Tuesday, April 7, 2015

California DUI attorneys explain new adverse Coffey DMV ruling

The California Supreme Court today ruled that circumstantial evidence such as an officer's observations can be used to show a motorist had a blood-alcohol level above the .08% legal limit, California DUI lawyers learned today.
The case began with Ashley Jourdan Coffey suing the state Department of Motor Vehicles ( DMV ) which suspended her driving privileges after her California DUI was dropped and she pleaded guilty to a ``wet reckless'' charge.
Coffey was arrested Nov. 13, 2011, about 1:30 a.m., after an officer spotted her swerving while southbound on the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway. The officer concluded Coffey was drunk based on her red eyes, a strong odor of alcohol and her difficulty with field sobriety tests, according to the high court's ruling.
Coffey ``denied having consumed any alcoholic beverages, offering the rather implausible story that she had just turned 21 years old, had been in a bar, but had not herself consumed any alcoholic beverages,'' the justices' ruling says.
Coffey also had difficulty with breath tests, requiring several attempts by officers to get a sample.
About an hour after she was pulled over, her blood-alcohol level was measured at .08 percent. Another test three minutes later showed her level had risen to .09 percent, above the legal limit. Blood tests done later showed a level of .095 percent. Coffey later accepted a plea deal to admit misdemeanor reckless driving and then requested a hearing before the DMV to challenge the suspension of her license.
Coffey hired an expert to testify that her blood-alcohol level was below the legal limit when she was arrested, and that the tests proved it was rising while she was in custody.
A DMV hearing officer rejected the expert testimony, saying it was not supported by the evidence provided by law enforcement. An appellate court sided with the DMV, and the state's high court granted a review of the opinion. The state Supreme Court agreed with Coffey on at least one point -- that her expert's testimony should have been considered and not rejected, but it did not set precedent on that issue because the law is unclear whether it applies to administrative hearings.V
The Supreme Court suggested lawmakers consider clarifying the law to make it clear whether it applies to administrative proceedings as well as ``prosecutions.''
California DUI / DMV Attorney Chad Maddox, who represented Coffey in the lawsuit, said it's possible the ruling could have a ``ripple effect'' in criminal prosecutions. The ruling establishes for the first time some guidelines on how to handle a DUI defense when the chemical tests are not conclusive and other circumstantial evidence is taken into account, Maddox said.
For instance, it can now be argued that a DMV hearing officer cannot just reject testimony from an expert and must consider that evidence, as well, Maddox told City News Service.
``They did throw the defense a bone or two and gave us some silver linings,'' Maddox said. The ruling, however, could grant greater weight to circumstantial evidence such as a heavy odor of alcohol, he said. ``The danger is (DMV hearing officers) will think everything is strong enough,'' Maddox said.
The ruling also may provide attorneys more guidance on the issue of field sobriety tests, he said.
For instance, they should only be used to decide whether an officer has probable cause to arrest a motorist and then subject him or her to blood or breath tests. The results of a field sobriety tests should not be used to prove impairment without other evidence, Maddox said.
The ruling ``has the potential to weaken criminal prosecutions on the impairment statute only,'' Maddox said.
A key difference between an administrative hearing such as a license suspension at the DMV and the criminal courts, Maddox noted, is that the agency must prove its case by a ``preponderance'' of the evidence as opposed to a criminal court case which requires the higher threshold of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Monday, April 6, 2015

See why you should never do drugs and drive with your young children, California DUI lawyers warn


No one wants to see their young kid die.  No one wants to go to state prison in California, DUI attorneys know.  So if you're tired, do not do drugs or drink and drive.  If you have kids, do not do drugs and drink and drive with them, lawyers warn.

