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labor day.jpgNumerous San Diego law enforcement agencies announced they will be out in full force over the Labor Day weekend conducting drunk driving roadblocks and saturation patrols, according to 10news.com.

Chula Vista Police will conduct a DUI checkpoint on Friday, August 31st, from 6:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. They will also have roadblocks on Saturday and Sunday, but the exact locations and times have not been announced.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) will set up a drunken driving checkpoint in Rancho San Diego from 7:00 p.m. Saturday through 1:30 a.m. Sunday. The precise location has not been announced. Also, CHP will be in a maximum enforcement period Friday at 6:00 p.m. through Monday at 11:59 p.m., actively looking for drunk drivers, speeders, and other violators.

Oceanside Police Department will conduct a roadblock looking for impaired drivers on Friday starting at 8:00 p.m. and ending at 3:00 a.m. The exact location of this checkpoint has not been released.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department will conduct a DUI checkpoint at an undisclosed location in Imperial Beach from 8:00 p.m. Saturday through 2:30 a.m. Sunday with additional saturation patrols on Saturday.

San Diego Police Department plans to conduct a DUI roadblock starting at 9:00 p.m. Friday and continuing into early Saturday morning. In addition, another checkpoint will be held on Monday starting at 4:00 p.m. The locations for these two have not been disclosed.

Encinitas, Santee, Poway, and Imperial Beach will add additional San Diego Sheriff patrols specifically looking for impaired drivers. They also plan on setting up sobriety checkpoints in Encinitas, Santee, and Poway on Friday night, Imperial Beach on Saturday evening, and Santee on Sunday. The times and locations for these DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols were not released.

As you can see, local law enforcement is actively looking for drunk drivers this Labor Day weekend. Do not be a statistic; plan ahead before you go out to celebrate your three day weekend. Pack a bag and plan on staying at the home of the party host. Designate a driver to remain sober and be responsible to drive you home. Save a San Diego taxi company’s telephone number in your phone and use it. Use public transportation or call a sober friend or family member for a ride.

However, If you are unfortunate and you do get arrested for driving under the influence, you owe it to yourself to hire an exclusively DUI defense firm.

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newsflash.jpgSan Diego Sheriffs and San Diego Police have been busy arresting drivers for DUI within the past week. The San Diego Sheriff’s Department conducted drunk driving checkpoints this past weekend in Imperial Beach, Poway, San Marcos, Vista, and Santee, according to the sandiegoreader.com. In addition, they set up a checkpoint in the Vista Courthouse parking lot on Wednesday and conducted a DUI warrant sweep in the East County on Saturday.

The sobriety checkpoints, in which 7,647 drivers were contacted, resulted in 27 people doing field sobriety tests (FST’s) and 13 arrested for allegedly driving while impaired. The Vista Courthouse sting resulted in 300 drivers being contacted and 22 people arrested for various violations including driving on a suspended license.

San Diego Police conducted two DUI checkpoints this past weekend, according to ranchobernardo.patch.com. One was held on Friday night on College Avenue near SDSU. Of the 1,367 cars that went through the roadblock, 962 drivers were contacted and 11 arrests were made for suspicion of driving under the influence.

The second DUI roadblock was set up in Pacific Beach at the 2600 block of Ingraham Street on Saturday night. In this checkpoint, 1,448 cars passed through, resulting in 16 arrested for alleged drunk driving offenses.

In Spring Valley, at Campo and Jamacha Road, an alleged drunk driver hit a sheriff’s patrol car Saturday night. 760kfmb.com reported that the San Diego Sheriff was not seriously injured but was taken to the hospital for observation. The alleged drunk driver was arrested but the person’s name was not released

Driving under the influence charges are pending against the San Francisco Archbishop, Reverend Salvatore Cordileone. The utsandiego.com reported that the Archbishop was arrested on College Avenue near Montezuma Road in the collage area on Saturday after midnight.

As the summer comes to a close and with the Labor Day Weekend coming up this weekend, you can expect San Diego law enforcement will remain vigilant in drunk driving enforcement. Do not be a statistic. Plan ahead before you go out to celebrate your three day weekend. Pack a bag and plan on staying at the home of the party host. Designate a driver to remain sober and be responsible to drive you home. Save a San Diego taxi company’s telephone number in your phone and use it. Use public transportation or call a sober friend or family member for a ride.

