News

News & Opinion: DUIs & Crime in Sonoma County & Around the World, by Dave Jake Schwartz

  • Veteran CHP Cops Around CA Caught Up in Sexual Misconduct Probes

    Three top CHP cops are embroiled in separate allegations of sexual misconduct, two of which involve child exploitation. Sean Harrington, a five-year CHP veteran from the Dublin and Martinez CHP offices is suspected of examining a 23-year-old female DUI suspect's iPhone during a DUI booking at the Martinez jail, and forwarding to his own cell phone six explicit photos depicting the DUI arrestee in a bikini and various states of undress. Harrington reportedly told investigators this kind of image stealing has been going on for years in the state's largest DUI enforcement agency, calling the photo stealing a “game” and said he had done the same thing to female arrestees a “half dozen times in the last several years.” (See KPIX News Story). On October 16, 2014, investigators served a search warrant at Harrington's house in Martinez, seizing his iPhone 5S and Apple laptop containing photographs, text messages and instant messages from the woman's phone, according to the search warrant. The female victim had been arrested on suspicion of DUI after Harrington stopped her in San Ramon for an alleged unsafe lane change and ensuing .29 breath test. Her DUI case was dismissed during the investigation into the stolen pictures. Click here for Contra Costa Times story: Dublin CHP Veteran Allegedly Steals Nudies from DUI Suspect's iPhone.

    CHP political artNot far away from Harrington was Eric Lund, 49, a CHP sergeant from Chico assigned to the Fairfield office, arrested on October 16, 2014, by Vacaville police and CHP officers after a search of his car allegedly yielded multiple downloaded child pornography videos. Lund reportedly faces charges of allegedly possessing obscene matter depicting a minor in sexual acts and sending or selling obscene matter depicting a minor. He posted $115,000 bail and has been stripped of his police authority and placed on administrative leave. Click here for Sacramento Bee story: Solano CHP Sergeant Arrested for Alleged Child Porn.

    The Solano arrest follows a new twist in the ongoing saga of Stephen Deck, a 51-year-old San Juan Capistrano CHP lieutenant nabbed by Laguna Beach police, in collaboration with volunteers from the organization Perverted Justice, on a sting operation to identify and arrest adults using the Internet to meet minors for sex, where, after online conversations confirm an adult’s intent, decoys arrange meetings between the adult and a fictitious minor at an apartment where the adult is arrested. Even though explicit sexual messages were reportedly traded back and forth in Deck's case (Deck: "Wish I was your daddy...scented candles and nice music, kisses and cuddling, holding each other, passionate kisses, touching and caressing one another, mmmmm, sounds wonderful and delicious with you. I would love to hold you and kiss you. Sooo sweet"), and even though Deck reportedly carried a box of condoms to his meeting with the 13-year-old decoy, the defense argued that Deck had no present intent to commit a lewd act with a child. The prosecutor countered with a misstatement of the law during closing arguments to the jury, stating that no present intent was required to convict. On September 29, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Deck's conviction, finding that the prosecutor's misstatement, coupled with a failure of the judge to correct the mistake with the jury, may have had an injurious, unconstitutional effect on the verdict, and sent the case back with orders to release Deck or retry him. Click here for an OC Weekly article on the San Juan Capistrano CHP Lieutenant in a Perverted Justice Show, and here for an article about Sentencing the CHP Cop, and here for the Appellate Decision reversing the conviction.

    By any measure, the evidence reported in these cases involving CHP officers raise troubling concerns regarding the morality and lawfulness of the chief anti DUI law enforcement agency in California, said one Sonoma County DUI lawyer. The best Santa Rosa DUI attorneys are always trying to educate judges and jurors that DUI cops and their credibility and trustworthiness should be closely examined; there are liars, thiefs, and pedophiles I suppose, all around bad apples in every profession, but it's particularly disturbing to hear of cops linked to such disgusting allegations when they're obviously supposed to be protecting us from this very unlawfulness, added the Sonoma DUI attorney. For a larger discussion of DUI cops' credibility and personal stakes in DUI arrests, see, "Sonoma County DUI Lawyer: Don't Follow Bad Advice," and for a larger discussion of police excess and abuse, see, "Sonoma County DUI Lawyer: Excessive Force and Police Abuse."

  • Court OpinionSanta Rosa DUI Lawyer Court Update: California Supreme Court Rules No Automatic Right to Silence

    The California Supreme Court ruled, on August 14, 2014, in People v. Tom, that prior to arrest and interrogation, before you are told about your Miranda rights by police, evidence of your silence may be used against you as consciousness of guilt unless you first say "I invoke my right to remain silent."

    The case involved a driver arrested on suspicion of a fatal DUI collision in Redwood City, ultimately convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter. The district attorney stated in front of the jury that he found it particularly offensive that defendant never asked, hey, how are the people in the other car doing? "Why is that? Because he knew he had done a very, very, very bad thing, and he was scared. He was scared or—either that or too drunk to care." Defense counsel responded that "there was a big point made of Richard Tom didn‘t ask about the condition of the people in the other vehicle. They kind of stuck it there under consciousness of guilt. Sergeant Bailey, Officer Price, did you ever tell Richard Tom there was a fatality, between 8:53 and his arrest around eleven o‘clock? They didn‘t. Of course they didn‘t. Why would they. But you can‘t simultaneously blame him for not asking and not blame them for not telling."

    The California Supreme Court reversed the lower court and held that "Where a defendant could have invoked his privilege against self-incrimination at any point—but failed to do so—the prosecution‘s use in its case-in-chief of the defendant‘s postarrest, pre-Miranda silence in the absence of interrogation cannot be deemed a penalty for exercising a constitutional privilege. Nor does use of a defendant‘s postarrest, pre-Miranda silence in the absence of interrogation subject him to the cruel trilemma of incriminating himself, lying, or demonstrating his guilt by silence. No such quandary arises because he could have invoked his privilege against self-incrimination without penalty at any point before or after his arrest."

    Sonoma County DUI attorneys reject the Court's rationale, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer, stating that evidence is used against you "if you speak, or if you remain silent, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't." Apparantly the only way to be sure your action and inaction, speech or silence, is not used against you is to simply say from the beginning of police contact in such situations, "I am invoking my privilege to not speak," even though the government is now apparantly compelling you to speak, at least to that extent, added a Sonoma DUI lawyer. Read News Article... Read Court Case...

  • Top Petaluma Anti DUI Cop Rewarded with Promotion

    Petaluma Anti DUI Cop PromotedUnderscoring the common wisdom Sonoma County DUI lawyers know all too well, tons of DUI arrests, gestapo-style road blocks and DUI checkpoints, and sneaky undercover court sting operations backed with millions of taxpayer dollars were rewarded with prestige and a pay raise when the police officer in charge of Sonoma County's anti DUI efforts was promoted to Lieutenant after "he and his DUI team earned many awards from traffic safety organizations at the regional, state and national level for each of the six years he served at the head of DUI enforcement."

    According to the Petaluma Police Department's self-congratulatory press release, as Sergeant of the Petaluma Police Traffic Division, Lieutenant [Ken] Savano earned some of the most significant recognition of his career to-date. He and his team earned many formal commendations and awards from traffic safety organizations at the regional, state and national level for each one of the six years he served as the Traffic Sergeant. Lieutenant Savano led the AVOID the 13 DUI campaign in Sonoma County for six years and his team was responsible for developing the most innovative and effective DUI reduction strategies in the history of our organization."

    Santa Rosa DUI attorneys often comment on the air of credibility which DUI cops carry in front of juries when they testify to reasons for pulling over motorists, observations of drivers following a traffic stop, and many other details they are trained by prosecutors and senior police to use against DUI arrestees. It is left to Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys to remind judges and juries that cops have a personal stake in their testimony and report writing. More arrests, more convictions, lead to more money for the department to keep cops employed, buy more expensive equipment, apply for more grant money, and repeat. And the higher the arrest numbers, the more likely a single cop is to receive recognition, awards, promotions, and more pay. This is the state of DUI enforcement, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. For a full discussion of DUI cops' personal stake in DUI arrests, see, "Sonoma County DUI Lawyer: Don't Follow Bad Advice," and click here for the full Petaluma Police Department Press Release...

  • Court OpinionSonoma DUI Lawyer Court Update: US Supreme Court says to Police "Get a Warrant to Search a Cell Phone"

    The United States Supreme Court ruled, on June 25, 2014, in Riley v. California, that police must obtain a search warrant in order to search a cell phone of an individual whom they arrest.

    Effectively reversing the holding in an earlier California Supreme Court decision in 2011 case, People v. Diaz, the US Supreme Court held that "Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life.' The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple -- get a warrant."

    Sonoma County DUI attorneys applaud this decision, surprisingly protective of traditional privacy rights in comparison to otherwise ever-expanding police powers granted by conservative courts at the expense of civil liberties and privacy rights. This case reaffirms the rule that, absent a specifically identified police safety or destruction of evidence rationale in a particular case, the government must still justify to a judge the clear investigatory reason and probable cause supporting a police search of a cell phone or smart phone in a particular case, ensuring our phones, heavy with personal and private data, aren't searched in your average DUI case, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Read News Article... Read Court Case...

  • Second Napa Police Officer Arrested for Alleged DUI, Hit & Run

    Two Napa police officers have been arrested in the last seven months on suspicion of DUI and Hit & Run, raising serious credibility and leadership issues in Sonoma's neighboring North Bay County.

    In August, 2013, Ryan Cole, a 42-year-old Napa police sergeant was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and hit & run after he allegedly sideswiped a parked vehicle on Second Street in downtown Napa, and then drove his pickup truck to a nearby parking lot. A resident heard the collision and called 911. The officer reportedly blew 0.17 on a breath machine. He pled no-contest to the DUI in March, 2014, and was sentenced to 10 days in jail. For full details, see, Napa Register Article...

    Two months later, a second Napa police officer, 37-year-old Sean Ulitin, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and hit & run after he allegedly lost control of his Ford F250 truck on Monticello Road near Silverado, struck a large tree, rolled his vehicle over and hit a parked car that was pushed into a home. When residents attempted to help, the officer allegedly refused to stay until authorities arrived, fleeing northbound on Monticello Road on foot as people alerted the police. Ulitin allegedly later blew 0.26 and 0.28 on a breath machine. For full details, see, Napa Register Article...