Why?  Look at this horrible example from Easter weekend in San Diego California.  April 9th Update:

Brandy Teague $600,000 San Diego DUI bail was upped to $1 million because a judge determined Teague posed a flight risk and a risk to her children, attorneys are told.
A woman accused of driving under the influence of drugs and crashing into a power pole, killing her 3-year-old daughter and seriously injuring two other children, was charged Wednesday with gross vehicular manslaughter and other counts.
Brandy Teague, 31, was also charged with DUI with injury, child endangerment, driving on a suspended license and methamphetamine possession. She was expected to be arraigned Wednesday, but the hearing was postponed until at least Thursday in El Cajon.
According to police, Teague may have fallen asleep moments before her 2010 Hyundai Accent veered off Broadway between First and Second streets about 9:45 p.m. Saturday.
Teague's three children -- ages 2, 3, and 10 -- were badly hurt and taken to Rady Children's Hospital. Three-year-old Carlee Ramirez died later.
Teague was treated at a hospital before being arrested.
She faces more than 23 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.

A three-year-old girl was killed and her siblings were seriously hurt in an El Cajon crash Saturday night, police said. 
Their mother was later arrested on suspicion of California DUI - Drugs driving under the influence of drugs among other charges.
Witnesses told police the family's 2010 Hyundai Accent was headed east on Broadway when it went off the road about 9:45 p.m. The silver car struck the curb and then smashed into a telephone pole between Oro and North First streets.
The 31-year-old mother, who was driving with a suspended license, may have fallen asleep at the wheel before the crash.
The three children suffered serious injuries and were taken to Rady Children's Hospital. The 3-year-old died shortly after arriving. Her siblings, ages 2 and 10, were badly hurt, but their injuries weren't life-threatening.
Their mother, Brandy Teague, was taken to a hospital with a complaint of pain.
She was booked into jail Sunday morning on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter, cruelty to a child and driving under the influence of drugs, among other charges.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

St. Patrick's Day San Diego California DUI Patrol and Checkpoint Update

St. Patrick's Newsflash

California DUI checkpoints will ruin the Irish want-a-bes this week.  St. Patrick's Day is notorious.  That's why San Diego County DUI Law Center's attorney Rick Mueller posts these free locations.

San Diego County Sheriff's Department will be out in full force in the coming days looking for impaired drivers, California DUI lawyers report.

"When you celebrate St. Patrick's Day, be responsible," said Sheriff Bill Gore.

Avoid increased California DUI patrols by deputies across San Diego county on Tuesday, March 17th and Tuesday, March 31st beginning at 7:00 p.m. through 3:00 a.m. the following day.

There will also be two San Diego California Drunk Driving checkpoints in the following cities later this month:

• Friday, March 20th - San Marcos, North San Diego County
• Saturday, March 28th - Vista, North San Diego County

These locations are presently secret.  If you learn of the location, email rick@sandiegodui.com to get it posted here.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims nearly 300 people have been killed in drunk-driving crashes between 2009 and 2013 across the United States.  Don't be part of St. Patrick's Day that has become a dangerous time because of people who decide to drink and drive.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

1,500 drivers trapped by Pacific Beach San Diego California DUI checkpoint, attorney says.

15 people were popped for California DUI at the 4200 Mission Bay Drive, Pacific Beach / San Diego California roadblock used widely in the past San Diego attorneys often warn.

It is important to stay away from certain main roads entering and exiting Pacific Beach on friday and saturday nights.  Because Grand Ave. feeds into Mission Bay Drive, avoid Grand.  Also avoid Garnett and Ingraham Streets.  If you wish to exit PB, consider going north through La Jolla even though it will take longer, or maybe go south through Mission Beach without using Ingraham, San Diego California DUI lawyers suggest.

San Diego County DUI Law Center provides a free, thorough List of California Drunk Driving Checkpoint Locations here.

Almost 1,500 drivers were trapped at this San Diego DUI checkpoint beginning Friday March 6 through Saturday March 7 at 3:00 a.m.  Over half of those California drivers were checked for drunk driving or DUI investigation.

Friday, February 20, 2015

"What am I looking at if I try to run from cops attempting to arrest me for DUI," California lawyers are asked? 6 months in the slammer

6 months jail is what one guy got for a San Diego DUI - felony cop evasion beef in California, attorney say.

