Articles Posted in DUI

Evans v. Shiomoto (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 21, 2019, No. D073969) 2019 WL 5886970, at *1–7

The DUI stop, arrest and suspension

Evans was pulled over for driving with his off-road-only lights illuminated while on a “highway,” in violation of Vehicle Code section 24411. The officer observed signs of intoxication and Evans consented to a chemical breath test that registered a blood alcohol level above 0.08 percent.

Defendants who plead or are found guilty of traffic violations and other misdemeanors are typically assessed court fees and fines under Gov. Code, § 70373, Pen. Code, § 1465.8, and Pen. Code, § 1202.4, Unpaid fines usually go to collections without further order of the court.

Courts must determine a defendant’s ability to pay fees and assessment.

The Court of Appeal ruled in People v Dueñas (285645) that when poverty is the only reason a defendant cannot pay court fee and fines, using the criminal process to collect them is unconstitutional. Its decision bars courts from imposing court fees and assessments without determining a defendant’s present ability to pay. Despite Pen. Code, § 1202.4, precluding consideration of a defendant’s ability to pay unless the judge is considering increasing the fee over the statutory minimum, the execution of any restitution fine imposed under must be stayed unless and until the trial court holds an ability to pay hearing and concludes that the defendant has the present ability to pay the restitution fine

New and changed laws that took effect January 1 will affect drivers in California. The following information was issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Temporary License Plate Program (AB 516, Mullin): Designed to reduce toll evasion

Licensed California dealers, of new and used vehicles must attach temporary paper license plates on a vehicle at the point of sale before it may be driven off the dealership lot, if that vehicle does not display license plates previously issued by the DMV.

California has something called an “implied consent” law. This means if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, it is implied that you have consented to a blood or breath test. Your refusal can trigger a suspension of your driver’s license. You may be able to avoid that license suspension, however, if you can show the DMV that your failure to provide a sample was due to a medical ailment not related to your intoxication. To make this argument, you’ll need to request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. Given the importance of driving privileges to most any Californian, a potential suspension is a very serious punishment and requires prompt and serious action, including retaining a skilled San Francisco DMV defense attorney.

R.G.’s case was one that involved a license suspension. R.G.’s encounter with a deputy sheriff began with a traffic stop for failing to lower his high-beam headlights. Things got worse for R.G. The deputy detected what he believed to be bloodshot, watery eyes and droopy eyelids. The deputy also perceived what he believed to be the smell of alcohol. R.G. performed some field sobriety tests and performed poorly. R.G. declined to take preliminary alcohol screening.

The deputy then gave R.G. the implied consent advisement and explained blood and breath tests. The driver chose a breath test but was unsuccessful in providing a sufficient breath sample. A phlebotomist arrived after that, but R.G. refused a blood test, according to the department. He also allegedly refused to take another breath test.

A DUI conviction can have a serious impact on your life. It may cost hundreds in fines, may negatively affect your insurance rates, and may even affect the jobs at which you can work. (As an example, a DUI on your record will probably prevent you from driving for Uber or Lyft.) That’s why it is important to contest these matters vigorously. Ideally, you should take immediate action and retain a knowledgeable San Francisco DUI attorney to handle your case. Even if you didn’t, though, and you got convicted, you may still be able to benefit from the process of expungement.Expungements may be available both for people convicted of DUI and for those convicted of “wet reckless.” The process for obtaining an expungement for DUI or wet reckless is laid out in Section 1203.4 of the California Penal Code.

In order to pursue a DUI conviction expungement, you’re going to have to meet certain eligibility requirements. You have to have completed probation successfully. In addition, you must have received a sentence that did not involve serving time in a state prison (as opposed to a county jail). Assuming you meet those requirements, you have to file a document asking the court to expunge the conviction. The court will hold a hearing. If your judge grants the expungement request, the case is dismissed, and the conviction is removed from your record.

You may have heard about California’s “ban the box” law. The California Fair Chance Act, which became effective this year, prohibits employers from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history as part of the initial application process. However, that doesn’t mean that an employer can’t ask about criminal history, including DUIs, at all. An employer absolutely can ask about a candidate’s criminal history after the employer has issued the candidate a conditional offer of employment. Even now that the new law is in effect, an expungement of your DUI is still potentially highly valuable. Without an expungement, you could have to divulge your DUI or wet reckless conviction after the employer has conditionally offered you a job. With an expungement, you generally do not have to divulge that DUI or wet reckless conviction at all.

