Monthly Archives - August 2014

DUI: Not Just for Motor Vehicles

DUI lawyer

You might think you’ll outsmart the police the next time you go out drinking by riding your ten-speed instead of driving your car. Well, here’s some news that’s going to put the kibosh on that idea quick. You can still get a DUI when riding your bike. In fact, you can get a DUI while operating anything that the law considers a vehicle. In California, that could be a bicycle, a tricycle, a unicycle, or even a horse! That’s right: There was a recent case in San Francisco that involved a man being charged with DUI after he mounted a horse and rode it a few blocks. He was also charged with animal cruelty and a laundry list of other infractions that stemmed from his actions while under the influence.

In California, there is a special law specifically for cycling under the influence (CUI), Cal. Veh. Code § 21200.5: “Notwithstanding Section 21200, it is unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug. Any person arrested for a violation of this section may request to have a chemical test made of the person’s blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic or drug content of that person’s blood pursuant to Section 23612, and, if so requested, the arresting officer shall have the test performed. A conviction of a violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars ($250). Violations of this section are subject to Section 13202.5.”

As mentioned before, this statute is applicable to all non-motorized vehicles and livestock. If you can ride it, the cycling law can be applied to it.

There are no specific limits in regard to blood alcohol content (BAC) level when it comes to a CUI. It is left completely to the discretion of the arresting officer. However, there are some protocols that must be adhered to for the CUI arrest to be deemed valid. These include watching you for an adequate amount of time before determining that you are indeed under the influence. Fifteen minutes is a standard that has been used in the court system in cases such as this. Since very few officers will observe a single subject for this length of time, it can be argued that there was not sufficient probable cause to pull over the cyclist. Of course, if you managed to crash your bike during that time, this 15-minute guide would not be applicable.

If you are apprehended for CUI, you can request that a BAC test be performed. This could be a very important piece of evidence for you to have should you wish to fight the infraction. This is another place where there are strict procedural guidelines outlined in Title 17. If any of the outlined procedures are not met, the blood alcohol test can be deemed inaccurate and the results removed from evidence.

If you or a loved one has been charged with CUI, document the incident in as much detail as you can remember and call an attorney right away. Because the arrest is discretionary, there is a good chance that a proficient lawyer can help.

By Ted Burgess

Steps to Take when Pulled over for DUI

DUI checkpoint Los Angeles

I know that some of my posts are sensationalist and focus on things that are fun to read, but this one is different. This time, I am talking about drinking and driving, more importantly what happens when you get pulled over for suspected drinking and driving. A DUI is a very serious offense, and unfortunately, it is a very discretionary process. In fact, California law has two different charges for DUI. The first is completely discretionary, and blood alcohol content (BAC) isn’t even a major factor: If the officer feels you were driving erratically, any alcohol in your blood will lead to a driving under the influence charge. The second possible charge is for a BAC of more than 0.08% as measured by a breath or blood chemical test. In most cases where the BAC is measured above 0.08%, both charges are considered.

Here’s what you should do if you are pulled over for a suspected DUI.

When you are pulled over, you are in a state of detention. You are not technically in custody, but you are also not free to go. Because you are not in custody, the officer does not have to inform you of your Miranda rights. But just because you are not told of these rights doesn’t mean you don’t have them. According to California law, you are only required to provide your driver’s license, car registration, and proof of insurance. This doesn’t mean you should sit there silently and ignore an officer’s questions: Instead, you should politely inform the officer that you are declining to answer due to your Fifth Amendment rights.

The officer will probably tell you to step out of the car and take a field sobriety test. This is also not required by law, and you should refuse based on the grounds that the test is unreliable and subjective. It is important that you say all of this out loud because most California officers carry recording devices. These recordings can be used later in a court of law as part of your defense should you be arrested. You may also be asked to take a field breath test. Again, this is not required by law. As long as you are over 21 and not currently on probation for a previous DUI, you do not have to take this test. Again, make sure you state that you do not believe this is required by law and that the test is unreliable.