    While Sonoma County DUI lawyers sympathize with the average person's mistakes, and make a career out of helping people through tough DUI situations with the least amount of pain and stress, it's hard to explain away police officer DUIs when these people are supposed to be setting an example in the community, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney. Particularly troubling is the low morality demonstrated by allegations of these guys causing property damage and then running away, added the Sonoma DUI lawyer.

  • Court OpinionSanta Rosa DUI Lawyer Court Update: CA Appeals Court for Sonoma County Holds Smell of Burnt Marijuana is Probable Cause to Search Vehicle

    On March 11, 2014, the California Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling and held, in People v. Waxler (1st Dist. 2014), that the odor of burnt marijuana in a vehicle and seeing burnt marijuana in a pipe gives law enforcement probable cause to search a car even if the driver has a medical marijuana card.

    The court held that "a law enforcement officer may search a vehicle pursuant to the automobile exception to the warrant requirement where the officer smells burnt marijuana and sees burnt marijuana in the defendant's car. The automobile exception is not limited to situations where the officer smells or sees more than 28.5 grams of marijuana in the vehicle (§ 11357, subd. (b)); the observation of any amount of marijuana — which is currently illegal to possess except as authorized by the CUA — establishes probable cause to search pursuant to the automobile exception. Consistent with People v. Strasburg, we also conclude the possession of a 215 card does not preclude a warrantless automobile search where there is probable cause to believe the vehicle contains contraband or evidence of a crime."

    Sonoma County DUI lawyers would criticize this ruling as evidence of California courts blind support of aggressive law enforcement efforts to contain use of marijuana in a state such as California whose people have spoken and continue to vote for responsible medical use of the herb, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney. Possession of marijuana along with a valid medical recommendation is legal, and absent a legitimate fact regarding illegal possession or use, police should not be allowed to follow a hunch and violate privacy rights of those who appear to be law abiding citizens, added the Sonoma DUI attorney. Read Full Waxler Court Case...

  • Court OpinionSanta Rosa DUI Attorney Court Update: CA Appeals Court Holds Hand-Held GPS Navigator Use on Smart Phone While Driving Does Not Violate Cell Phone Ban

    On February 27, 2014, the California Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling (see discussion of 2013 lower court ruling by scrolling down) and held, in People v. Spriggs (5th Dist. 2014), that the California Vehicle Code prohibition on non-hands free use of a cell phone while driving does not apply to other apps in addition to phone calls, such as GPS mapping (and music?). The case involved a man cited by CHP for violating Vehicle Code Section 23123(a), which prohibits driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone. The driver admitted that, while driving, he was looking at a map on his cellular phone while holding the phone in his hand.

    The court stated that the prohibition on cell phone use is reasonably interpreted as only prohibiting engaging in a conversation on a wireless telephone while driving and holding the telephone in one’s hand. This is because the statute specifically states the telephone must be used in a manner that allows for “hands-free listening and talking.” It does not state that it must be used in a manner that allows for hands-free looking, hands-free operation or hands-free use, or for anything other than listening and talking. Had the Legislature intended to prohibit drivers from holding the telephone and using it for all purposes, it would not have limited the telephone’s required design and configuration to “hands-free listening and talking,” but would have used broader language, such as “hands-free operation” or “hands-free use.” To interpret section 23123(a) as applying to any use of a wireless telephone renders the “listening and talking” element nonsensical, as not all uses of a wireless telephone involve listening and talking, including looking at a map application. "While the statute certainly could have been written more clearly, we believe the inclusion of the phrase “hands-free listening and talking” does in fact limit the statute’s prohibition to engaging in a conversation while holding a wireless telephone." See also Vehicle Code Section 23123.5 (Prohibiting Texting).

    Most good Sonoma DUI lawyers applaud this latest traffic ruling, concerned as we are with the huge number of traffic infractions which justify police stops quickly transformed into DUI investigations based solely on an odor of alcohol, and Santa Rosa DUI lawyers would object to unnecessary additions to this ever growing list of precursors to DUI arrests in Sonoma County. As the court finally admitted, if the legislature had wanted to outlaw use of smart phones for every single function, such as listening to music and finding your way home, then it could have so specified, said one Sonoma DUI attorney. Hands free is safest, and no one supports distracted driving, but let the legislature deal with it rather than allowing courts to read into the law more and more ways for drivers to get pulled over, added the Sonoma DUI lawyer. Read Full Spriggs Court Case...

  • Court OpinionSanta Rosa DUI Attorney Court Update: Parents of Minor Party Host Liable for Injuries Caused by Minor DUI Driver Who Attended Party, Paid Cover Charge

    On February 24, 2014, the California Supreme Court held, in Ennabe v. Manosa (CA 2014), that whereas ABC licensees (and those required to be licensed) may be liable for DUI injuries caused by a minor served alcohol if licensees merely furnish or give an alcoholic beverage away, a non-licensee may be liable only if a sale occurs; that is, a non-licensee, such as a social host, who merely furnishes or gives drinks away—even to an obviously intoxicated minor—retains his or her statutory immunity, but even a cover charge meant to cover the cost of liquor supplied, counts as a sale and would cause liability for DUI injuries caused by the served minor.

    Sonoma County DUI lawyers are quick to point out that this court decision is interpreting one of a very few exceptions to the general rule that providers of alcohol cannot be held liable in a civil court for injuries caused by an intoxicated individual (see, CIV§1714). Although servers may be guilty of a misdemeanor crime if found to have furnished alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person (BP§25602), injured people or their estates are generally not permitted to sue for money damages, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer.

    Rather, this case involved an unusual twist where the provider of alcohol could be held liable for monetary damages if an obviously intoxicated minor is served alcohol by an alcohol licensee, or by a non-licensee (such as a social host or her unknowing parents) if, but only if, a sale occurred. The court held that a sale occurred in this case because of the cover charge paid at the door, even though the cover charge was not viewed as a profit for the event but rather just to pay for, or defray, the costs of the liquor provided, explained the Sonoma DUI attorney. Read Full Ennabe v. Manosa Court Case...

  • Santa Rosa DUI Lawyer Police Excess Update: Two Bay Area Police Departments Disgraced by More Bad Cops

    Two Bay Area Police Departments are shamed by excessive conduct allegations as their cops are charged with alleged illegal conduct.

    In San Jose, a 23-year veteran city cop, 51, pleaded no contest on February 26, 2014, to four felony charges stemming from fake traffic tickets he wrote to two people involved in a lawsuit with him. He faces up to five years in state prison.

    In San Francisco, six city cops were indicted by the US attorney's office for alleged civil rights and other corruption violations in connection with a series of raids on hotels where the officers are accused of terrorizing hotel residents without justification, distributing controlled substances, and stealing money, drugs, computers, electronic devices and gift cards. The officers were reportedly suspended without pay and required to return their department-issued guns.

    Although we are fond of saying that "there are good cops and bad cops, just like in every other line of work" these all too common police corruption stories right here in the Bay Area should be a sober reminder to judges and juries who tend to put way too much blind faith in the credibility of law enforcement, said one Sonoma County DUI lawyer, pointing to the recent "dirty DUIs" conviction of an East Bay officer waiting in the shadows as men in ugly divorce cases were liquored up and then arrested leaving nightclubs. "Cops have reasons to lie, cheat and steal just like everyone else, and their testimony shouldn't be gospel just because of the highly publicized, money-fueled political war on drugs and DUIs," said the Santa Rosa DUI attorney.

    For the San Jose police story, see, NBC Bay Area San Jose News Story..., and for the San Francisco police story, see, NBC Bay Area SF News Story....

  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Awards Local Sonoma County POlice Agencies with a Luncheon Even as DUI Fatalities Rise, Arrest Numbers Fall

    MADD's annual celebration of DUI arrest totals focused on Sonoma County recently when the vigilante anti alcohol nonprofit agency announced in January, 2014, that it will honor 14 Santa Rosa area CHP officers for arresting nearly 600 Sonoma County drivers on suspicion of DUI in 2013, according to a press release proudly issued by the Sonoma County CHP office, based in Rohnert Park.

    A luncheon, which will be hosted by MADD, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), and the "Avoid Coalitions" anti DUI law enforcement collective funded by the OTS , will also single out for recognition 7 Santa Rosa Police Department (SRPD) officers who purportedly arrested a combined total of 298 impaired drivers out of the 707 DUI arrests made by SRPD, according to a press release proudly issued by the SRPD.

    All of this self-congratulatory activity as Sonoma CHP reported DUI-related fatalities increased 600 percent in Sonoma County, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer, arguing that the CHP's own press releases reveal the utter failure of heavily funded anti DUI efforts, which necessarily take badly needed funds from higher priority enforcement activities such as gangs, drugs, violence against women, etc. The Sonoma County DUI attorney, relying on the CHP's own press releases, indicated that Sonoma County CHP DUI arrests were down in 2013, from 1,062 as compared with 1,311 DUI arrests in 2012, 1,261 in 2011, 1,403 in 2010 and 1,537 in 2009. While DUI arrests were down, DUI crashes were up, 266 DUI related collisions in 2013, as compared with 253 in 2012, and 244 in 2011. Even worse, says the Sonoma DUI lawyer, DUI fatalities rose dramatically compared to last year, with 6 people fatally injured in 2013, as compared to only 1 in 2012, 2 in 2011, 11 in 2010 and 9 in 2009.

    Even in Petaluma, hosting the County's lead agency in charge of the Avoid law enforcement anti DUI collective, the Petaluma Police Department announced that "In 2013 there were 70 DUI collisions resulting in 55 injuries. DUI collisions have been increasing since 2010, from 49, to 50 in 2011, and 61 DUI collisions in 2012." See, 2013 Petaluma DUI Collisions, DUI Injuries Up Again.

    See also, Sonoma County CHP 2014 press release..., Santa Rosa Police Department press release..., Healdsburg Patch MADD article..., Press Democrat Historical Statistics..., and larger Sonoma County DUI Lawyer Article on Misplaced Grant Funding Priorities....

