DUI Conviction: How Can It Impact Professional Licenses?


licenses.jpgIn California, many professions require a license by the State of California. When applying for or renewing a license, the applicant is usually asked if they have ever been convicted of a crime, this includes the crime of driving under the influence.

These licensing agencies are governed by the California Business and Professions Code (B&P Code). B&P Code Section 480 explains the process by which a board may deny a license to an applicant.

Under B&P Code Section 480(a)(3)(B), "The board may deny a license pursuant to this subdivision only if the crime or act is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which application is made."

When filling out the forms, it is imperative that you are truthful because under B&P Code Section 480(c), "A board may deny a license regulated by this code on the ground that the applicant knowingly made a false statement of fact required to be revealed in the application for the license."

If the conviction has been expunged under California Penal Code Section 1203.4, you are not relieved from the obligation of disclosing the conviction in response to any direct questions in any questionnaire or application for licensure by any state or local agency. However, you can indicate on the form that the conviction was expunged.

If you already have a license, B&P Code Section 490 provides the criteria for license suspensions and revocations. This is basically the same as B&P Code Section 480, stating: "In addition to any other action that a board is permitted to take against a licensee, a board may suspend or revoke a license on the ground that the licensee has been convicted of a crime, if the crime is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the license was issued."

Each agency is required to have guidelines or criteria to reference when considering denying, suspending, or revoking a license. The guidelines are used to determine if the conviction is "substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the license was issued." Therefore, the guidelines of the individual agency, which issued the license or is considering your application, should be reviewed to see if a drunk driving conviction would result in the loss of your professional license or the denial or your application.

Some agencies require licensees, such as doctors and pilots, to self report. Failure to notify the licensing agency within a specified amount of time may result in denial, suspension, or revoking of your license.

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PAS Test: What Is It And Am I Required To Take It?


A PAS test is an acronym for preliminary alcohol screening test. This is a breath test that is conducted at the roadside before a person is arrested for drunk driving. The test is done on a portable breath analyzer or breathalyzer. The most common portable breathalyzer used by San Diego law enforcement today is the Alco-Sensor IV, which is manufactured by Intoximeters, Inc.PAS.jpgIn California, if a driver is stopped by law enforcement and they are suspected of being under the influence, the officer may ask the driver to take a PAS test. The PAS test is considered an investigation tool, as it is supposed to measure the blood alcohol content, or BAC, of the subject.

Under California Vehicle Code section 23612(i), the officer is required to advise you that you have the right to refuse such a test, unless you are under 21 or you are on probation for DUI.

This test can be unreliable and inaccurate. It is not recommended that you do the PAS test or any other field sobriety tests, as the officer will use these tests to bolster their argument that you are impaired for purposes of driving, giving them probable cause to arrest you for DUI.

However, If you agree to provide a breath sample using the PAS test and you blow below the legal limit of .08 BAC, you may still be arrested. The officer will often use other observations and assessments to conclude you are drunk driving.

If you are arrested for driving under the influence and you already provided a breath test using the PAS test, your obligation to submit a breath, blood, or urine test after a DUI arrest has not been completed. California Vehicle Code section 23612(a), is an implied consent law. This means if you drive a vehicle and you are lawfully arrested for driving under the influence, you are deemed to have given your consent to chemical testing. If you do not voluntarily provide a sample, you will be forced to.

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Talmadge DUI Car Wreck Leaves 4 Year Old Injured, Bail Set At $100,000


bail bond.jpgSan Diego resident, Albert Pruitt, 27, was allegedly driving under the influence when he crashed his Ford Explorer on August 27th, at 7:00 a.m., according to 10news.com. Pruitt was northbound on Aldine Drive near Monroe Avenue when he hit the curb, lost control, and rolled his vehicle.

Two children, ages 2 and 4, were in the back seat. The 2 year old was in a booster seat and was uninjured. The 4 year old was restrained by an adult seatbelt which did not hold her. She was ejected from the vehicle. Her injuries are not known.

Pruitt is being held in the San Diego Central Jail with bail set $100,000.

Under the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the California Constitution, Article I, Section 12, excessive bail shall not be required.