But if you do get arrested and are charged with drunk driving, you owe it to yourself to hire an exclusively DUI defense firm.

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As part of San Diego County’s “Avoid the 14″ Summer Holiday Anti-DUI crackdown, a driver’s safety checkpoint was conducted by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department in the Vista Courthouse parking lot on August 22nd, from 3:30 until 5:30pm. During this operation, 300 drivers were screened and 22 people were cited. The citations included driving without a license, driving on a suspended license, and allowing an unlicensed driver to drive.

The San Diego Sheriffs and other local law enforcement will continue their efforts to arrest drunk drivers in connection with the nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign. This campaign will continue through the end of summer and the Labor Day holiday, August 17th through September 3rd.

If you are arrested for drunk driving, your driver’s license is automatically suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles, DMV, 30 days after the arrest unless you request an Administrative Per Se Hearing, challenging the suspension, within 10 days of the arrest. In addition, once you plead guilty or you are convicted after a trial, the court will usually order your driver’s license suspended. (Note, the amount of time of the suspension depends on a variety of factors.)

If you choose to drive while your license is suspended and you are subsequently contacted by law enforcement, you will likely be arrested and charged with driving on a suspended license when the driving privilege was suspended for driving under the influence. The first conviction of such a charge carries a mandatory minimum 10 days in jail!!

Be aware, law enforcement often sets up these sting operations at the courthouses especially around the time of the MADD, Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, panel class, which is a required class for many people who are on probation for drunk driving. Therefore, if you are going to the MADD panel class, heading to court for your SAAU, Substance Abuse Assessment Unit, meeting, paying your fine, or doing any other business at the courthouse, you should not drive if your license is suspended.

Because of the mandatory minimum jail time, you will not want to put yourself at risk by driving until you are able to either get your driving privileges back in full or you obtain a restricted license. The restricted license will allow you to drive to, from, and during the course of your employment and to and from any court ordered DUI programs.

The Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman is an exclusively DUI defense firm; however, we also assist people with DUI related matters such as driving on a suspended license.

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After a person is arrested for drunk driving, the police write up a police report which is forwarded onto the prosecuting agency. It is this agency, either the City Attorney or District Attorney’s Office, that will decide if charges will officially be filed against you in court. The prosecutor will review the police report and determine if, on an initial review of the facts, they believe they can prove the case against you. confidential envelope.jpg
If they do not believe they can prove their case, they may choose not to file charges. Even if the case is never filed, records that you were arrested are still active within local, state, and federal databases. To prevent these records from being used against you in the future, you should do what you can to try to clean up your record.

To have your criminal records sealed and destroyed when charges have not been filed against you, you must first petition the agency that arrested you requesting they destroy your arrest records. That petition must also be served on the prosecuting agency with jurisdiction over your matter.

The police agency may or may not respond to your petition. If they deny your request or fail to respond by the dates set by California Penal Code Section 851.8, you may petition the court to order the arresting agency to seal your arrest records and then destroy them three years from the date of your arrest. The petition to the court must be served on the law enforcement agency that arrested you and the prosecuting agency with jurisdiction. The court then calendars a hearing to decide your petition.

If driving under the influence charges were filed against you but were subsequently dismissed or you were acquitted of the charges, you can directly file your Petition for Sealing and Destruction of Arrest Records with the court without first petitioning the law enforcement agency that arrested you.

Defendants/Petitioners must be aware that there is a 2 year statute of limitations on filing the petition. This means the petition must be filed with the court no later than 2 years from the date of the arrest or the filing of the complaint, whichever is later, unless there is good cause and without prejudice to any other party.

If you suffered a DUI arrest and the prosecutor never filed against you or your case was ultimately dismissed, clean up your record! You never know when your arrest may be used against you if a record of it remains on the books. For assistance with the sealing and destruction of your drunk driving arrest records, contact The Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman.

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money bag.jpgOnce a DUI defendant pleads guilty or is convicted of drunk driving after a jury trial, the judge will pronounce sentence. If there was a victim who suffered any loss or damages as a result of defendant’s driving under the influence, the sentence will include court ordered restitution. The victim’s right to collect restitution is found in the Declaration of Rights of the California Constitution, Article I, Section 28.