  • mouth swabs now being used in the field by police during DUI Stops to test for Drugs Before DUI Arrests

    Sonoma County DUI attorneys are keeping a wary eye on new law enforcement tools to arrest those being investigated for drunk driving. In Los Angeles, police are using a $500,000 state grant to test a device called the Dräger 5000 and administer a "voluntary" instant drug test at police disposal whenever they wish to check for drug use. Police take a swab of saliva from a driver, and within eight minutes the device analyzes the presence of cocaine, benzodiazepine (Xanax), methamphetamine, amphetamines, narcotic analgesics, methadone and THC indicating marijuana usage within the past few hours. A second saliva swab is supposed to be taken for independent testing.

    But, even though the California Vehicle Code §23612 requires a driver to submit to a blood test if lawfully arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, there is no such requirement to submit to an oral swab, commented a Santa Rosa DUI attorney, and most Sonoma County DUI lawyers would recommend against voluntarily submitting to such a test because there is no evidence of its reliability, and further, even if the test were shown to accurately represent recent drug use, such evidence is no indication of whether an individual was actually impaired while driving as a result of recent consumption, said the Sonoma DUI lawyer.

    Absent a flat numerical limit of drug content in blood (like the "per se" .08 legal limit with respect to alcohol), all of the scientific and observational evidence of drug use is just guesswork as to whether a particular individual is impaired or not when driving, commented the Santa Rosa DUI lawyer, adding that we all know that due to the accepted physiological phenomena of the human body building chemical tolerance over time, one person's impairment level for marijuana blood levels is likely completely different than another person's impairment level, thus making quantitative drug testing an irrelevant and useless endeavor in most DUI cases. See full story in: Los Angeles Times Article..., KABC News Story..., and see product description of Dräger SSK 5000....

  • Santa Rosa DUI Lawyer Police Funding Update: Sonoma County DA, Police Announce 2013-2014 Anti DUI Grant Funding: $2 Million

    More than $2 million dollars were awarded to the Sonoma County District Attorney and 5 local police agencies for anti DUI law enforcement during the coming 2013-2014 funding period. Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Sonoma were the local police beneficiaries, as well as the Santa Rosa CHP whose dollar grant was not included in the total figures, raising the funding total well above $2 million.

    Dubbed the "Full Police Employment Act" by local Sonoma County DUI attorneys, the funding prioritizes highway dollars for anti DUI spending at the expense of road repair, highway congestion reduction, road safety signage and other road safety improvements, so that lots of cops can buy fancy toys like breath machines and enforcement RVs, and stand around harassing sober drivers at Sonoma DUI checkpoints, sitting in front of a multiple offender's home or workplace, or hiding in the bushes to snare suspended license drivers at the court house, rather than engaging real police work to tackle meth labs, gangs, domestic violence, child abuse, and other real societal problems here in Sonoma County, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. The best Sonoma County DUI lawyers continue to question the usefulness of such law enforcement efforts, or any evidence that these expenditures do anything to limit the number of alcohol-related injury accidents or DUI arrests in Sonoma County. See last year's DUI Grant Analysis... Read News Article...

  • Sonoma DUI Lawyer Legislative Update: CA Governor Says He'll Sign Bill Allowing Immigrant Driver Licenses

    On September 13, 2013, the California legislature passed AB 60, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), which provides for immigrants without legal entry documents to obtain a driver license in California. Governor Brown issued a statement immediately after the bill passed, indicating he will sign the measure into law, significantly expanding the availability of driver licenses to immigrants in the country illegally. Some young, undocumented residents are already eligible for licenses under state law, if they qualify for temporary federal work permits. The bill, making California the tenth state, along with the District of Columbia, legalizing such a license, requires a special DP mark (driver's privilege) instead of, but in the same font and size as, DL (driver's license), and a notation stating, “This card is not acceptable for official federal purposes. This license is issued only as a license to drive a motor vehicle. It does not establish eligibility for employment, voter registration, or public benefits.”

    Sonoma County DUI lawyers would definitely applaud this new driving privilege, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney, principally because people are driving anyway, and this way everyone can drive safely and legally, rather than risking ever-increasing penalties for driving without a license. Driving is critical to employment, and daily life tasks, added the Sonoma DUI lawyer, who sees criminal cases everyday involving unlicensed drivers, but this fix stops the cycle of unfair and forced criminality for those who are trying to live a normal life in this state. Read Full News Story... Read Full Text of AB 60...

  • San Francisco Tour Bus Operator Found Guilty of DUI

    Sonoma DUI Lawyer reports on tour bus DUI arrestA 50-year old San Bruno man operating a London-style double-decker tour bus for San Francisco Deluxe Sightseeing was stopped by police near Stockton and Post in San Francisco at about 1:15 p.m., and later arrested on suspicion of DUI, after allegedly struggling to steer his bus load of tourists while holding a microphone. Court documents indicated an alleged .21 blood alcohol level. He pled no contest to the DUI charges in exchange for a plea deal including six days of jail and three years probation.

    According to Sonoma County DUI attorney Jake Schwartz, the plea deal will result in the bus driver losing his commercial driving privileges for one year. "A DUI conviction is particularly harsh on commercial drivers," said the Santa Rosa DUI lawyer, adding, "because of federal mandates, a first DUI can effectively terminate a lucrative driving career for many commercial drivers, and even worse, another DUI conviction requires a lifetime ban on commercial driving, even if the DUI was in a private vehicle."

    Police had claimed that they saw bottles of E&J brandy on the windowsill of the bus prior to arrest, prompting Jake to include this news story in our Sonoma County DUI lawyer Darwin Awards webpage. Read Full News Story...

  • Petaluma DUI Cop Guilty of Alcohol-Related Reckless Driving as His Police Department Fails the Integrity Test

    Sonoma DUI Lawyer reports on disappointing Petaluma police chief ethicsPetaluma Police Department, the heavily funded and highly trained lead police agency for Sonoma County's anti-DUI "Avoid the 13" multi-agency law enforcement collective, fails the integrity test according to DUI website author Jake Schwartz, a Santa Rosa DUI attorney, as one of Petaluma's own MADD-decorated DUI cops, Ryan McGreevy, was found guilty on July 23, 2013, of alcohol-related reckless driving in connection with a collision at a police department party attended by tons of cops and department brass, none of whom stepped up to investigate their brother officer with standard DUI breath or blood tests, or any sobriety tests at all following the accident.

    Petaluma's new Police Chief, Patrick Williams (pictured, right), who, according to the department website, is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute, not only failed to act on the afternoon of the collision, but waited a month before turning the case over to CHP investigators who eventually recommended DUI charges, said the Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. "I guess it's not surprising," he added, "but it sure is disappointing when we hear police statements about professionalism and integrity, yet their apparent failure to act evidences the cowardice and corruption with which disenfranchised people in our community view the police. It's a missed opportunity to gain trust."

    Even as the Petaluma Police Department announces their intent during anti DUI enforcement efforts to "aggressively look for impaired drivers and arrest anyone caught driving under the influence," that same standard apparently doesn't apply to their own officers, a troubling double standard raising serious questions of integrity, professionalism and fundamental civil rights, asserted the Sonoma County DUI lawyer, who frequently fights the more aggressive Petaluma police tactics used on ordinary citizens, tactics which are in stark contrast to the utter failure to act with such determination when it's one of their own jeopardizing the safety of our children and our community.

    Williams issued this statement following the guilty finding: "The men and women of the Petaluma Police Department take this matter seriously and understand the disappointment expressed by some members of our community over this matter. Though serious, this isolated event does not diminish the exceptional service to our community that our officers provide to our residents, businesses and visitors on a daily basis." Click here to see the Police Department's Statement, and to read the full Press Democrat account of this debacle, click here: Read Full News Story...

  • California Zero-Tolerance Marijuana DUI Drug Test Bill Dies in Committee

    On May 31, 2013, State Senator Lou Correa (D – Santa Ana), reported state attorney general candidate hopeful, saw his Senate Bill SB 289 go down to defeat due to failure of the California State Senate to pass the measure by a May 31st deadline; the bill would have established a zero tolerance chemical test for DUI convictions when driving under the influence of drugs is alleged.

    Sonoma County DUI lawyers would have been adamantly opposed to such a law because the presence of "any detectable amount" of a drug in a person's blood does not scientifically correlate to present driving impairment, said a Santa Rosa DUI attorney, and particularly with respect to medical marijuana users, whom the bill apparently attempts to exclude from arrest by including a prescription exception, but such an exclusion won't work because doctors don't "prescribe" medical marijuana but merely "recommend" its use. For more analysis, scroll down these Sonoma DUI lawyer news articles approximately 3 entries down from here. ...Read Full News Story ...Read Bill Text As Introduced

  • Court OpinionUS Supreme Court Strikes Down Forced DUI Blood Tests without a Warrant

    On April 17, 2013, the United States Supreme Court held, in Missouri v. McNeely (US Sup Ct. 2013), that in DUI investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an emergency in every case sufficient to justify conducting a nonconsensual blood test without a warrant. The court stated that the government's general interest in combatting DUIs does not justify departing from the warrant requirement without showing emergency circumstances that make securing a warrant impractical in a particular case. The case was decided by an 8-1 majority, rejecting a blanket rule allowing forced blood draws in DUI cases without a warrant, opting instead for "totality of circumstances" inquiry as to whether, in each case, it is appropriate for the police to act without a warrant.

    For guidance, the court referred to the seminal case of Schmerber v. California (US Sup Ct. 1966), where a warrantless forced blood draw was upheld in a DUI case, and explained that there, where time had to be taken to bring an injured driver to a hospital and to investigate the scene of an accident, there was no time to seek out a magistrate and secure a warrant prior to dissipation of alcohol evidence in the driver's blood. Other cases might or might not have such compelling facts, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer.

    Santa Rosa DUI attorneys applaud the court's ruling, particularly because of the growing bravado with which police exercise state power to interfere with people's constitutional rights to be free of state intrusions, demonizing alcohol and DUIs to the exclusion of other, more pressing social and criminal justice issues, and seriously undermining long-held constitutional barriers, said one Sonoma DUI lawyer. We hope the court has occasion to revisit the constitutionality of checkpoints as well, added the Sonoma DUI attorney. Read News Article... Read Full McNeely Court Case...