Bail is a sum of money that is paid to the court in exchange for the release of the accused before trial. This money is used as a guarantee that the accused will appear in court. If the defendant fails to appear, the money is forfeited and a bench warrant is usually issued for the arrest of the accused.

A bail bond is purchased from a bail bondsman. The fee of the bond is usually 10% of the bail amount. The bond document is then provided to the court in lieu of the bail money. Once the document is signed by the accused, he or she is released from jail on the promise that they will appear in court. Again, if the defendant fails to appear, the bail bond may be forfeited.

In San Diego, the courts use the San Diego Bail Schedule to determine the starting point for the bail amount that the judge will impose. The judge also will consider other factors to determine if the bail should be reduced or increased, (Penal Code section 1275). Such factors include: Good standing in the community; employment; homeownership; criminal record; seriousness of the crime; probability that defendant will show up at court hearings and trial; dangers that the accused poses to the community; and, family and friend's presence in court.

Once bail is set, a motion may be brought requesting that the judge lower the bail amount or release the defendant on his or her own recognizance, (O.R. Release). Again, the court will consider the same factors in determining to grant such a motion.

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Driving Drunk With Child In Car Leads To Reckless Endangerment Charges


child endangerment.jpgDrunk driving charges, or OWI, (operating while intoxicated), as it is called in Illinois, were filed against a 31 year old Illinois man, according to jsonline.com. He was driving 90 mph southbound
on I-94 where the speed limit is 65 mph. Once stopped, a nine month old infant was found in the car.

The preliminary alcohol screening test, PAS, result was a .24, three times the legal limit. The driver was additionally charged with recklessly endangering the safety of a minor and operating a vehicle with a prohibited alcohol content with a child under 16 years old.

In California, if a person is convicted of driving under the influence and it is proven that a minor under the age of 14 was a passenger in the car at the time of the offense, the court will impose a sentencing enhancement under California Vehicle Code section 23572.

In addition to any other punishment imposed under the underlying drunk driving offense, on a first conviction the person will receive an additional 48 continuous hours in the county jail.

On a second DUI, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 10 days in the county jail.

For a third DUI, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 30 days in the county jail.

For a fourth drunk driving conviction, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 90 days in the county jail.

This additional jail time is imposed whether or not probation is granted and no part of it may be stayed.

This enhancement does not apply if the person is also convicted of violating Penal Code section 273(a), child endangerment. Child endangerment is a "wobbler" which means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. In addition, this code section applies to minors under the age of 18.

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Sorrento Valley Drinking and Driving Ends With Driver Killed In Crash


sorrento valley crash.jpgSan Diego motorists called the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to report a driver on southbound Interstate 5, in the Leucadia area, throwing beer cans out the window and driving erratically around 4 p.m., according to 10news.com.

The driver then headed south on Interstate 805, through Sorrento Valley. He pulled over to urinate on the side of the road and then continued driving. CHP followed as he lost control of the vehicle and rolled over. The unidentified driver was partially ejected and was pronounced dead at the scene.

In California, it is not only illegal to drive while under the influence, it is also illegal to drink any alcoholic beverage while driving a vehicle, (see California Vehicle Code section 23220). In additional, it is unlawful for a driver to have any open bottle, can, or other receptacle, containing any alcoholic beverage in his or her possession, (see California Vehicle Code section 23223, Open Container Law).

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Tierrasanta Youth Involved in Alleged DUI Felony Case Pleads Not Guilty


San Diego resident and recent Serra High School graduate, Joseph Walsh, 18, plead not guilty to two felony drunk driving charges on August 11th, according to 10news.com.

On May 18th, Walsh was drinking beer at a friend's home when he decided to drive to get some food. Allegedly, he was driving 50 mph in a 25 mph zone when his car hit a sport utility vehicle and rolled four times. His two passengers were injured along with the driver of the SUV. He was subsequently charged with one count of DUI causing injury and one count of driving with measurable blood alcohol causing injury.

Members of the community showed up at the arraignment and wrote letters in support Walsh. He was allowed to remain free on his own recognizance and was ordered to appear at the preliminary hearing which is scheduled for August 24th.