A man who was under the influence of drugs when he led deputies on a high-speed chase in the North County was sentenced Thursday to 180 days in jail and five years probation.
Matthew Wayne Ross, 31, pleaded guilty to a felony count of evading police and a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of drugs in connection with the Jan. 6 pursuit.
Shortly before 11 p.m., deputies saw a dark Dodge Dart go through a red light at West Mission and Nordahl roads in Escondido, said San Diego County sheriff‘s Sgt. Paul Michalke.
The ensuing pursuit went westbound into San Marcos, with the suspect reaching speeds of more than 75 miles per hour and narrowly avoiding a collision with another vehicle at one point, the sergeant said. The chase ended just west of West Mission and North Rancho Santa Fe roads after deputies deployed a spike strip that flattened three of the Dart’s four tires.
Ross struggled with deputies while he was being taken into custody and was bitten on his right shoulder by a police dog.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

California drivers must stop and submit to a DUI checkpoint when signs & displays are posted, attoreys remind.

In San Diego, DUI checkpoints trap motorists throughout the county.  Drunk Driving roadblock locations are posted by San Diego DUI attorneys.  Google posts these here.

In Florida, one lawyer maintains you can download a note and put it on your window as you enter a checkpoint.  That won't work on the left coast.

California drivers are often confronted with driving up to a DUI checkpoint.   If it can legally be avoided, do it.  But risk some cop stopping you if seen.

The question asked lawyers is whether a California driver has to stop at a DUI checkpoint?

The short answer is yes.

If you try not to, here is the law violated, not to mention a probable arrest for DUI.

California Vehicle Code Section 2814.2 provides:

"(a) A driver of a motor vehicle shall stop and submit to a sobriety checkpoint inspection conducted by a law enforcement agency when signs and displays are posted requiring that stop.

(b) Notwithstanding Section 14602.6 or 14607.6, a peace officer or any other authorized person shall not cause the impoundment of a vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint if the driver's only offense is a violation of Section 12500.

(c) During the conduct of a sobriety checkpoint, if the law enforcement officer encounters a driver who is in violation of Section 12500, the law enforcement officer shall make a reasonable attempt to identify the registered owner of the vehicle. If the registered owner is present, or the officer is able to identify the registered owner and obtain the registered owner's authorization to release the motor vehicle to a licensed driver by the end of the checkpoint, the vehicle shall be released to either the registered owner of the vehicle if he or she is a licensed driver or to the licensed driver authorized by the registered owner of the vehicle. If a notice to appear is issued, the name and driver's license number of the licensed driver to whom the vehicle was released pursuant to this subdivision shall be listed on the officer's copy of the notice to appear issued to the unlicensed driver. When a vehicle cannot be released, the vehicle shall be removed pursuant to subdivision (p) of Section 22651, whether a notice to appear has been issued or not."


Saturday, February 7, 2015

NHTSA: No evidence that marijuana use leads to higher risk of traffic accident, California DUI attorneys share



