The Los Angeles DUI Law Blog

October 2012 Archives

Oxnard Mom Sentenced: 27 Years for Daughter's Death in Fatal DUI

The day began with a party. Judith Ramirez, 39, had a few beers before leaving with her daughter, son, and a family friend. She stopped on the way home at a convenience store to buy more beer. Five minutes later, she crashed. Her seventeen-year-old daughter, Victoria Castro-Ramirez, did not survive. Her 4-year-old son Jose, ended up with a broken arm, while the family friend suffered facial cuts, reports the Ventura County Star.

There are many reasons why this accident should not have happened. Setting aside personal responsibility and the responsibility to protect one's kids, signs of Ramirez's escalating alcohol issues were obvious. She was convicted of a DUI in 2004. She was arrested again for driving under the influence in 2007, though she never showed up to court. Her license was suspended at the time of the crash in 2010.

Teen Skids Over Skid Row Residents, Faces Manslaughter Charges

You never think that a couple of drinks before driving is going to land you in jail. You certainly didn't think that you'll lose control over your car and drag two homeless people over fifty feet before their lifeless bodies were pried free from the car by the Jaws of Life. Now, at age 19, you're facing decades in prison.

Carmen Elena Chavez, 19, lost control of her 1989 Mercedes-Benz after she tried to turn right at an unsafe speed, reports KTLA. Her car skipped onto a curb, hit a building, and ran over two sleeping residents of Skid Row. The car had so much momentum that it kept moving for another fifty feet. Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene.

Where Have All the Checkpoints Gone? Cops Return After Long Lull

You may have noticed that we haven't published lists of checkpoints for the last few weeks. It's not because we're slacking; the checkpoints are lacking. (Cue the instrumental.)

After an explosion of pre-published DUI checkpoints on and around Labor Day, the lists of planned DUI enforcement efforts have trickled to a stop. The last known LAPD checkpoint was on September 27, or nearly a full month ago. We reached out to the LAPD's newsroom, but have yet to hear back.

Bobby Brown's Third DUI Implicates the 'Ten Year Rule'

This week, Bobby Brown was once again arrested for driving under the influence. According to TMZ, Brown was pulled over at approximately 1:00 a.m. Wednesday after he was observed driving erratically on a Los Angeles street. He reportedly failed a field sobriety test and was taken into custody.

Assuming his blood alcohol test comes back positive, that’s two DUI arrests this year and three in his lifetime. Back in March, he was arrested for driving under the influence and later agreed to a plea bargain that avoided additional jail time. He later checked into rehab, reportedly for alcohol issues.

Woman Arrested for DUI, Fell Asleep in the Middle of the Road

There are many ways to defend a DUI case. The key in most cases is to create some doubt of guilt, or expose some weakness in the prosecution’s case, that might later impact a jury. Once a bit of doubt of a person’s intoxication or impairment is shown, a prosecutor becomes much more willing to offer a favorable plea bargain.

We wish you luck, Yohana Alvarez. Sparse details of your Burbank DUI arrest have been made public by the Contra Costa Times, but we’re pretty sure the prosecutor is not going to be in a wheelin’ and dealin’ mood, especially after you reportedly fell asleep in the middle of an intersection while there was an outstanding warrant in your name for a prior DUI. Plus, the officers are still pretty mad about your car rolling into their cruiser. They’ll probably be ready and willing to testify at your trial.

Former Chula Vista Cop Illustrates the 'Wrong Way' to Handle DUI

There are many ways to handle a DUI. One could try crying. Perhaps hell will freeze over and the officer will show you mercy.

What you should not do is rear-end someone, then try to take off, and then bribe the good Samaritans that catch you. It doesn't work. Just ask former Chula Vista officer Jesse Angel Salazar, 32. Another thing not to do, courtesy of Mr. Salazar, is to play the "no English" card and give a fake address. It means more charges.

Upcoming Supreme Court Case Could Ban Forced Blood Draws

We are constantly reminded of the notion that there are no absolutes in the law. The moment you become comfortable with a rule, it changes. Such is the nature of our constantly evolving system of laws, which is on a constant course of clarification and hopefully, improvement.

One week ago, we discussed the possibility of an officer forcing a DUI suspect to submit to a blood test. Though the rule hasn't changed in the last week, it may change in the near future.

The existing rule, per a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court decision, is that officers are privileged to restrain you and draw blood because blood-alcohol content evidence is time sensitive and the expiring nature of the evidence leaves no time for warrants and other Fourth Amendment required procedures.

Killing Someone While DUI: Manslaughter or 'Watson Murder?'

DUI deaths are unfortunately, a relatively common occurrence. When someone other than the drunk driver dies in a DUI collision, the drunk driver is typically charged with manslaughter. In rare cases however, the defendant can be charged with murder, which results in a much harsher sentence.