Section (b) specifically states: “In order to preserve and protect a victim’s rights to justice and due process, a victim shall be entitled to the following rights…(13) To restitution.” Because it is the victim that holds this right, neither the court nor the prosecuting authority can use their discretion in negotiating the restitution amount during the plea bargaining stage. However, the court “shall order full restitution unless it finds compelling and extraordinary reasons for not doing so, and states them on the record.” (See California Penal Code Section 1202.4(g).)

The California Constitution, Article I, Section 28(e), defines a victim to be “a person who suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime or delinquent act. The term “victim” also includes the person’s spouse, parents, children, siblings, or guardian, and includes a lawful representative of a crime victim who is deceased, a minor, or physically or psychologically incapacitated.” This section also states that a victim is not “a person in custody for an offense, the accused, or a person whom the court finds would not act in the best interests of a minor victim.”
The amount of restitution that is ordered is governed by California Penal Code Section 1202.4, which states … “the court shall require that the defendant make restitution to the victim or victims in an amount established by court order, based on the amount of loss claimed by the victim or victims or any other showing to the court.”

Often, at sentencing, the amount of losses/damages to the victim or victims are not known. So, the judge will set a Restitution Hearing. At that hearing the victim presents their damages/losses to the court, usually in the form of documentary evidence or testimony. Under California Penal Code Section 1203.1d(d), the court shall not exclude “documentary evidence such as bills, receipts, repair estimates, insurance payment statements, payroll stubs, business records, and similar documents relevant to the value of the …damaged property, medical expenses, and wages and profits lost” as hearsay.

The defendant has a right to dispute the amount of the restitution under Penal Code Section 1202.4(f)(1).

Payment of the restitution is often a term of probation; however, if the defendant’s drunk driving probation is terminated and the restitution has not been paid in full, the judge will turn that Restitution Order into a Civil Judgment. This allows the victim or victims to use any legal means available under California law to collect on the judgment.

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hearing.jpgA driver is arrested in San Diego County and is charged with drunk driving. Two processes begin: 1.) The criminal process involving the courts; and, 2.) The administrative action involving the California Department of Motor Vehicles, (DMV).

The San Diego criminal action is either not filed or the matter is filed but later it is dismissed by the prosecutor. How does this affect the administrative process and the driver’s license suspension?

Once arrested for driving under the influence, the driver has 10 days from the date of receiving the Administrative Per Se Suspension/Revocation Order and Temporary Driver License to request a DMV APS Hearing to challenge the automatic suspension of the driver’s license. If the DMV finds for the driver and reinstates their full driving privileges, there is nothing that the driver needs to do after finding out charges will not be filed or if the criminal case is dismissed.

However, if the DMV finds against the driver and subsequently suspends the licensee’s privilege to drive, but later the prosecutor decides not to file charges or dismisses the pending DUI charges due to lack of or insufficiency of the evidence, the DMV may grant a renewed right to request an administrative hearing under California Vehicle Code Section 13353.2(e).

In order to request this rehearing, the driver, (or his/her DUI defense attorney), must request from the DMV form DS 702, the Administrative Per Se Notice of Failure to File or Dismissal of Criminal Charges. The prosecutor must agree to fill out the form, indicating why the matter was dismissed or not filed. That form is then sent to the Sacramento DMV Office. This must be done within one year of the date of arrest.

The DMV has discretion in deciding to reopen the matter. If approved, the file is sent back to the local Drivers Safety Office for a rehearing. This is basically a new hearing, where all documents and testimony must be re-entered into evidence and any new evidence must be presented to the hearing officer.

Most often, the hearing office does not render a decision at the hearing. Instead, the Notice of Findings and Decision are sent in the mail.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving in San Diego County, you owe it to yourself to hire an exclusively, DUI defense firm that can advise you on your specific case. The above blog entry is not legal advice and may not pertain to your driving under the influence matter.