  • Court OpinionFresno Appeals Court Rules Hand-Held GPS Navigator Use on Smart Phone While Driving Violates Cell Phone Ban

    On March 21, 2013, a California Appellate Division of the Superior Court held, in People v. Spriggs (Fresno App. Div. 2013), that the California Vehicle Code prohibition on non-handsfree use of a cell phone while driving applies to other apps in addition to phone calls, such as GPS mapping and music. The case involved a man cited by CHP for violating Vehicle Code Section 23123(a), which prohibits driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone. The driver admitted that, while driving, he was looking at a map on his cellular phone while holding the phone in his hand.

    The court stated that: Section 23123 prohibits driving "while using a wireless telephone," except when the phone is "specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving." The term "using" is nowhere defined in the statute, but if the Legislature had intended to limit the application of the statute to "conversing" or "listening and talking," it could have done so. Our review of the statute's plain language leads us to conclude that the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction the driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone. That distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock or a device for sending and receiving text messages and emails. See also Vehicle Code Section 23123.5 (Prohibiting Texting).

    Most good Santa Rosa DUI attorneys, concerned as we are with the incredible array of traffic infractions which justify police stops quickly transformed into DUI investigations based solely on an odor of alcohol, would object to court-created additions to this ever growing list of precursors to DUI arrests in Sonoma County. If the legislature had wanted to outlaw use of smart phones for listening to music and finding your way home, then it could have so specified, said one Sonoma DUI lawyer. Hands free is safest, no one supports distracted driving, but let the legislature deal with it rather than allowing courts to read into the law more and more ways for drivers to get pulled over, added the Sonoma DUI attorney. Read News Article... Read Full Spriggs Court Case...

  • Santa Ana State Senator Introduces Zero-Tolerance DUI Drug Test Bill

    On February 14, 2013, State Senator Lou Correa (D – Santa Ana) introduced Senate Bill SB 289, a measure that would establish a zero tolerance chemical test for DUI convictions when driving under the influence of drugs. Correa is reportedly going to seek office as the next California Attorney General in 2018. Campaign stunt? According to Correa's office, SB 289 would join 17 other states making it illegal for a person to drive a vehicle if his or her blood contains any detectable amount of Schedule I, II, III or IV drugs. SB 289 excludes medicine used with a valid prescription issued by a licensed health care practitioner. Over the counter medication (allergy, cold and cough medicine) do not require a prescription and thus are not a scheduled/controlled drug.

    The best Sonoma County DUI lawyers would be adamantly opposed to such a bill because the presence of "any detectable amount" of a drug in a person's blood does not scientifically correlate to present driving impairment, said a Santa Rosa DUI attorney, and particularly with respect to medical marijuana users, whom the bill apparently attempts to exclude from arrest by including a prescription exception, such an exclusion won't work because doctors don't "prescribe" medical marijuana but merely "recommend" its use.

    According to SF Weekly, "medical cannabis advocates attended Correa's Sacramento press conference to protest; the Sacramento Bee reported that legal medical marijuana users would get a pass under Correa's bill. But on closer reading, not so much. As currently written, SB 289 does not apply to any driver who has a "valid prescription issued to the person by a licensed health care practitioner." This is a problem for medical cannabis patients. Medical cannabis is not prescribed in California, common misuse of the term aside. Doctors cannot prescribe an illegal substance -- but they can recommend it. And that's what paperwork from a doctor allowing for the possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis is: a recommendation. This means that every medical user in California would risk a DUI behind the wheel -- even if their last toke was days or up to a week ago. Correa's bill would rely on blood testing. And for light users, cannabis can stay in the blood for up to 24 hours after the use -- for heavy users, it's up to a week, according to California NORML. In other words, a brownie a few days ago, a toke last night, a vape hit last week -- all of it could be just as illegal as a bong in between one's legs while at the wheel." Sonoma DUI lawyers argue the same disconnect between residual presence in blood and present impairment applies to many other drugs too.

    If this bill passes, then experienced Santa Rosa DUI lawyers would have their hands full with this new "law enforcement tool" certainly making it easier for cops and prosecutors to arrest and convict in drug DUI cases, but without a scintilla of evidence that a driver was actually impaired behind the wheel, and that's an unfair, short-sighted, and stupid law without any rational basis in social policy, said a Sonoma DUI attorney. ...Read Full News Story ...Read Bill Text As Introduced

  • Court OpinionState Appeals Court Allows Warrantless Search of Chevy SUV Data Box to Convict in Fatal DUI Collision

    On February 6, 2013, the California Court of Appeals held, in People v. Diaz (4th Dist. 2013), that the 4th Amendment of the Constitution (barring illegal search and seizure) was not violated by the admission of evidence against a defendant in a vehicular manslaughter DUI case, where the evidence was obtained through the warrantless seizure of the sensing diagnostic module (SDM) from her previously impounded vehicle and the downloading of data from the device.

    The case involved a couple who drove to a bar near their home, then left 3 hours later; the boyfriend offered to drive home, an argument ensued, the defendant insisted on driving, and the boyfriend chose to walk home. He came upon the accident scene moments later; the driver had collided with another vehicle, killing its 18-year old driver. The defendant denied at the scene that the accident was her fault. Her alcohol level was estimated to be 0.23%. Her vehicle was impounded and the vehicle's data recorder was downloaded to reveal certain acceleration, braking, and speed data prior to impact. The defendant was convicted of involuntary manslaughter (Pen. Code 192(b)) and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while DUI (Pen. Code 191.5(a)).

    The court noted that the defendant did not dispute that the police had probable cause for the search. The lower trial court specifically found "there was probable cause to download the SDM, because speed and braking are always relevant in determining the causes of a collision," and although a vehicle is protected by the Fourth Amendment, and an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy as to the vehicle yields only as to places where there is probable cause to search, here the scope of the search did not exceed probable cause. Additionally, the court held that defendant's vehicle was itself an instrumentality of the crime of vehicular manslaughter, and the defendant conceding that the vehicle was lawfully seized, the officers' subsequent examination of the vehicle for the purpose of examining its evidentiary value did not constitute a `search' as that term is used in the California and federal Constitutions. Finally, the court held that the defendant had no reasonable or subjective expectation of privacy in the SDM's recorded data because she was driving on the public roadway, and others could observe her vehicle's movements, braking, and speed, either directly or through the use of technology such as radar guns or automated cameras. In this case, technology merely captured information defendant knowingly exposed to the public—the speed at which she was travelling and whether she applied her brakes before the impact.

    Most good Santa Rosa DUI attorneys would disagree with the court's ruling from a civil rights perspective, pointing out that drivers do not expect tech devices implanted in our vehicles will one day testify against us when police electronics experts, who had plenty of time to obtain a warrant, nonetheless engage unauthorized software to spy on past data recordings, said one Sonoma County DUI lawyer, who points to some opposite conclusions in another California Court of Appeals case with different circumstances but same SDM issue: People v. Xinos (6th Dist. 2011) ("While a person's driving on public roads is observable, that highly precise, digital data is not being exposed to public view or being conveyed to anyone else; a motorist's subjective and reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to her or his own vehicle encompasses the digital data held in the vehicle's SDM"). Read Full Diaz Court Case...

  • Court OpinionFederal Appeals Court Holds Mouthing Off to a Cop is Protected Speech

    On February 8, 2013, the Federal Court of Appeals held, in Ford v. Yakima (9th Cir. 2013), that criticism of the police by a motorist perceiving an unlawful and racially motivated traffic stop falls squarely within the protective umbrella of the First Amendment and any action to punish or deter such speech is categorically prohibited by the Constitution.

    The case involved a traffic stop with ample evidence indicating that the involved officer was willing to simply cite and release the motorist, except for the driver's vocal criticisms. The officer was quoted saying, "Stop running the mouth and listen"; 2) "If you talk over me, you are going to go to jail, sir. Do not talk over me"; 3) "If you cooperate, I may let you go with a ticket today. If you run your mouth, I will book you in jail for it. Yes, I will, and I will tow your car"; 4) "If you cooperate and shut your mouth, I'll give you a ticket and you can go."

    The court stated that, "In this Circuit, an individual has a right "to be free from police action motivated by retaliatory animus but for which there was probable cause." See Skoog v. Clackamas (9th Cir. 2006). That right was violated when the officers booked and jailed Ford in retaliation for his protected speech, even though probable cause existed for his initial arrest." Most Santa Rosa DUI attorneys, who fight against Sonoma County police abuse every day, would agree with the court, that although detained persons risk excessive force, injury, and arrest, when asserting free speech rights, nonetheless such speech is political in nature and should be held protected under the First Amendment, said one Sonoma County DUI lawyer. Read News Article... Read Full Court Case... See further discussions from your Sonoma DUI attorney Re: Excessive Police Force.

  • New Federal ICE Immigration Holding Policy Keeps DUI Arrestees Behind Bars

    The Obama administration's new guidelines intended to limit the incarceration of certain non-criminal undocumented immigrants will still result in those arrested for a simple DUI being held in local jails for deportation by ICE. According to a Press Democrat article, "The new rules seek to refocus and reinforce Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts on detaining and deporting serious and violent criminals. But immigration advocates say the policy has no real impact and doesn't prevent the agency from deporting illegal immigrants who don't meet the guidelines. ICE officials reject the claims, citing the most recent deportation data that they say shows that the agency is focusing more on "criminal aliens."

    But Santa Rosa DUI lawyers note that those arrested for DUI in Sonoma County would be held for possible deportation in the same manner as a person charged with a serious felony. That doesn't make sense, said a local Sonoma County DUI attorney. Someone who has one too many drinks and gets pulled over for a broken taillight is being treated the same under federal immigration policy as a drug kingpin, rapist or bank robber, said the Sonoma DUI lawyer. Read Full News Story...

  • Holiday Anti DUI Efforts Leave Unanswered Questions in Sonoma County

    Sonoma County's "Avoid the 13" multi-agency anti DUI law enforcement collective released its results of the holiday enforcement effort, showing a slight decrease in DUI arrests and the same number of people injured, as compared to the same period last year, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer.

