A 19-year-old man was charged on Tuesday with murder and driving under the influence (DUI) of a drug in connection with a crash in North Hills where three others died.

The defendant was the only occupant in his vehicle when he struck the other vehicle, carrying four occupants, head-on.  The crash occurred closed to 3:00 a.m. near Roscoe and Haskell.

DUI murder in California is also known as “Watson” murder and is charged as a second-degree murder offense.  Unlike felony DUI causing death, which requires ordinary or “gross” negligence while operating a vehicle, Watson murder is more serious and usually involves allegations of conscious disregard for human life.  In order to be convicted of a Watson murder in California, the prosecutor must prove that: 1) the death resulted from an intentional act, 2) the natural consequences of that act are dangerous to human life, and 3) you knowingly acted in conscious disregard for that fact.

The most common issue the prosecution has in pursuing a Watson murder conviction is proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, this third element of “knowingly acted in conscious disregard…”  This is so difficult since your mental state at the time is a central issue and can be tough for a prosecutor to illustrate, and convince, a jury of this.

It should be noted that if you have had a prior DUI conviction, a prosecutor can prove implied malice via your initials on the box of those waiver forms where the Watson advisement is given.

A conviction of Watson murder in California carries a potential 15 years  to life in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and a strike pursuant to California’s Three Strikes Law.  Additionally, if there are other, surviving, victims who have been seriously injured, you could face additional and consecutive prison terms.

If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI murder, a DUI causing death, a DUI causing great bodily injury or any other DUI or DUI-related offense, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  Having an aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side early in the process can end up being the best decision you make down the road.  Approaching your case in a proactive manner prior to any criminal charges being filed can result in the reduction, or prevention, of more serious charges from being filed.

Contact our office today for a free consultation.

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.

Former UFC Champ Tito Ortiz was arrested on Monday morning on suspicion of DUI following a crash on the 405 freeway in West Los Angeles.

According to the California Highway Patrol’s initial investigation, Ortiz was driving on the freeway when he lost control of his vehicle and struck the concrete median.  CHP officers responded to the scene after Ortiz has pulled off of the freeway.  No one was injured and Ortiz’s vehicle sustained moderate damage.

Being arrested for a DUI causing injury or with a traffic collision is more of a complex case than a straightforward DUI.  When there are injuries involved, you may be charged with a felony, there may be jail time involved and the possibility of a large amount of restitution to the victim.  A DUI with a traffic accident, in most situations, will not lead to jail time, but will trigger a longer driving under the influence education program, community service or Cal Trans work, and restitution to the victim(s).

Remember, if you have been arrested for a DUI, you or your attorney must contact the DMV within 10 days of the arrest to request an Administrative Per Se hearing.  Not doing so can result in the automatic suspension of your driver’s license!

There are many other factors that should be addressed immediately after being arrested for a DUI and one of those is consulting with an experienced DUI lawyer.  Attorney Ross Erlich has handled hundreds of DUI cases in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.  Ross Erlich knows what facts to look for, what procedures law enforcement needs to follow and, most importantly, how to resolve your case in the best possible way.  Contact the office of attorney Ross Erlich today for a free DUI consultation and fight for your rights.

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.

A former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to three years probation for driving with more than twice the legal blood alcohol limit, hitting another vehicle, injuring the occupant of that vehicle and then fleeing the scene.

The former deputy will have to wear an alcohol-monitoring device for two years and will have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on any vehicle that is registered to him.

Michael Grundy, the ex-deputy mentioned above, was driving under the influence of alcohol and another unspecified drug when he hit another car in a South Los Angeles intersection.  He was ultimately found by two other deputies, returned to the scene of the crime and arrested by the CHP.

Grundy had already completed a 180-day rehabilitation program at the time of sentencing and was ordered to pay over $25,000 in restitution to the victim in the case. Grundy had previously been arrested for drunk driving in Riverside County in 2005.

Grundy was originally charged with felony DUI causing injury, which is a very serious crime in Los Angeles.  Considering there was likely an additional charge of hit-and-run, prosecutors likely sought jail time and a substantial amount of restitution.  Many people believe that if you are driving under the influence and get into an accident, the best course of action is to attempt to flee and avoid arrest.  The problem with that choice is if you get charged with a separate count of hit-and-run, you are looking at additional punishment, fines and restrictions on your driver’s license.

If you have been charged with a DUI or hit and run in Los Angeles, it is important to contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  The DMV must be contacted within 10 days of the date of arrest to prevent an automatic suspension of your driver’s license so contact us before it is too late!

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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.

A 19-year-old from Irvine has been arrested on felony manslaughter and DUI charges after a car crash that killed a 16-year-old girl and injured 6 others.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:30 a.m. when 2 cars were travelling over 70 mph on a canyon road.  The driver of the front car stopped abruptly in an attempt to avoid hitting a deer.  The suspect, in the car behind the front one, also slammed on his brakes but lost control of the vehicle when it slammed into a tree.  One of the passengers in the suspect’s car was ejected and died from her injuries.

If you were operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and one of your passengers dies as a result of an accident that a prosecutor believes is your fault, you may be charged with felony vehicular manslaughter.  This offense is a “wobbler” meaning that, depending on the facts of your case and prior criminal history, the prosecutor may charge it as either a felony or a misdemeanor.  It is important to note that, if charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum punishment is up to 1 year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.  If charged as a felony, you are facing 16 months, 2 or 4 years in state prison.

