Drunk Driver Arrested After Driving to Police Station


It never ceases to amaze me some of the things that drunk drivers do.

Richard Elwood, 68, of Petaluma drove to a police station drunk where he was then arrested on suspicion of DUI.

On July 25th, a driver hit a vehicle at the River Plaza Shopping Center in Petaluma and left the scene. Witnesses of the collision were able to take down a license plate number of the vehicle involved which led to law enforcement contacting Elwood and scheduling an interview with him the following morning on Wednesday, July 26th.

While waiting for his interview with police in the lobby of the station, a front desk clerk noticed the smell of alcohol and notified officers. Elwood was subsequently arrested and booked into the Sonoma County Jail, said Petaluma police Lt. Tim Lyons.

He had allegedly driven to the police station while under the influence of alcohol.

In addition to facing the California DUI charges, Elwood is also the suspect in the hit-and-run incident for which he drove to the police station to be interviewed for.

If convicted of the DUI, Elwood faces fines and fees, a DUI program, probation, and possibly even jail.

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Is Speeding as Dangerous as Drunk Driving?


There’s no question that there is a public disdain for drunk drivers. In fact, based on my experience, the villainization of drunk driving far surpasses that of other acts which make driving dangerous such as texting and driving, driving while tired or even speeding. I can only assume that this is because people believe that drunk driving is more dangerous than other indiscretions while driving.

But are other acts actually less dangerous than drunk driving?

Studies have recently shown that texting and driving are comparable in danger to that of drunk driving. And a new study released this week suggests that speeding too is as dangerous as drunk driving.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted 10 year-long study which concluded that just about as many people die from speeding as they do from drunk drivers.

The study which was conducted from 2005 to 2014 found that speeding resulted in 112,580 deaths whereas 112,948 deaths resulted for alcohol-related crashes during the same period. This is but a mere 0.32 percent difference.

A report on the study stated that the higher speeds increased risk of death because the chance of an accident increased as well when a vehicle speeds.

“You can’t tackle our rising epidemic of roadway deaths without tackling speeding, and you can’t tackle speeding without the most current research,” acting NTSB director Robert Sumwalt said in the release.

According to the study, drivers reported that they understood that speeding is a threat to safety, but minimized its danger by “acknowledging it is a common driving behavior in the United States.”

Thus, notwithstanding the comparable statistics of drunk driving and speeding, people continue to disproportionately demonize drunk drivers while condoning other actions which are just as dangerous as drunk driving. 

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The Ignition Interlock Device


One of the most feared consequences of the California DUI is the ignition interlock device. Fortunately, the ignition interlock device is not required for all California DUI convictions. Whether a person will have to install an ignition interlock device will depend on a few things.

Before I talk about whether a person will have to install an ignition interlock device, let me remind you all of what exactly it is.

In short, the ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that is installed into the dash of a vehicle and connected to the ignition. The driver of the vehicle must provide a breath sample with a blood alcohol content reading below a preset limit between 0.02 and 0.04 percent, depending on the state, before the vehicle can be started. Once the vehicle is started, the driver must provide breath samples at random times while the vehicle is operational.

In most counties in California, the ignition interlock device is a discretionary term of DUI probation. This means that a judge can order installation of the ignition interlock device if he or she feels as though it would be an appropriate punishment for a DUI. Usually this happens when the driver has suffered prior DUI convictions, someone who had a high blood alcohol content, or someone who refused a chemical test following the DUI arrest.

However, in January of 2010 Assembly Bill 91 became law and made the installation of an ignition interlock device mandatory in four counties as part of a new pilot program aimed at reducing drunk driving repeat offenses. The counties affected by the law were Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare, and Sacramento.

The law requiring the ignition interlock device in the abovementioned counties, California Vehicle Code section 23700, in part reads:

"Before a driver’s license may be issued, reissued, or returned to a person after a suspension…of that person’s driving privilege that requires the installation of an ignition interlock device…"

The length of time that a person must have the ignition interlock device installed for depends on how many prior DUI convictions the person has had. A first time offense carries a 5-month installation period. A second time offense carries a 12-month installation period. A third time offense carries a 24-month installation period. A fourth time offense carries a 36-month installation period.