Certainly, most everyone understands the importance of refraining from drinking and driving. However, if you should err, end up behind the wheel after a few drinks and get into a fender-bender, you obviously wouldn’t want to spend years behind bars. Did you know that, even if the injuries suffered in your crash are very minor, those injuries could result in your doing years of prison time, even for a first offense? Or that you could possibly face these penalties even if no one was hurt all? A pair of recent cases, one from the East Bay and one from nearby Sonoma County, highlight the very substantial and life-changing penalties you can face and the importance of dealing with these charges in the appropriate manner to minimize the impact they will have on your life long-term. Part of dealing with your felony DUI arrest in the Bay Area is reaching out and retaining knowledgeable San Francisco DUI defense counsel.

The first of the two cases referenced above was from Alameda County. In that case, East Bay Times reported that an off-duty Oakland police officer was charged with DUI. Even though no one was hurt in the accident, the driver was still hit with a charge of felony DUI. According to the police, the off-duty officer was speeding across eastbound on Interstate 580-when he was arrested, the Times report stated.

More recently, a 65-year-old woman was driving in Sebastopol when she turned in front of another driver, according to a KPIX report. The two vehicles collided and each driver suffered minor injuries. There was no evidence that either driver was speeding. However, because the other driver was injured (even though her injuries were slight), the 65-year-old woman was charged with felony DUI.

Ridesharing services have been very successful in recent years, and many times these businesses provide a valuable service to the communities they serve. They can also provide a valuable source of income for the drivers with whom the companies contract. As of Jul 1, 2018, the law has changed and the rules are tougher for Uber and Lyft drivers when it comes to providing the service after having had alcohol. It is now much easier to be charged with driving under the influence as a rideshare driver than it is as a regular private driver. Obviously, a DUI conviction can be extremely harmful to you as a rideshare driver so, if you’re facing such an arrest, be sure to act without delay to retain a knowledgeable San Francisco DUI attorney to handle your case.

Some estimates indicate that Uber has more than 100,000 drivers in California and that Lyft’s numbers are similar. Both companies have policies in place to forbid drivers with drunk-driving histories of being hired on as drivers. Uber bars drivers with any DUIs in the last decade. Lyft bars drivers with DUIs on their records for at least seven years.

However, what happens if you are already a Lyft or Uber driver and you drive after having had a drink or two? The answer to that question is different than it used to be. Through June 2018, Uber and Lyft drivers had the same obligations as any non-commercial drivers: driving with a BAC of .08 or more was illegal; below .08 was permissible, California Penal Code Section 23152 now says that, if you have a “passenger for hire” in your vehicle, it is illegal to drive if you BAC is .04 percent or higher. This is an important change as, depending on the driver’s weight and the potency of the beverage, it’s possible that even a single alcoholic drink may give a driver a BAC of .04.

With all the talk today about “fake news” and the quality of journalistic reporting, some have come to question the value of what they read or hear from news sources. One thing news sources do unquestionably well, though, is highlight cases that serve as “what not to do” warnings for others. By learning about the strategic errors others made in handling their legal affairs, you can hopefully learn from those mistakes and avoid the downfalls that occurred to the subjects of the articles. For example, one San Diego man faces jail time in Nevada, in part, because he spent several years trying avoid drunk driving charges. Don’t be like that driver. Instead, if you are facing DUI charges in California, reach out to an experienced San Francisco DUI attorney to handle your case on time, thereby allowing you to obtain closure and move on with your life.

The San Diego man was R., who had experienced several encounters with law enforcement related to drunk driving. While working at a Lake Tahoe ski resort in 2011 and 2012, he was arrested several times for DUI. He made bail and then promptly left Nevada, according to a Record-Courier report.

R. headed to San Diego and was able to avoid punishment for his drunk driving arrests for several years. Just because you can do something does mean that you should do it, however. That’s not just true on an ethical or moral level, it can be true on a beneficial self-interest level, too. At the time, R. probably thought that his effort to avoid punishment for those DUI charges was a successful move. It was not.

If you’ve just been charged with misdemeanor drunk driving, you may think that this type of charge doesn’t really require you to retain legal counsel. After all, it’s just a misdemeanor, so it won’t affect your life that much, right? Furthermore, you might think that you can “get out of it” without an attorney, or will end up being convicted even with an attorney, so why spend the money? The reality is that even misdemeanor DUI convictions can have substantial effects on your life. However, with the aid of a skilled San Francisco DUI defense attorney, you may have more options than you think, including having the charge never appear on your record, even if you actually were driving drunk at the time.

Imagine it:  the police pulled you over. The officer conducts a breathalyzer test, and your result is above a .08. There was nothing wrong with the test, and there was nothing wrong with your consent to it. Your case has no hope, right? Wrong. There may be many various methods through which a skilled defense attorney can assist you and reduce or eliminate the impact of this arrest.

For some veterans, they may have an extra option:  military diversion. California has a statute, Penal Code Section 1001.80, that recognizes that there are often mitigating circumstances when it comes to veterans and violations of the law. This diversion program may, in the end, leave you with a result that’s as if the arrest never happened at all.