Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson

247 N. Third Street, San Jose, CA 95112

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San Francisco marijuana DUI defense attorneyWith California’s legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016, more people have had access to both recreational and medical marijuana. Many people have feared that legal marijuana will cause more harm than good, especially when it comes to DUI. According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) marijuana DUI arrests have increased by 31 percent and injuries related to marijuana DUI have increased about 102 percent. A recent marijuana DUI case only adds more cause for concern. A California woman was convicted with gross vehicular manslaughter and a DUI for a crash that happened in 2016, which killed one person and seriously injured another.

Medical Marijuana Leads to Deadly Crash

Back in March 2016, a California woman caused a head-on collision with a vintage Porsche that had only lap seat belts and no airbags. The crash caused the death of a 43-year-old woman and the traumatic brain injury of the woman’s 49-year-old fiance. The woman’s attorney stated that the woman was “catastrophically impaired” after she purchased a potent strain of marijuana at a medical marijuana dispensary and proceeded to smoke it just moments before the crash. The woman’s lawyer claims that she could not be found guilty for the accident because she was not informed of how strong the marijuana that she purchased was.

Woman Escapes Second-Degree Murder Charge

Initially, the woman had also faced a charge for second-degree murder in addition to gross vehicular manslaughter and DUI. The San Diego jury deciding her case was deadlocked on the charge 10-2, which meant that the charge was dropped. According to the Deputy District Attorney, the jurors were in disagreement on whether or not the facts of the case lined up with the definition of “implied malice”, which is a component of second-degree murder. A second-degree murder charge would have carried a penalty of 15 years to life in prison.

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California DUI defense attorneyWhile the number of people who die in alcohol-related car crashes has been decreasing significantly since the 1980s, it still remains a large issue today. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 11,000 people in the United States died in alcohol-related car accidents in 2017. In California alone, there were 3,602 deaths. In an effort to reduce that number, a new law was passed and went into effect at the beginning of the year that requires both first-time and repeat DUI offenders to install a breath-alcohol ignition interlock device into their vehicle.

SB 1046 Requires Ignition Interlock Installation

According to the new bill, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2019, first-time DUI offenders will now have to choose between:

  1. Six months of full driving privileges with an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle, or
  2. A restricted driving permit for one year with no ignition interlock device.

If you are a first-time offender and you cause injury to another person, you have no choice but to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle for one year.

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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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