Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The winter holiday season is typically one of the busiest times of the year for Los Angeles DUI lawyers. This season however, is likely to be more demanding than usual. Law enforcement officers arrested more numbers of people for DUI this season in Los Angeles County, compared to the previous year.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, there was an increase of at least 250 DUI arrests from 2010. Close to 1, 500 people were arrested for DUI over a 10-day period. Last year, during the same period of time, there had been 1, 260 arrests.

Additionally, the final number of arrests for this particular time is likely to be higher, because some agencies have still not submitted their final tally. The statistics are only for between midnight December 16 and midnight December 25. The final tally for the number of people arrested over the New Year's holiday has not come in yet. However, Los Angeles DUI attorneys expect the number of people arrested for DUI over the New Year's holiday to be higher than last year too, because this year's holiday also coincided with the weekend.

Los Angeles DUI attorneys find that maximum DUI enforcement action takes place during the hours between December 31 and the early hours of January 1. This time too, the New Year's holiday was marked by DUI checkpoints across the state, as well as checkpoints to check driver’s licenses. Additionally, there was a DUI task force which included the participation of multiple agencies as well as local DUI patrols. Law officers tend to find themselves under even more pressure to arrest people for DUI over the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Los Angeles DUI lawyers are not exactly unfamiliar with DUI arrests involving lawmakers and bureaucrats. However, the arrest of Federal Aviation Administration chief Randy Babbitt for DUI last week is a major incident, because it involves a high-ranking official of the Obama administration.

On December 3, Babbitt was arrested in Fairfax, Virginia. Police officers pulled him over after they found him driving on the wrong side of the road. 65-year-old Babbitt was found to be driving under the influence, although there is no information about how much he scored on the breath test. He was charged with driving while intoxicated.

It was his 2nd DUI offense in Fairfax in 5 years. In 2006, he had also been convicted of speeding, and had paid a $500 fine in that case. Last week, Babbitt announced his resignation from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The resignation couldn't have come at a worse time for the federal aviation agency, which has been grappling with a number of safety issues recently. These issues include a number of incidents around the country involving air traffic controllers who fell asleep on the job, leading to some near-adverse events. Over a period of several weeks, at least 9 air traffic controllers either dozed off on the job or were not available to pilots while on duty. The Federal Aviation Administration under Babbitt's leadership had been working on ways to reduce air traffic controller fatigue. Those efforts are likely to now be delayed. He was also closely involved in aviation reform after the Colgan Air plane Crash in New York in 2009.

At the time of his appointment in 2009, Babbitt was an internationally recognized aviation expert. He had 25 years of experience with Eastern Airlines, and had also served as president of the Airline Pilots Association. That record is likely to be tainted by his ignominious departure from the FAA under a DUI cloud.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is collaborating with industry to develop an in-car alcohol detection device that can be installed in vehicles to prevent drunk drivers from driving. The project has already resulted in the awarding of contracts to three companies. A Swedish manufacturer is in the process of developing a breath-based device, while a Japanese and a Mexican company are developing a touch-based device to detect alcohol in the driver.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has specific criteria about the kind of device that it will approve. The agency is looking for a device that will measure the amount of alcohol in a driver within one third of a second. The agency will also be looking for a device that is reliable, and doesn't require too much maintenance. Most importantly, the device must be able to perform well in all kinds of temperature, humidity and dust conditions.

If a device like this is designed and ultimately approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it would become an optional feature on many automobiles. Studies indicate that a device like this would be hugely popular among the motoring public.

Los Angeles DUI lawyers believe that a device like this would be a great aid to people who have had a few drinks, and don't know whether they are legally too drunk to drive. With an in-car device like this, finding out whether you're sober enough to drive could be as simple as breathing or touching a sensor inside the car. Los Angeles DUI attorneys believe that the device could become especially popular with some people, like college students and parents of teen drivers who want to monitor their children's driving.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Canadian motorists in the United States are much less likely to be involved in DUI accidents than native drivers. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and Columbia University analyzed fatal accidents in the United States. They found that drivers with Canadian licenses were involved in fewer DUI accidents than drivers with U.S. licenses are.

When the researchers analyzed fatal car accidents, they found that alcohol was a factor in 27% of crashes involving American and Mexican drivers. However, when they looked at accidents involving Canadian drivers, they found that DUI was a factor in only 11% of the accidents. Additionally, researchers also found signs of impaired driving in 23% of American and Mexican drivers who were involved in fatal accidents, and in just 8% of Canadian drivers involved in fatal accidents.

