The Los Angeles DUI Law Blog

August 2012 Archives

Norwalk Checkpoint Results; This Weekend's Riverside, I.E. Checkpoints

Everything went according to plan at last weekend’s DUI Checkpoint in Norwalk, reports the Los Cerritos News. Drunk and drugged drivers were arrested, unlicensed drivers were ticketed, and cars were impounded and towed.

In other words, the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is working, right?

Bishop Cordileone's DUI; Los Angeles Labor Day Weekend Checkpoints

Bishop Salvatore Cordileone did something about five hundred Los Angelinos did last weekend: he got arrested for driving under the influence. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Cordileone was caught at a DUI checkpoint in San Diego. Officers determined that he showed signs of intoxication and placed him under arrest.

On Monday, he stated that he “was found to be over the California legal blood alcohol level.” He also stated:

Assemblyman Roger Hernandez Not Guilty ... Kinda

In the vast majority of drunk driving prosecutions, the defendant is charged with two distinct yet alternate crimes: driving while under the influence of any alcohol or drug and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more. One cannot be convicted of both, as the two crimes punish the same conduct.

The two charges allow the prosecutor to alternatively argue that the driver was dangerously impaired for the first charge and an illegally high blood alcohol content on the latter charge. The flexibility from the dual-charge arrangement allows for drugged driving convictions or convictions where a BAC reading was unavailable due to a testing error or refusal.

'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' Claims 550; Upcoming Checkpoints

Whew. We haven't seen these kinds of numbers since ... last month or so. Granted, that was the Fourth of July weekend. This is the annual end-of-summer crackdown. From Friday through late Sunday, over 100 deployments by local law enforcement agencies resulted in 550 DUI arrests, reports the Press-Telegram. Last year, they tagged 663 in the same period.

That's a lot of drunk drivers not taking our advice. Yep, we're like a nagging mother.

25 Years Later: Ingersoll v. Palmer's Checkpoint Guidelines

In the landmark case Ingersoll v. Palmer, the California Supreme Court carved out an exemption to the "search and seizure" rule that would pave the way for twenty-five years of DUI checkpoints.

We felt it would be appropriate, at the quarter-century mark, to review the case and remind the public of the holdings.

Shocking News: Hammered Drivers Kill More Than Tipsy Drivers

It’s that time of year again. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration annually promotes a crackdown on drunk driving in the weeks leading up to Labor Day. In the coming weeks, expect a lot more DUI checkpoints and fleets of officers on patrol during prime drinking hours. With school back in session soon, this is prime time for college kids to get that “one last party” in before hitting the books.

As part of a press conference commemorating the crackdown, cleverly coined, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” the NHTSA released a statistical study on drunk drivers, reports the Washington Post. The study analyzed alcohol-related traffic fatalities and broke the numbers down to the driver’s age, gender, and of course, blood alcohol content.

Follow-ups: Porn Star, Iron Chef Highlight Impact of High BAC

Two celebrity cases that we've been following recently were resolved in guilty pleas this week. Both Jenna Jameson, who wrapped herself around a pole, and Cat Cora, who rear-ended another driver, agreed to deals that, despite their first-time offender statuses, are far from the usual "slap on the wrist" that first-timers with borderline blood alcohol readings would have received.

Porn legend Jenna Jameson's BAC reading, according to TMZ, was 0.13. Objectively, that was not a particularly high reading. However, she also had traces of Ambien, a sleeping pill, and Suboxone, which is a medicine used to break prescription pain pill addicts from their bad habit. The Suboxone shouldn't have had any effect on her driving, but a sleeping pill obviously would. One can be charged with a DUI on the basis of Ambien, even if it was legally prescribed.

Joe Simpson Arrested at a Checkpoint; This Weekend's Checkpoints

A lot has been written about Joe Simpson's DUI in recent days. According to the Los Angeles Times, he was arrested at a checkpoint back on August 4th for driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.12. Assuming the BAC test holds up, he'll probably end up with the usual result for a first time offender: no jail time, probation, a fine, and an alcohol education class.

It's a rather unremarkable case, except it does serve as a reminder of one thing we like to harp upon: DUI CHECKPOINTS!

Diets, Diabetes Can Cause False Positives for Breathalyzers

Well this is interesting. And complicated. Mostly, just complicated.

For years, the primary method of determining whether someone was under the influence while driving (besides ye ol' Sniffe the Breath Test) was to have them submit to a Breathalyzer test. In fact, most states' implied consent laws, California included, specifically require a driver to submit to either the breath test or an alternative upon demand from a law enforcement officer.

