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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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San Jose DUI defense attorney field sobriety testsWhen a police officer pulls someone over on suspicion of drunk driving, they will be looking for evidence of the driver’s impairment. In many cases, they may ask a driver to get out of their car and perform a series of field sobriety tests, and based on their observations during these tests, they may decide whether to arrest the driver for DUI. If you have been pulled over, it is important to understand your rights and possible defenses against field sobriety tests.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has defined three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests that it recommends officers use:

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San Jose drunk driving defense lawyer St. Patrick's DayWhether someone is of Irish heritage or not, St. Patrick’s Day provides a great opportunity to get together with friends and enjoy a night out on the town. However, the large number of people who consume alcohol during this holiday has resulted in a spike in drunk driving accidents and deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that between 2011 and 2015, there were 252 fatalities in car accidents involving drunk driving on St. Patrick’s Day. Due to the increased level of danger from drunk driving, police will be conducting DUI checkpoints in hopes of making arrests for driving under the influence before drivers cause dangerous accidents. 

Avoiding a DUI Arrest

People who are planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day should follow these tips to avoid being arrested for drunk driving:

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San Jose prescription drugs DUI attorney, DUI charges, drunk driving, prescription drug DUI, impaired drivingWhile most people are aware of the dangers of drunk driving, they may not realize that charges of driving under the influence (DUI) can result from the use of prescription drugs. This issue has grown in prevalence in recent years, with California’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) reporting that 38 percent of the drivers who died in car accidents in 2014 tested positive for legal or illegal drugs. As a result, police officers are becoming more vigilant toward possible impairment, and drivers should be aware of their rights when facing potential DUI charges related to prescription drugs.

Prescription Drug DUI

Studies performed by the National Institute of Health have shown that the use of drugs that can potentially lead to impaired driving has increased in the past 15 years throughout the United States. These drugs include both over-the-counter and prescription medications such as anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxants, sleep aids, stimulants, and allergy medications.

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San Jose DUI attorney, DUI accidents, DUI arrests, holiday DUI, drunk drivingThis past Thanksgiving weekend was an especially deadly time on roads in the Bay Area and throughout California. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reported that there were 76 fatalities in vehicle collisions throughout the state, and 1,057 people were arrested for DUI, which was a 17 percent increase from the previous year.

As the holiday season begins in earnest, drivers should be aware that the rate of drunk driving accidents increases significantly during the weeks surrounding the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Between two and three times more fatalities from alcohol-related crashes occur during this season than during other times of the year. As a result, law enforcement will be increasing their efforts to stop drunk driving and increase safety on the road during the holidays.

Avoiding a DUI Arrest

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DUI arrest, drunk driving, San Jose DUI defense attorney, DUI defense, Uber and LyftWhen someone drinks alcohol, one of the first things that is affected is their judgment. This impairment to a person’s ability to make responsible decisions is why otherwise-sensible people may get behind the wheel after drinking, and thus endanger people on the road—actions that can potentially lead to a DUI arrest or a car accident.

In the ongoing campaign against drunk driving, safety advocates have encouraged drivers to use alternate methods of transportation after they have been drinking. In recent years, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft have become available, and these companies have claimed to have reduced the rates of drunk driving. But have they actually made an impact on public safety?

Differing Studies

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