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.

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.


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.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It’s no secret that Hollywood's young and restless keep Los Angeles DUI lawyers pretty busy.  In the latest DUI incident involving a star, Planet of the Apes star Estella Warren, has been arrested and charged with DUI.  She also faces a number of other charges, including resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer.

According to news reports, Warren was involved in a car accident in Los Angeles on May 23rd.  She crashed her Toyota into three other cars.  She then did what Los Angeles DUI defense attorneys would not advise - she fled the scene of the accident.

The cops soon apprehended her.  However, Warren allegedly began to resist arrest, fighting and attacking the officer.  When she was taken to the station, she apparently slid out of her handcuffs, and tried to run out of the station.  She was apprehended again.  She might have been charged with attempted escape, but since she had not been formally booked at the time she tried to make a run for it, that charge did not apply.  Warren was lucky that she's escaping – no pun intended - on a technicality.  If she had been charged with trying to escape which is a felony charge, she could've been looking at a much heftier prison term.  She's currently out on $100,000 bail.

Trying to flee the scene of an accident, attacking police officers, and trying to make a run for it - none of this helps a DUI case.  In fact, it simply makes for an easier case for the prosecution.  That doesn't mean, however, that one should simply roll over and admit to DUI.   It does help to get in touch with a DUI defense lawyer as quickly as possible, and avoid making any incriminating statements or confessions at the scene. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

There’s never a shortage of DUI accident trials in and around the city for a Los Angeles DUI attorney to discuss.  However, the trial of Andrew Gallo, the young man accused of killing budding Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart in a DUI accident last year, has grabbed extra attention. 

First, there was the fact that just a few hours before the accident, Adenhart had pitched several spectacular innings at a game in Anaheim.  Then, an Orange County judge ruled that evidence showing that the driver of the car that Adenhart was traveling in at the time of the accident, was also driving under the influence, was not admissible because it was not relevant.

The trial which began this week, has had Los Angeles DUI defense attorneys riveted.  For the lawyers defending Gallo, it wasn't a good start at all.  Soon after the ruling that the defense attorney could not use evidence that the driver of Adenhart car was drunk at the time, the defense attorneys had been developing theory involving a building that had possibly obstructed Gallo's vision while driving.  The judge ruled that the jury will not hear this account either.  Among other things, the attorneys for Gallo have also tried to introduce evidence that the accident was caused by whoever ran the red light.  The only spark of hope for Gallo at this point, is that there is no confirmation about who ran the red light just before the accident.

It doesn't help a DUI defense attorney much when the person you are charged with defending has been accused of killing a star baseball player who played for the city's baseball team.

Friday, June 25, 2010

So much for prevention programs aimed at reducing drunk driving amongst college goers. A new study has found that approximately one out of every five college students drove under the influence of alcohol over the past year, and possibly half of all college students had driven after imbibing alcohol. These are very disturbing results for a Los Angeles accident lawyer.

These findings came via a study by the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. The researchers followed more than 1250 college students who were enrolled at a university over four years. All students were in their first year of college. The subjects in the study were interviewed once every year to assess alcohol-related traffic risk behaviors. The researchers considered these parameters –

  • Riding in a car with an intoxicated driver
  • Driving after having imbibed alcohol
  • Driving while intoxicated

Over the course of one year, approximately 50% of the underage students admitted to driving after drinking, while 20% admitted to driving while intoxicated. 43% of the students said they had been in a car driven by an intoxicated driver.

Further, the researchers noticed that there was a substantial increase in the intensity of these dangerous alcohol-related behaviors after the students reached the age of 21 which is the legally allowed age for drinking alcohol.

This much is clear - young motorists seem to develop more and more dangerous drunk driving behaviors as they get older. That should put an end to any ideas anyone has about reducing the minimum drinking age to 18, hoping that it will prevent binge drinking and drunk driving. Last year, there was an effort by some sections, including university deans, to lower the drinking age to 18 in a bid to prevent binge drinking. This study shows that binge drinking gets more severe as students get older.

Friday, May 07, 2010

A California bill being promoted by an enthusiastic lawmaker who wants to make it tougher for persons with more than three DUI offenders to retain their driving privileges, has been stalled because of concerns that it could cost the state more than it $10 million.

The bill is being promoted by Assemblyman Jerry Hill. It seeks to allow judges to consider a person's DUI convictions over his entire lifetime, instead of only over the past 10 years when deciding to revoke his driver license. Under California's current laws, when a person is convicted of DUI, prior convictions of DUI more than 10 years old do not count toward sentencing.  The more convictions a person has during that 10 year period, the stiffer the sentence.  This bill would eliminate that 10 year period and allow the judge to consider a driver’s complete driving record.

A law like this would increase the number of people eligible for prison time, and that is something that California's prisons simply cannot afford. There has been enough concern about the overpopulation of prisons in California, and the state has begun to address this issue by releasing persons convicted for minor offenses, like drug crimes and thefts.  In a situation like this, where we can hardly afford to keep existing prisoners behind bars, an additional burden of more prisoners, costing the state $10 million a year, would be foolish and useless.

Assemblyman Hill is already looking at tweaking the bill, so that it doesn't cost the state as much. One option could be to waive a permanent revocation of a person's driving license, if he agrees to get admitted into a substance or alcohol abuse treatment program. It's a proposal that California DUI lawyers might support. Getting treatment for alcohol addiction is what California's DUI offenders need the most. They have little incentive to get treatment for these addiction problems, if they have already lost their driver license permanently. Hopefully, the bill will be modified to reflect this fact.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Any California DUI lawyer will tell you that you cannot receive a license in California if you have an unresolved DUI offense in any other state in the country. However, a man who moved to California from Minnesota is finding that a 27-year-old license revocation has suddenly surfaced, preventing him from attaining his California driver’s license.

Dennis Keagy had moved from Minnesota to California in 1981. The license revocation that is now interfering with his ability to renew his license in California, occurred in 1984. The problem is that Keagy had no recollection of the offense in question here.

You can't blame Keagy for this. It's been 27 years since the license was revoked, and Keagy since then has had no problem getting his license renewed in California. In fact, he has had his license renewed several times in the state without the 27-year-old DUI license revocation in Minnesota coming into the picture.  The first time he heard about this revocation was when he was informed by the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services earlier this year that he had an unresolved fine from a drunk driving incident back in 1984.  

The agency informed him that he could get his license back if he paid $680 to the state of Minnesota. He has one other choice to get his license back - he can merely inform the state of Minnesota where exactly he was on the day that the drunk driving offense occurred, so his offense could be expunged from his record.

Keagy is at his wits’ end because he can't remember when this offense occurred. The Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services cannot help either. The agency does not have records dating back 27 years, and cannot provide him the information he needs. Meanwhile, the California Department of Motor Vehicles says it cannot issue a driver's license to a motorist who does not have a valid license in another state.

Although Keagy’s case is an unusual one, thousands of motorists like him could be badly affected if a new bill that allows judges to consider a motorist’s lifetime DUI history before deciding to revoke his license, is allowed to move ahead.