However, it seems more and more that the time-honored Breathalyzer test is less and less accurate. There are already issues when machines aren't calibrated on a regular basis. They also have a greater margin of error than a blood test. Officers are supposed to wait 15 minutes before administering it because the presence of mouth alcohol (due to a recent drink, mouthwash, or vomit) can create false positives. Now, there's even more reason to doubt the machines.

Chain Reaction Wreck on 60 West Leaves One in Jail, Two Dead

Salvador Tamayo, 39, probably saw the whole thing. A 2008 Honda Civic, travelling ahead of him, clipped a big rig, spun out, hit the center divider, and ended up facing sideways in the fast line. The disabled Civic's right side was facing oncoming traffic, and more specifically, Tamayo's 2003 Ford F-250, reports the Pasadena Star News.

The speed of Tamayo's pickup truck pushed the Civic 200 feet before the cars came to a rest. The truck ended up on top of the sedan. The two occupants of the sedan, Jorge A. Perez, 34, and Beatriz Castillo, 31, were pronounced dead on the scene. Tamayo only suffered minor injuries.

Rick Springfield Takes Plea Deal; Weekend Checkpoints

Dr. Noah Drake ... pardon ... Rick Springfield finally ended the legal turmoil resulting from his May 2011 drunk driving arrest this week by agreeing to a plea deal, reports the Los Angeles Times. There's nothing altogether special about the deal. It seems to be the standard wet reckless plea that many borderline first time offenders get.

Media outlets, including the Times, are reporting the deal to be a plea to reckless driving. They do not specify if it is the lesser ordinary reckless driving charge (which would scream celebrity favoritism) or the more severe alcohol-related reckless charge.

Field Sobriety Tests: Do I Have To? Should I?

Some of you have already been lucky enough to be harassed at a constitutionally-questionable DUI checkpoint. Others have seen field sobriety testing happen on COPS. Most of you at least have a general idea of what the FST tests are about, though you still probably have some questions.

You have questions? We have answers:

Don't Rely On Newspaper Columnists For DUI and Job Advice

A concerned parent recently wrote to the Sacramento Bee about her son's lack of luck with finding a job. It turns out her son has a prior DUI conviction. He lost his previous job for not disclosing the DUI when it happened. For three years since, he's been seeking employment.

What was the newspaper columnist's advice? It started with this:

Your son should stay away from jobs that require being trusted with substantial finances/capital/resources such as banking, insurance, and driving. The best jobs would be in general labor such as warehouse work, office-related jobs and some construction jobs as long as he has a valid driver's license.

San Bernardino Sheriff Hopeful Paul Shrader Opposes Checkpoints

A complete unknown who garnered 21.51 percent of the vote in the 2010 San Bernardino Sheriff's election is back on the campaign trails. Paul Schrader ran as a "constitutional sheriff," and despite his relative obscurity prior to the election, managed to snag 38,551 votes.

Who knew San Bernardino even had 38,000 people?

As part of his second go-round, Schrader agreed to answer questions posed by the Inland Empire Examiner. Normally, we don't focus on IE politics, but the question in this issue involved an issue near and dear to our heart: DUI checkpoints.

Overserving To Blame for Deadly DUI? The Weekend's Checkpoints

An Instagram-captured photo of four drinking friends has brought the spotlight on a local bar in the inevitable race to blame someone for the DUI crash that killed two San Gabriel residents earlier this week. According to the Los Angeles Times, the geotagged photo showed the four friends drinking at the Villains Tavern shortly before the Rav4 nosedived off of a bridge.

State law prohibits bartenders from continuing to serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated patrons. The driver, 22-year-old Christine Meng, allegedly had a 0.11 blood alcohol content at the time of the crash. She is facing felony DUI and manslaughter charges. If the state's Alcohol Beverage Control board finds violations, the bar could have their liquor license suspended (PDF).

Pocket Breathalyzers: Party Trick or DUI Prophylactic?

Have you ever seen one of those pocket breathalyzers? They are fun little devices. You drink, then you blow. You drink some more, then you blow again. If accurate, they can provide you with an estimate of your blood alcohol content so that you'll know whether or not you'd be violating the law by driving home.

Unfortunately, while they are great in theory, they pose two major problems: they usually aren't accurate and they measure your BAC at the time you blow, not at the time you are arrested.