Drunk Driver Released Only 23 Days After Serving DUI Sentence

In March of 2019, a mother tragically lost her son after he was struck by a drunk driver while crossing the street. Her son, Kyle McNeley, had been crossing in a wheelchair across an intersection in Long Beach when Jesus Arias drove through the intersection. Arias was allegedly driving drunk with his two children in the car at the time of the incident.

According to authorities, Arias did not stop after striking McNeley and continued driving. A witness followed his car and urged Arias to back to the intersection because he hit a person. The witness said that once Arias heard what he had done, tears started falling from his eyes. Perhaps it was then that he realized the full weight of what just happened. After the driver returned to the scene, police arrested him on suspicion of DUI and hit-and-run shortly after. They also found that his driver’s license was invalid.

The victim was transported to a nearby hospital to receive medical treatment for his severe injuries but unfortunately succumbed to them and passed away.

An Early Release from Jail

On January 7th, 2020, Arias pleaded no contest to driving with a 0.08% blood-alcohol level causing injury, hit-and-run driving resulting in death, and child abuse under circumstances likely to cause death. That very day, he was handcuffed in a Long Beach courtroom and transported to the Los Angeles County Jail to serve his sentence.

However, on January 30th, 2020, Kyle McNeley’s mother Michelle was notified that Arias had been released from jail. According to the victim’s parents, they were forewarned by prosecutors that, due to overcrowding, it was likely that Arias would not serve his entire sentence. Instead, it would be up to the LA County Sheriff’s Department to determine how soon he would regain his freedom.

A spokesperson for the department explained that in order to lower the jail population amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in cases like Arias’, the suspect’s conviction and charges are weighed to help determine who gets released. They conceptualized this process as delicately balanced and continuously reviewed.

Early release in California is not uncommon because of several criminal justice reforms that have been made. As a result, low-level offenders are usually the first to be released. Non-intentional killing, as in the case of Arias, is considered to be a low-level offense. Because Arias’ one year sentence was a relatively short term, the department likely decided to make room for more dangerous inmates. This early release gives him the opportunity to further reflect on his alleged decision to drive drunk and learn from this unfortunate situation.

The District Attorney’s Office highlighted that Arias’ sentence included five years of probation, a 6-month DUI class, a morgue visit, 52 weeks of child abuse counseling and a Watson advisement, which means he can be charged with murder if he drives under the influence and kills someone again.

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What is a DUI Diversion?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every year more than 10,000 people die in accidents where alcohol plays a primary factor. This accounts for roughly 30% of all driving deaths. At the same time, more than 15 million Americans also battle with alcohol use disorders. As a result, state laws try to balance punishing this dangerous act with giving people the opportunity to get help for their addiction issues.

This is why many states now offer DUI diversion programs to allow some offenders the opportunity to keep a clean criminal record.

What Are DUI Diversion Programs?

DUI diversion programs provide some offenders the opportunity to have their charges dropped or expunged under certain circumstances. In exchange, the court requires that the person meet the requirements they set out. These can include substance testing, alcohol treatment classes and programs, DUI education courses, and community service.

Some states may require you to plead guilty or no-contest to the DUI charge before you enter the program, and only have your record cleared after the court records your successful completion of all the tasks the program requires. This process is called deferred adjudication.

Who Is Eligible?

DUI Diversion programs are usually only offered to first-time offenders or offenders with less serious DUI charges. Once again, every state has their own specific guidelines regarding program eligibility, and sometimes even individual counties have their own criteria. However, these programs are only offered to first-time offenders and only if their BAC percentage is under a certain level–between 0.15% and 0.20%.

In addition, many states also deny admission to those who have been convicted of or are currently being charged with a serious crime like murder or manslaughter. They may also deny admission if the DUI in question causes serious bodily injury or death to another person.

How Do They Work?

The most common type of DUI diversion programs usually involves a suspended sentence. In other words, if the prosecutor and the judge believe that you are a good candidate for the program, you must first plead guilty or no contest to the charges before you can officially become a part of it. This is to ensure that failure to successfully complete the program leads to consequences. It also leaves the avenue open for the conviction to be cleared if you complete the court’s orders.

After the pleading, the prosecutor and the judge will give instructions on how to begin the diversion program. Once the prosecutor acknowledges that the participant has met every necessary milestone, the program is complete. Depending on the state, the prosecutor will either formally drop the charges, or expunge a DUI from your record. If failed for any reason, the court can impose the original sentence.

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What are DUI Pre-Trial Motions?

Pre-trial motions typically refer to written documents that are filed by a party requesting that the court take a certain action. For example, a defense attorney may file a pre-trial motion to exclude evidence that has been obtained inappropriately. These are used by both the defense and prosecution to limit the scope of evidence and arguments that can be made during the trial.

Once the pre-trial motion is filed, both parties will have the opportunity to argue the merits of the request to the judge. This usually happens during a court hearing. Pre-trial motions can be an extremely integral tool for defending DUI charges. If done well, successful motions can potentially keep the prosecution from bringing forth certain negative charges, offering damaging evidence during trial, or using certain witnesses against you. In fact, some pre-trial motions can lead to the entire criminal case being dismissed even before it ever goes to trial.