    The Petaluma Police Department, lead agency for the massively funded anti DUI activities, reported 144 DUI arrests, down from 163 last year, and 5 injury collisions injuring 6 people, down from 6 injury collisions injuring 6 people last year. DUI arrests resulted from sobriety checkpoints, "saturation patrols," and warrant sweeps in Sonoma County and participating cities, including Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Petaluma, said the Sonoma County DUI attorney.

    Santa Rosa DUI lawyers who have been watching these soviet-styled checkpoint operations and related activities for many years, continue to question whether it is possible for these numbers to prove the programs work. Results vary from holiday to holiday, and year to year, leaving unanswered questions as to the effectiveness of the intentionally high profile operations, and extreme use of police powers at the expense of individual liberties, commented one Santa Rosa DUI attorney.

    When DUI arrests are up during these enforcement periods, police credit themselves and claim proof of the effectiveness of these grant programs showering cash on their departments, and when arrests are down, police officials announce that "we'd like to think we're getting the word out, through these grants, that driving intoxicated isn't worth it." Ironically, one New Mexico officer claims arrests are down because of the increased use of Smart Phones Spreading the Word of DUI Checkpoint Locations Cause Declining DUI Arrests. But Sonoma DUI lawyers ask, "Where's the credibility? Are we going to believe conflicting and self-serving statements from the very police who depend on this funding source to employ more local cops and buy more toys?"

    You can see a detailed account of the 2012-2013 Winter enforcement period in the news article directly below, as well as critical commentary of these government grants, in Jake's Sonoma County DUI Lawyer Commentary: Sonoma County Lands $1.4M Anti DUI Grants, including specific policy and civil rights objections by Santa Rosa DUI attorneys to these efforts, dubbed by Jake and other Sonoma DUI lawyers as the "Police Officers Full Employment Act."

    To read the full press release by the Petaluma Police Department regarding the Winter enforcement period results, click here: Avoid Press Release. For the Press Democrat article regarding this year's Avoid press release, click here: Full News Story...

  • Sonoma DUI LawyerSonoma County "Avoid the 13" Anti DUI Collective Starts Christmas to New Years Enforcement Activities

    The Sonoma County DUI Avoid the 13 multi-agency anti DUI law enforcement collective announced on Wednesday that participating officers and deputies will be "aggressively looking for impaired drivers and will arrest anyone caught driving under the influence."

    Detailed enforcement activities include four DUI/Drivers License Checkpoints, county-wide DUI saturation patrols, a Multi-Agency DUI Taskforce "strike team patrol," and a DUI Warrant and Probation sweep. The CHP will deploy all available officers during two Maximum Enforcement Periods – Christmas and New Years Weekends. Sonoma County DUI lawyers who have been watching these gestapo-like operations for several years indicate that drivers should also expect to see at least one court house sting where police lie in wait during unpublicized operations to trap unlicensed drivers after court hearings, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney. The special Winter holiday enforcement period will run from December 14, 2012, through January 1, 2013. The first checkpoint will be conducted Friday night, December 14, at an undisclosed location in Sonoma County.

    Acording to one Sonoma DUI attorney, Sonoma County agencies landed a record $1.4 million in anti DUI enforcement dollars for the 2012-2013 DUI enforcement period, with a variety of programs funded, including the county's Avoid the 13 Campaign, a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, an Alcohol and Drug Impaired Vertical Prosecution Program, and an Intensive Probation Supervision for High-Risk Felony and Repeat DUI Offenders program. Participating jurisdictions include the cities of Santa Rosa, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Sebastopol, and the Sonoma County Probation Department, so expect DUI & license checkpoints in those towns as well as increased probation checks for multiple offenders subjected to no-alcohol probation orders, said the Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. You can see a detailed critical commentary of these governement grants in Jake's Sonoma County DUI Lawyer Commentary: Sonoma County Lands $1.4M Anti DUI Grants, including specific policy and civil rights objections by Santa Rosa DUI attorneys to these efforts, dubbed by Jake and other Sonoma DUI lawyers as the "Police Officers Full Employment Act."

    To read a full Press Democrat account of this year's press release regarding Sonoma County's Christmas holiday enforcement activities, click here. Read Full News Story...

  • CHP Patrol Car Totaled in Solo Spinout During Downpour, One Day After CHP Warns Drivers to Slow Down on Wet Roads

    Six collisions on Highway 101 on the same day, three near Petaluma, prompted a CHP spokesman to warn drivers that "once the roads start getting wet they have to change their driving habits, slow down, and leave plenty of room. Make sure your vehicle is operating right. When it does rain, people are not adjusting themselves for weather conditions."

    The next day, an on-duty CHP officer hit standing water during heavy rain on Highway 101 and lost control of his patrol car near Petaluma Boulevard North, hitting the guardrail and overturning into a field off the freeway.

    A CHP spokesman said that it was unknown what the officer's speed was at the time of the collision, but good Sonoma County DUI lawyers would think that, contrary to CHP's own warnings just hours before the solo spinout, speed was certainly a factor in light of the fact that the CHP account indicates the officer was going fast enough that the patrol car was able to flip over, run off the freeway and be completely totaled with the officer requiring extrication from the car, observed one Santa Rosa DUI attorney, adding that "if unsafe speed was a factor, then obviously it's an unfortunate double standard we've seen before (See Santa Rosa Jury Awards Woman $1.2M for Speeding CHP Crash), and a serious, costly lapse from the very agency people want to trust to exercise good judgment during stops and arrests of citizens whom CHP asserts are driving unsafely." Read CHP Warning Story... Read CHP Officer Solo Collision Story...

  • Court OpinionAppeals Court: Patrol Car Spot Light is Not a DUI Detention

    On November 10, 2012, the California Court of Appeals held, in People v. G.M. (1st Dist., 2012), an unpublished juvenile court appeal, that a police officer's use of a patrol car spot light shined toward a vehicle is not a DUI detention within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and therefore if the driver stops the vehicle in response to the spotlight, and speaks with the approaching officer, the ensuing encounter is simply voluntary and need not be supported by an officer's reasonable suspicion that the driver did anything wrong to justify shining the spot light on the vehicle.

  • In this case, a Solano County Sheriff's deputy responded to a nighttime call regarding a dispute at Belden's Landing. As the officer arrived , a pickup truck began leave. The officer shone his patrol car spotlight toward the truck from 35 feet away. A minor who was driving, stopped the vehicle. The officer neither ordered the truck to stop nor prevented it from leaving the parking lot. He approached the truck, and claims to have noticed a strong odor of marijuana and alcohol, and the driver's red, watery eyes, as well as an open can of beer. The driver was later arrested for a DUI. The driver argued that reasonable people would interpret the spotlight as a police command to stop.

    The Appeals Court disagreed, writing that, with respect to DUI arrests and other types of police encounters, ""Police contacts with individuals may be placed into three broad categories ranging from the least to the most intrusive: consensual encounters that result in no restraint of liberty whatsoever; detentions, which are seizures of an individual that are strictly limited in duration, scope, and purpose; and formal arrests or comparable restraints on an individual's liberty. Unlike detentions, consensual encounters require no articulable suspicion that the person has committed or is about to commit a crime. (In re Manuel G. (1997) 16 Cal.4th 805, 821; see also People v. Perez (1989) 211 Cal.App.3d 1492, 1495.) "[A] detention does not occur when a police officer merely approaches an individual on the street and asks a few questions. As long as a reasonable person would feel free to disregard the police and go about his or her business, the encounter is consensual and no reasonable suspicion is required on the part of the officer. Only when the officer, by means of physical force or show of authority, in some manner restrains the individual's liberty, does a seizure occur. In order to determine whether a particular encounter constitutes a seizure, a court must consider all the circumstances surrounding the encounter to determine whether the police conduct would have communicated to a reasonable person that the person was not free to decline the officers' requests or otherwise terminate the encounter. This test assesses the coercive effect of police conduct as a whole, rather than emphasizing particular details of that conduct in isolation. Circumstances establishing a seizure might include any of the following: the presence of several officers, an officer's display of a weapon, some physical touching of the person, or the use of language or of a tone of voice indicating that compliance with the officer's request might be compelled. Similarly, a detention has been found where an officer parked his patrol car against traffic and directed the defendant to stop. (People v. Jones (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 519, 523.) The use of a spotlight without more does not convert a consensual encounter into a detention; rather, a person has been seized within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when "taking into account all of the circumstances surrounding the encounter the police conduct would `have communicated to a reasonable person that he was not at liberty to ignore the police presence and go about his business.'" (Florida v. Bostick (1991) 501 U.S. 429, 437; see also People v. Franklin (1987) 192 Cal.App.3d 935, 940.) The court in Perez concluded the record supported the trial court's determination that the encounter between the defendant and police was consensual where the officer turned on his high beams and spotlights, stationed his patrol vehicle in front of defendant's vehicle, shone his flashlight into the vehicle, and asked the defendant to roll down the passenger window. The officer did not activate his emergency lights or block the defendant's car from leaving. "While the use of high beams and spotlights might cause a reasonable person to feel himself the object of official scrutiny, such directed scrutiny does not amount to a detention." Similarly, in People v. Rico (1979) 97 Cal.App.3d 124, 130, a police officer driving on the freeway in pursuit of suspects involved in a recent shooting turned on his spotlights to get a better look at the occupants of the vehicle. The suspects responded to the lights by voluntarily pulling their car over. The court concluded that the officer's momentary use of the spotlight, coupled with the absence of any unequivocal show of authority, were insufficient to establish that the encounter was a detention rather than a consensual encounter. The court in Franklin reached a similar conclusion. There, police officers, who were patrolling in a high crime area, spotted the defendant wearing a camouflage trench coat in the summertime. The officer shone his patrol car's spotlight on the appellant. After the appellant tried to conceal a white cloth-like object from the light, the officers pulled their patrol car up behind the appellant. The Court of Appeal concluded not only that "the spotlighting of appellant alone fairly can be said not to represent a sufficient show of authority so that appellant did not feel free to leave . . ." but also that the immediate act of pulling the patrol car to the curb behind appellant did not constitute "an `additional overt action' sufficient to convince a reasonable man he was not free to leave." In reaching this conclusion, the court held that the officer did not block appellant's way, direct verbal requests or commands to appellant, or exit his vehicle and pursue the appellant."

