Sunday, February 27, 2011

California Appellate Court Delivers a Blow to Margin of Error Arguments in DUI Breath Cases

In the case of Borger vs DMV, the Court last week ruled that a statute (in this case VC 13353.2) says that you can't drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more. Here, where a breath test says that your number is .08 or above, that creates a rebuttable presumption that you've violated the law.  The driver in this case got  stopped by the police and blew .08 on an intoxilyzer 5000. An expert toxicologist testified  that the particular test used here has a range of .02; in other words, that someone who blows a .08 might actually have a .06 (or .10). The trial court gave credibility to the expert's testimony and, on that basis, concludes that there's insufficient evidence that the guy actually drove with .08 or more.  The Court of Appeal  however reverses. It holds that since the regulations allow the particular testing device used here, to hold otherwise would conflict with this approval and require everyone to essentially blow a .10 percent rather than a .08 percent.  The lesson learned from this case is that there needs to be more evidence presented than just a mere blanket assertion that the machine has a margin of error, this might be some specific evidence of error from the lab, specific studies related to the device, usage logs and other documents obtained through discovery, just to name a few.

Can a Rental Car Company Refuse to Rent a Car to Someone with a DUI?

Here is the scenario:  You were arrested, but not convicted of a DUI in California, you were given a temporary pink license or a paper that says you can drive.  The question is can I rent a car without any difficulty?  The answer to this question depends on two primary factors 1) Does the person have a valid license at the time of the request to rent, and 2) Does the person appear to be free from any present signs of impairment or signs of physical or mental incompetence?  If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then the rental company is not prevented by law to rent the licensee a vehicle, according to Matthew Ruff, a prominent DUI Attorney in California.  The California Appellate Court held in Flores vs. Enterprise Rent a Car, that a rental car company cannot be held liable for renting a car to someone with a pending DUI or prior DUI convictions.  As long as they have a valid license at the time and are not impaired they are legally able to rent a vehicle to the person. 

What about renting a car with the "temporary license" issued following a DUI arrest?  A temporary is as good as any other type of drivers license, use it in conjunction with a photo I.D. and there should be no problem.  The bottom line is that the Vehicle Code does not require the Rental Car Company to do anything more than verify that the prospective driver has a valid license and is not showing signs of being under the influence at the time. Prior DUI convictions or a pending DUI case are not per se a reason to decline a rental.  In many instances, the rent a car company will confirm the validity of the applicant's license with the DMV prior to releasing the car. Therefore, the "pink piece of paper" issued as a license after a DUI arrest should and indeed must suffice as a valid license to rent a car.

Some experts suggest the person get enrolled in the rental car companies preferred driving program.  This allows you to bypass the lines and desks that require you to show a license prior to picking up a car.  Also, get a California ID card that looks very similar to a license and can be used in conjunction with the paper temporary.  The process of getting a CA ID card is simple.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Breath Machines Are Not Always Right

The breath machine has come to be known as the DUI test in virtually all drunk driving arrests.  It has grown to a status that many cops believe to be infallible, but are they always reliable?  Many say no.  The science relating to the breath testing devices has its critics.  The importance of checking the maintenance history and accuracy checks of the particular breath machine is crucial.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I was arrested for DUI in Manhattan Beach, why does the police report say El Segundo?

No where is DUI enforcement as strong as in the South Bay of Los Angeles County.  Among the predominant police agencies involved in this enforcement is the El Segundo police department, not surprisingly then it is common for these drunk driving patrols to encroach and sometimes even go into neighboring cities.  Such is the case with these two law enforcement agencies according to one Manhattan Beach DUI Attorney who handles upwards of 100 cases a year in the area.  The two police forces will work together in many investigations since the towns neighbor one another.

