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Palm Desert DUI Law Blog

5 tips to follow if you are involved in a car accident

A good accident lawyer in Palm Springs can provide you with outstanding legal advice if you’ve been injured in a car accident as a result of someone else’s carelessness.  But even before you retain an attorney to represent you, there are several things you should do immediately after any accident.

  1. If there is any doubt, under no circumstances should you admit you are at fault while you are at the scene of the accident. Any statements you make at the scene can be used as evidence and can come back to haunt you later on.
  1. Seek out an experienced car accident attorney. It takes years for attorneys to accumulate the experience and understanding of state laws that allows them to be of greatest benefit.
  1. File an accident report and report the accident to your insurance company. Your insurance company cannot protect you if they don’t know you’ve been in an accident or if it is not reported promptly.  You should also do whatever you can to cooperate with your insurance company, including working with them to inspect your vehicle and speak with your doctors if you’ve sought medical care.
  1. Document your injuries, medical bills and lost wages resulting from not being able to work. These will form the basis of your claim going forward and the better job you do, the more likely it is that you will get a full recovery sum.
  1. Seek out legal advice early in the process. The sooner you get advice from a lawyer, the less likely you are to make mistakes that could cost you dearly later on.  Accident victims with lawyers generally recover more in compensation than do people who try to settle with insurance companies on their own.

Dale Gribow, Attorney at Law proudly serves Palm Springs and surrounding California communities.

DUI charges can be misdemeanors or felonies

The best way to avoid a DUI charge is not to get behind the wheel and drive after you’ve been drinking.  But sometimes, we have lapses in judgment and find ourselves in trouble with the law.  In the case of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the charges can go from serious when charged with a misdemeanor, to life changing when charged with a felony.

There are several instances when a DUI misdemeanor can turn into a felony charge.  Here are some of the more common reasons.

Driving under the influence that results in an accident that produces bodily harm.  The repercussions from drinking and driving become much more serious when you cause an accident that results in injuries or death to another person.  A prosecutor must prove that the drunk driver is the party who caused the accident or the charges will probably remain as a misdemeanor.

You drink and drive with a minor as a passenger.  The act of driving drunk while responsible for children in the vehicle will produce a strong response from the legal system against you.

You have been arrested and convicted of DUI several times. In Palm Springs, and throughout California, these are known as priorable offenses.  When priorable offenses occur, penalties become harsher every time you are convicted of the same charge.  With DUI charges, there’s a strong chance you will be charged with a felony if you have been convicted of the same offense three or more times in the past 10 years.

Any kind of previous felony DUI conviction will result in another felony charge if you are charged again.  With a previous felony conviction, misdemeanor charges can be bumped up to a felony charge.

Dale Gribow, Attorney at Law proudly serves Palm Springs and surrounding California communities.

New grant provides money for DUI prosecution in Riverside County

We recently discussed the large number of arrests in the Riverside County area over Labor Day weekend. It looks like the number of DUI charges in Palm Desert won’t be slowing down anytime soon. The California Office of Traffic Safety just awarded a grant to the District Attorney’s office to assist the agency’s DUI Vertical Prosecution Unit.

The purpose of the Vertical Prosecution Unit was to go after drug-impaired drivers in an effort to reduce the number of drug impaired road fatalities and injuries. Former District Attorney Paul Zellerbach was responsible for activating the Unit.

The grant is worth $490,280 and must be expended by September 30, 2016. This money will provide more resources for prosecutors in the area to go after drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The grant will be used towards the western county region and will pay for a deputy district attorney. The new deputy district attorney will help handle misdemeanor cases involving drug-impaired driving, specifically from the criminal filing to the adjudication stage. The agency also intends to add three more deputy district attorneys to prosecute misdemeanor cases.

With these new prosecutors, drivers should be aware of what they may be facing if they get pulled over for a DUI. Standard DUI charges are typically classified as misdemeanors. A DUI can be raised to the level of a felony if there is an elevated blood alcohol concentration, bodily harm, children in the vehicle or prior convictions. If a charge is upgraded to a felony, that can mean more serious consequences for the driver.

Labor Day weekend results in many DUI arrests in Riverside area

Labor Day weekend is widely considered to be the last weekend of the summer season. In an effort to give summer a proper send-off, many California residents celebrate with a few drinks and brats by the pool. Unfortunately, some of these celebrations end with a party-goer getting arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Over the weekend, one officer reported that there were three deadly crashes in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

During Labor Day weekend 2015, 122 people were arrested throughout the Inland Empire. The California Highway patrol announced a “maximum enforcement period” that went from Friday evening to Labor Day before midnight. Officers from Beaumont, Indio, Riverside and Temecula stations were out and about, focused on catching DUI suspects and other potentially negligent drivers.

This deployment happened to be at the same time as Riverside County’s weekend enforcement campaign. The campaign required law enforcement agencies all across the county to conduct saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints. The National Highway Safety Administration’s nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign was the basis for both of these local efforts.

With these increased enforcement efforts, more people find themselves facing DUI charges. If convicted of such a charge, a person may find themselves in serious trouble, even if it is just their first offense. Drivers can face license suspension, hefty fees, and possible jail time. While most first-time offenders are charged with a misdemeanor, in more serious cases, a DUI charge can be a felony. However, being charged with a DUI does not mean that you will be convicted. A legal professional may be able to advise you on some of your options.

Rights in regards to DUIs, implied consent and breath tests

Football season is right around the corner, and few things are considered more American than football, burgers and beer. But whether you’re at your friend’s house to watch the game, at a bar, tailgating before the game, or raising your glass following your team’s victory, it is important to know the law when it comes to DUIs and implied consent laws with regards to breath tests.