  • The best Santa Rosa DUI lawyers would not disagree that there is ample caselaw supporting this court's decision (even if common sense suggests a majority of citizens would feel detained in most of the factual scenarios above), but the case is instructive to Sonoma County DUI clients with respect to the type of analysis courts use to rule on this critical issue of whether the initial police encounter which later leads to a DUI arrest can be successfully challenged by a Sonoma County DUI attorney as an illegal stop without cause to believe anything illegal had occurred, or instead will the court rule that the initial encounter was simply a consensual one where the driver was free to continue on rather than voluntarily stopping and engaging in a conversation which results in a DUI arrest and an ultimate DUI conviction even with the best efforts of a good Sonoma County DUI lawyer. ...Read Full Court Case

  • Police Officer Witness Fees Increase for DMV hearings in DUI Cases

    Starting January 1, 2013, the cost of subpoenaing a police officer or fireman in DUI cases litigated at the DMV will rise from $150 to $275 required deposit at the time that the subpoena is served. According to Sonoma County DUI lawyers, the party subpoenaing such state employees has always been required to pay for the full cost of the witness' salary and travel expenses in DUI cases, but the new legislation (Achadjian R-San Luis Obispo) raises the deposit which must be provided at the time the subpoena is received by the applicable agency, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer.

    In support of the increase, the CHP stated that "The increase proposed by this measure allows public entities to recover more of the cost [of arresting officers testifying in DUI and other types of cases] up front decreasing the need for these agencies to spend time and effort with the collection process. AB 2612 would benefit all public entities involved with the civil subpoena deposit process." Santa Rosa DUI attorneys respond that requiring persons arrested for DUI to continue to pay even more each year for the cost of enforcement already meant to be covered by ever-increasing taxes, further intensifies the chilling effect of trying to fight an unjust DUI arrest or license suspension, commented one Sonoma County DUI lawyer. Read Full Text of AB 2612...

  • Court OpinionAppeals Court Allows Drug Diversion for Simple Possession During DUI Arrest

    On September 25, 2012, the California Court of Appeals held, in People v. Orozco (4th Dist., 2012), that a defendant charged with a drug offense for which a drug diversion program is allowed pursuant to Penal Code Section 1000 (Deferred Entry of Judgment "DEJ") is not ineligible for DEJ due to an alcohol-related DUI violation admitted in the same case.

  • When a person is arrested for drug possession, but does not have an extensive (or any) criminal or drug arrest record, there are certain types of drug diversion programs which may be available to divert a case out of the criminal justice system and into treatment, which, if completed successfully, may result in dismissal of the new drug case so that the person may truthfully state that there was no drug conviction. This diversion concept is provided in several ways, depending on the criminal history of the person and the nature of the crimes charged. The principal statutory schemes provided are in Penal Code Section 1001.1 (pre-trial adult diversion), Penal Code Section 1000 (deferred entry of judgment drug diversion) and Penal Code Section 1210 (Proposition 36 drug court). Over the years, various courts have determined the types of situations in which individuals may be eligible for this type of alternative disposition in a drug case, when persons can avoid jail and/or convictions by choosing treatment instead.

    Previous cases have examined typical Sonoma DUI arrest scenarios involving the presence of both drug charges and DUI charges, and established that a person is not eligible to elect PC 1000 adult drug diversion to divert a DUI charge of driving under the influence of a drug rather than alcohol (People v. Duncan (4th Dist., 1990)), nor is a person eligible to elect PC 1210 drug court diversion to divert a drug transportation charge when there is also charged in the same case a DUI allegation of driving under the influence of a drug rather than alcohol (People v. Canty (Cal Sup Ct., 2004)). But in this case, a man was arrested for an alcohol-only DUI and was found to be in possession of a small amount of cocaine. The lower court ruled that the defendant was not eligible for PC 1000 deferred entry of judgment with regard to the cocaine charge, simply because of the presence of the DUI charge in the same case. The appeals court reversed the lower court, holding that a defendant charged with a divertible offense (the cocaine possession) is not rendered ineligible for PC 1000 DEJ diversion due to evidence of an alcohol-related violation such as a typical DUI.

  • The best Sonoma County DUI lawyers applaud this result. The court stated that PC 1000 DEJ drug diversion serves the twofold purpose of rehabilitating an experimental or tentative user without the lasting stigma of a criminal conviction and reducing the clogging of the criminal justice system by drug abuse prosecutions. The presence of a simple alcohol-related DUI shouldn't defeat these important objectives, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney. ...Read Full Court Case

  • Santa Rosa Raises Impound Fees After Drop in DUI Vehicles Impounded

    The City of Santa Rosa raised the fees charged to drivers when their vehicles are impounded during traffic stops, typically for DUI or license violations. The fee increase appears to be due to the fact that the City and tow companies have seen a 46% drop in revenues due to such impounds, all because of a new law preventing police from seizing cars due solely to licensing failures. Towing charges were reportedly increased from $190 an hour to $200, and daily storage rates were raised from $45 to $55, to match CHP impound fees, and address falling revenues so that tow companies stay in business and provide continuing services to the City. But according to Sonoma County DUI lawyers, the law causing the decrease in revenue was passed in part to address perceived conflicts of interest between police activity and lucrative tow contracts, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney.

    Background: On October 9, 2011, Governor Brown signed a new law, AB 353, which prohibits Sonoma County police from freely impounding vehicles at DUI checkpoints when the only violation is failure to have a valid driver license. According to one Sonoma DUI lawyer, some police agencies and local governments have been accused of improperly using DUI checkpoints to raise millions in revenue from impounds (and sales) of vehicles, as well as related towing contracts, and many immigrant rights groups have alleged that such checkpoints unfairly target illegal immigrants who do not have a driver's license. Because cities could hold cars taken from unlicensed drivers for 30 days, the accumulated impound fees can turn out to be more than the car is worth, resulting in some families losing their sole means of transportation for employment and life necessities.

    Santa Rosa DUI attorneys say that the new law prohibits police from impounding a vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint, if the driver's only offense is the failure to hold a valid driver's license. Instead, the police at the DUI checkpoints are required to make a reasonable attempt to identify the registered owner of the vehicle in order to release the vehicle to the registered owner if licensed, or to a licensed driver authorized by the registered owner, said a Sonoma County DUI lawyer. If no such driver is identified and the vehicle is impounded, the new law requires that the vehicle shall be released to the registered owner or his or her agent at any time the facility to which the vehicle has been removed is open, upon presentation of the registered owner's or his or her agent's currently valid driver's license and proof of current vehicle registration. Read Full Impound Fees Story... Read Full Text of AB 353...

  • Police Using Automatic License Plate Readers

    Six Marin County agencies are using automatic license plate readers ("ALPRs") mounted on police cruisers and selected stationary locations to scan the license plates of every car in sight and check for wants and warrants by comparing license numbers with DMV registration violations, court warrant lists, and criminal databases. Given that the CHP has been deploying these devices statewide since 2005, and recently won a $1.8 million dollar homeland security grant in September, 2011, for 216 ALPR units, it's safe assume that ALPRs are being used on Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino County roads as well.

    Sonoma County DUI lawyers question the accuracy of these units, as well as the reasonableness of anticipated police stops of drivers based on outstanding wants or warrants related to the registered owner of the vehicle rather than the person driving. Good Santa Rosa DUI attorneys would expect that wrongful police stops based on imperfect or erroneous data and assumptions may very well happen too often and result in bad police stops, subsequent questionable DUI arrests and other unintended police investigations, privacy intrusions and delays, if police rely on technology rather than traditional identification methods to stop drivers without warrants or other probable cause, said one Sonoma DUI attorney, adding that there's a meaningful practical and reliability distinction between using these devices to look for stolen cars versus looking for wanted individuals. Will such scanning lead to erroneous stops for probation checks? Dead-beat parents? Is this a police state we want? In additional to objections from Sonoma County DUI lawyers, the ACLU has raised privacy concerns about how such mass information gathering is being used and stored. Read Full Story...

  • Court OpinionAppeals Court Denies Early Ignition Interlock Restricted License Privileges For Second DMV Suspension But First DUI Conviction

    On July 6, 2012, the California Court of Appeals held, in LaChance v. Valverde (4th Dist. 2012), that a person suspended twice by DMV for alcohol-related driving violations, but only convicted in court once, is not eligible to obtain early restricted license privileges, even though a person who presumbably engages in more serious conduct resulting in two DUI court convictions would enjoy such early driving privleges. According to Santa Rosa DUI attorneys, this case would apply to Sonoma County DUI arrests involving two DMV DUI suspensions but only one Santa Rosa DUI court conviction.

    Jake Schwartz, one of the best Santa Rosa DUI lawyers, explains that these kinds of cases arise because of the California system of dual track DUI cases, where DMV suspends a driver license but a court does not convict (usually a minimal or defective prior DUI, for example, a very low blood alcohol case, or an under-age 21 case, or the driver wins an argument in Sonoma County court regarding illegal police conduct, resulting in no criminal charges or the court case being dismissed later even though the DMV hearing was lost or never contested), and then the driver is arrested for a new Sonoma County DUI.

    To the dismay of good Sonoma County DUI lawyers, the court in this case denies early driving privileges to these presumably lower risk multiple offenders by reading the applicable statutes literally and ignoring the unexplainable result, stating without further analysis that, "A literal reading of the statutes does not render an absurd result, as LaChance argues. The trial court focused on what it referred to (and we paraphrase) as the anomaly that a two-time offender would be eligible for a restricted driver's license with IID installation, while a first-time offender would not be. Another statute, section 13352.4, provides for the issuance of a restricted driver's license to someone whose license was suspended under section 13352," but the court then admits that the DMV refuses to issue a restricted license under that alternate statute.

