Susan L. Hartman is licensed to practice law in California and Massachusetts

Under section 23575 of the Vehicle Code, a judge can require somebody convicted of a first California DUI to install a working, certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle that person operates, and stop that person from driving except where a functioning certified ignition interlock device has been installed.

A recent California appellate decision arose when the defendant ran a stop sign while extremely intoxicated and traveling at high speeds, and crashed into another vehicle causing the other car to roll over several times. The collision caused the other driver injuries. Two hours after this collision, her BAC was .259.

She pled no contest to several DUI crimes, including a DUI causing injury and driving with a BAC .08 or higher causing injury. She also admitted two prior convictions for DUIs within 10 years, and admitted allegations related to enhancement. The lower court declined to impose the probation department’s recommendation she get probation. She was sentenced to three years in state prison on the first count, and the court stayed a two year sentence on count 2 under Penal Code section 654. Penal Code section 654 prohibits two or more punishments for the same crime.

California Vehicle Code Section (VC) 14601.3 states: “It is unlawful for a person whose driving privilege has been suspended or revoked to accumulate a driving record history which results from driving during the period of suspension or revocation. A person who violates this subdivision is designated a habitual offender.”

Once the person has been deemed a habitual offender, any subsequent driving offenses are subject to more severe penalties, including jail time. Upon a first conviction under this statute, the person shall be sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $1000 fine. A second or subsequent conviction within seven years of a prior conviction will result in 180 days in jail and a $2000 fine.  Under 14601.3(e)(3), any habitual offender who is convicted of driving on a suspended license and the suspension is due to a DUI, the penalty is 180 days in jail, to be served consecutive to any other jail time imposed for violating any other law, plus a $2000 fine.

To convict someone under this statute, the prosecutor must prove: Continue reading ›

Typically, when you are sentenced, and your sentence includes probation, one of the things you are ordered to do is not violate the law. If you are arrested, the arrest itself is not a probation violation. However, what ends up happening, is you will have a new open case and the probation violation trailing behind it, waiting to see what happens on your new case.handcuffs

If you plead guilty to the new charge or are found guilty after a trial, the judge will then address the probation violation in a probation violation hearing. Typically that is done in front of the sentencing judge who put you on probation on the first case. However, the judge on your new case, if s/he has jurisdiction over the first matter, may address probation with the new case, in what is often called packaging or bundling both together.

The probation violation hearing has a lower standard of proof, meaning a judge only has to find that you violated the terms of probation “by a preponderance of the evidence” not “beyond a reasonable doubt” as required in criminal cases.

At the hearing, both the prosecutor and the probationer will be able to present evidence. If the judge finds that it is more likely than not that the probation terms were violated, Continue reading ›

Driving under the influence of drugs, or DUID, is essentially the same as a DUI with alcohol. The code section reads: “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle. “

pillsIn essence, the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant drove a vehicle, and when s/he drove, s/he was under the influence of a drug. The drug can be an illegal substance, a prescribed medication or even an over-the-counter medicine that could affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person.

Under the influence” is the hardest element for the government to prove. According to the California Jury Instructions (2110), “A person is under the influence if, as a result of…taking a drug, his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.”

Unlike drunk driving cases involving alcohol, Continue reading ›

My criminal defense practice is almost exclusively in the area of drunk driving. However, I have had a few DUI cases were my client was able to prevail at the DMV APS Hearing, just to receive another notice of suspension from the DMV because of a medical issue such as diabetes, seizures, loss of consciousness or memory issues. My clients have then retained me to also defend them at the P & M Hearing in hopes of maintaining their driving privileges. Since I handle these hearings for my clients, I am now getting retained by people just to handle these DMV matters.grandmadriving-300x200

What triggers this action by the DMV is either: 1.) The “Confidential Morbidity Report” which is filled out by a treating physician; or, 2.) A “Request for Driver Reexamination” which can be filed by any person who knows of a reason why someone is unable to drive safely.