The research does turn up a few surprises for Los Angeles DUI defense lawyers, particularly because of previous research that indicated that foreign-born drivers in any country are much more likely to be involved in a DUI accident than local drivers. The results are also surprising because the rate of DUI accidents in Canada is very similar to drunk driving accident rates in the United States.

One of the theories for this difference in DUI involving Canadian and American drivers is that many Canadian drivers involved in accidents in the United States are probably here on business, which may prevent them from indulging in reckless driving practices like driving under the influence. Additionally, Canadian-licensed drivers are also less likely to be involved in accidents at night, which is when most intoxicated driving takes place.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Los Angeles DUI lawyers who represent college students accused of drunk driving, often find that parents are surprised at their children's drinking practices. A mere look at a student’s Facebook status updates should be enough to alert parents to their child's possibly destructive drinking behaviors.

According to new research, students who regularly post on Facebook about their drinking habits are much more likely to rate highly as problem drinkers. The researchers went through the Facebook profiles of 307 college students, and categorized them as college students who did not post about alcohol on Facebook (non-displayers), college students who posted about alcohol use (alcohol displayers), and college students who regularly posted about being seriously drunk on Facebook (intoxication or problem drinking displayers).

After that, the researchers asked the students to fill out a survey to examine their alcohol use. The results of the survey were analyzed, and students were graded on a scale of 1 to 10. Students who rated 8 or above were found to be in the highest category of problem drinkers. These rates were compared with the student’s use of Facebook.

The researchers were not surprised to find that students who were graded as problem drinkers were much more likely to post news, pictures, and other information about their drinking practices on Facebook. Students who shared pictures or stories about their drinking were 1.5 times more likely to be problem drinkers than those students who made general and harmless drinking-related comments. Not surprisingly to Los Angeles DUI defense lawyers, students who posted about their drinking habits had an 89% greater chance of having a “problem drinker” score compared to students who never made any status updates about drinking.

The researchers say that the lesson to take home from the study is this - if you find that your child is making far too many references to intoxicated behavior and drinking on his or her Facebook wall, it might be time for you to take action before you require the services of a Los Angeles drunk driving defense attorney.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

According to new research, adolescents are much more likely to drink if the friends of their girlfriends and boyfriends also drink. What that means is that the drinking habits of the friends of a teen’s romantic partner are much more important factors in determining drinking behavior than the drinking habits of adults or other friends in their lives.

Those are curious findings, but researchers have an explanation. According to them, adolescents are likely to desire to be like the friends of their significant others, in order to strengthen their relationship with their partner. They may want to emulate the habits of their partner's friends, including drinking habits, in order to impress the partner.

The results of the study have been published in the October issue of the American Sociological Review. The research is based on a survey of students in grades seven through twelve. The research found that an adolescent’s chances of binge drinking or drinking in excess increased by more than 100% if he or she was dating someone who had friends who drank heavily. It didn’t matter so much if the romantic partner drank heavily or not, but if his or her friends did.

This adoption of a romantic partner’s friends’ alcohol use practices also seems to work in a reverse manner. The research found that when an underage drinker had a romantic partner whose friends did not drink, the person was likely to cut down on drinking.

What the research seems to point out to Los Angeles DUI defense lawyers is that adolescents and college students are continually being exposed to new social environments leading to new drinking habits. This may in turn lead to underage or college DUI charges.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A new study finds that teenage children of parents who drink even moderately, are more likely to be involved in a DUI, compared to those children whose parents don't drink at all.

According to the results of the study, which have been published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, about 6% of adult children of parents who drank only occasionally, ended up driving under the influence in their 20s. In comparison, only 2% of teenage children of parents who did not drink at all were likely to be involved in a DUI. This study shows Los Angeles college DUI lawyers the importance of parental influence in preventing irresponsible drinking practices by their children.

However, even when parents did not drink at all, children could still be at risk of picking up irresponsible drinking practices from their friends. The researchers found that having friends who drank alcohol was definitely a DUI risk factor for teenagers whose parents did not drink alcohol. However, when teenagers were exposed to parents and friends who both drank alcohol, there was a substantial increase in the risk of being pulled over for DUI later in life. About 11 percent of children whose parents and friends both drank, ended up driving under the influence in adulthood.

The research indicates that parents need to be vigilant about their own drinking practices at home, in order to ensure that their children are not picking these up. Parental practices may not only affect a teenager risk of being involved in a DUI, but also his drinking and driving practices as an adult. The researchers urge parents to display responsible drinking practices.

