An elementary school principal has been charged with DUI murder in connection with a head-on crash in Palmdale that killed a woman.  The suspect principal was ordered jailed in lieu of $2 million bail while awaiting arraignment next month.

The case is taking place at the Lancaster/Antelope Valley courthouse in LA County and the report alleges that the suspect was behind the wheel of her jeep when it veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with the victim’s car.

If convicted of this charge, the suspect faces a strike conviction and 15 years to life in state prison.

DUI causing death murder charges, or “Watson,” murder, is a way for prosecutors in California to prosecute someone who was DUI and caused a death with second-degree murder.  This occurs if the state can prove that the defendant was committed the offense with “implied malice.”  Implied malice, in plain English, means that the suspect does not need to intend to cause death, but acted with conscious disregard for human life.  Thus, if you deliberately get into your car while intoxicated, drive and end up causing a death, the driving while impaired can be interpreted as conscious disregard for human life.

Typically, “Watson” murders are charged only after someone has had a prior DUI conviction or has attended one of the statewide drinking and driving programs.

If you have been charged with a DUI causing a death or causing great bodily injury, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  Attorney Ross Erlich handles DUIs in Los Angeles county, Ventura county, San Bernardino county, Orange county and in Riverside county.  Additionally, if the facts surrounding the incident look bad, there are some pre-court actions attorney Ross Erlich can share to help improve your case status at the first court appearance.

Remember, if you are convicted of a DUI in California, you are looking at possible jail time, fines, loss of driver’s license, community service, problems with employment and other obligations.

Contact Ross Erlich today for a free case consultation and to stop the DMV from suspending your license.

An off-duty LAPD officer was arrested last week on suspicion of DUI after he allegedly crashed his car into a McDonald’s drive-through in Diamond Bar.  Apparently the officer was exiting the freeway at 1:15 a.m. when his car veered off the exit ramp, crossed over to an on-ramp and then was launched 50 feet, eventually coming to rest in the drive-through.

Firefighters had to pull the officer from his car and transport him to the hospital.  A CHP officer responded to the hospital, where the officer must have shown the objective symptoms of being under the influence, and was arrested for DUI.

Assuming this off-duty officer has not had any prior DUI convictions within the last 10 years, he is facing a possible license suspension through the DMV and possibly through the court, a longer first-offender driving under the influence class (due to the accident), possible jail or Cal Trans work, court fines and fees and possible suspension or loss of his employment.  There are additional issues to keep in mind with regards to the impact of a DUI.  Contact the office to have a consultation about your specific case.

When there is a car accident such as this while driving under the influence, prosecutors seek to impose additional penalties to, what would otherwise be, a normal first-offense DUI offer.  Accidents, injuries, open containers, and driving on a suspended license are all common issues that can elevate the normal DUI case.

If you have been involved in a DUI with an accident or injuries, it is important that you contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  Contacting law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office and even trying to compensate victims can put you in a better place dealing with your case than if you just sat and waited.  Also keep in mind the need to contact the DMV within 10 days from the date of arrest to request a hearing and prevent an automatic suspension of your license.

If you have been arrested for a DUI anywhere in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Orange County or San Bernardino County, contact attorney Ross Erlich today.

California’s state task force again drunk driving reported an increase in the number of DUI arrests so far this season.

Since Friday, December 13, through midnight this Monday, there were 1,366 arrests of suspected drunk drivers from reported from 100 law enforcement agencies throughout the state.  This number is up from the 1,298 arrests made during the same time period in 2012.

The California Highway Patrol has stepped up enforcement during the holiday season and are deploying additional DUI checkpoints through January 1st.  LAPD says they concentrate their efforts on Hollywood and North Hollywood, the two areas where DUIs have been a major problem.

If you live in Los Angeles, chances are you realize the problems that this large geographical area has with going out and having a few drinks – someone is going to have to drive. You also probably know that the law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles take driving under the influence seriously and pay extra attention to drivers during the holiday season.  That being said, the best way to prevent being arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles would be to get a designated driver or a cab.

If you are pulled over for driving under the influence, cooperate fully with the police officer.  Under California’s implied consent law, you are required to submit to a chemical test if the officer has reason to believe you might be operating your vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both.  You can choose between a blood test, a breathalyzer test at the police station, or a urine test at those stations that still offer that option.