At this point, the officer can either take you into custody or let you go on your way. If you are taken into custody, you will be read your Miranda rights and taken to the police station, where you will be required to take a breath test or submit to a blood test. This test is required by law: Do not refuse it. If you do refuse, you will automatically have your license suspended for a year and the police will force the blood test on you anyway. If you are given the choice, the breath test is easier to discredit at a trial due to its accuracy issues, but a blood test can be retained to be retested at a later date.

If your chemical test comes back at 0.08% or higher, the officer will take away your driver’s license and give you a pink slip that is a temporary license. You’ll also receive a paper that states that your license will be automatically suspended for four months in 30 days. You will have 10 days to schedule a hearing to contest this suspension. This is a strict window, and you must make sure to request a hearing in that period.

Once you are released from the police station, immediately write down everything you can about the events of the day, including what you did before you were pulled over, the conversation you had with the arresting officer, and anything that happened at the station. This record will be invaluable to your attorney when putting together your defense.

Fighting a DUI is a serious matter, and you’ll need an attorney that specializes in DUI litigation for the best defense possible. Don’t try to fight the system on your own. There is simply too much at stake.

By Ted Burgess

10 Things Lawyers are Shocked they never learned in Law School

DUI lawyers Los Angeles California

Interestingly, even though you learned all about the law in law school, there was one major area of your education that was lacking: business management. Law has been taught the same way for so long that it has gotten stuck in a rut and has forgotten to keep up with the needs of the times. Hundreds of years ago, lawyers weren’t nearly as prevalent as they are today. If you had a degree in law, you had clients because there were no other options. Today, that’s not the case. That’s why several new lawyers are shocked that they never learned these 10 essential things that all lawyers need to understand.


Accounting skills are essential for a new lawyer just starting out. Getting paid, getting your bills out, and tracking your invoices aren’t exactly glamorous, but they are essential to keeping your practice running. You’ll have to have a rudimentary knowledge of these things to stay in business.

Ethical Billing

What should you be charging your clients, and how should you be tracking it? With all of the classes in law school, it’s amazing that billing doesn’t come up. The clear thing here is that you bill for what you actually do. Detail all of your bills with exactly what you are charging for and the amount for each item. Try to bill in half-hour to one-hour blocks. Larger blocks can be harder to justify and detail. Also, always bill in simple language. Your clients aren’t lawyers and won’t understand overly technical bills.

Employee Management

You won’t be running a law office alone. You’ll need paralegals, a secretary, a billing department, and so on. Lawyers need to learn how to create a positive working environment for their employees. Be appreciative, check in with your employees on occasion, create a pleasant atmosphere in which to work, and whenever possible, treat them as equals. Remember, as a lawyer, you are only as good as your support staff allows you to be.


Hopefully, you learned a bit about networking while pulling all-nighters, but there is a lot more to networking than sharing lattes and pizza with potential colleagues. Learning to effectively use social networks is invaluable, but the real breadwinner knows how to close the deal with face-to-face meetings.


Just because you are licensed to practice law doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know about the job. Having a mentor gives you a huge advantage because they will have already been through many of the growing pains that you’ll experience. Often, you can find a lifelong mentor in a nearby city or at your college.

Client Communication

Your clients don’t speak legalese. If you can’t explain things in a language your clients understand, you’ll have a very short career. Make sure everyone in your office is personable and knows how to treat clients like the human beings they are. Be honest and up-front, and if you have to deliver bad news, do it as a human, not as a lawyer.

Choosing Technology

Make sure you have up-to-date tablets, laptops, and smartphones for all of your employees. The world is starting to go tech-crazy, and you’ll need to keep up. There is plenty of proprietary software out there to choose from to help you run your business. Go online and check out some of the savviest lawyers in the social media world and ask them exactly what they recommend you use.