An underage DUI in California can end with serious repercussions for a teenage driver. A teenage motorist in California cannot legally drive with any amount of alcohol in his system, and can be charged with DUI even if his blood alcohol content is much less than the .08% level that has been set for drivers above the legal drinking age of 21.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A bill introduced by Santa Rosa Assemblyman Michael Allen, that would have restricted police officers ability to impound cars at DUI checkpoints, has undergone a change of language. The provision banning impounding of cars belonging to unlicensed drivers at DUI checkpoints has been dropped from the legislation. Assembly Bill 138 now simply contains a provision that police give the public 48 hours notice of a DUI checkpoint, and requires DUI checkpoints around California to be conducted uniformly.

However, the impounding provision has been shifted to another bill. That bill, AB 353, would limit the impounding of vehicles of unlicensed drivers pulled over at DUI checkpoints in certain situations. Cars that have not been used in a crime would not be impounded. For purposes of impoundment, being driven by an unlicensed driver would not be considered a crime.

A person who is driving without a license can choose to have his car driven away by a licensed driver like a friend or relative. Additionally, a car may not be impounded if a police officer can find a way to park the car in a spot that was not impeded by traffic. Under California's current laws, a police officer can impound a vehicle and arrest a driver if he's driving without a valid license. Los Angeles DUI lawyers have found these laws unfair to their principal targets those from ethnic minorities and low income groups.

According to Assemblyman Allen, he introduced this bill after becoming aware of the growing hardships faced by people, especially those in Hispanic communities, who lost their vehicles after they were impounded at DUI checkpoints. The drivers had their vehicles impounded because they were driving with a suspended or expired license, not because they were driving under the influence. When their vehicles were impounded, these people had no way of getting their vehicle released because they couldn't afford the fee. Having ta vehicle impounded leads to serious consequences, making it difficult to go to work and school.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A California man, who believes that his ex-wife got a beautiful blonde to trick him into a DUI conviction, thereby impacting his child custody privileges, will soon appear in court.  A judge will consider whether Dave Dutcher’s DUI conviction unfairly affected his divorce settlement.

Dutcher, a newly divorced father of three from Contra Costa County met a woman on Match.com.   On the second date, the woman invited one of her friends along.  The evening ended with Dutcher drinking alcohol, and the two women inviting him home to join them in the hot tub.  Dutcher left the restaurant to follow them home, but was soon pulled over by a police officer.  Tests revealed that his blood alcohol concentration level was .12 %.  He pleaded no contest to DUI charges, and was fined $2,200 and ordered to perform community service.

Three weeks after that conviction, his ex-wife's attorneys went to court seeking to restrict Dutcher's parenting privileges, including his visitation hours with his children.   According to the attorneys, his DUI conviction shed a bad light on his parenting skills.  A judge agreed, and reduced his visitation hours.

Dutcher remained unaware that the woman he met on Match.com was known to his wife, until two years later when a police corruption scandal confirmed his worst fears.   His wife has since admitted that she also knew the police officer who tipped off another cop about Dutcher’s drunk driving.   Court records also confirm that the police officer who pulled him over had been tipped off by an acquaintance.

Los Angeles DUI lawyers believe there may have been more such tainted DUI arrests in Contra Costa County during this time.
Now, Dutcher wants to convince a family law judge that the DUI arrest was manipulated by his ex-wife and her lawyer in order to restrict his visitation hours with his children.  He's looking for a new divorce settlement that includes more time with his children as well as accountability for the people he believes duped him.

Monday, August 01, 2011

If you have been convicted of DUI in California, you may face a full license suspension.  However, in some cases, your Los Angeles DUI lawyer may also suggest an alternative to a license suspension- - getting an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. 

Ignition interlock devices are usually not required after a first-time DUI conviction, but courts will order the installation of the device if you have been driving under a suspended license.  Additionally, if you have been convicted of two DUI offenses within a ten-year period, you may be required to install a device in your car.

An ignition interlock device is a system that is installed in your car, and works like a breathalyzer to prevent you from driving if you're intoxicated.  The device is installed in the steering column of the car, and you will be trained to use the device before you operate your car.  To operate the device, you will be required to breathe into the device.  If the alcohol sample contains more than a specified amount of alcohol, then the device will lock down the ignition, preventing the car from starting.  The maximum amount of alcohol specified in the device is typically between .02% and .04%

You cannot ask another person to breathe into your device in order to start your vehicle.  Doing so would be a criminal offense under California laws.  Besides, many devices offer rolling tests.  These tests require motorists keep breathing into the device every few minutes, for the engine to continue running, to ensure that only motorists who use the device, are allowed to drive. 

Ignition interlock devices are becoming more and more reliable, and manufacturers have installed safeguards to prevent misuse.  For instance, new devices come with a recording mechanism that notes down the number of times a motorist tries to “fix” the device.