Another reason why you will often see the two departments names on each others arrest reports is because they both participate in what is called the "South Bay DUI Task Force" which is an inter agency unit that is tasked with one job: to catch drunk drivers.  Indeed, when the task force is in full swing, it is not unusual to see cops from both forces driving around with each other says a El Segundo DUI Attorney .  The law does allow for one cop to cross over into  a different city to make an arrest for DUI, that is well settled says the lawyer.  The fact is it is impossible to not cross over sometimes when there may be 5 cities in a 10 mile radius.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hermosa Beach, Is it Time For DUI Diversion

The DUI case load in the South Bay Court, particularly Hermosa Beach is enormous.  Perhaps it is time for the Courts to consider a diversion program for driving under the influence cases. Diversion is a way for a criminal defendant to obtain a dismissal of a case following intensive counseling and rehabilitation.  It is an option only for first time offenders.  The benefit for the Court system and society is that the case is taken out of the system, thereby leaving more room for more serious offenses and recidivists according to one Hermosa Beach DUI Attorney  that defends many drunk driving criminal matters in the local court.   Many critics argue that this type of resolution does not set enough of an example to those contemplating committiong a similar crime.  However, the extensive punishment component would be enough to deter future offenders many believe.  The prosecutors and Judges will need to take all arguments into account before implimenting this program.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Redondo Beach Announces Plans to Conduct a DUI Sobriety/License Checkpoint

The Redondo Beach Police Department has released plans to operate a DUI and drivers license checkpoint at an undisclosed location tonight and into tomorrow morning.  A local newspaper has reported that RBPD police records show that in the past three years drunk drivers  have caused 84 injury crashes in Redondo Beach, resulting in over 100 critical injuries.  Money for the sobriety roadblock is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says the Daily Breeze.  The paper has posed the following question:  Do The Police Have to Notify the Public in Advance of there intention to conduct a checkpoint?    The paper correctly stated that there is no longer a legal requirement to do so, however, one Redondo Beach DUI Attorney points out that there are a litany of other constitutuional mandates that render the DUI checkpoints constitutionally permissible.   The California Supreme Court has affirmed many of the other previously handed down criteria such as a plan created by supervisory police personnel, rather than the officers in the police officers in the field. In 1993, the court ruled that police were no longer required to provide advance notice when scheduling sobriety checkpoints. Legal scholars have opined that the current framework for analyzing these roadblocks may be flawed and future Court cases will likely be necessary to effectively promulgate a more precise set of rules for law enforcement to follow .

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Actress Pressly Speaks Out About Her DUI Arrest

Television star and female hearthrob Jaime Pressly has finally given a press release for possibly the first time about her recent legal woes, maintaining that the criminal arrest for DUI and marital problems are completely not related to each other.  The Joe Dirt TV star entered a  plea of not guilty to charges of drunk driving stemming from an arrest last month near the beach.  According to a Santa Monica DUI Attorney , the maximum jail time she faces is time served, though the law does allow for up to 6 months.  She was taken into custody by police in Santa Monica, California last month after failing  to complete a field sobriety test. Her car had initially been pulled over for an infraction. Pressly, who was reportedly almost three times over the legal blood alcohol limit, was released on $15,000  bail and subsequently charged with two counts of driving under the influence. She entered her plea during a court hearing at a Los Angeles County courtroom in LAX Court, Division 147.

Meanwhile, Pressly reportedly owes over a half million dollars in unpaid taxes. She is also in the middle of divorcing prominent Hollywood Attorney Simran Singh. But she's upset that people are linking her marriage to her other problems - and she wants to protect her three-year-old son from the lies. She tells U.S. TV news show Extra, "People are thinking my divorce is happening because of the drunk driving situation. Truth is, these are all isolated incidents." She's also upset about remarks that have been made in the media about her parental skills in the wake of her current issues, stating, She better be careful, many of these incidents are often followed by a crime of domestic violence, from the perspective of a Santa Monica Criminal Attorney, "(These are) ridiculously unkind and untrue (allegations). I don't ever want my son to grow up and read all these false statements. "(My husband and I) fell in love quickly. We got married very quickly. It didn't work out the way we wanted to. There's nothing more to it."  Good luck in the Courts.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Are New Portable Breath Tests Reliable?

Earlier this year one of the largest manufacturers of breath testing devices in DUI cases announced they were introducing a new portable screener to the market, the ASV.  The company released data that the device is reliable to less than .005%, however many DUI defense attorneys are skeptical.  The science just does not support that level of accuracy says one Beverly Hills DUI Lawyer .  Though there are very few studies to look at in the area of portable breath machines, the commonly accepted error rate is .01 to .015, no where near the levels the manufacturer touts.  With this new technology will no doubt come a number of challenges.