Walsh's blood alcohol content, or BAC, was a .19. The legal limit is .08 percent for drivers over the age of 21. Since he was only 18 at the time of the incident, he could also be charged with:

1. California Vehicle Code section 23136, the Zero Tolerance Law, a civil offense that is handled through the DMV;

2. California Vehicle Code section 23140, under 21 with a BAC of .05 - .07 percent, an infraction;

3. California Vehicle Code section 23152, driving under the influence, a misdemeanor.

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San Diego Voters Opposed To Drunk Driving Checkpoints


state capital.bmp San Diego's Equality Alliance did a checkpoint study of over 6,000 voters in San Diego County from May 21st through June 15th, 2011, asking, "Do you think law enforcement should be able to set up checkpoints to question drivers without suspicion of wrongdoing." Approximately 64% oppose DUI checkpoints; while only 27% are in support. Opposition is highest among the younger population, 18-24 year olds, 69%, and African-Americans, Latinos, and low income voters, 68%.

Drunk driving checkpoints are supposed to be conducted in a manner that would deter drunk driving using the criteria set out by the California Supreme Court in Ingersoll v. Palmer. (Also see previous blog entries, California's Sobriety Checkpoint/Roadblock Criteria Part I and Part II.) However, according to the Executive Director of Equality Alliance, Andrea Guerrero, many people complain that DUI checkpoints harass, discriminate, inconvenience, and invade privacy.

10news.com reported that law enforcement agencies are currently using the checkpoints to not only deter drunk driving, but also to check on immigration and license status by targeting certain neighborhoods.

Equality Alliance is asking California lawmakers to pass legislation that would regulate DUI checkpoints for sobriety checks only. The bill comes before the Appropriations Committee, which is headed by State Senator Christine Kehoe, on August 15th.

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DUI Charges After Suspect Admits To Huffing Aerosol Cans


inhalants.jpgDrunk driving charges were brought after Christopher Jordan Johnson, 20, crashed his car into a tree in East Naples, Florida. He and his passenger, Brock Lyons, 21, admitted to huffing dust remover in aerosol cans before the crash, according to naplesnews.com. Johnson broke his right leg and hip and Lyons broke his arm and right ankle, and suffered a collapsed lung.

Painkiller DUI's have been increasing but huffing DUI's are still rare, according to an officer that was involved in the case.

In California, it is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and a drug, (see Penal Code section 23152(a)). It does not matter if that drug is a prescription, an illegal substance, or a cleaning product that can be used as an inhalant, as long as the prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was under the influence for purposes of driving.

San Diego prosecutors brought charges in its first huffing drunk driving case in May 2010, according to cbs8.com, stemming from an accident that occurred on December 31, 2009.

Defendant Romeo Dumlao, Jr., 34, was accused of huffing or inhaling difluoroethane vapors from a can of computer dust remover to get high, according to 10news.com. While in Point Loma, he drove his car into another car on Sports Arena Boulevard, ultimately killing 9 year old Ashley Heffington. He plead guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in June 2010, and was sentenced to 16 years in prison in July 2010.

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Pacific Beach DUI Checkpoints Not Conducted On July 4th Weekend


PB.jpgPacific Beach has hosted a drunk driving checkpoint during the July 4th weekend for the past eight years. However, the San Diego Police Department decided not to have one this year. The Pacific Beach residents are outraged by this because not only is San Diego the city with the most DUI-related arrests in the country, but Pacific Beach has the majority of those arrests.

PB Planning Committee members confronted San Diego police Officer Mark McCullough about this. He claimed the chief of police requested that the checkpoints be shared by other communities, according to 10news.com.

Instead of DUI checkpoints, San Diego Police used saturation patrols to address the drunk driving issue and alcohol-related offenses in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach this year.

San Diego DUI checkpoints are funded by grants given to the police department from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). Those funds are provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

San Diego law enforcement must use those funds to deter drunk driving throughout the city, not just in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. Since checkpoints are intrusive and ineffective, saturation patrols, which specifically target those who are involved in alcohol-related incidents, are a much better way to use the funds and the city's resources.