Driving is considered a privilege not a right, and when you receive your driver’s license, you also are consenting to a blood alcohol content test, often called a BAC, if you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This test can come in many forms, including a field sobriety test, a blood test, urine test or a breath test, commonly known as a Breathalyzer.

If you are pulled over and suspected of DUI, refusal to take the BAC test essentially surrenders your driving privileges. This is referred to as the implied consent law. Every state in the U.S. has some form of this law, though how it is implemented varies by state.

In addition, every state in the U.S. has severe penalties for a DUI conviction. In California, the penalties and fines range from a four-month suspension of your license, fines, mandatory alcohol education and treatment and the possibility of the installation of an ignition interlock device. The penalties become even more severe for subsequent offenses, including a license revocation for two to three years, and even more for subsequent offenses.

What happens after a DUI arrest?

On this blog, we have discussed DUI stops and arrests. But what happens after the arrest? Many Palm Desert residents who get arrested for a DUI have never been involved in a criminal case before. It is in your best interest to learn about the court process and the penalties so that you can be prepared for what potentially lies ahead.

A significant part of most DUI cases is the arraignment. In many cases, if you are accused of a DUI and plead guilty, the arraignment will be the only time you will be in court. However, this will depend on the evidence in the case. The arraignment will occur after the arrest, booking and initial bail phases of the DUI process. The U.S. Constitution grants you a right to a speedy trial. Therefore, your arraignment should be held within a few days of the arrest.

The arraignment involves the DUI suspect coming to court and being called in front of a judge. The judge will typically read the criminal charges against the suspect, who will be referred to as the defendant. The defendant has a constitutional right to an attorney if he faces the possibility of jail time. Therefore, the defendant will be asked if he has an attorney or if he would like one appointed to him by the court.

At this point, the defendant will be asked how he pleads to the charges. He can plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. The judge will then determine whether to release the defendant on his own recognizance or change the bail amount. The preliminary hearing and trial dates will be announced, though many cases are settled before that point. During the arraignment, the prosecutor will typically give any police reports, possible evidence, and other relevant documentation to the defendant and his attorney. The defendant’s attorney will look over all of the evidence and formulate a strategy considering what is in the best interest of their client.

No-refusal policies becoming more prevalent in DUI testing

Drivers have a difficult choice to make when they are asked to submit to a Breathalyzer test after being pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving. If the driver elects to take the test and has a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, it is likely that he will be charged with a DUI. However, all states have implemented implied consent laws to penalize those who refuse to take a breathalyzer test when asked to do so. Therefore, if a driver refuses to submit to a breath test, he will be subjected to an automatic suspension of his driver’s license.

Despite these consequences, a 2003 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that many people who do not submit to tests end up avoiding harsh penalties. The study also revealed that implied consent laws don’t have a major impact on reducing breath test refusals.

Because of these breath test refusals, more and more law enforcement officials are enacting “no-refusal” policies with regards to DUI testing. With these policies, officers in many jurisdictions may attempt to get a warrant to secure a blood draw or a breath test from the driver. Obtaining a paper warrant would take a few hours, giving the driver time to sober up before taking the test. Nowadays, officers can have an electronic warrant sent to their phones to avoid this time delay.

A driver who refuses a court-ordered blood alcohol test via warrant may be facing contempt charges that are more serious than just a license suspension. Drivers can still refuse a BAC test with a no-refusal policy in place, but they cannot legally refuse a search warrant for such a test. These serious consequences make it less likely for a driver to refuse a test.

No-refusal policies are not supported by everyone. Drivers are protected under law against unreasonable search and seizure. The American Civil Liberties Union finds that these no-refusal policies violate these rights. For blood draws in particular, medical privacy becomes an issue as well. However, as of right now, a majority of states have a legal authority to implement no-refusal initiatives. This is something to be aware of if you are ever pulled over for a possible DUI.

Reasonable suspicion and probable cause may lead to a DUI arrest

We often hear that in order for an officer to stop a motorist on the roadway, he must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. This means that at the time of the stop, the officer believes that the driver was doing something illegal, even if they end up being wrong. With DUI stops, typically the officer will observe the driver behaving recklessly on the road. For example, an officer may pull over someone who is switching lanes frequently, making illegal turns or braking unnecessarily. Even a burned-out brake light, which has nothing to do with drunk driving, can be enough for an officer to stop a driver.

With that reasonable suspicion, the officer is permitted to detain the driver for a brief period of time in order to conduct an initial investigation. If the officer suspects that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol even after the inspection, the officer will typically administer a blood alcohol test to measure the blood alcohol level of the driver. The test most commonly used is a breath test. An officer may also ask the driver to submit to a field sobriety test.

While reasonable suspicion is enough for a brief stop and investigation, in order to make an arrest, there must be probable cause. Probable cause means that the officer has enough evidence to show that the driver has most likely committed a crime. Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion. For a DUI arrest, the officer will typically have evidence in the form of test results. In a number of DUI cases, the results of the field sobriety test or BAC test indicate that the driver was drunk at the time of the stop. These results, however, can be inaccurate if the test was not properly calibrated or administered effectively.

Without reasonable suspicion for the initial stop and probable cause for the arrest, a DUI case against a driver could be dropped altogether.

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Dale Gribow Attorney at Law
73-061 El Paseo
Suite 220
Palm Desert, CA 92260

Phone: 760-837-7500
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73-061 El Paseo, Suite 220