Saturday, January 30, 2016

Can Drug Withdrawal Equate To DUI?

It has long been accepted that a person who drives while impaired by a drug can be convicted of DUI.      In this recent case, however, the Court decided that a driver who is affected by the symptoms of drug withdrawal can also be impaired under the current laws in California.  As a Torrance DUI Attorney I have seen many cases where the Courts have allowed a prosecution for DWI when drugs were involved, this case stretches the limits of those laws and was likely influenced by the fact that 2 people died in the case.  Here are the facts of People vs. Jimenez:

Approximately 12 hours after he ingested methamphetamine, defendant drove his car. As defendant withdrew from the effects of the drug, he fell asleep, lost control of his car, and struck two pedestrians, killing them. A jury found him guilty of two counts of second degree murder and other offenses; it sustained allegations of prior DUI convictions. The trial court found a strike and other priors true. On appeal he claimed that "withdrawing" from the effects of methamphetamine does not constitute driving "under the influence" of the drug. The appeals court upheld the conviction. A person is under the influence of methamphetamine when, as a result of using the drug, his mental or physical abilities are impaired to a degree that he no longer has the ability to drive his car with the caution characteristic of a sober person under the same or similar circumstances. 

The Court found that Substantial evidence showed defendant smoked methamphetamine at some time before the accident and subsequently went into drug withdrawal, which resulted in defendant falling asleep at the wheel and killing two people. The prosecution did not need to prove that the defendant was in the first "excited" phase of intoxication. Defendant had three prior DUIs, had received judicial admonitions about the dangers of driving under the influence, and had attended classes in which he was warned of the dangers of drug-impaired driving. Substantial evidence supported the finding defendant drove while drug impaired with conscious disregard for life.   (Thanks CCAP).

Friday, January 15, 2016

DUI Hangover? What's Your Next Move.

For anyone facing the prospect of a looming DUI Court appearance the thoughts can be very terrifying and anxiety filled.  However, with the help of some good advice by a DUI Lawyer the future can look brighter and hopeful.

Most anyone who drives, at some point in their life they can be faced with a stop and arrest for being impaired by either alcohol or drugs or both.  In today's society the use of prescription drugs and even marijuana is prevalent and potentially illegal if mixed with the use of a motor vehicle.  Although the laws for substances other than alcohol are still in a state of flux, this doesn't stop the police from arresting anyone with the slightest appearance of over indulgence.

Here are the things you need to know right know:

  1. If the arrest took place in California you need to take immediate action to protect your driving privilege.  Chances are you were given a temp license and that states you have 30 days to drive, but that doesn't mean you can't fight the suspension. Contact a lawyer right away so a hearing can be arranged with the DMV.
  2. If the DUI involved alcohol there is an excellent chance your BAC may have been rising and therefore lower at the time of driving vs. the time you took the chemical test.  There are things you can do to increase your chances of success in Court and an attorney can spell these things out.
  3. If you have a commercial license the consequences can be exponentially worse than if you have a non comm license.  Contact a lawyer immediately so he can arrange important dates to give you a better chance of prevailing and keep your commercial license.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

What Should I Do If I Am Pulled Over For DUI?

This post is written for the benefit of those who are not currently facing a prosecution for drunk driving.  If you are looking at an upcoming Court case this article will do little to assist your defense. However, for anyone is interested in knowing the best way to interact with a police officer if you are pulled over and had been drinking earlier in the night, this article is right up your alley.  Very rarely does a lawyer give free advice on fighting a DUI but this information can help you to avoid being arrested in the first place, or if you are, significantly improve your chances of beating the case in Court.  Here is what you need to know:

1. The Red Lights in Your Mirror

You see the lights in your rear view mirror and begin to panic, don't, you should keep your cool and not show signs of nervousness.  Excessive nervousness or furtive movements will only make the situation worse. Slow down and Find a safe place to pull over, if the officer is directing you over a loud speaker, follow those directions.  Once you are stopped begin to collect your essential documents ( proof of insurance, license and registration) so that you have them ready and do not have to fumble with them while the officer is hovering over you.  Caution:  if your documents are not readily available do not panic.  The last thing you want to do is begin moving about the vehicle looking as though you may be trying to hide something or reach for a weapon.  Some believe it is best to not make any movements while the officer is approaching for fear that the cop may believe you are reaching for a weapon.

2. Initial Face to Face Contact

Once the officer is at your window this is where your actions can determine if the contact escalates into a full blown DUI investigation or you are simply warned, written a ticket and sent on your way.  Law enforcement is trained to look for "cues" to indicate a person is impaired by alcohol or drugs.  This observation begins when they immediately see you and lasts throughout the contact.  Cues can includes seemingly innocuous behavior but when viewed in the totality of the circumstances can become quite incriminating in a Court of law.