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San Diego Officer Charged With DUI Commits Suicide


Drunk driving charges were brought against San Diego Police Officer, David Hall, after he allegedly crashed his car into another on Interstate 805's onramp from Murray Ridge Road while off duty on February 22nd. A woman in that car was injured and Hall left the scene. Police officers found him at his home and field sobriety tests were conducted. His blood alcohol content (BAC) was .32, four times the legal limit of .08. (The incident was previously posted on this blog on May 3rd and April 13th, 2011.)

On May 2nd, Hall plead not guilty to two counts of DUI causing injury and one count of felony hit and run with an allegation that his BAC was above .15. He was put on paid administrative leave from the department. If convicted, Hall faced a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in prison.

A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Thursday. Apparently, the stress was too much for Hall to bear. On August 1st, he took his own life with one gunshot wound to his head. He was found by his wife in the backyard of their Clairmont Mesa home around 10 a.m., according to latimes.com.

SDPD Chief, William Lansdowne admitted the department was aware of the stress Hall was under after the drunk driving arrest, according to signonsandiego.com. He was utilizing the department's Wellness Unit; his last appointment was the day before he took his life.

Criminal allegations, facing jail or prison time, and the possibility of losing your job can cause great stress for criminal defendants. If you have been charged with a crime and the stress has become unbearable, consider seeking help from mental health professionals.

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Chula Vista Drunk Driving Accident Results In Prison Time


Chula Vista resident, Angel Rodrigo Gutierrez, 23, was sentenced July 28th, for the fatal hit and run incident that occurred on Christmas Day, killing Robin Fortson, a 54 year old homeless woman. The defendant plead guilty last month to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident. He was sentenced to six years and four months in state prison, according to 10news.com.

Gutierrez was drinking beer and celebrating Christmas when he decided to drive to get a burrito. Around 8:30 p.m., at the 1200 block of Third Avenue in Chula Vista, he struck and killed Fortson as she crossed the street. He then made a u-turn, driving by the victim, leaving the scene. His car was left in the 200 block of Moss Street and he was found around 2:40 a.m. at his home in the 300 block of Date Street.

His blood alcohol content (BAC) was measured at .29 percent, seven hours after the crash. He was subsequently arrested for drunk driving.

In California, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or more under the California Vehicle Code section 23152(b). Built into that code section is a rebuttable presumption that if a chemical test was performed within three hours after driving and the result showed the person's BAC is .08 or more, the prosecution can assume that the driver's BAC was .08 or greater at the time of driving. This assumption can be challenged by the defense at trial.

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Boating Under The Influence, Can I Get Arrested For DUI?


In California, if you operate a motorized boat or any watercraft while under the influence in a lake, river, or the ocean, you can be arrested and charged with a crime.

The Harbors and Navigation Code provides the statutes for boating under the influence, or BUI. The language of the code is very close in the language in the California Vehicle Code for drunk driving, (see California Vehicle Code section 23152).
drinking and boating.bmpUnder the Harbors and Navigation Code section 655:

(b) No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, any drug, or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug.

(c) No person shall operate any recreational vessel or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane, or similar device if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more in his or her blood.

(d) No person shall operate any vessel other than a recreational vessel if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more in his or her blood.

The code does not bar the operator of the boat or the passengers from drinking or having open containers inside the vessel. However, it is illegal to operate a motorized vessel or serve as a crew member while under the influence or alcohol, a drug, or the combination of both, (see Harbors and Navigation Code section 655.4(a)).

A BUI is priorable, which means if you are charged with another DUI or BUI within ten years of the first one, you will be subject to the consequences of a second offense, which are more severe than the punishment for the first.

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Del Mar Races Targeted for DUI Crackdown and Arrests


del mar.jpgDel Mar horseracing season kicked off on July 20th, and thousands of San Diegans came out to the track to bet on the thoroughbreds and have a few cocktails.

San Diego and Oceanside Police Departments, along with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, stopped 349 motorists near the track between 3 p.m. Wednesday and midnight on opening day, according to 10news.com. Fifteen people were arrested for drunk driving, four were arrested for driving without a license, fourteen vehicles were impounded, and thirty-five citations were issued for other traffic violations.