When Should Pre-Trial DUI Motions be Made?

Pre-trial DUI motions are generally filed after the preliminary hearing but before the case actually goes to trial. However, they may have strict deadlines depending on the type of motion to be made. In the event that the motion is not filed before its deadline, it is deemed to be waived, and your representation will no longer be able to bring the motion in the future, even if it is a valid one. These deadlines can be located in the local court rules or could be set by the judge overseeing the case.

There are many potential arguments made during pre-trial motions in a DUI case. The most common ones include:

  • Evidence should be excluded because of foul play
  • Confession made in regard to the DUI arrest by a defendant at the scene or even after should be excluded if authorities failed to advise the suspect of his Miranda Rights
  • Evidence of racial bias, excessive force, false arrest, harassment, or criminal conduct
  • A scientific evidence argument attesting to whatever was used to check the defendant is considered invalid or does not accurately reflect that the defendant was intoxicated.

What is a Motion to Dismiss?

A motion to dismiss is when a defendant requests that the court throw out the charges against them due to some defect. A motion to dismiss is different from pleading not guilty and wanting the court to dismiss because you did not commit the alleged crime. Rather, a motion to dismiss argues that the government or the party bringing in the case has either:

  • Failed to follow some procedure required by law
  • Made a mistake in the charging documents 
  • Violated the defendant’s rights in a way that warrants a dismissal
  • The case is barred because the statute of limitations has lapsed.

DUI convictions can have serious, lasting consequences. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is wise to contact experienced defense attorneys like the ones provided by The Law Offices of Taylor and Taylor as soon as possible. Our lawyers can evaluate your case and file any appropriate pre-trial motions that are available to aid you against criminal charges.

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Parents Killed in Head-on Collision Caused by Drunk Driver

A tragic accident in West Sacramento, California left two children parentless on Monday, February 15, 2021.

According to the West Sacramento Police Department, the accident occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m. when a drunk driver crashed head-on with another car at Jefferson Boulevard south of Locks Drive. The suspected DUI driver was transported to a nearby hospital with severe injuries.

The second car involved in the crash was occupied by a married couple and their two young children, who were leaving a family celebration. According to emergency medical personnel, the couple identified as Rasul Afzili, 37, and Anila Afzili, 29, unfortunately succumbed to their injuries. Their children, three-year-old Jannah and seven-month-old Azzan, were taken to a nearby hospital for further medical assessments.

Eyewitnesses attested to the incident that occurred that night. One witness, Alina Karakay, described the aftermath as unbelievable. When Naeema Afzili, Rasul’s sister, was notified of her brother’s accident, she went straight to the medical center for updates. Her sister-in-law was pronounced dead soon after her arrival at the hospital. The infant son came out of the crash with no injuries, while the young daughter suffered broken bones and a head wound.

The Afzili family is left heartbroken, and their lives are changed forever. Naeema Afzili promised to help raise her niece and nephew to be kind-hearted just like their parents planned. Since the tragedy, fundraisers have been created to help bring some form of relief during this unthinkable time.

Investigation is ongoing, as the authorities try to determine whether alcohol was a factor in the fatal crash.

Drinking and driving has serious consequences that can alter or halt the trajectory of lives. If you are ever in a position where you have been drinking and getting home seems impossible, please consider using ride-sharing companies or other safe alternatives.

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DUI Suspect Crashes into Popular Urth Caffe in Santa Monica

This past Valentine’s Day weekend, a driver allegedly under the influence of alcohol or narcotics crashed into Urth Caffe – a popular local cafe in Santa Monica, CA. 

According to a news release, on Friday evening, the drunk driver crashed into a barricade that was placed to protect an outdoor dining area of the café. The collision occurred around 8:00 p.m. during peak business hours for restaurants in the area. Apparently, one of the heavy K-rails was knocked into the dining area, sending tables and chairs flying and customers running for safety. Several diners sustained injuries from the incident.

Authorities reported that a few diners suffered minor injuries from the incident. Also, at least one person had to be transported to a local hospital to receive medical treatment for moderate injuries. However, all of the diners are severely traumatized by the series of events.

The preliminary investigation alleges that Piper Pollard, a 21-year-old Pacific Palisades resident, had been driving north on Main Street around 8p.m. when she lost control of her vehicle and struck a portion of the concrete barrier. Once police arrived on the scene, they arrested and booked Pollard for felony DUI with a bail of $100,000. She was released from custody early Saturday morning according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The investigation is ongoing.

Since the incident, Urth Caffe has replaced the barriers and rearranged the setup. Diners will now be situated toward the sidewalk to provide further safety.

In cases such as this, it is important to seek legal counsel expeditiously so that they can help you understand your case and act accordingly. The Law Offices of Taylor and Taylor offer the best representation and can assure you that your case will be handled justly.

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