First Time DUI – Virtually everyone has done it at some point. You have briefly rationalized that you have “only” had two beers or that it is late at night and there are “never” police officers on your drive home anyway. It is a terrible mistake and error in judgment, but it happens to thousands of Californians each year. Attorney Robert S. Kahn understands that DUI charges happen and defends clients in the greater Los Angeles area against drunk driving charges to help them move on with their lives.
Your First DUI
If you have never been convicted of a criminal offense or a drunk driving charge, the repercussions for a first-time offender range from relatively minor to severe, depending on the circumstances. Things that may affect the charges filed against you and the charges you are eventually convicted of include:
- Whether you have a DUI on your record
- What your blood alcohol content was at the time of your arrest
- Why you were pulled over initially
- Whether you cooperated with the arresting officer(s)
- Whether there was a minor in the vehicle with you
- Whether you injured other parties or property
Most often, a first-time offender will be charged with a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors can carry jail time and significant fines in California, but an experienced criminal defense attorney will advocate for a lesser sentence as well as the possibility of participation in diversion programs, drug/alcohol classes, or probation. Successful completion of many of these programs may lead to the charges being dismissed and not placed upon your record.
Subsequent DUIs in California
Subsequent offenses, unsurprisingly, do not allow for some of the leniency that first-time offenses may permit. California law charges subsequent offenses very seriously, especially when death or serious injury occur as a result of the drunk driving. Subsequent offenses almost certainly involve jail time, increased driving restrictions and license suspension/revocation periods, as well as felony charges that may impact your ability to drive again, find housing, or find employment.
Defenses to DUI Charges
Although many people think DUI charges are relatively easy for the prosecutors to prove (after all, you probably took a breathalyzer test, right?), there are many procedural and substantive issues that can arise to a criminal defendant’s benefit. There are strict procedures and protocols arresting officers, booking officers, and prosecutors must follow when dealing with an alleged offender; if even one of these rules was not followed, you may be entitled to a dismissal of charges. You have certain rights, and the government has certain responsibilities, that a criminal defense attorney can help protect and enforce.
Los Angeles, California DUI Defense Attorney
Regardless of whether this is your first drunk driving offense, it is important to understand the severity of the charges filed against you and the impact these charges may have on your future. In order to ensure that your legal rights are protected from the time you are arrested all the way through trial, contact the McElfish Law Group as soon as possible after your arrest. Attorney Robert S. Kahn has knowledge of the criminal court system in the greater Los Angeles area and will work hard to ensure the best possible outcome.
Consequences of Selling Alcohol to Minors
Selling Alcohol to Minors? The bane of many a bar owner and restaurateur, obtaining a state liquor license can be one of the hardest things your business ever has to do. But even worse is losing your license for selling alcohol to a minor, after spending months and tens of thousands of dollars to obtain one.
Do I Automatically Lose My Liquor License for Selling Alcohol to a Minor?
No, things are not quite that cut and dry. There are various factors that go into deciding exactly who is punished, and to what degree, if a minor is served alcohol. First of all, although all states do have a 21-year-old minimum for buying and drinking alcohol, it is not a federal law. This means that each state is free to create its own laws, punishments, and agencies. California, for instance, has the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), which is responsible for drafting and enforcing the provisions of the liquor license.
Each state’s agency will have specific enforcement provisions about the punishments for violating a liquor license. In general, the agency is free to revoke a license for ANY offense, even a first one, but in practice, they will usually give first-time offenders a fine, warning, and/or a suspension of the license (usually a week or so). However, if the offense is particularly blatant, the license may be revoked. Also, if you are cited for selling to a minor again within a year of your first citation, many boards automatically revoke your license (some states allow 3 times in one year).
Upon receiving a citation, you can request an administrative hearing to present your side of the story and any mitigating factors you might have or can agree to the punishment and submit.
If your license is revoked, you generally must wait at least six months before applying for another, a process which will be made even more difficult and costly due to the revocation of your record.
If You Sell Alcohol to a Minor, What Is the Fine?
Aside from violating your license, selling to a minor is also a crime. If you are caught selling alcohol to a minor, then there are two sets of penalties given: one to your clerk (who actually made the sale), and one to you, the license holder (the underage minor can also be charged, of course).
