Memorial Day DUI’s

This coming Monday, the last Monday in the month of May, is the day that the United States remembers those who died while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day also unofficially marks the beginning of summer and many people bring in the summer with a three day weekend of barbequing, getting together with family and friends, and drinking. 
Law enforcement is well aware that drunk drivers will be hitting the roads this weekend and officers will be out in full force. In fact, the Memorial Day weekend has proven to be one of the weekends with highest amount of DUI arrests in California. 
In California last year, CHP made 1,111 arrests of drunk drivers and nineteen people were killed in traffic collisions. In 2013, CHP made 1,133 DUI arrests and fifteen people died in traffic collisions over the Memorial Day weekend. 
Last year in Los Angeles County, 254 alleged drunk drivers were arrested. In 2013, Los Angeles County saw 245 DUI arrests during the holiday weekend. 
Last year in Orange County, CHP made 62 DUI arrests over the Memorial Day weekend. The year before, they made only 11 DUI arrests. 
The tips for preventing a DUI and possibly saving lives remain the same:
  • Appoint a designated driver. Make sure that the designated driver remains sober. Often is the case that “designated drivers” just don’t drink as much as their passengers. This is not a designated driver, but someone who runs the risk of getting arrested for drunk driving.
  • Use alternative means of transportation. We live in a time where a trolley is not the only way to get somewhere without driving. Take a taxi if you can get one. If you can’t, use Uber or Lyft or another ridesharing app. Although a little more expensive, they more available and a little nicer than a cab.
  • Stay the night. If you attend a party or barbeque, ask the host if you can crash on the couch. 
  • Don’t drink. This may not be the most appealing option if you want to partake in the festivities. However, it is the only surefire way to avoid a California DUI if you plan on driving this Memorial Day weekend. 
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4 DUI Cases Dismissed After Officer Failed to Record Stops

Finally some accountability and a proper DUI case outcome.
A Fairfax County judge has dismissed 4 DUI cases because the same arresting officer failed to properly utilized his squad car’s video and audio during the DUI stop.
Fairfax County police general orders require that officers test their audio and video recording equipment before a shift and utilize both during traffic stops, including DUI stops.
Officer L.F. Martinez however failed to do so. And not surprisingly his version of the events of the stop varied quite significantly from those whom he pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence.
So how is anyone supposed to know whose version was more accurate if Officer Martinez takes his DUI suspects off camera to perform field sobriety tests?
And that is exactly what Officer Martinez did.
An attorney of one of the suspects said that Officer Martinez testified that he moved suspects off camera to perform sobriety tests in some instances to find level ground. He also testified he was reluctant to leave the suspects alone to swivel the camera in the proper direction to film the tests.
Fairfax County police spokesman, Don Gotthardt, said that “there is no specific requirement that the officer conducting a sobriety stop keep the subject within view of the camera.”
I’m sorry, but then what’s the point of the camera?
“When you’ve got this type of equipment, it’s there for everyone’s protection,” said Eric Clingan, a lawyer who handled one of the cases. “It protects the police as much as the citizen.”
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3 DUI Arrests in 6 Days

Why do all of the crazy stories come out of Florida?
Jennifer Yi, 31, of Hillsborough County, Florida was recently arrested three times in one week and each time was for driving under the influence.
Now I’ve written about other people who have been arrested for multiple DUIs within close proximity to each other, but this one takes the cake.
Yi’s first arrest occurred a little after 5 p.m. on April 30th when it was reported that she was showing signs of intoxication after parking her silver BMW SUV. Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies arrested her for DUI when she showed the symptoms of intoxication. Yi also refused to take a blood test. She was released from jail after posting $500 bond.
Within 24 hours, Yi was arrested again for driving under the influence at 2:21 p.m. on May 1st after she was spotted in the BMW SUV swerving in and out of her lane. Responding deputies noticed the signs of intoxication. Once again, she refused a blood test. And once again, she was released from jail after posting another $500 bond.
Less than five days later, Yi was arrested on May 5th at 12:45 a.m. after she crashed a Honda CRV into a parked tow truck. A deputy said that she had watery eyes, slurred speech, fumbling fingers, and droopy eye lids. This time, however, Yi submitted to a blood alcohol test. The results are not yet available. While she was able to post bond in the first two arrests, jail records indicate that, for this latest arrest, Yi is being held without bond.


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MADD’s Victim Impact Panel for a California DUI

When someone is charged with a California DUI, it is not uncommon for the prosecutor to offer MADD’s Victim Impact Panel (VIP) as part of the plea deal. While it may be possible to reduce the offer so that it doesn’t include the VIP, it is important for people who have been charged with a California DUI to understand what the VIP is. 
According to Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD), one of their main goals is to prevent recidivism of DUI offenses. To accomplish this, MADD provides one-day presentations where convicted DUI offenders can hear the stories of people whose lives have been negatively affected by drunk driving. The speakers are usually victims of DUI-related collisions or relatives of those who were killed as the result of DUI-related collisions. 
Some of my clients have expressed concern about the size of the VIP audience. My guess is because he was concerned about being singled out or being blamed and/or judged by panel members. Generally, the audiences are fairly large. Panel members are not there to place blame or judgment. They simply want to share their stories so that audience members think twice about getting behind the wheel if they are drunk. While interaction and participation is usually not required, audience member are sometimes given the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers after the presentation is over.
While panels are conducted different in each county, VIP is generally offered at different times and locations throughout any given month. Registration is usually required and generally costs about $25 to $35 and cash or money order is usually required. Take your registration documents and photo identification with you to the location. 
Get there early because many locations refuse late entry and if you miss a class without cancelling at least 24 hours in advance, they will charge for the missed class and you will still have to pay for a second registration. Expect the panel to last at least an hour. 
Once the class is finished, they will provide proof of completion certificate. The proof of completion will be due back to court, either in the courtroom or the courthouse cashier’s office, on a date given by the judge. 
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Tweets and Text Messages Foreshadow DUI Collisions

Kayla Maria Mendoza, 22, was sentenced in a Florida court on Monday to 24 years in prison for a wrong-way DUI accident that killed the two women in the other vehicle. 
In 2013, when Mendoza was under the legal drinking age, she consumed two large margaritas, each in a “fish bowl size” glass, before driving home. According to authorities, she was driving around 80 miles per hour into oncoming traffic when she collided with another vehicle killing the two occupants.  At the time of the accident, Mendoza had traces of marijuana in her system, had a blood alcohol content was 0.15 percent, and did not have her driver’s license. 
What makes Mendoza’s actions particularly egregious is that, before she got into her vehicle that night, she tweeted “2 drunk 2 care.”
Earlier this year, Mendoza pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter. 
Although Mendoza faced 30 years in prison, Judge David Haimes sentenced her to 24 years citing her age, her remorse, and her lack of criminal history.
“Hopefully after you finish [this] sentence you can put this behind you,” said Judge Haimes. 
Mendoza’s sentence comes one week after another Florida woman pleaded not guilty for charges stemming from a DUI collision where, before the collision, she texted her boyfriend, “driving drunk woo,” and “I’ll be dead thanks to you…”
In 2013, Mila Dago, 22, had a blood alcohol content of 0.178 percent when she got behind the wheel of a rented Smart Car. 
Dago, who was in the midst of a breakup with her boyfriend, sent him 60 text messages that night, the last of which said, “driving drunk,” I’ll be dead thanks to you,” and “lata.”
It wasn’t, however, Dago who was dead following the collision. It was her passenger, Irina Reinoso who died instantly when Dago t-boned a truck. 
Dago was charged with manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and driving under the influence. 
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