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A suspected drunk driver allegedly drove his vehicle into two other cars in El Cajon on July 14th, at approximately 9:15 p.m. The accident happened near Melrose Lane and Royal Road in El Cajon. Apparently, one car was side swiped on the passenger side, as it was waiting to turn left into a driveway. The other car was behind the turning car, waiting to proceed. Four people were taken to the hospital. The driver was arrested for felony drunk driving, but his name has not been released.

checkpoints.jpgChula Vista law enforcement held a sobriety checkpoint at the 300 block of L Street on July 14th. Out of the 776 vehicles that passed through the checkpoint, 327 were screened, 11 drivers were asked to perform field sobriety tests, and 2 drivers were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. In addition, one driver was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of drugs.

Chula Vista announced it will have another DUI checkpoint this Saturday, July 21st. The location of this one has not been announced.

Escondido Police Department conducted a DUI checkpoint at San Pasqual Valley Road and Oakhill Drive on Friday, July 13th. Officers also conducted a saturation patrol in Escondido until 3am, looking specifically for drunk drivers. (Note, Escondido Police did not publish the results of the saturation patrol.)

Of the 1287 drivers that passed through the sobriety checkpoint, 867 were screened, 60 were sent to secondary, 4 drivers were given field sobriety tests, and 2 people were arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.

The Chula Vista and Escondido DUI checkpoints were funded by grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In order for the police to lawfully conduct these sobriety checkpoints or DUI roadblocks, they must comply with the guidelines that have been established through the courts. If your arrest was the result of a DUI checkpoint, contact an exclusively DUI defense firm that can review the law enforcement’s procedures and determine if the guidelines were followed. If they were not, the checkpoint could be ruled unlawful and the evidence against you may be inadmissible, often resulting in a dismissal!

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4th of july drink.jpgSan Diego DUI defense attorney, Susan Hartman, warns San Diego County drivers to be aware that local law enforcement will be out in full force this 4th of July week looking for drunk drivers. In fact, the San Diego Police Department and the California Highway Patrol already started to increase their DUI patrols this summer. They conducted a sobriety checkpoint in the 4200 block of Mission Bay Drive in Mission Bay Park by on June 22nd, between approximately 10:30pm and 3:30am. Ten drivers were arrested for driving under the influence and two people were cited for having an open container in a vehicle, according to scoopsandiego.com.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department also announced its plans to step up saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints throughout San Diego County, starting July 3rd, in an effort to curb drunk driving over the 4th of July holiday, according to 10news.com.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) announced a Maximum Enforcement Period, MEP, beginning 6:00pm on July 3rd, and continuing through midnight on July 4th. They are specifically targeting drunk driving, seat belts, and speed.

In Coronado, a drunk driving checkpoint will be conducted on Saturday, July 7th, from 6:00pm until 2:00am. The exact address has not been released.

Do not become a statistic…plan ahead. Plan on staying at the home of the party host. Designate a driver to remain sober and drive you home. Save a San Diego taxi company’s telephone number in your phone and use it. Use public transportation or call a sober friend or family member for a ride.

But, if you happen to get arrested for drunk driving, you owe it to yourself to hire an exclusively DUI defense attorney. Do not just plead guilty even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was at or above the legal limit of .08%. There may still be defenses in your case that can lead to reduced charges with less punishment, or even a dismissal!

The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws and facts may change and may not apply to your case. For the latest information or to get legal advice, speak to a DUI attorney in your area.

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judge.jpgIn California, including San Diego County, when a driver is arrested for driving under the influence, two processes start. There is an administrative process that is handled through the Department of Motor Vehicles, (DMV). That portion of the case addresses the status of the arrestee’s driver’s license. In addition, there is a criminal court process that addresses the crime of DUI. This article specifically addresses what happens in the court process. For information on the DMV, see “Driving Under The Influence And The DMV Hearing.”

The person suspected of drunk driving is often arrested and booked into the San Diego County Jail or the Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility. They are given an opportunity to post bail and be released. Upon release, they are given a Bail Receipt which states the recommended charges and the date, time, and place of the first court hearing, the Arraignment.

At the Arraignment, the defendant is informed of the actual filed charges. Also, they are given a copy of the complaint and an opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. (Be aware of accepting an offer at this early stage! You and your attorney will not have all the evidence to review to help make an informed decision about pleading guilty. However, the prosecutor often gives a decent offer at this stage in hopes of getting the case resolved quickly.)

