Daily Archives - September 11, 2014

7 Easy Tips to Avoid a DUI

Drunk Driving Lawyer Los Angeles

As I’ve mentioned before, getting pulled over for a DUI is one of the scarier things that can happen to a person. The threat of a DUI charge can cause people to act in ways they normally wouldn’t, especially if they’ve had a bit to drink. The best way to avoid a DUI is to not do anything to get yourself pulled over in the first place. Here’s what you should be doing if you’re going out for a night cap or attending a party where there is social drinking involved.

  1. Make sure to eat something while you’re drinking. It will help slow down the intake of alcohol into your system. When you drink on an empty stomach, the alcohol is absorbed more quickly and your blood alcohol content (BAC) rises at a faster rate than if you are eating. Have some pretzels or other appetizer foods and spread out the alcohol so you don’t end up with that dreaded 0.08 percent BAC.
  2. Keep your car in good condition. Having a light out or an expired tag is enough to get you pulled over. This is especially true at night when cops can easily pull you over for a burned-out headlight or failing blinker.
  3. Follow traffic laws. While you should always follow the law, follow it even closer if you’ve had a bit to drink. Don’t forget to use your signal light when changing lanes and stick to the speed limit. You don’t want to give an officer any reason to pull you over and do a field sobriety test.
  4. Keep your driver’s license, registration, and insurance information in easy-to-access places. If you fumble around for those items, that’s going to go on the officer’s report as reasonable suspicion to do a field sobriety test.
  5. Keep informed about DUI checkpoints in the area and avoid them. If you are an L.A. local, look to Mr. Checkpoint on Twitter. Otherwise, most DUI crackdowns are required to be mentioned in a public forum, usually on a local police website or in the community paper. Know where these checkpoints are and plan a route around them.
  6. Stay focused on the task of driving. Although you may be able to hold a phone conversation and switch radio stations when you’re sober, don’t do it if you’ve been drinking. Your reaction time is slower, and you need all of your concentration on the road to avoid even small swerves.
  7. I’m not going to tell you not to drink to avoid a DUI: That one is common sense. However, having a designated driver is a good idea. If you are caught driving while impaired, it can cause all kinds of problems in your everyday life. If you get in an accident, it can be even worse because you could be responsible for ending someone else’s.

While these are all good ways to avoid a DUI, the real focus should be on driving safely and getting yourself home without an accident. If you feel like you’ve had too much to drink to drive safely, call a friend or call a cab and get a ride home.

By Ted Burgess

Marijuana and DUI: All you need to know

Los Angeles Marijuana lawyer

Personally, it seems to me that California is well on its way to legalizing marijuana like Colorado and Washington. Making it legal won’t eliminate all of the legal ramifications that come with using it, though. For instance, a marijuana DUI would be just as likely with legalization as it would be while the drug is still illegal.

The difference between a regular DUI and a marijuana-related one is in the way that the drug is measured. This makes it both easier to be arrested for and easier to fight in court. According to California Vehicle Code 23152(e) VC, the arresting officer must believe that your marijuana use has hindered your “ability to drive with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances.” Basically, the officer has to think you are unable to drive.

Here’s what needs to be proven in a court of law:

  • You were operating a motor vehicle.
  • You were under the influence of marijuana.
  • Your mental abilities were impaired to a point that it affected your decision-making process.

Let’s break this down. Operating a motor vehicle can be as simple as placing the key in the ignition. If you were in the driver’s seat and the key was in, this fulfills part one. Most DUI cases don’t hinge on this particular point, but if you were arrested before starting your vehicle, this could come into play.

The second part is where the subjective nature of a marijuana DUI comes into play. If the officer who has pulled you over suspects that you are under the influence of marijuana or any other drug, they are likely to call in a DRE (drug recognition expert) to determine if you are under the influence. This officer will look for common signs of marijuana use including dilated pupils, a fast heart rate, elevated breathing rate, the smell of marijuana, red eyes, dry mouth, and slowed reaction times. Even though the officer may be an expert, these things are hard to prove in a court of law.

If the DRE determines that you are under the influence, you will be arrested and taken in to the station to be given a blood test. If you have a medical condition that prevents a blood test, a urine test may be taken instead. Both tests have fundamental flaws that make them unreliable as a method of saying you were under the influence at the time of your arrest. They do not indicate when you used marijuana or how much was used. Also, since there are no set levels of intoxication, there is no standard for the court to base its findings on.

If you are arrested in California for a marijuana DUI, you face the following penalties:

  • Probation for three to five years
  • A minimum of 96 hours of jail time and maximum of six months
  • Fines of $390 to $1,000
  • License suspension for six months

If you have been arrested for a marijuana DUI, speaking with an attorney who specializes in this area is extremely important. A good attorney can often poke holes in a marijuana DUI case and get your life back on track like nothing happened.

By Ted Burgess