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.
What Is a Dram Shop Law?
A dram shop law is a type of statute which holds any business establishment strictly liable for selling alcoholic beverages to a person who is obviously intoxicated. The purpose of dram shop laws or acts is to increase the responsibility of those who make profits by tendering alcoholic beverages to guests. The word “dram” refers to a British unit of measurement for serving alcohol.
Dram shop laws usually deal with prohibiting alcohol sales to intoxicated persons, but sometimes they may also cover the sale of alcohol to minors, as well as issues with licenses and identification. Most states have some form of these types of laws, but they vary widely between jurisdictions.
What Is California’s Dram Shop Law?
Dram Shop laws in California are extremely limited. Recent California legislation has removed the strict liability for businesses who serve alcohol to patrons. It should be noted that this limitation only applies in civil court. Criminal law penalties may still apply to businesses who serve alcohol to obviously intoxicated persons. It should also be noted that the limitation on civil penalties protects licensed alcohol vendors but provides no protection to hosts of parties or other social events where alcohol is served.
Despite California’s limitation on holding liquor stores or bars responsible for selling alcohol to persons who are obviously intoxicated, California establishments still may be held liable for serving alcohol to a minor who subsequently injures another person as a result of being intoxicated.
Why Is There No Civil Dram Shop Liability in California?
The rationale behind the California legislature’s decision to limit civil liability for serving alcohol to an intoxicated individual is that it is often difficult to determine who is at fault if an intoxicated person gets into an accident after consuming alcohol. Strict liability implies that the business establishment must have caused the accident by serving the person alcohol.
Nevertheless, California case law has held that the consumption of alcohol, and not the serving of alcohol, is the proximate cause in the case of an accident. Thus, the sale of alcohol by bars and liquor stores in California is not considered to be the cause of an automobile accident.
Do I Need a California Lawyer for a Dram Shop Claim?
Whether you are a business owner or a party or event host, it is important to retain a lawyer if you have been charged with negligently providing alcohol in civil or criminal court. This is especially true if the incident involves the sale of alcohol to a minor.
Dram shop violations, like many other areas of law, can be complicated. Hiring an experienced lawyer can help ensure that you meet all the various court requirements and deadlines for your claim. A qualified lawyer will help you understand the legal basis for any claim against you and can also help you resolve the matter as quickly as possible.
Around this time every year, we think about our New Year’s resolutions and what we’d like to change in the coming year. Most of our routines are made up of sleep, work, and home. However, how do you get from work to home and back again? When you think about it, we spend a lot of time in our cars getting from one place to another. Therefore, it stands to reason that if you’re going to make a New Year’s resolution this year, you might as well incorporate safe driving practices into the mix. After all, driving is probably a part of your daily routine, at least in one capacity or another. We have gathered some ideas that you may want to add to your list of New Year’s resolutions. Keeping these New Year’s resolutions will make you a better driver and keep you safer on the road.
- Never Drink and Drive (or drive drowsy) – Also watch out for others who may be driving drunk. “More than 10,000 people die in drunken driving car crashes each year,” according to Consumer Reports.
- Do not use your cell phone when driving – If you cannot overcome the urge to use your cell phone, use an app to block it. You can also put your cell phone in the glove compartment or in the backseat out of reach.
- Obey the speed limit – Speed is a factor in about one-third of fatal accidents.
- Always buckle up – It’s the law in many states and seat belts save over 12,000 lives a year.
- Yield to pedestrians – Pedestrians make up about 13 percent of all fatalities. As a driver, you need to be particularly vigilant around crosswalks looking for pedestrians.
- Observe bicycle lanes – Remember in California bicyclist “has all the rights” of the driver of a vehicle, and bicyclists are drivers. With these definitions, bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways. Other drivers are to observe the bicyclists’ rights to use the bike lanes.
- Watch for motorcyclists – With California’s beautiful weather, it is a paradise for motorcyclists. They are everywhere, and other vehicle drivers are to “Share The Road”.
- Signal – Something as simple as using your “blinker” could prevent nearly two million accidents a year.
- Protect teen drivers – If you are the parent of a teen driver, make sure he/she follows all the graduated licensing rules.
- Maintain your vehicle and tires – Performing regular tire checks and routine maintenance will help insure your vehicle will stay at optimal condition.
- Stop on red – Seems obvious, but red-light running kills hundreds and injures tens of thousands of people annually, most of the, occupants in other vehicles. Rolling stops don’t count.
- Check the weather – If you must go out in bad weather, be prepared for the challenges.
If you or a loved one are involved in a vehicle accident, please contact us at McElfish Law Firm (310) 659-4900.
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.
Every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving collision. While there are many resources and studies about drunk driving prevention, few drivers know exactly what to do if they do end up on the roadway with an impaired driver. Below we outline several tips for avoiding drunk drivers.
According to DMV.org, there are three limits of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in the state of California. The level is 0.08% or higher if they’re above 21, 0.04% or higher if they’re operating a commercial vehicle, and 0.02% or higher if they’re younger than 21 years old. For adults 21 and up, this level is equivalent to drinking two drinks within an hour.
The following tips are a helpful guide for what to do if you find yourself in this kind of situation:
Avoid Late Night Driving
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 31% of fatal drunk-driving accidents occur on the weekend. Fatal crashes are also four times higher at night than during the day. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to avoid the streets from midnight to 3 am.
Stay off The Roads On ‘Drinking Holidays’
‘Drinking Holidays’ include Christmas Eve, the 4th of July, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, New Year’s Day, Labor Day, and Super Bowl Sunday. We also encourage you to avoid any travel during the early morning of Christmas Day or New Years’ Day, as impaired drivers may still be out on the roads after a long night of drinking.
Don’t Assume the Drivers’ Actions, Especially At Night
Defensive driving is a must on highways and other major roads. You should always anticipate the other drivers’ actions, but never make assumptions about their intentions. Often, drunk drivers may drift out of their lanes or completely cross into oncoming traffic. By keeping a safe distance from the cars around you, you will have plenty of time to react to sudden actions. For example, just because a driver has activated their turn signal, does not mean they will turn where you think they’re going to turn.
Report Suspicious Driving Behavior Immediately
An average drunk driver has driven drunk 80 times before first arrest, and a third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders. As soon as you spot another car driving erratically and you are a safe distance away, you should immediately call the police. Provide details such as the location, make, model, and color of the car. If you’re able to spot the license plate, make a note of it, as well. You may be saving a life.