Washington A government study released late Friday found no evidence that marijuana use leads to a higher risk of getting into a traffic crash, California DUI lawyers are told.
But safety advocates believe it is still dangerous to drive after smoking significant amounts of marijuana, and the government plans more testing.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said this 20-month survey of drivers in 2013 and 2014 found that while drinking dramatically raises the chance of a crash, there was no evidence that marijuana use is statistically significant in boosting wreck rates.
The agency said the issue is of growing importance in the wake of marijuana being legalized in Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington state for recreational use.
In Michigan, eight cities approved decriminalization measures last year for marijuana: Berkley, Huntington Woods, Mount Pleasant, Pleasant Ridge, Port Huron, Saginaw, Oak Park and Hazel Park.
The report's findings were based on two surveys. The National Roadside Survey, which collected information from volunteer drivers at 300 research checkpoints across the U.S., and a second study — the largest of its kind ever conducted — that assessed whether marijuana use by drivers is associated with greater risk of crashes. That study, in Virginia, gathered data over 20 months from more than 3,000 drivers who were in crashes, as well as a comparison group of 6,000 drivers who did not crash.
The percentage of drivers with evidence of marijuana in their system increased from 8.6 percent in 2007 to 12.6 percent in the study, NHTSA said
Marijuana users were about 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use. But that's because other factors — especially that more younger men are involved in crashes, NHTSA said — rather than marijuana use itself.
By comparing marijuana use among those in crashes and those who weren't, the safety agency said "other factors, such as age and gender, appear to account for the increased crash risk among marijuana users."
Former Acting NHTSA Administrator David Kelly said the study results shouldn't be interpreted as a flat declaration that driving after smoking pot use is safe. Further research is needed, NHTSA said, "before more definitive conclusions about drug use and crash risk can be reached."
"You can't say that driving while stoned is not a risk. We know it debilitates the ability to drive safely," he said.
The United States doesn't good a good job of testing for marijuana use among drivers, Kelley said. Police, he noted, often don't bother to test for marijuana if a driver already has tested positive for drunken driving.
Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project in Denver, added that the group doesn't want people driving after significant marijuana use.
"Nobody should drive while impaired by any substance, and that's why there are laws on the books to address it. While the research is pretty clear that marijuana use is not remotely as problematic as alcohol when it comes to driving, it can cause impairment. We need to have laws that are grounded in science and punish only drivers who were actually impaired. It's worth noting that there is also research that has shown people who have used marijuana are more likely to recognize if they are impaired than those who have used alcohol," he said.
But he said police often go too far.
"Arresting hundreds of thousands of people for simply possessing marijuana will not do anything to prevent people who make the mistake of driving under the influence. We would never approach the problem of drunk driving by making it illegal for adults to drink responsibly. It's just as foolish to do that when it comes to adults who use marijuana responsibly," he said.
It's difficult to determine at what level marijuana use may impair driving, the government said, because — unlike with alcohol testing — there aren't precise levels of chemicals from marijuana proven to correlate with impairment.
Drugged drivers
Michigan had the 12th highest rate of drugged drivers in the country from 2006-09, says the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
While all states prohibit driving under the influence of drugs, there's significant variation in the minimum acceptable levels of marijuana or its traces in a driver's system.
Sixteen states, including Michigan, forbid any presence of prohibited drugs, while five others have specific limits for marijuana. In October, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation allowing police to conduct a roadside analysis for drugs, in addition to alcohol.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving has made drug use behind the wheel a bigger focus. MADD this year changed its mission statement to include "help fight drugged driving."
"MADD hopes to bring awareness to the growing threat of drugged driving on our roadways, much in the same way we have with drunk driving since our founding in 1980," the group says on its website.
"While the substances are different, the results are the same — needless deaths and injuries."
NHTSA is conducting additional studies to further understand the risk of driving after drug use, including the Washington State Roadside Survey, "which will assess risk in a state where marijuana has recently been legalized."
It also is on board with the National Institute on Drug Abuse for a simulator study to assess how drivers under the influence of drugs behave behind the wheel, the agency said. Ongoing research, it said, "will refine our understanding of when marijuana use by drivers" increases the effect it has on driving.
"Researchers have developed a deep body of knowledge about the link between drinking, driving and risk. We know drunk driving kills," added NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.
"The combined message of these two surveys is that our work to understand and combat drunk driving is paying off, but that we have much to learn about how illegal drugs and prescription medicines affect highway safety — and that developing that knowledge is urgent, because more and more drivers have these drugs in their systems."
Weekend numbers fall
As marijuana use behind the wheel is rising, the incidence of driving on weekends after drinking has fallen sharply.
The study said the proportion of drunken drivers on the roads has fallen by 80 percent since 1973. The study found about 1.5 percent of weekend drivers had blood-alcohol concentrations equal to being legally intoxicated, 0.08 percent or above.
The proportion of drivers with any alcohol in their system declined by about 30 percent from 2007 to 2014.
Drivers with a breath alcohol level of 0.08 percent were about four times more likely to crash than sober drivers, NHTSA said, while drivers with an alcohol level of 0.15 percent were 12 times more likely to crash than sober drivers.

