Saturday, June 18, 2011

Are Field Sobriety Tests Accurate?

This is an age old question that many pundits frequently raise within the context of arguments for and against DUI enforcement.  The answer to this question can perhaps best be found within the scientific literature that encompasses the area of drunk driving research.  In one study the researchers found that field sobriety tests are only accurate in predicting impairment relative to driving under the influence, about 70 percent of the time.  This statistic takes into account the fact that the participants in the study performed the tests under ideal conditions and they were conducted in accordance with well established federal standards pertaining to sobriety testing protocols.  Other research sheds light on many of the frailties common to the most frequently performed FST's.  At the end of the day most all that are involved in the legal community will agree that this component of drunk driving enforcement is prone to many weaknesses but it is but one factor to be utilized in the arrest and investigation of driving while intoxicated cases.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Looking For a DUI Attorney in Los Angeles? Watch Out For The Traps

For those consumers that are searching for a DUI Attorney in Los Angeles the choices that are displayed on the search engines can seem overwhelming.  What you need to understand is the difference between the organic search results and the sponsored listings that are generated by lawyers that pay to have their names posted above what google thinks are the most relevant results for the query.  For example, if your type in a search for DUI lawyer the results will display at least 3 listings that are at the very top of the screen.  These are the posts that the attorneys pay for, you must scroll down and see the listings below these sponsored results.  It is these results that are the most probative for the search.  Do not get trapped into the belief that the tops spots mean the best attorneys, the bottom line is that the top three posts are bought and paid for and are not typically the most local or the best experienced DUI attorneys that are in the area.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A DMV Hearing Attorney Gives An Overview of DMV Hearings in California

In California the DMV can suspend an individual's drivers license in a varety of ways. Perhaps the most frequent actions commenced are those related to the abuse of alcohol and/or drugs. Statistically, the most common are the Administrative Per Se (APS) suspension hearings, also referred to as DUI hearings which arise out of a drunk driving arrest. This area is discussed more fully in our DMV Information page. These hearings are conducted at Driver Safety offices located throughout the state. In Los Angeles County the hearing locations are as follows: El Segundo, Van Nuys, Downtown Los Angeles, Commerce and Inglewood. In Central CA the DMV hearings are held in Bakersfield, and in San Luis Obispo County the driver safety offices are in Oxnard, and downtown San Luis Obispo.  By statute,  DMV Hearings are very informal and do not involve a trained or elected Judge, rather they are presided over by a DMV employee known as a hearing officer. According to one Torrance DMV Lawyer, the hearing officers are not lawyers but they do have training in the proper procedures and relevant law that dictates how evidence is presented and what standard of proof is necessary to sustain a suspension of an individual's drivers license. The "dual role" of the hearing officer as both an impartial judge of the facts and as a prosecutor for the department has created the appearance of a conflict of interest, but the Courts have held this is acceptable, often to the dismay and disbelief of most lawyers that practice regularly at the DMV.

In addition to APS hearings, some examples of other types of DMV Hearings include: Negligent Operator Hearings that involve cases where a driver has too many points on their driving record; Fraud Hearings involving the misuse of a drivers license to purchase alcohol by those underage; and Medical and Skill Hearings that involve the issue of a person's ability to drive due to age improper use of drugs and various medical conditions. One DMV Hearing Attorney in Torrance relates that  DMV hearings can very often be beyond the scope of the ordinary citizen to handle and therefore the services of a skilled lawyer familiar with the rules and procedures can level the playing field and increase a persons chances of prevailing and saving their license.
The most important thing to know about DMV Hearings is that there is a time deadline to request a hearing, if that deadline expires you may not have a right to challenge the suspension at all.  If you or a loved one is facing a license suspension or pending DMV hearing, call Attorney Matthew Ruff, he has been defending clients at DMV Hearings for well over 15 years and can give you the legal advantage necessary to win the DMV Hearing. Contact him Toll Free at 1-877-213-4453 today, mention this article and recieve a free consultation.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Manhattan Beach DUI Attorney Explains the Meaning of "Bodily Injury" in Felony DUI Cases

The California Vehicle Codes makes a DUI a felony when "bodily injury" results from any unlawful act caused by the drunk driver. Vehicle Code §23153 only requires proof of “bodily injury,” not proof of “substantial bodily injury” or “great bodily injury.” said the Court in the case of People v Guzman (2000) 77 CA4th 761 where the justices held that the California statute only requires proof of “harm or hurt to the body”. Minor injuries will satisfy the statutory requirement such as abrasions, lacerations, and back and neck pain, also cuts, headache, and stiff neck were sufficient injuries that have been found to satisfy the legal requirement of injury.  The distinction is significant given the greater punishment imposed for these offenses.

However, according to a local Manhattan Beach DUI Attorney  Matthew Ruff, there must be some physical injury; merely being shaken up or frightened is insufficient, at least that is what the Court said in the case of People v Lares (1968) 261 CA2d 657, 662. When the defendant causes “great bodily injury,” the court has authority to increase the punishment by imposing a sentence enhancement under Pen C §12022.7. This enhancement makes the offense not only a felony, but a "strike". In addition, when the defendant causes “great bodily injury” and has four or more separate DUI convictions within ten years of the current conviction, the court must impose a sentence enhancement under Veh C §23566(b). Furthermore, The bodily injury must be sustained by someone other than the defendant (Veh C §23153(a), (b)), for example, the defendant may be convicted of a violation of Veh C §23153 based on injuries sustained by a passenger in the defendant’s vehicle but not for injuries sustained solely by the perpetrator of the offense.

Should you require additional information about this topic or if you or a loved one is facing a felony DUI, attorney Matthew Ruff can be reached directly at 310-527-4100 for a consultation and review of your case.