- Licensee – Generally, selling to a minor is considered a class-2 misdemeanor in most states, which means it only carries a 30-day maximum sentence and a small fine (incarceration is unlikely). However, if the minor is under 18 years of age, then it usually increased to a class-1 misdemeanor, which is a full year in jail and a $1,000 fine. In addition, civil penalties will be awarded against the licensee for the vicarious liability of the clerk, starting from $500 and doubling for each offense (if the clerk has not attended any state-mandated training courses, these fines may double). Also, if the licensee himself sells alcohol to a minor, many states will automatically revoke the license.
- Clerk – The clerk who actually sells the alcohol is liable for all the same penalties as the licensee (that is, he can be arrested for a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor, depending on the age of the minor). The state also imposes other punitive sanctions, like suspending the clerk’s driver’s license for 30 days to a year.
Bear in mind that the range amounts for each fine may be different in each state or jurisdiction. Generally speaking, most jurisdictions will follow similar fine amounts for selling alcohol to a minor.
What If the Minor Used a Fake ID?
In most states, a licensee is only held liable for selling to a minor without asking for any ID. If ID is asked for, and a fake ID indicating the minor is actually 21 is shown, then in almost all cases, no charges will be filed from either the police or from the alcohol control board. The one caveat is that the ID must appear to be reasonably realistic: if it says the minor is 100 years old or is of a different sex or completely different appearance, then you will likely be held liable. But with the prevalence of extremely accurate looking forgeries on the black market, rarely will a bar or liquor store be held liable for accepting a fake ID. The same applies to actual IDs that don’t belong to the minor (i.e. if he uses his older brother’s real driver’s license).
The vast majority of police stings are designed to catch vendors who sell to minors without carding or card them (and get real IDs that say they are minors) and then sell them anyway. So it is very important that your clerks actually do check the ages of any IDs presented. A scanning device to confirm the IDs authenticity (available for little cost), will also go a long way in protecting you from liability, even though many forgeries are now so advanced as to pass this test too.
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you have been cited for selling to a minor, or have even lost your liquor license, you should consult an experienced business attorney immediately. A good lawyer can help speed up the process of getting a new license or help you during an administrative hearing with an alcohol board. If you’ve been arrested, then you should get a criminal attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Establishing your own business is an exhilarating prospect but it is also one that comes with an inherent level of risk. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs continue to face risks in their business every single day and without knowledge of an outside professional in the form of a business attorney, they may be exposed to risk on a regular basis. What follows are six common situations that put entrepreneurs at risk even if they do not realize it.
Absorbing All Personal Liability
A business structure should be selected that limits a person’s individual liability. A sole proprietorship may allow for an individual to be held personally liable whereas a limited liability company or a corporation minimizes this.
Not Conducting a Risk Analysis
A regular risk analysis can help to identify problems inside and outside of the company that should be addressed with a strategic plan. A risk analysis is a powerful process that helps to illuminate weak spots in the business. From this point, you can develop a comprehensive risk management plan to determine how to close the gap. Having outside professionals like a lawyer to assist you with this process can be extremely helpful.
Not Having Proper Agreements between Partners
A buy-sell agreement or a partnership agreement helps to establish the terms of the relationship between individuals working at a company. Without these, chaos can ensue if one partner wants to do something and the other does not agree.
Absorbing All Insurance Related Risk
Injuries to suppliers, customers, damage to the facilities or product liability can all present significant problems for a business of any size. Transfer this risk to insurance companies by purchasing affordable policies that give you peace of mind that your business will still be able to operate and recover after a significant incident.
Not Using Proper Employee Agreements
Unfortunately, employment disputes are a common cause of litigation these days. Without properly written agreements you may be exposing yourself to unnecessary risk with employees who try to take advantage of your good nature. Having employment agreements in place ensures that everyone kicks off the relationship on the right page and can also assist in the event that an employee needs to be terminated.
Not Engaging in Regular Contract Review
Contracts are the lifeblood of any entrepreneur’s business and these should be properly drafted, negotiated and reviewed on a regular basis by an experienced business attorney.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from McElfish Law Firm or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.