There are many relevant facts that go into this type of criminal charge.  For example, it is important to determine the level of intoxication, the blood alcohol concentration, the weather conditions at the time of the accident, the other driver’s conduct, the road conditions and other factors that may have contributed directly to causing the accident.  Keep in mind that the prosecutor needs to establish that you were driving under the influence, that you negligently committed an unlawful act and that negligence caused the death of another person.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident where someone has been seriously hurt or died as a result, it is important to contact an attorney before making statements to law enforcement.  Having an attorney on your side speak to the prosecutor’s office prior to charges being filed may lead to lesser charges getting filed or the possibility of settling some issues outside of court.

If you have been arrested for a DUI or vehicular manslaughter in Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Culver City, Santa Monica or North Hollywood, contact attorney Ross Erlich before you make any other calls.

 

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!

Al Michaels, the legendary sportscaster, was arrested Friday night after police officers pulled him over for making an illegal u-turn just feet away from a DUI checkpoint.  Santa Monica police officers listed the normal DUI talking points: slurred speech, detected an odor of alcohol emitting from his breath and an unsteady gait, as preliminary objective symptoms of intoxication and made the arrest.

That night, a DUI checkpoint was set up in the 1800 block of Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica.  What many people are unaware of is that in order for the DUI checkpoint to be legal, law enforcement must satisfy a number of rules.  The California landmark case of Ingersoll v. Palmer is law of our state on this.  First, supervising officers must determine where and how a checkpoint is located, usually where a high number of DUI arrests have been made previously.  Second, the DUI checkpoint must be reasonably located.  Third, the DUI checkpoint must be publicly advertised, meaning warning signs, flashing lights and presence of uniformed police officers.  Lastly, and most important, the driver must have the opportunity to drive away and not go through the checkpoint if they want to.  Keep in mind that the driver may still be stopped if they commit a traffic violation or display obviously signs of intoxication.  There are usually “chase officers” that are posted down the street from a checkpoint who often go after those who turn away.

In Mr. Michaels’ case, he made a u turn, likely when he saw the checkpoint, and got pulled over.  What Mr. Michaels probably didn’t realize is that u turns are illegal in a business district (essentially any street lined with shops and stores) and this gave the police officers all the probable cause they needed to pull him over.  Once this initial contact was made, it was game over for Al.

If you have been arrested going through a checkpoint, you might think that there is nothing you can do about it.  Well, that couldn’t be father from the truth.  As this article mentioned above, there are many rules that law enforcement must comply with in order to have a “legal” checkpoint.  It takes an aggressive and detail-oriented attorney to make sure the police did their job and that the checkpoint complied with all the constitutional regulations.

Because many people are stopped at the checkpoint and arrested, in many cases the police never actually witness any “bad driving” or signs of “driving under the influence” before coming into contact with you.  This can, potentially, be instrumental in getting your charges dismissed or reduced.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, North Hollywood, Burbank or anywhere in Los Angeles County, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible and avoid your license from getting suspended.

This past week the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue regarding whether or not police need a warrant before they can forcibly draw blood from a DUI suspect who does not consent to a test.  Their answer: Yes, the government DOES need a warrant to obtain a blood test.

The Supreme Court has long held that search warrants are generally needed before a government search, or intrusion, into someone’s body, like a forced blood draw.  The Court has reasoned that these types of intrusions amount to a bodily search and are therefore covered under the 4th Amendment’s protection against unwarranted search and seizures.  The Court has also long held that there are exceptions to this rule – most notably the exigent circumstances exception.  This exception comes into play when officers believe that unless evidence is seized or a search conducted immediately, there will be a threat of danger to society or the destruction of evidence and thus, they can act without a warrant.

Police have always argued that with the every passing minute, the alcohol level in the suspect’s blood dissipates and therefore, valuable evidence is being lost without obtaining the blood sample.  The Supreme Court disagreed, somewhat, and held that in many circumstances, and with current technology, there is almost always sufficient time to obtain a warrant.  The Court also noted that emergency, or exigent, circumstances must be decided on a case-by-case basis and that since police officers must transport the suspect to the hospital to get his blood drawn in any case, there is always this issue of dissipation of alcohol.

If you have a driver’s license in California, you have agreed to what is known as the “implied consent” law.  What that means is that in exchange for your privilege to drive is your “implied consent” to a police officer for a blood alcohol chemical test, be it blood, breath or urine.  Some jurisdictions allowed for law enforcement to obtain forced blood draws if a suspect does not consent to one of the tests.  The Supreme Court has now made it clear that law enforcement must obtain a warrant for this forced blood draw or risk having this evidence thrown out in court.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Burbank, Hollywood, North Hollywood or Santa Monica, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible for a free case consultation.  Remember that you only have 10 days from the date of arrest to request a DMV hearing or your license will be suspended automatically.  Also keep in mind that just because you have been arrested for a DUI does not mean that you are guilty or that you broke the law.  It is important to have an attorney who knows the DUI laws in Los Angeles, Burbank, Pasadena, Santa Monica and Hollywood apply that knowledge for your benefit.


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