    The best Sonoma County DUI lawyers would agree with the driver in this case, understanding that the lesser "criminal" is unfairly and inexplicably denied the benefits enjoyed by the greater offender, contrary to common sense and the clear intent of the legislature to incentivize use of ignition interlock devices by multiple offenders just like the driver in this case, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney. ...Read Full Court Case

  • Court OpinionAppeals Court Rules Arizona DUI Prior Inadmissible in Subsequent California DUI Case

    On April 4, 2012, the California Court of Appeals in People v. Self, 204 Cal.App.4th 1054 (4th Dist. 2012), reversed a trial court which had applied an Arizona prior DUI conviction to a new California DUI conviction to increase the sentence here, sentencing the defendant as a multiple offender.

    The appeals court held that (1) the Arizona conviction could not be used as a qualifying offense in California because the prior DUI conviction was for a violation of a local Arizona statute which criminalized driving while "impaired to the slightest degree" (A.R.S. § 28-1381A.1) whereas a greater "impairment to an appreciable degree" is required under California DUI law (citing People v. Crane (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 425, 433, which used the same analysis to strike a Colorado DUI prior in a subsequent California DUI case), and (2) the trial court was not permitted to look to the defendant's blood alcohol concentration level handwritten on a plea form for evidence that his record of conviction, the only permissible evidence to consider, was relevant to his level of impairment; he was convicted under a statute that could only be violated in one way (impairment to the "slightest degree") and the notation regarding his BAC was not relevant to a determination of the crime he committed.

    Good Sonoma County DUI attorneys will examine applicable out-of-state prior DUI convictions to determine if the Sonoma District Attorney and the Sonoma court may fairly increase penalties on a new Sonoma County DUI case due to a prior DUI conviction in a different state. Santa Rosa DUI lawyers ask the question, "is a prior non-California DUI conviction relevant to a new Sonoma County DUI arrest?" The general rule is that, "If the statutory definition of the crime in the foreign jurisdiction contains all of the necessary elements to meet the California definition, the inquiry ends [and the prior DUI conviction will apply here in Sonoma County]. If the statutory definition of the crime in the foreign jurisdiction does not contain the necessary elements of the California offense, the court may consider evidence found within the record of the foreign conviction in determining whether the underlying conduct would have constituted a qualifying offense if committed in California, so long as the use of such evidence is not precluded by rules of evidence or other statutory limitation." (Crane, 142 Cal.App.4th at p. 433). The record of conviction [from the other state] includes the charging documents, the change of plea form, and the abstract of judgment. (People v. Garcia (1989) 216 Cal.App.3d 233, 237), but not hand written scribbles deemed irrelevant to the crime admitted. ...Read Full Court Case

  • Cop Exonerated in Excessive Force Lawsuit following DUI Arrest Allegedly Causing Shoulder Injury

    On June 26, 2012, a federal jury found in favor of a sheriff's deputy who had been sued in federal court for excessive force causing a shoulder rotator cuff injury after the cop arrested a 62-year old man for DUI, cuffing him behind his back even though the man arrested for DUI had told the deputy about joint problems and prior shoulder surgery.

    According to one Santa Rosa DUI attorney, cops are not known for trying to make DUI arrests comfortable for drivers, and ancedotal reports of rude, physically aggressive and forceful cops who mistreat suspects are commonplace. The best Sonoma County DUI lawyers know that the degree of police force used in a particular DUI arrest encounter will be judged later with objective standards of reasonableness. Police use of force varies with the circumstances but is often unnecessarily, illegally excessive and severe when cops face evading, disrespect, or even a hint of uncooperative behavior. See Jake's "Excessive Force" page under our "Know Your Rights" section. Even a typical DUI arrest scenario may involve handcuff injuries and worse, leaving lasting injury, and permanent psychological scars, due to cops who simply don't care about good people perceived to be "criminals" by young men and women police officers who are too often undertrained and underpaid, he said. Throw in steroids, the code of silence, and long hours putting your life on the line, and it's always been a recipe for disrespect and injury, added the Sonoma DUI attorney. See Full News Article...

  • Colorado Rejects Pot DUI Maximum Levels for Third Time

    On May 15, 2012, the Colorado legislature again failed to pass a law establishing maximum DUI levels of THC (the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana). Although the Colorado House passed the measure, establishing a limit of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood, the Colorado Senate fell a single vote short, and the bill failed for a third time.

    According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, Nevada and Ohio establish a DUI threshold of 2 nanograms of illegal substances per milliliter of blood, and Pennsylvania's administrative law establishes the level at 5 nanograms, while the following 12 states do not allow any presence of a prohibited drug or substance in a driver's body when behind the wheel: Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah and Wisconsin. The State of Washington will consider a 5 nanogram DUI level in a ballot measure later this year. A similar bill in California, AB 2552 would have provided that any level of "cannabinoids or synthetic cannabinoid compound" found in a driver's blood or urine, up to three hours after a traffic stop, would be considered a DUI, but the bill was later amended to exclude medical marijuana patients; the DUI bill's future is now uncertain.

    According to one Santa Rosa DUI attorney, good Sonoma County DUI lawyers would likely object to any objective level similar to alcohol DUI standards because there is no proven relationship between impaired driving and the presence of cannabinoids in blood. Such a law would make DUI drivers out of all marijuana users, clearly not intended by the people of the State of California when the Compassionate Use Act was passed years ago, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer, adding that "such additional minimum THC laws are absurd; impaired DUI driving under the influence of drugs has been illegal in Sonoma County and elsewhere for decades, and when the voters passed Prop. 215, they didn't mean to say, 'oh, you're ill, here's some medicine, but you can never drive again, even if you don't feel impaired four hours later.'" See News Article...

  • Court OpinionUS Supreme Court Upholds Jail Strip Searching for Any Type of Arrest

    On April 2, 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4, in Florence v. County of Burlington, that a New Jersey county jail did not violate the constitutional rights of a man who was wrongfully arrested for an outstanding traffic fine he had already paid, and twice strip searched during the jailing process.

  • To the dismay of good Sonoma County DUI attorneys, who handle traffic offenses on a daily basis for low level offenders, the majority decision stated that maintaining safety and order at detention centers requires the expertise of correctional officials, who must have substantial discretion to devise reasonable solutions to problems; a regulation impinging on an inmate's constitutional rights must be upheld if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests, and while limiting strip searches to only serious offenders would limit the intrusion on the privacy of some detainees, it would be at the risk of increased danger to everyone in the facility, including the less serious offenders.

  • The decision is expected to receive wide criticism from Sonoma DUI lawyers and criminal defense attorneys across the country who would agree with the dissenting opinion in this case which stated that such a search of an individual arrested for a minor offense that does not involve drugs or violence—say a traffic offense, a regulatory offense, an essentially civil matter, or any other such misdemeanor—is an unreasonable search forbidden by the Fourth Amendment, unless prison authorities have reasonable suspicion to believe that the individual possesses drugs or other contraband.

    Sonoma County DUI lawyers would agree with the dissenting opinion, pointing out that rather than considering the broader purposes of strip searching inmates generally, the application of such a personally invasive practice to this one individual arrested (wrongfully) for a simple failure to pay a traffic fine, is patently offensive to the reasonable mind, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney. Read News Article... Read Court Case

  • Court OpinionNinth Circuit Upholds DNA Swabs of All Felony Arrestees

    In a result questioned by Sonoma County DUI lawyers and criminal defense attorneys across the state, on February 24, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, in Haskell v. Harris, that the police may follow the requirements of a 2004 voter initiative, Prop 69, and perform a DNA swab on any and all persons who are arrested on suspicion of a felony offense.

  • The concern of defense attorneys was voiced by the dissenting opinion in this case, "DNA samples are not taken from felony arrestees under Proposition 69 in order to identify them. Rather, they are taken solely for an investigative purpose, without a warrant or reasonable suspicion. The taking of DNA samples from arrestees solely for that purpose is invalid under Hayes, Davis, Ortiz-Hernandez, and Garcia-Beltran." However, the majority opinion of the Court held that, "Given the arrestee's diminished privacy interests; the de minimis nature of the physical intrusion entailed in the taking of a buccal swab; the carefully circumscribed scope of the DNA information being extracted; the stringent limits on the manner in which that information may be used; and the wellestablished law enforcement interest in obtaining arrestees' identifying information, and further, to deter future criminal acts and to exculpate innocent arrestees—the balance of interests tilts strongly in favor of upholding the constitutionality of the 2004 Amendment."

    Sonoma County DUI lawyers would agree with the dissenting opinion, that the broader purposes of the practice are beyond the scope of the arrest and allow too wide and impermissible a fishing expedition without a warrant or probable cause, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney, adding, "that's what warrants are for." Read News Article... Read Court Case

  • iPhone App Claims to Approximate Blood Alcohol Levels

    An iPhone app company has released the BreathalEyes BAC Scanner, which claims to approximate an intoxicated individual's blood alcohol content (BAC), anytime, and anywhere, by scanning the eye to detect and analyze Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) within an effective range of .02% to 0.17% with an inherent error rate of +/- .02%. Although the company states that the app is for entertainment purposes only, they appear to believe in the science behind the technology.

    According to one Santa Rosa DUI attorney, Sonoma County DUI lawyers would likely encourage use of any device or technology which may discourage people from driving under the influence, but would also warn against individuals, or the police, relying on just one "scientific" test claiming to objectively measure highly subjective and unique aspects of mental impairment in a single individual.

    The historic research behind HGN (HGN is the involuntary jerking of the eyes occurring as the eyes gaze toward the side) indicates that it is accurate 77% of the time in detecting BACs above 0.10%, and therefore there is a significant inherent error rate in the science itself before even considering the error rate of the device employing the science. But the app assumes that the test is being conducted on only those who have consumed alcohol, which can reduce the above scientific error rate since HGN can be caused by factors other than alcohol impairment (such as certain brain conditions and certain medications).

    Further, standard HGN testing for DUI detection and arrest requires searching for three different cues, smooth pupil tracking of a moving object, onset of HGN prior to 45 degrees, and distinct and sustained nystagmus at the extreme side viewing; there is no moving stimulus (a pen or finger, or iPhone) used with this app, but rather the subject moves his eyes without a smoothly conducted guide, nor is it apparent from the company's description if all three of the above components of accepted HGN testing are included in the app technology. Further, at least two of the above components must be present to properly conclude that the subject is likely above 0.10% BAC; it is not clear from the company's description if this requirement is included in the app technology.