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A Google Map Aimed at Reducing Drunk Driving


A Sacramento, California man has created a Google map aimed at curbing drunk driving.

Adam Wong created a Google map that identifies restaurants and bars near Regional Transit lines for people to use before and after drinking.

“It’s a very car-heavy city,” Wong told KCRA 3. “When people go to places, it tends to be by car, which results in a lot of fatalities from distracted driving and specifically — drunk driving.”

Wong has since shared his idea on Reddit with the hopes that it’ll reach more people.

“I think the last time I looked at it, it might be close to 6,000 views. It hasn’t stopped getting views since I made it a couple months ago,” said Wong.

In April, Wong introduced the map to the Regional Transit board who, in turn, gave Wong positive reviews. In fact, a several board members had indicated that they, themselves, have actually used the map.

“That’s when I was like, ‘Whoa! They actually used my map.’ It was cool. I don’t see what bad could come out of it,” Wong said.

Wong hopes to create a website to host the map so that it reaches more people.

“I hope that beyond old, new, returning riders take advantage of the map and public transit,” Wong said. “My ultimately wish is that I want to see Sacramento become a transit-friendly city, where we have an efficient transit system that we don’t have to take necessarily for entertainment, but for everyday life.”

If anybody happens to be visiting Sacramento anytime soon, here’s a link to Wong’s map:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1WSfzgxsnokIDelB5dDWeSNZh_2k&ll=38.565725347662934%2C-121.35593130000001&z=11

Let’s hope that the map takes off and soon covers the rest of California.

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How Long Will Your License be Suspended After a California DUI?


Forget about probation, forget about the fines and fees, forget about the DUI program, and, believe it or not, forget about jail. To some, none of these DUI penalties are worse than the dreaded license suspension.

If you are arrested for a California DUI, will your license be suspended and, if so, for how long?

Let me preface this article by saying that I’m talking about your run-of-the-mill first time DUI, not DUI with priors, not chemical test refusals, not DUI causing injury. For details on the suspensions for these scenarios, see prior posts.  

If a person is arrested on suspicion of a California DUI, they only have 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV otherwise their license will be automatically suspended for four months. The hearing, which is a civil administrative hearing, is to determine 1.) that the driver had a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, 2.) whether the officer had reasonable cause to stop the driver, and 3.) whether the arrest was lawful.

Following the hearing, if the DMV determines that a person had a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, the officer had reasonable cause to stop the driver, and that the arrest was lawful, the driver’s license will be suspended for four months.

And if the person win the DMV hearing, there is no administrative suspension.

Separate from the DMV’s administrative process is the DUI court case. A person can be convicted of a California DUI if they are 1.) “under the influence” of alcohol or drugs or both, or 2.) they are driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more. If a person is convicted of a California DUI, it triggers a six month “mandatory action” suspension. This means that the court will notify the DMV of the conviction which triggers a separate six-month suspension than the previously mentioned four-month suspension. The driver, however, will get credit against the six-month suspension for any suspension time served on the four-month suspension. Therefore, a person should serve no more than six months worth of suspension.

And if the person wins their court case, there is no mandatory action suspension.

This is confusing, I understand. Maybe an example might help.

Jon is arrested on suspicion of a DUI. He schedules the DMV hearing within 10 days, but loses the hearing and his license is suspended for four months beginning on January 1st. On March 1st, Jon is convicted of a DUI in court, thus beginning a six-month suspension on March 1st. However, since Jon has already served three months on the DMV suspension, he will only need to serve three more months for the court-triggered suspension. Jon will be able to reinstate his license on June 1st.

So what happens when the DMV hearing and the court case have different outcomes? The following is cheat-sheet that was given to me when I first became a DUI attorney:

·         DMV hearing loss and a court conviction à License suspension

·         DMV hearing loss and a court dismissal à License suspension

·         DMV hearing loss and an acquittal after a court trial à License suspension set aside

·         DMV hearing win and a court conviction à License suspension

·         DMV hearing win and a court dismissal à No license suspension

·         DMV hearing win and an acquittal after a court trial à No license suspension

 

Whether the suspension is through the DMV or the court or both, a person can request a “restricted license” from the DMV after 30 days of the suspension.

 

 

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