Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Californians report DUI drivers but CHP is slow to help

California DUI criminal defense lawyers tell the story of a citizen who called CHP. Here she reports: On Highway 85 last Thursday morning, I saw one of the worst drunk drivers I've ever seen. I called 911 immediately and gave the location, description of the car, license plate and direction of travel. I called back when the driver merged to Interstate 280 and followed this idiot to Page Mill Road, waiting for the CHP to show up. They never did! In almost 20 miles this guy nearly sideswiped at least five cars, slowed to 45, then jetted to 70 and weaved through the right lanes. When he exited at Page Mill, he almost rear-ended traffic stopped at the end of the ramp. What made matters worse was the behavior of other drivers when they encountered this erratic driver. Several became aggressive and tailgated. Others drew up alongside and gawked. It was a tragedy in the making. I work at a trauma center and constantly have to deal with the results of drunken driving. I tried to do my part. The SIG alert on my commute says to report drunk drivers, but it doesn't seem to work. Can the CHP really respond in time to catch a moving target?

A Yes, but not every time. Sadly, Brandie-the-CHP spokeswoman said, "this is not an abnormal event.'' Staffing levels with the Highway Patrol are about what they were 30 years ago, and it's not possible to get to every call like this. When a 911 call comes in, dispatchers first have to determine the exact location of the incident to forward it to the correct area. At that point, they will broadcast the incident over the air and attempt to get a unit to intercept the driver. If the caller continues to follow the suspect, she said the CHP does its best to intercept him or her. But here's the reality. If three patrol cars are at a crash scene or another incident elsewhere, getting a cop to your call may be difficult. In addition, there is a risk factor. If the closest unit is responding from the far end of its area of coverage, it would have to drive at an extreme speed just to catch up, and several officers have been involved in collisions. A Dublin officer was killed last year while attempting to overtake a possible DUI driver. Brandie adds: "To answer the reader's question: Can the CHP really respond in time to catch a moving target? Not always."

But the CHP urges you to call 911 and not give up. For every call they aren't able to respond to in a timely manner, there are many more where they do and a drunk is taken off the road.

Q I was driving on Highway 237 late Friday night around midnight when I noticed a bunch of punks, in three cars, blocking all lanes of the freeway and driving around 65 mph. I guess they were showing off their cars to each other by accelerating up to 75, then braking down to 65. In the back of my head I was like, "Man, those guys are asking for an accident." Lo and behold, the guy in front slams into the middle divider and spins 180 degrees. All his friends brake and surround him in the left and middle lanes. I slowed down and safely passed them at 25 mph in the right lane. I figure there were enough witnesses and I could see the guy in the damaged car unbuckling himself to get out. I called 911 to report the accident, location and other details. I was informed that a CHP officer would be sent over. Was there anything else I should have done?

A No, what you did was appropriate and wise. Some drivers may be tempted to stop and lend assistance, but that can put you in harm's way. The shoulder is a dangerous spot. Call 911 and be as specific as possible with details, but don't stop on the freeway.

San Diego California Criminal Defense Attorney Rick Mueller recently spoke at the California Attorneys For Criminal Justice annual DUI seminar in Rancho Mirage, California: . The California criminal defense lawyers who attended indicated to the President of the California DUI Lawyers Association that San Diego California DUI criminal defense lawyer Rick Mueller's presentation and materials were excellent. Rick has been asked to speak again - at the California DUI Lawyers Association (CDLA) DUI seminar.

San Diego DUI Lawyer Rick Mueller is known as the "DMV Guru" by the Bar Association.

Specially recognized as a Contributor to the California Drunk Driving Law book, he is now the San Diego DUI Editorial Consultant for the most comprehensive reference book for California DUI law. Known as California's bible for DUI defense, authored by Ed Kuwatch, Paul Burglin and Barry Simons, the book features some of San Diego DUI attorney Rick Mueller's hard work.

San Diego drunk driving lawyer Rick Mueller is a Specialist Member of the California DUI Attorneys Association (formerly the Association of California Deuce Defenders). He is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

San Diego DUI Attorney Rick Mueller speaks at Strategies in Handling DUI Cases seminars, at the DUI & Drug Defense seminar at the San Diego Bar Building, at the North San Diego County Bar Association's Drunk Driving - DMV seminars, and at the Public Defender's Office DMV - DUI Training seminars. His DMV - DUI work is also featured in the Association of California Deuce Defenders' materials. Since 1983, DUI Lawyer Rick Mueller has actively defended these cases. San Diego DUI Attorney Rick Mueller is in Good Standing with the State Bar (#114305).

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