DUI murder, known informally in legal circles as "Watson Murder," is the result of a 1981 California Supreme Court decision that upheld Robert Lee Watson's second-degree murder conviction. He left a bar in Redding after consuming far too much alcohol. An hour and a half later, he killed two people by colliding with their Toyota in an intersection.

His blood alcohol content was 0.23 thirty minutes after the accident, and two hours after he left the bar.

'Bad News Bears' Actress Dies in DUI Accident

The speeding Audi ended up crushed between the back of a big rig and another car. By the time firefighters were able to extract the car’s two occupants, it was too late to save 20-year-old Sammi Kane Kraft, reports the Los Angeles Times. The driver sustained only moderate injuries.

Kraft played the role of Amanda Whurlitzer in 2005’s remake of Bad News Bears. Though she lacked acting experience, her ability to throw a 75 mph fastball while still in her pre-teen years landed her the part. After the film, she graduated high school and studied at San Francisco State. She formed a folk-country-rock band called Scary Girls and the night of her death, she was out networking to advance her solo career.

So I Refused to Take a Blood or Breath Test; Can They Force Me?

Earlier this week, we answered the classic question of: is there ever a situation in which it makes sense to refuse the blood or Breathalyzer test? In almost all circumstances, it’s a bad idea. It is true that a refusal means there is no scientific evidence of your guilt of drunk or drugged driving and therefore it is much more difficult to convict. However, just because you don’t voluntarily submit to a test doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.

What is the worst case refusal scenario? After you refuse, the officers can still take you to a hospital and hold you down and draw your blood. So yes, they certainly can force you to give blood for a blood alcohol test. Plus, you’ll still be facing the refusal penalties, such as the one year license suspension and sentencing enhancements that require mandatory jail time, even for a first offender.

Implied Consent: Should You Refuse a Blood or Breath Test?

A lawyer walks into a bar. Somehow, he is identified as an attorney. Inevitably, two questions are always tossed in his direction: "Is there ever a situation when it is to your advantage to refuse a blood-alcohol test?" and "Can the police force me to submit to such a test?"

We'd never advise refusing a blood or breath test, or for that matter, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, in rare circumstances, it might make sense from a strategic standpoint to withdraw implied consent. Of course, you'll have to weigh the factors while you are under the influence, which means you'll probably screw up the judgment call.

Updates: LA Councilman's Son is Charged; Archbishop Pleads Guilty

We’ve got two updates on cases that we’ve previously covered. Back in late August, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was arrested at a DUI checkpoint after consuming wine with family. He immediately confessed and apologized at a press conference, which left him with little to no defense.

It turned out to make little difference - he agreed to the same plea bargain most first time offenders agree to: three years probation and no jail time, reports Fox 5 San Diego. For truly mild cases, where the blood-alcohol content was at or near the legal limit, a wet reckless plea bargain might have been an option, but Cordilleone seems to have pled guilty to the full DUI charge, as the lesser plea only carries two years of probation.

Hulk's Ex-Wife Linda Hogan Arrested for DUI, Blames Antibiotics

Another pseudo-celebrity gets tagged and released. We typically warn you about checkpoints and DUI patrols on Fridays, but this week, there were no pre-published alerts. While DUI enforcement efforts will almost certainly be happening, you'll be flying blind this weekend.

Linda Hogan is the perfect example of how someone typically gets arrested. She was not caught at a checkpoint. It probably wasn't even a saturation patrol. She was simply pulled over for speeding, reports TMZ.

School Bus Drugged Driver Kills Pedestrian With Kids Onboard

A Ventura school bus driver is facing drugged driving and vehicular manslaughter charges after accidently killing a 75-year-old pedestrian, reports the Ventura County Star. Joanne Madaule, 54, was attempting to turn left shortly after picking up the children. She hit Marguerita McIntosh, who was crossing the street at the time.

When the CHP arrived, they arrested Madaule after noticing signs of intoxication. Drug use, rather than alcohol, is suspected. The driver's husband told Yahoo! News that his wife had recently undergone surgery on her back and that the police likely mistook the I.V. marks on her arm for illegal drug use. He expressed confidence that a drug test would clear her name. His explanation is made more plausible by the fact that bus drivers are required to submit to regular drug testing.

Drunk Driver Hits Parked Cars, Injures Toddler Passenger

Yo momma’s so dumb, she crashed into a parked car!

Well, not exactly. Let’s rephrase that. She’s so (allegedly) drunk, she crashed into a parked car. Multiple parked cars, in fact. Now she’s facing felony DUI charges. Now there’s a childhood memory.

Erica Perez was driving a Nissan Maxima while allegedly under the influence when she made incidental contact with several parked cars. At the time of the accident, she had a four-year-old passenger, whose relation to her is unknown at this time. The toddler suffered minor injuries, but has already been treated and released, reports the Orange County Register.