Friday, January 30, 2015

1 out of every 8 Colorado DUI cases involves marijuana, lawyers are told

Holy Smokes, Colorado!  1 in every 8 citations written by the Colorado State Patrol in 2014 for impaired driving or DUI involved suspected marijuana use, according the Denver Post's reference to new statistics from the agency, San Diego California DUI attorneys share.

The apx. "numbers are the first year-long data the state has ever released on stoned driving, and they add new context to an ongoing debate over whether marijuana legalization will make Colorado's roads less safe. But they also provide far from a conclusive answer to the question.
For 2014, The State Patrol reported that troopers issued 5,546 citations for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Of those, 674 — about 12.2 percent — involved suspected marijuana use, either alone or in combination with other intoxicants. For 354 of those citations — about 6.4 percent of the total, or one in every 16 — marijuana was believed to be the only substance involved.
The State Patrol did not provide statistics on the marijuana blood levels found in the cases or how often the citations led to convictions. The numbers also don't provide a complete picture on stoned driving enforcement in Colorado because they don't contain tallies from local police and sheriff's departments.
Still, state highway officials said they show the need to educate people that driving stoned is not OK.
"We won't be satisfied until everyone in Colorado takes driving high seriously, so the need for awareness and education is paramount," Amy Ford, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation said in a statement accompanying the new numbers' release.
CDOT last year spent $1 million on an ad campaign called "Drive High, Get a DUI." Even after the campaign, a CDOT study found that 21 percent of recreational marijuana consumers didn't know they could be cited for driving under the influence of pot.
Because DUI cases involving marijuana are not differentiated in court data, Colorado has long struggled to determine whether stoned driving is an increasing problem in the state. Last year was the first year the State Patrol began tracking marijuana DUIs. The agency now has 61 troopers who are trained as drug recognition experts."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

San Diego County DUI Law Center's Attorney Rick Mueller announces these checkpoint locations Super Bowl Weekend

San Diego County DUI Law Center's Attorney Rick Mueller announces these checkpoint locations Super Bowl Weekend.

DUI/Driver's License checkpoint Planned this Weekend

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department, San Marcos Sheriff’s Station in conjunction with the Escondido Police Department, Carlsbad Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Cal-State San Marcos Police Department, Palomar College Police Department and San Diego County Probation Department, "AVOID the 8 on SR-78 ", will be conducting a DUI/Driver's License checkpoint on January 30, 2015 at an undisclosed location within the city limits between the hours of 6:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Checkpoints are placed in locations that have the greatest opportunity for achieving drunk and drugged driving deterrence and provide the greatest safety for officers and the public.

The deterrent effect of DUI checkpoints is a proven resource in reducing the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol or drug involved crashes. Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized DUI checkpoints and proactive DUI patrols are conducted routinely.

The deterrent effect of DUI checkpoints is a proven resource in reducing the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol or drug involved crashes. Research shows that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20 percent when well-publicized DUI checkpoints and proactive DUI patrols are conducted routinely.

In California, this deadly crime led to 774 deaths because someone failed to designate a sober driver

Monday, January 26, 2015

San Diego DUI Super Bowl Update by local attorneys

San Diego County DUI Law Center Super Bowl Update News Flash

There will be increased California DUI patrols by Sheriff's Deputies across San Diego county starting Sunday, February 1 at 3:00 p.m. all the way through 5:00 a.m. February 2, 2015, attorneys are told.

San Diego Police Department will have roadblocks.  CHP will patrol like crazy, San Diego DUI lawyers know.

San Diego California DUI Deputies will stage DUI Checkpoints between 8:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. in the following Sheriff's contract cities leading up to Super Bowl Sunday:

• January 30 – San Marcos
• January 31 – Encinitas

In 2014, more than 1,400 people were arrested for San Diego California DUI by the Sheriff's Department.

In 2013, San Diego California DUI Deputies arrested 1,888 people for DUI, Vehicle Code Sections a, b and e.

"There's no reason anyone should be drinking and driving," said Sheriff Bill Gore. "It's completely avoidable.

Never get behind the wheel after drinking.

SUPER BOWL FANS DON'T LET SUPER BOWN FANS DRIVE DRUNK!"