a better dea.



Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You are driving in the Sunset District in San Francisco, California.  You are pulled over, and the officer suspects you are under the influence of alcohol.  You are arrested and taken to the San Francisco Police station for a breathalyzer test.  The breathalyzer estimates the concentration of alcohol in the blood. 

Can you control the breath test?  In other words, can you fool a breathalyzer into showing a lower BAC reading?    The answer is No.

There are a lot of people who believe certain myths regarding a breathalyzer and BAC. For example, sucking on pennies does not lower a BAC reading.  Breath mints?  No.  They only mask the odor of alcohol, they do not change the alcohol content being measured.  Indeed, you don’t have to drink alcohol to get arrested for a DUI, because the human body produces its own supply of alcohol naturally on a continuous basis.  Therefore, we always have alcohol in our bodies and in some cases, some people produce enough to become legally intoxicated.

Are breathalyzers are always accurate?  No, and many errors are made in tests because they lack precision. The police or sheriff department official administering the test can also affect the results of a test.  

So what can you do?  A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can examine the test procedures, as well as the accuracy of the results.  The attorney can determine if there were errors, or if there are other factors effecting the final read out.  Don't assume the BAC taken at the police station is accurate.  You may not be able to control the results of the breathalyzer, but your attorney can control how those results are used.  In some cases, the results can be voided.



Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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Taking a Preliminary Alcohol Screening test in California

In California, after a driver is stopped for suspected DUI, he or she may be asked to take a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test.

Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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Refusing a DUI Chemical test in California

When a person is arrested for DUI in California, they are asked to submit to chemical testing, whether it is a breath test or blood test.

Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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Underage DUIs and drinking in California

Some interesting facts that underage drinkiers should know regarding DUIs and drinking in California:

Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Bob Battle- Richmond Area
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The Harris County Sheriff's Department had to know that conducting surveillance on Plaintiffs in a civil rights violation suit was wrong.

The Ibarra brothers, a local business owner and a Judge sued Harris County.

Business Owner Loyd Henderson was a plaintiff; his security camera showed Henderson being shoved to the floor and cuffed without warning by a Harris County Sheriff's Deputy.

Henderson had called the Sheriff's Departmetn for help after a robbery.

Municipal Judge April Walker was also a Plaintiff in that suit; Judge Walker was arrested after calling the Sheriff's Office for help.

The Deputy that was called to help calm a neighborhood dispute threw Judge Walker to the ground and handcuffed her.

Judge Walker was charged with impersonating a public officer and assault on a police officer.

The Ibarro Brothers, as mentioned in an earlier blog, were arrested while videotaping the arrest of a neighbor.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1V74ZjZ74o



Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You've just been released from the San Francisco police department after your DUI arrest.  Avoiding common mistakes that persons with pending DUIs in California make is critical.

Hire a qualified San Francisco DUI lawyer.  Hiring a good DUI attorney to help you through the process gives you  a much better chance of having the charges eliminated or reduced. You may think that representing yourself will be easy and much cheaper, but you are fighting against the San Francisco District Attorney's Office and an officer who is trained to obtain a conviction.  The end result?  You lose.

Handling your own case is not wise.  There could be mistakes that the officer made, errors in the BAC result procedures or the machine itself.  These mistakes will never be discovered, and you will pay a lot of fines and other financial consequences as a result.  A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can reduce the consequences significantly.  Nothing is "cut and dried." 

Another mistake is waiting until your court date or afterward to hire a DUI attorney.  If you speak to an attorney immediately after your arrest will allow you to relate facts to your attorney that are fresh in your mind, and help your lawyer to assist you in your case.  Another mistake is waiting too long, and missing the ten day time limit to challenge your license suspension with the DMV.

Don't take advice from friends or associates who had previous DUI convictions.  Each case is different.  A qualified DUI attorney knows the laws, and the potential defenses you have.  Your friends don't.

Missing court appearances is another mistake people make after a DUI arrest. A judge can order an arrest warrant for you if you fail to appear, unless you have an attorney appear on your behalf. 

You also can enhance your DUI woes by continuing to drive while your license is suspended or revoked.  It is a separate criminal charge with its own penalties, including jail time.  In addition, your license suspension will be increased.  I know of one person with eight separate convictions for driving while suspended who is now spending several months in jail. 

Avoid the mistakes.  Hire a qualified San Francisco DUI attorney.

Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You have been released from jail after being arrested for a DUI.  You now want to hire a qualified San Francisco DUI attorney.  Your main objective is to find an attorney to protect your rights, evaluate your case, and either get rid of the DUI charge or make sure any punishment that might result from a conviction is as light as possible.

