Sunday, September 15, 2019

Can A Search Warrant For Blood in a DUI Be Challenged?

Ever since the US Supreme Court announced that forcibly withdrawing blood from a drunk driver is illegal, police all over the State of California have been obtaining search warrants to draw blood in driving under the influence cases.  What I have seen though is many officers are not putting enough information in the warrant affidavits to satisfy the legal requirements of probable cause.  To understand what I am talking about, let’s go into what the law requires for the issuance of a search warrant.

In order for a warrant authorizing a search to be valid the officer seeking it must convince a judge that “probable cause” exists to believe the place or persons to be searched contain evidence of a crime.  Probable cause is generally defined a a “fair probability” that evidence may be found to support a crime.  Probable cause must be established with facts, not conclusions.  What many officers are doing is providing conclusionary statements in the affidavit such as the person was displaying “symptoms of intoxication” instead of articulating the actual observations to let the judge decide.

A “bare bones” affidavit contains nothing more than conclusive statements which lack the facts and circumstances from which a judge can independently determine probable cause. Most affidavits in DUI cases are pre-printed, check the box type forms and therefore officers get lazy in articulating sufficient facts.

As a general rule, a warrant that is issued on insufficient probable cause is subject to a motion to quash.  However, the District Attorney will try to save the warrant by arguing the officer acted in good faith on the judicially authorized warrant and therefore the evidence should not be suppressed.

In response to that argument Counsel should argue that good faith doesn’t apply when the facts show that no reasonable officer would have believed probable cause existed.  This is where the attorney should get into his training and establish he is taught to articulate his or her’s basis to believe probable cause existed, though facts not conclusions.

Torrance DUI Attorney Matthew Ruff has over 25 years experience fighting and winning suppression motions in drunk driving cases throughout California, including Redondo Beach, Los Angeles, Palos Verdes and Manhattan Beach CA.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Can Police Take Blood From an Unconscious DUI Suspect Without a Warrant?

Yes, according to the United States Supreme Court.  In the case of Mitchell vs. Wisconsin the Justices resolved a long standing issue as to whether law enforcement could perform a warrantless blood draw on a DUI suspect if they are unconscious and unable to give valid consent. 

 The facts of the case are not that uncommon:  Police received a report that Mitchell, who was under the influence of alcohol, climbed into a car and drove away. When found, Mitchell was wandering near a lake, stumbling and slurring his words. A preliminary field breath test revealed a BAC of 0.24% and Mitchell was arrested. On the way to the police station for a more reliable breath test, he lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital instead. His blood was drawn and reflected a BAC of 0.22%. After he was charged with drunk driving offenses, Mitchell moved to suppress the blood test results as obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The State relied on its implied consent law to justify the blood draw. The motion was denied and Mitchell's subsequent convictions were upheld in state court. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari. Held: Vacated and remanded. A blood draw is a search of the person. The Fourth Amendment guards against unreasonable searches and generally requires that a warrant first be obtained. However, the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement applies when the compelling need for official action renders a warrantless search reasonable. In drunk driving cases an exigency exists when (1) BAC evidence is dissipating and (2) some other factor creates pressing health, safety, or law enforcement needs which take priority over a warrant application. Both conditions are met when a drunk-driving suspect is unconscious because this creates a medical emergency requiring treatment and will usually involve the drawing of blood anyway. This could delay the application for a warrant which might distort the evidentiary value of a blood draw. There may be an unusual case where a defendant can show that his blood would not have been drawn if police had not been seeking BAC data, and that police could not have reasonably judged that a warrant application would interfere with other pressing duties. Because Mitchell did not have a chance to attempt to make this showing, the case was remanded for this purpose. ( Courtesy of CCAP).

This case will set the tone for state Courts in deciding whether implied consent laws allow for blood draws without a warrant under their individual state statutes.  In California the Supreme Court is currently deciding that issue in the Arredondo Case.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Boating Under the Influence DUI Attorney

Top Boating Under the Influence Attorney

In California it is illegal to operate any watercraft on navigable waters while under the influence of alcohol or drug or combination of both.  What constitutes “under the influence “?  The law defines this term as anyone who, because of alcohol or drug intoxication, is impaired to the degree that he or she can no longer operate a watercraft with the caution characteristic of a sober person under similar circumstances.  Knowing when a person reaches this level is a question that a jury ultimately must decide and can be subject to opinion and conjecture.  Matthew Ruff is an authority in the area of casting reasonable doubt on the state’s case in drunk boating prosecutions.