The one thing to keep in mind is that you are NOT going to talk your way out of an arrest.  Telling the officer “I wasn’t that drunk” or, “I only had a couple beers” is not going to make them have a change of heart and let you go home.  You have a right to an attorney before the police question you and I would highly recommend exercising that right before you make any statements.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  Ross Erlich handles all types of DUI-related offenses as well as all of the corresponding DMV proceedings.   It is crucial for you to contact the DMV or an attorney within 10 days after your arrest before your license is suspended automatically.

If you have questions related to DUI, reckless driving, or driving under the influence in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, or North Hollywood, contact our office today.

Lamar Odom’s DUI arraignment was postponed for approximately two weeks after a judge granted his lawyer’s request for this continuance in the Van Nuys Superior Court’s misdemeanor traffic arraignment courtroom last Friday morning.

Odom is being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, or drugs, or both (California Vehicle Code section 23152(a)), and was being represented in court by his attorney without being personally present.

Odom was arrested in the early morning hours on August 30 after law enforcement allegedly saw his car swerving across lanes on the 101 freeway.  He was also, allegedly, driving at only approximately 50 mph on the freeway, a 65 mph zone.  Officers allege that Odom failed to pull over for approximately 1 mile and failed several field sobriety tests at the location of arrest.

Once at the station, Odom refused to take any of the state-required blood alcohol tests (breath, urine or blood) and this caused an automatic 1 year suspension of his driver’s license from the DMV.  This suspension takes place immediately and stays in place regardless of the outcome of his criminal DUI case.

If you have been arrested for a DUI and charged with refusing a chemical test, it is crucial that you contact an attorney and have that attorney contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest to request a hearing.  This administrative hearing will address the issues of whether or not law enforcement had reason to suspect you were driving under the influence, whether you were lawfully arrested, if you were properly advised that your license would be revoked or suspended for 1 year and if you willfully refused a test after all was said and done.

In court, a DUI refusal may lead to increased penalties should you plead guilty or get convicted at trial.  The prosecution will be seeking some form of jail time (minimum of 48 hours), a 9-month drinking and driving program and other possible additional penalties.

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI in Los Angeles, Metro Court, Airport Court, Pasadena Court, Burbank Court or East Los Angeles Court, contact attorney Ross Erlich now for a free consultation.  Attorney Ross Erlich is available 24/7 and will evaluate your case and present you with your options right up front.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended at their hearing today in Washington that states lower the definition of drunk driving from a blood alcohol concentration of .08% to .05%.  The NTSB claims that the risk of a crash while driving at a .05% is half of what the risk is at .08%.

One immediate problem with this proposal is that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2 groups that are strand advocates against drunk driving) are not pushing states to make this change to .05%.  The main reason for this, they say, is that lowering the legal limit does not address the underlying issue of someone’s decision to drive a vehicle while impaired and that it will do nothing to combat the driver who gets behind the wheel regardless of the amount of drinks they have consumed.

So, what is the real difference between .08% blood alcohol concentration and .05%?  According to a study prepared by Johns Hopkins University, the difference is 1 to 2 mixed drinks, glasses of wine or 12-ounce beers over three hours, depending on body size and gender.  For example, a 180-pound man could consume 4 drinks in 3 hours before reaching .05% and a 140-pound woman could have 3 drinks in the same time period.  Thus, be prepared to make your “cut-off” 1 to 2 drinks earlier than you have been.

Many highway safety groups and anti-drunk driving groups have been advocating for increased “passive detection” of alcohol impairment as well as automatic ways to prevent driving.  For example, many popular ideas among these groups are increased use of passive alcohol-sensing machines which can detect alcohol on a driver’s breath during a traffic stop without requiring the driver to blow into the machine.  Another popular idea is expanding what is not law in some states after a DUI conviction, that being an Ignition Interlock Device which requires a driver to blow into a machine before their car can start.

It is not yet clear whether or not this proposal will gain traction or whether or not it has the strength to actually become law, but it does signal the fact that advocacy groups and the government takes driving under the influence and DUI-related accidents very seriously.  DUIs can be very costly, embarrassing, time-consuming and possibly detrimental to your job or reputation.

Attorney Ross Erlich handles all aspects of DUIs and DMV proceedings in Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange Counties.  If you have a DUI in Metro Court, Burbank Court, Airport Court or East Los Angeles Court, contact attorney Ross Erlich today.  Remember that you have 10 days after the arrest to request a hearing from the DMV or you will face a license suspension without getting a chance to make your case!


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