To be sure you have the right DUI attorney in your corner be sure to ask the attorney a few questions:

·               Does your DUI attorney handle a lot of DUI cases?  The reason for this is that a lawyer who rarely handles DUIs will not be aware of and informed about DUI laws.   You want your attorney to be up on the laws so he or she can protect you.  Is the attorney familiar with individuals in the District Attorney’s Office or the San Francisco Police Department?

·               Ask the potential DUI attorney if he or she personally will be handling your case or will another attorney in the firm with less experience handle your case.

·               Ask the lawyer when and if he or she has DUI cases that resulted in favorable outcomes.  This will help you to find out if your attorney could represent you effectively in a DUI trial, should that be necessary, or get you a good plea offer, in the alternative.

·                Ask the DUI attorney specifics about what services he employs for expert toxicologists,  DMV license specialists and other expert witnesses.

·               Will your attorney visit the site where you were arrested?  Will your attorney look at and examine the facts in your case?

·               What does the attorney charge, and will there be other fees down the road, such as expert fees. The lower the fees, the higher the chances your attorney is not a highly qualified attorney.

·               Find out if the attorney will be available to speak with you after you have paid a retainer fee.  Can you contact the attorney by telephone, e-mail, or in person?

The sooner you call a DUI attorney, the quicker the attorney can start working on your behalf. Contacting an attorney immediately can potentially protect your driving privileges.  Don’t delay.



Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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You have just been arrested by the San Francisco police department for DUI.  After you have been arrested, you will be asked to submit to a test to determine the alcohol content of your blood.  You can choose to take a breath test using a breathalyzer, or a blood test, or both.

In California, if you refuse to take the test, there are severe consequences to your privilege to drive a motor vehicle.  If you were 21 years of older at the time of arrest and you refused or failed to complete a blood or breath test, a first offense will result in a 1-year suspension. A second offense within 10 years will result in a 2-year revocation. A third or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a 3-year revocation.

If you were under 21 years of age at the time of being detained or arrested and you refused or failed to complete a blood or breath test:, a first offense will result in a 1-year suspension. A second offense within 10 years will result in a 2-year revocation. A third or subsequent offense within 10 years will result in a 3-year revocation.

If having a drivers’ license is not of major importance to you, then not having a test result makes it more difficult for the San Francisco District Attorney’s office to prosecute your case, and prove that you were under the influence of alcohol while driving.  A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can explain both the pros and cons of taking a breath or blood test.



Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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When you are arrested for a DUI in California , you will lose your license.  However, that is not the only thing you should be concerned about.  

If you have a driver's license in California, any serious violations of the driving laws will accumulate “points” to your driving record.  Enough points could result in losing your privilege to drive.  


Most driving offenses, such as hit and run, reckless driving, and driving under the influence, are designated as 2 points and will remain on your record for seven years from the violation date. Most other offenses are designated as 1 point and will remain on your record for three years from the violation date. For example, an at fault accident will get you one point on your record.

You are considered a negligent operator by the California DMV if you have the following point count totals:

4 points in 12 months, or

6 points in 24 months, or

8 points in 36 months

A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can explain the point system to you, and determine how best to proceed with your DUI keeping in mind your license record.

Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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In California, every person convicted of a first offense DUI is required to complete an approved drinking driver program. For second and subsequent convictions, completion of an 18 or 30-month program is required.  The court will order completion of the program as a condition of probation or parole.

The program must be one that is approved by the court, and the court will accomodate you in terms of where you take the program.  However, the program is not free, and you should be prepared to pay an initiation fee as well as additional fees as the program progresses. 

Finally, the DMV will allow a temporary license to include, along with driving to and from work, driving to and from the program.  You however must be enrolled in the program to obtain this exception.

A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can give you information regarding the programs, and the options available to you to complete the program successfully.


Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California

11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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When you are arrested for a DUI in San Francisco, the officer will take your driver's license away from you and give you a temporary license.  When you are offered a blood or breath test, you submit to the test, and your BAC is 0.08 or more, your license will be suspended for four months.  If you have a previous DUI in the last ten years, your license will be suspended for one year. 

If you are under 21 years of age, and a preliminary alcohol screening test or other test shows a BAC of 0.01 or more, your driving privileges will be suspended for one year.

Refusing to take a chemical test of any kind when asked will result in a suspension of your driving privileges for one year.

A qualified San Francisco DUI attorney can explain the various driving suspension times, as well as avenues to prevent the suspension through a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles.  You must request a DMV hearing within ten days of your arrest.



Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California