This area of the law is very unique and distinguishable from driving under the influence of motor vehicles.  Matthew Ruff has 25 years experience defending good people accused of crimes involving the misuse of alcohol and he is an expert in cross examination of the arresting officer on sobriety tests and all chemical tests including breath testing, blood tests, urine testing for both drugs and ethanol and preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) devices of all kinds including the Alcosensor 4 and 5.

Regardless of the type of craft, Matt can help.  Jet Ski, fishing boat, he has handled cases of all types. Matt can often go to Court for you, saving you the stress and worries of appearing before a Judge.

 If you or someone you love is facing a BUI in California, any Court, including Long Beach, Torrance, Catalina, Santa Clarita, Kern County, Los Angeles County or any other Court in the state, call Matt for a free case assessment and consultation about the ins and outs of boating under the influence defense and the law.

Matt can be reached on his cell at 310-686-1533.

Can You Beat A License Suspension on a DUI?

Torrance DUI Lawyer

In California the law requires that a drivers license be suspended for up to three years if a person is arrested for DUI and completes a chemical test that is above the legal limit or refuses to complete a test upon the request of a police officer.  The DMV requires that a person request a formal hearing to challenge the requisite suspension and prove that the Department’s evidence is insufficient to justify the action. Statewide the success rate in winning a DMV hearing is very low.  However, experienced lawyers often prevail much more frequently.
Below is a recent case where Matthew won the hearing on a zero tolerance DUI probation case because of an evidentiary issue he uncovered in the State’s paperwork.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Arrested on Catalina Island?

In search of a criminal defense attorney that can fight charges brought against you on Catalina Island?  Matthew Ruff can help.  Matt has over 25 years experience fighting all types of criminal charges in California.  Matt is a Top Rated Nationally Recognized Lawyer with unparalleled skills and local connections to ensure you get the best results in your case.  The Court in Avalon is part of the Los Angeles Superior Court System and typically only hears cases every other Friday.  If you were released on the Island and given a date to appear in the future to answer to allegations of Public Intoxication, DUI, Theft, Domestic Violence, Drug Possession or any other misdemeanor or Felony charges call Matt for a free case review and assessment of your options and legal defenses.

Catalina Island DUI on Golf Cart in Avalon

Arrested on Catalina Island?  You Need the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can appear for you and fight the charges.  As COVID restrictions ease many people are resuming travel to the island and blowing off some steam having been cooped up for a year or more.  When your vacation results in an unexpected arrest you need an advocate to defend your rights, keep your record clean and save your license.  Criminal Lawyer Matthew Ruff has defended dozens of cases on Catalina ranging from public intoxication, DWI, Drug Charges, Assault, resisting arrest, theft, fishing violations, Domestic Violence and many others.  

Every year thousands of people flock to the Island of Catalina for fun in the sun, fishing, boating and nature.  The land is part of the State of California and law enforcement is provided by the Los Angeles Sheriff.  Criminal statutes are strictly enforced and many folks are arrested and cited for various infractions, misdemeanors and felony offenses.  Matthew defends all criminal violations originating on the Island and the Surrounding Pacific Ocean.  If you have questions about the next steps, wondering if driving a golf cart while drunk is a real crime, or other concerns such as how you are going to find the time to show up in Court, Matthew can help.

During their stay on the island many visitors will rent a Golf Cart to tour the local attractions such as Descanso Beach or Chimes Tower or Avalon Canyon.  The vendors do little to verify your level of intoxication before renting the cart and you drive off for a fun ride.  Unfortunately, if an accident happens and the LASD show up they might smell alcohol on your breath and administer field sobriety tests, if you fail they will arrest you and take you to the local station for a breath or blood test.  In California if a driver is arrested for driving under the influence they are required to submit to a chemical test to determine the alcohol content of their blood, if the officer suspects drugs such as marijuana he or she can also require a urine or blood test in addition to a breath test.  If you are an out of state resident you may decide to refuse all testing, however that can present separate issues with regard to your driving privileges.

