Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson

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California DUI defense attorneyCalifornia is famous for having some of the country’s most strict DUI laws. Even a simple, first-time DUI with no injuries or property damage can cost you your driving privileges, in addition to probation and exuberant fines. Committing a DUI at any time is a terrible idea, but it is an even worse one when you have a child in the vehicle with you. California courts do not take kindly to DUI offenders who endanger children and will most likely punish you to the extent the law allows. Not only will you be facing any applicable normal DUI charges, but you will also be facing an enhanced charge because of the child in the vehicle and you could also be facing child endangerment charges.

DUI With a Child in the Vehicle Calls For a Sentence Enhancement

When certain aggravating factors are present when you committed a DUI, California courts can choose to increase the penalties. In addition to any DUI charges you may be facing, you will most likely face an enhancement to your DUI charge if you had a child passenger at the time of your arrest. California VEH 23572 allows for this sentence enhancement if it is found that you committed a DUI with a child in the vehicle under the age of 14. In addition to other penalties, you will also be facing extra time in prison. These times can vary from 48 hours to 90 days of extra jail time.

Child Endangerment Charges

If you are caught with a child passenger under the age of 14 and you are found to be intoxicated while driving, you could also be charged with child endangerment. Under California’s Penal Code 273(a), you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime for putting the child in a situation where death or great bodily injury was likely. Though you cannot be convicted of both a DUI with a child endangerment enhancement and a penal code charge for child endangerment, you can be convicted of both a normal DUI and a penal code charge for child endangerment.

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San Jose DUI defense lawyerWhen you are intoxicated and need to get home, it may seem like a good idea to put your car into autopilot mode and hop in. That did not work out so well for a California man who was pulled over by California Highway Patrol (CHP) after police observed him asleep behind the wheel. He was stopped and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol after he failed field sobriety tests. The incident has brought up a conversation about the safety of autopilot features in vehicles and how they are able to be abused by consumers.

Sleeping Man is Pulled Over by California Highway Patrol

In the early morning hours of Nov. 30, CHP noticed a Tesla Model S going 70 mph down U.S. Highway 101 in Palo Alto. Upon further inspection, CHP gathered that the driver was unconscious behind the wheel, as there was no response from him when officers activated their lights and sirens. Hoping the driver assist feature was activated on the vehicle, police closed the highway off and successfully slowed down the vehicle by driving in front of it until it came to a complete stop. When officers tapped on the window, the driver woke up and was subjected to field sobriety tests -- which he failed. The driver was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Safety of Tesla Autopilot Feature is Questioned

Because the man was able to fall asleep at the wheel without the car realizing it, the safety of this feature is now being questioned by many. It has not yet been confirmed if the driver assist feature was actually activated during the ordeal, but because of the vehicle staying in its lane during its trip and responding to vehicles around it, it is assumed that the feature was activated. Some have pointed out that other vehicles with similar autopilot features have safety mechanisms in place to prevent situations like this.

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California DUI defense lawyerIt is never safe to drive after you have consumed any amount of alcohol, which is why all 50 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have passed laws making it illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of more than .08. While there is a limit to how much alcohol can be in your system before it becomes illegal to drive, many states have also made it possible for you to be charged with a DUI, even if your BAC is less than .08. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported that, in 2016 alone, there were 2,017 people killed in alcohol-related crashes involving drivers with BAC’s that were between .01 to .07.

BAC and the Effects on Your Abilities

.02: After your first drink, your BAC will likely be around.02. You will probably begin feeling slightly warm, relaxed, and in a good mood. Your judgment will be slightly impaired, and your ability to track moving targets and multitask will be affected.

.05: The effects of the previous level will still be apparent, but more exaggerated. Your sense of alertness may be lowered, and you may experience difficulty focusing your eyes, and even more lapse in judgment abilities. Your ability to drive will also be affected by reduced coordination, difficulty steering, and a reduced response to emergency situations.

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California DUI defense lawyerDriving under the influence is dangerous, and it can be deadly if the right conditions are present; that is why California takes DUI charges so seriously. If you are convicted of a DUI charge in California, you will be required to attend a DUI program as a part of your sentencing. These programs are designed to reduce the number of repeat DUI offenders and give people the opportunity to get help for drug or alcohol problems.

If you are ordered to attend a DUI program, it must meet state requirements and be licensed by the state of California. Currently, there are around 500 licensed state programs that you can choose from, with costs ranging from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars, depending on which type of program you are required to complete. It is important to note that licensed programs are only conducted in person - no online programs will qualify.

Wet Reckless Programs

If you are convicted of a “wet reckless” you were convicted of reckless driving and law officials were able to detect an amount of alcohol in your system. If this was your first wet reckless offense, you will be ordered to attend a 12-hour DUI program, which takes place across six weeks.

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Santa Clara DUI defense lawyerWhen people drive when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their senses are inhibited and they can cause a lot of damage to others. Driving under the influence is always dangerous, which is why it carries such harsh penalties in the state of California. When great bodily injury or death results from someone who is driving under the influence, the charges are increased and become more severe.

Man is Sentenced to Prison for DUI Deaths

A Livermore, CA man was sentenced to 30 years to life last week for the deaths of a mother and her daughter in November 2015. The 39-year-old man was convicted on two counts of second-degree murder after he lost control of his car while he was driving under the influence of alcohol. The man lost control of his car and crashed into an apartment building in Livermore, killing a 46-year-old woman and her 14-month-old baby.

Man Also Charged With DUI for Injury of Children

The death of the mother and her daughter were not the only victims in this DUI case. A 6-year-old and a 7-year-old boy were also struck by flying debris from the crash and were taken to the hospital for treatment. In addition to the second-degree murder charges, the man was also charged with a felony DUI charge for injuring the 7-year-old boy.

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