Included in the DUI arrests was jockey Mike Smith, a 2003 inductee in the horse-racing Hall of Fame. He has won 10 American Classic and Breeder's Cup races, including the big three, the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and the Preakness.

Earlier in the day, Smith rode Mr. Commons to win the Oceanside Stakes. However, around 11:30 p.m., we was allegedly seen driving very slowly and weaving by Carmel Valley Road and Via Albertura, approximately five miles from the track. He was pulled over by San Diego Police and arrested for drunk driving.

The jockey was booked into jail and later released after posting bail. Smith, who weighs only 115 pounds, apologized for his actions after he admitted to drinking about 3 glasses of wine. He is due in court on September 1st.

According to the "Blood Alcohol Concentration Chart" on the California Department of Motor Vehicles' website, a 115 pound person having consumed 3 drinks, would likely be under the influence for purposes of driving within the four hours of the first drink. (Note, this is just an estimate as many factors will effect the actual blood alcohol content, or BAC.)

The Del Mar Races will continue through September 7th. You can expect the police will be out in full force in the Del Mar area looking for drunk drivers. So if you plan on attending the races and indulging in a few adult beverages, make sure you utilize public transportation or designate a sober driver. However, if you are driving, stopped, and ultimately arrested for drunk driving, contact

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Vista Judge Rules Escondido DUI Checkpoint Case To Go To Trial


A Vista judge denied the motion to exclude evidence against two men who were passing through a drunk driving checkpoint and refused to unroll their window, which prompted an Escondido officer to break his window and make an arrest for resisting an officer.

The North County Times reported that Angel Navarrete and his passenger, Daniel Alfaro, drove through a sobriety checkpoint on February 11th, 2011, around 7:30 p.m., on East Valley Parkway and Juniper Street. Navarrete refused to roll his window all the way down as he video recorded the police response. His intention was to challenge the Escondido checkpoint and was totally sober while confronting the officers.

The motion was heard on July 8th, in front of Judge Robert Kearney. The attorneys for the men argued that the arrest was illegal because drivers are not required by law to roll down their window at a checkpoint and Navarrete's window was unrolled enough for the officer to conduct an investigation. They also pointed out that the proper procedures for a checkpoint were not followed in this case. The judge disagreed and denied the motion. The trial is set for August 30th.

A defendant may motion the court to suppress evidence under Penal Code section 1538.5, if the search or seizure without a warrant was unreasonable. Under People v. Williams, a warrantless search or arrest is presumptively illegal. When the question of the legality of an arrest or a search or seizure is raised, the defendant makes a prima facie case of illegality where the arrest, search, or seizure was accomplished without a warrant, then the burden rests upon the prosecution to show proper justification for the arrest, search, or seizure.

If the court finds the prosecution failed to meet their burden, the defense motion will be granted. The prosecution will then decide if it has enough evidence that is admissible to proceed with the matter. Often cases are dismissed or lesser charges with lesser penalties are offered.


Note: This is a follow-up story to one previously published in this blog on May 6th, 2011, (see "Escondido Sobriety Checkpoint Challenged").

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Drunk Driving Crackdown During San Diego Pride Weekend


pride drink.jpgAs San Diego Pride Weekend is about to kick off, San Diego Police have warned that they will be out in force looking for drunk drivers.

A DUI checkpoint will be conducted on Saturday, July 16th, between 9:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. The location of the roadblock was not published.

In the press release, the police department warned that those who are arrested for drunk driving can expect to go to jail, have their license suspended, and have to pay for vehicle storage fees, insurance increases, various fines and fees of the court and DMV, and attend DUI classes. A cost of over $10,000.

Before heading out to participate in the San Diego Pride activities, make sure you plan ahead. Use public transportation, designate a sober driver, or plan to stay at a local hotel or a friend's home.

If you choose to ride a bicycle to the parade or festival, keep in mind that it is a misdemeanor to ride a bike while intoxicated, (see California Vehicle Code section 21200.5).

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