Best DUI Attorney on Catalina Island

If you were arrested for DUI in a Golf Cart in Avalon Attorney Matthew Ruff can help.  Is it illegal to drive a golf cart while under the influence?  Yes, the CA Vehicle Code defines a “vehicle” broadly as any device that is propelled by anything other than human power.  In California it is possible to be charged with drunk driving in a golfcart if you are on a public roadway or a location accessible by the public and are driving when you are a .08 or higher BAC or are under the influence of alcohol or any drug.  Fortunately Matt has 25 years experience defending good people charged with these offenses.  For example, Matt was hired recently by an out of state resident arrested for DWI in Avalon while on vacation.  The client searched online and found that Matthew was a local attorney who defended cases on the island.  She hired Matt and was able to avoid traveling back to California for the arraignment.  Matt also recently represented a client charged with Public Intoxication after he was found in someone’s backyard in Avalon extremely inebriated.  After some wrangling with the DA Matt got the case dismissed so it wouldn’t affect the client’s criminal record.

Call Top Rated Catalina Island DUI Attorney Matthew Ruff Directly at 310-686-1533

The Island of Catalina has its own Court which handles all criminal cases originating on the Island.  However, all Felony cases are transferred to Long Beach Court on the mainland.   Other charges such as Public Intoxication, assault, Domestic Violence, Fish and Game Violations including poaching and lobster offenses and drug related charges are also prosecuted by the local District Attorney in Avalon.  The Island also sees a fair number of boating under the influence cases, sometimes referred to as BUI, Matt has extensive experience fighting these cases.  The Court is part of the Los Angeles Superior Court system.

California Vehicle Code 23152 is the applicable law for driving under the influence, the crime is a misdemeanor.  If injury was involved the offense is 23153, this offense can be either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the severity of the alleged injury.  Matthew Ruff has been successful in many cases to have the charges dropped or reduced if the circumstances warrant such relief.  Most cases involve a breath test and Matt is very knowledgeable in challenging the machine used which is a Datamaster Device.

Jail in Avalon

If you were issued a citation to appear in the Catalina Court the law allows for a private attorney to appear for you, thereby saving needless travel expenses.  Matthew has handled countless cases in the Avalon Court and knows the local DA and Judge that will be Hearing your matter.

Call Catalina Island Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew Ruff Direct at 310-686-1533

Top Tier Catalina Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew Ruff has the experience defending cases in the Avalon Court before Judge Mirich and Deputy District Attorney Karen Brako.  This experience equates to a better result in your case because he knows the individual proclivities and personalities of the decision makers.  For example, in a case involving possession of drugs the lawyer will take a certain approach that has been effective in the past with that kind of case.  In a public intoxication case a distinctly different approach will be taken in order to try an get charges dismissed or dropped.  Hire the law firm that has the 25 years of experience getting results for clients charged with exactly the thing you are facing.

Matthew’s experience handling serious cases recently paid off for a client who hired him on a Felony DUI with Injury case out of Catalina.  The client was from out of state and vacationing in Avalon when an accident occurred with the golf cart, causing the ejection of the passenger on to the street.  A breath test revealed a high BAC above .20.  Matt fought the case, both at the DMV and in Court.  He got the felony charges dropped and beat the case at the DMV license suspension hearing.  If you or a loved one is facing an upcoming case, call Matt directly at 310-686-1533, in many cases he can appear in Court for you, thereby avoiding expensive travel and time off from work.

Avalon Criminal Courthouse

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Getting an SR-22 For Reinstatement of Your License

In California, before the DMV will reinstate a person’s driving privileges following a DUI the individual must file what is called an SR-22 with the Department.  An SR22 is formal proof that the person has the minimum requirements of insurance coverage required by law.  There are many ways to get the SR22, according to the experts some are better than others.

One way to get an SR22 is to simply call your current carrier and let them know you want them to file it for you.  This approach works fine for folks who were involved in an accident as part of the DUI and therefore their insurance company is already aware of the incident. However, if your insurance company is unaware of the arrest some experts believe it is imprudent to let them know because they may cancel you or increase your premium.  This leads us to another option.

There are many insurance services that exist to find an alternative route for clients to obtain an SR22 in a more affordable manner.  These companies are out there and you can conduct your own research by googling SR22 Providers on the Internet.

Here are some companies that clients have used in the past:

Tony Toscano
Your DUI Solutions 
714-530-3750 FAX 

Edgar Ruelas 
Los Angeles Sales Manager Silver Coast Insurance Services 

Cliff Jones
Fresh Start Insurance Services, Inc.
Anaheim, Calif. 92807
Office-(844) 44-FRESH (37374)
Direct- (657) 220-9317
Mobile-(310) 529-1049

Please be aware that our office does not endorse these companies and we do not receive any kind of referral fees from them.  It is best to talk with as many people in the industry to see what route works for you in your case.