Under Health & Safety Code Section 103900, a doctor is required by law to Continue reading ›

In California, if a person is initially arrested for driving under the influence, the case may be negotiated down to other, less severe charges such as a wet reckless, dry reckless, drunk in public, or even an exhibition of speed charge. Successful negotiation will depend upon the facts of the case.

In my experience in San Diego courts, exhibition of speed as a reduction from a drunk driving charge is rarely available as a negotiated plea, unless the case has some serious flaws and the prosecutor believes the DUI case cannot be proven in trial. However, I have been able to obtain such a result in a case that was filed in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Courthouse. My client had a .08 BAC on both the preliminary alcohol screening test and the evidentiary breath sample.

The exhibition of speed charge is found in California Vehicle Code Section 23109(c), and it does not mention alcohol, drinking, drugs, blood alcohol content, or under the influence. Therefore, it is a much better result for the defendant because the penalties are a lot less severe. There is no license suspension, unless Continue reading ›

The time has changed and the weather feels a lot like summer is just around the corner! Excited for Sunday Funday’s, cold beers and margaritas, BBQ’s, parties and beach time? Know the law and plan ahead so your fun does not end with criminal charges.

If you head out to bike your way around town after consuming an alcoholic beverage, be aware that you can be arrested.

If your bike can be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, such as a motor bike, you can be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. All the penalties of a standard drunk driving offense involving an automobile would apply. However, if your bike is self-propelled, you will not be subjected to the DUI statutes. Instead, you can be charged with BUI or CUI, biking or cycling under the influence, under California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5.

This code section specifically states: “…it is unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon a highway while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug. Continue reading ›

IMG_7722-300x225As the weather warms up in San Diego, people enjoy the outdoors and get more active. Many flock to the bay, ocean, lakes and rivers to enjoy a day on the water, but be aware that law enforcement agencies are out in full force actively looking to cite people for boating under the influence, BUI’s.

In California, if you operate a motorized boat or any watercraft while under the influence, you can be arrested and charged with a crime. (Note: This code section only applies to motorized vessels, meaning that you cannot be charged under these code sections if your vessel is exclusively self or water propelled such as a kayak, rowboat, or a non-motorized sailboat. Also, there is a “zero tolerance” policy for anyone under the age of 21, meaning if you are underage, any measurable amount of alcohol can lead to BUI charges.)

The Harbors and Navigation Code provides the statutes for 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).

Continue reading ›

Recently, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1046 into law after the State Senate and Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor, (unanimously with the exception of one “no vote recorded” in the Assembly).  This law will require that all persons convicted in California of a DUI, even a first offender, to install an ignition interlock device, or IID, in all the vehicles s/he owns for a specified period of time.

An IID is a machine that is installed in your car’s ignition. In order for your car to start, the driver must first blow into the machine. If no alcohol is detected, the car will start. If alcohol is detected, the car will not start. In addition, as the car is running, it requires additional breath samples with no alcohol detected to keep the car operational.

The penalty will be as follows: Continue reading ›

Uber, a rideshare program that has been in operation for over 6 years, gives riders an option to get around town without using the bus, a taxi, a bike or walking. Over the past couple of years, their program has greatly cut fares and in many cities they now also offer UberPool, where a rider can share a car with others to save even more.

Uber often argues that their app helps combat drunk driving incidents because riders are choosing to use their rideshare program over driving their own cars during times when they expect to consume alcohol. However, a recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found no noticeable impact on the number of drunk driving fatalities in cities where Uber operates. “We found that the deployment of Uber services in a given metropolitan county had no association with the number of subsequent traffic fatalities, whether measured in aggregate or specific to drunk-driving fatalities or fatalities during weekends and holidays.”

It is estimated that there are 121 million drunk driving incident s in the United States, resulting in 10,000 fatalities yearly. However, this study is limited to fatalities, not the number of potential DUI drivers who are using Uber as a transportation alternative, thus avoiding a drunk driving citation, or worst, a traffic accident with potential injuries and deaths. Continue reading ›

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