If the defendant chooses not to plead guilty, a Readiness Hearing is scheduled. Between the Arraignment and the Readiness Hearing, the prosecuting agency will forward all of the discovery to the defendant or the defendant’s drunk driving attorney. The discovery is reviewed by the attorney and the defendant. The defense attorney may find issues with the case and proceed with filing motions to challenge the State’s case. Winning a motion can result in a better offer or even a dismissal of the entire case!

In addition, there is a negotiation meeting between the prosecutor and the DUI defense attorney and another offer is made on the case. The defendant may choose to accept the offer, and enter a change of plea at the next Readiness Hearing.

However, if the DUI defendant chooses not to accept the offer, the next step is a trial. At the conclusion of the trial, the jurors, (or the judge if it is a court trial), will decide if the defendant is guilty of the charges. If found guilty, the judge will proceed with drunk driving sentencing. If the defendant is found not guilty, the defendant is acquitted and the court no longer has jurisdiction over the case.

The above blog is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may change and some may not apply to your case. For the latest information, or to get legal advice about your specific drunk driving matter, speak to a DUI attorney in your area.

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newpaper.jpgThis past week, there were many driving under the influence stories in San Diego. Here are the ones that made our blog…

First, San Diego Police conducted a drunk driving checkpoint in the East Village of downtown San Diego on June 9th, 2012. As a result, 16 people were arrested for driving under the influence.

You can expect with the summer upon us, local law enforcement agencies will be out in full force looking for drunk drivers. Police departments are given grants called “DUI Awareness and Enforcement Grants” by the Office of Traffic Safety in order to conduct such DUI checkpoints and saturated patrols.

In order to make sure you are not a statistic, plan ahead before heading out to your summertime party. Designate a sober driver, have a local taxi company’s phone number stored in your phone and use it, call a sober friend or relative for a ride, use public transportation, or make arrangements to stay the night at the party location.

Second, a Camp Pendleton Marine, 25-year-old Jared Hale, was charged with three counts of Vehicular manslaughter after he drove his vehicle into a tree in Dana Point on February 14th, killing three other Camp Pendleton Marines that were also in the car. His blood alcohol content (BAC) was measured at .16, as reported by cbs8.com.

Third, an Ocean Beach pedestrian’s death resulted in a guilty plea of hit and run causing death and being in possession of alcohol by a minor by a Rancho Penasquitos 19-year-old, Nikolette Gallo, on June 11th, according to fox5sandiego.com.

Gallo admitted she was driving on eastbound interstate 8 in Ocean Beach after drinking alcohol on March 11th. She thought she hit a couch, but instead she hit and killed Sho Funai, a 23-year-old UCSD graduate student. The sentencing will be held on July 26th, 2012.

Fourth, a drunk driving crash in Kensington last August injured a 4-year-old passenger. On June 12th, Albert Pruitt plead guilty to felony DUI with injury and child endangerment and will be sentence on August 7th, according to 10news.com. His BAC was measured at a .15 and .16 four hours after the crash. Pruitt was on DUI probation at the time of this incident and he is facing five to seven years in prison when he is sentenced.

And lastly, the California State Senate approved AB-2127, a bill that is known as “Roger’s Law” for Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina), as reported by latimes.com. This bill would make it easier for some people serving in the county jail, including those convicted of drunk driving, to qualify for programs other than work release in lieu of serving out a term in jail. The measure will have to go back to the Assembly for approval on the amendments.

Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, MADD, would like to see DUI cases excluded from this bill. Mary Klotzbach, chairwoman of the MADD California Public Policy Committee, told latimes.com, “AB 2127 decriminalizes drunk driving in California and undermines the deterrence message that incarceration provides to potential drunk drivers. As a result, this legislation compromises public safety on California roadways.”

However, with the current overcrowding situation in the California state prisons, which has forced state officials to downsize their populations by bringing massive amounts of prisoners to local jails, there is simply no room for low-level offenders in the jail and prison system. This bill should pass. Those convicted will still be punished, just not with such a long term incarceration.

If you have questions about a drunk driving case, contact an exclusively, DUI defense attorney in your area.

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