Cost-Effective Office Management

Running a lean office will allow you to stay in business even when your client stable is dwindling. Consider eliminating as much paper from your office as possible. Digital technology has made shuffling stacks of paper a thing of the past. The best way to do this is to adopt a cloud computing mentality to help reduce the soft costs of running your business.


Law is one of the most competitive fields in the world. It is a shame that more schools aren’t teaching lawyers how to market their practices. Learning about traditional television and print marketing is important, but online marketing is really taking off. Your best bet is to find a marketing company to help. Marketing is a rabbit hole that runs deep and could potentially suck up time you should be spending with your clients.

Cultivating Referrals

When you first start out, your client list is small. School has failed to ready you for this client drought. Build up your stable by checking with old friends either by phone or through an old-fashioned paper-and-ink letter. Create a tickler file that you can use to check in on potential clients. Do a client review in which you contact old clients to see what their current needs are or if they know anyone who needs your services.

Now that you have an idea of what you need to get your legal practice up and running, get out there and start doing it!

By Ted Burgess

10 of the Worst Celebrity Mugshots

Being arrested can certainly do damage to a celebrity’s public image, making us think of them as possible law-breakers and look down on their behavior. But sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The difference between how a famous person looks on the red carpet and how they look at their absolute worst, when they’ve been dragged into a police station for booking, can be shocking (and sometimes a bit amusing as well). Let’s take a look at some of the most unflattering celebrity mugshots out there:

1. Nick Nolte








The undisputed king of terrible celebrity mugshots is the often-parodied Nick Nolte pic from 2002. Is it the crazy hair? The dazed look? The Hawaiian shirt? Personally, I think it’s the total package. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a look like this as a Halloween costume!

2. James Brown







The Godfather of Soul is also the godfather of drunk mug shots. While not as outlandish as Nolte, the hair and unshorn face here are just enough to make this the best musician mugshot of all time, though only barely.

3. Randy Travis








If they did full-body mugshots, Randy Travis would have beaten out James Brown. His naked romp that ended in a single vehicle accident led to one of the best country music stories of 2012. This bloody mugshot is one of those that will be remembered “forever and ever, amen.”

4. Yasmine Bleeth









The former “Baywatch” babe looked more like the poster girl for “Cops” in her September 2001 mugshot. Her story was quickly buried by the events of September 11th, but recently, the media has rediscovered it. Then-and-now stories are always better with a great mugshot, don’t you think?

5. Wynonna Judd








It’s no surprise that there are multiple country music stars on the bad mugshot list. After all, country music does have a lot of drinking in it. Judd knows all about it from experience. When she was booked for DUI in 2003, her blood alcohol content was 0.175 percent, more than twice the legal limit.

6. Rip Torn










Was Rip Torn drunk? Well, he refused a breath test, and he looked like this. I’d say it’s a pretty sure thing that the glazed-over eyes and the fact that he hit a semi-tractor with his car were two strikes against him right away. But hey, maybe it wasn’t such a bad deal for him. Rip did get a stint on “30 Rock” the very next year!

7. Gary Coleman






Was Gary Coleman the devil? This mugshot is pretty good evidence. Although he may have been doing an early audition for a darker version of Yoda in the next “Star Wars” trilogy instead. All in all, this is one of the scariest celebrity mugshots of all time.

8. Mike Tyson











Yeah, that’s Iron Mike. He had several mugshots to choose from, but this one from 2006 was by far the best. On this night, he nearly struck a police cruiser and was found to be both under the influence and in possession of two baggies of cocaine.

9. Michael Madsen










It’s no surprise that Michael Madsen made this list. After all, if you get arrested on a yearly basis, you’re bound to have a bad mugshot in the bunch. This one came with a breathalyzer of 0.20 percent, more than twice the legal limit.

10. Charlie Sheen
















Would any mugshot list be complete without Charlie Sheen? His antics are widely known to both his friends and the media. This shot from 2009 shows Sheen looking a bit upset with his arrest for domestic abuse. Well, at least he still had “Two and a Half Men” … oh yeah, I forgot how that worked out.

By Ted Burgess