    Finally, correct HGN testing in the DUI arrest context of concern to Sonoma County DUI attorneys requires that HGN testing be performed with strict adherence to proven standards such as holding the stimulus 12-15 inches in front of the subject slightly above eye level, and observing the extreme view for at least 4 seconds, none of which appears to be required with this app, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer, who also pointed out that HGN testing was not designed to provide a specific BAC number like the app gives, but rather simply to indicate likelihood of impairment without a certain BAC level. Nevertheless, the app appears to be a fun and instructional device. See News Article... See iTunes App

  • Court OpinionUS Supreme Court Declares Warantless GPS Location Devices Unconstitutional

    In a result applauded by Sonoma County DUI lawyers and criminal defense attorneys across the country, on January 23, 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled, in US v. Jones, that the Government's warrantless attachment of a GPS device to a vehicle, and its use of that device to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes an illegal search under the Fourth Amendment.

  • In this case, FBI agents involved in a drug investigating installed a GPS tracking device on the undercarriage of a Jeep while it was parked in a public parking lot. Over the next 28 days, the Government used the device to track the vehicle's movements, and once had to replace the device's battery when the vehicle was parked in a different public lot in Maryland. By means of signals from multiple satellites, the device established the vehicle's location within 50 to 100 feet, and communicated that location by cellular phone to a Government computer. It relayed more than 2,000 pages of data over the 4-week period. The trial court held the data was admissible against the defendant, holding that a person traveling in an automobile on public thoroughfares has no reasonable expectation of privacy in his movements from one place to another.

    The US Supreme Court reversed that ruling. The majority opinion held that the 4th Amendment protects against the tresspass which was the placement of the device onto the private property of the driver. The concurring opinion agreed that the GPS device was illegal without a warrant, but based its ruling instead on finding that "the use of longer term GPS monitoring in investigations of most offenses impinges on expectations of privacy. For such offenses, society's expectation has been that law enforcement agents and others would not—and indeed, in the main, simply could not—secretly monitor and catalogue every single movement of an individual's car for a very long period." Sonoma County DUI lawyers would adopt both approaches, as one Supreme Court Justice seemed to, in order to give the utmost protections to citizens against unreasonable intrusions and illegal arrests by police, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney. Read News Article... Read Court Case

  • Private Art & Wine Event Hires 2 CHP Officers to Hunt DUI's

    Officials of a touristy wine road type event in Sonoma County reportedly hired 2 CHP officers to patrol event roads, keeping a lookout for possible DUI arrests. The 20th annual "Winter Wineland" weekend event, described as an "Art, Wine and Education" tour of 140 northern Sonoma County wineries, had advance ticket sales indicating at least 5,000 people attended the event's 2-days of wine tasting on January 14 and 15. Wineries were open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, and CHP officers were hired to patrol surrounding roadways in Healdsburg and Geyserville from Noon to 6 p.m. each day at a cost of $66 per hour, according to CHP.

  • Sonoma County DUI lawyers would undoubtedly be curious as to whether event organizers, presumbably motivated by laudable public safety goals, notified event goers with sufficient volume prior to the event regarding the presense of extra, dedicated CHP officers, so that attendees would not feel unduly betrayed if later harrassed by hired police officers for failing to perfectly negotiate the curvy picturesque roads of Sonoma wineries, driving over a fog line, rolling a stop sign, or no front license plate on that fancy car; a few might have found themselves arrested for DUI in Healdsburg or Geyserville, when found to have those "objective symptoms of intoxication," an odor of alcohol and red and watery eyes (yep, that's actually the law), said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney. Thanks for coming out to support Sonoma County wineries; here's your ticket for expired tags, and you're under arrest for DUI... Read CHP Article... Read Event Article

  • Court OpinionAppeals Court Rules DUI Breath Machine Mouthpiece May Be Tested For DNA Without Warrant or Consent

    On October 28, 2011, the California Second District Court of Appeals ruled, in People v. Thomas, that saliva left on a mouthpiece of a PAS alcohol screening device during a DUI investigation may be preserved and tested for DNA sampling later by police without warrant or consent.

  • The court held that the "defendant in this case had no privacy right in the mouthpiece of the PAS device, which was provided by the police, and he abandoned any expectation of privacy in the saliva he deposited on this device when he failed to wipe it off. Whether defendant subjectively expected that the genetic material contained in his saliva would become known to the police is irrelevant since he deposited it on a police device and thus made it accessible to the police. The officer who administered the PAS test testified that used mouthpieces are normally discarded in the trash. Thus, any subjective expectation defendant may have had that his right to privacy would be preserved was unreasonable." The court further held that, "The saliva defendant deposited on the PAS device, in which defendant could claim no right to privacy, was a mere incident to the PAS test. It was not the material collected for the limited purpose of the implied consent statute, and its subsequent testing was not dependent on defendant's express or implied consent," and that "Defendant was not misled about the fact that he was dealing with the police in the context of a possible criminal investigation, or that he was providing a breath sample by placing his mouth on police equipment." Read Court Case

  • Sonoma County Police Agencies Land $900,000 for 2012 DUI Arrests

    The California Department of Transportation Office of Traffic Safety awarded nearly $900,000 to local Sonoma County police agencies which will allow on-going DUI police enforcement activities through September, 2012, according to a Sonoma County DUI lawyer.

    The Santa Rosa Police Department was awarded $235,370 to specifically target motorcycle safety, DUI offenders, drivers with suspended or revoked licenses, red light running, speeding, and seatbelt violations. The grant money will be spent on DUI/driver license checkpoints, special enforcement operations (presumably "roving patrols"), and court stings where officers lie in wait for DUI offenders with suspended or revoked driver's licenses who drive after leaving court. The grant also provides drug impairment training for drug DUI arrests, paying for four officers to receive specialized training designed to detect impaired drivers under the influence of legal and illegal drugs. Santa Rosa Police Department Press Release...

    The Petaluma Police Department was awarded $356,000 to purchase new equipment and fund overtime for increased special traffic enforcement, specifically targeting bicycles and pedestrians, motorcycle safety, unsafe speed, and DUI enforcement, including efforts to monitor "habitual DUI offenders," DUI/driver license checkpoints, DUI warrant service operations, DUI probation and parole checks, stakeouts of habitual DUI offenders, and court stings. The grant also funds a new traffic motorcycle officer for one year and a police motorcycle. Petaluma Police Department Press Release...

    Avoid the 13, Sonoma County's coordinated anti-DUI effort with the county's 13 police agencies, landed an additional $300,000 to pay for more DUI checkpoints and "saturation patrols," particularly during the four holiday periods of Memorial Day weekend, July 4th weekend, the two weeks leading up to Labor Day and the last two weeks of the year including Christmas and New Year's. Avoid the 13 includes police agencies from Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Windsor, Sonoma County Sheriff's Department, Sonoma County Probation Department, Sonoma State University police, Santa Rosa Junior College police, state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, CHP and State Parks, as well as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Full Avoid the 13 story...

    Sonoma County DUI attorneys continue to question the wisdom of such massive funding for one crime at the expense of other appropriate enforcement activites which could be aimed at gangs, domestic violence, elder abuse and white collar crimes, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer.

  • Santa Rosa Jury Awards Woman $1.2 Million for Speeding CHP Crash

    On October 27, 2011, a Sonoma County jury awarded a woman $1.2 million after finding a 24-year old CHP officer, and son of a sitting Sonoma County Superior Court judge, acted negligently, resulting in a 2009 crash on Highway 12 near the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The crash caused the woman permanent facial disfiguration.

    The officer was driving a brand new patrol car at more than 104 mph, with a 19-year old Explorer scout in the front seat, after receiving a vague dispatch call about people in baggy clothing gathering outside the Santa Rosa DMV. The officer was worried about gang activity at the DMV, but it later was determined the gathering was of middle school children practicing for a dance event, a fact which was not revealed during the trial. CHP is one of the chief state agencies tasked with DUI enforcement, and education and prevention around safe driving habits, encouraging people to call 911 on neighbors they suspect of DUI, and often warning drivers in risky conditions to "slow down and leave early." Read Full Story...

  • Law Eases Vehicle Impounds at DUI Checkpoints

    On October 9, 2011, Governor Brown signed a new law, AB 353, which prohibits Sonoma County police from freely impounding vehicles at DUI checkpoints when the only violation is failure to have a valid driver license.

    According to one Sonoma DUI lawyer, some police agencies and local governments have been accused of improperly using DUI checkpoints to raise millions in revenue from impounds (and sales) of vehicles, as well as related towing contracts, and many immigrant rights groups have alleged that such checkpoints unfairly target illegal immigrants who do not have a driver's license. Because cities could hold cars taken from unlicensed drivers for 30 days, the accumulated impound fees can turn out to be more than the car is worth, resulting in some families losing their sole means of transportation for employment and life necessities.

    Santa Rosa DUI attorneys say that the new law prohibits police from impounding a vehicle at a sobriety checkpoint, if the driver's only offense is the failure to hold a valid driver's license. Instead, the police are required to make a reasonable attempt to identify the registered owner of the vehicle in order to release the vehicle to the registered owner if licensed, or to a licensed driver authorized by the registered owner. If no such driver is identified and the vehicle is impounded, the new law requires that the vehicle shall be released to the registered owner or his or her agent at any time the facility to which the vehicle has been removed is open, upon presentation of the registered owner's or his or her agent's currently valid driver's license and proof of current vehicle registration. Read Full Text of AB 353...

  • Cops Honor Their Own: Petaluma's DUI Enforcement Efforts

    The California State CHP Commissioner named the Petaluma Police Department the top agency among the many thousands in the state participating a "California Law Enforcement Challenge," and for the fourth time, the top police agency to combat impaired driving. Petaluma Sergeant Ken Savano (leads the traffic enforcement team and the "Avoid the 13" county-wide anti-DUI effort) was honored for his DUI efforts.

  • At least one Sonoma County DUI defense attorney described the self-congratulatory ceremony as "law enforcement awarding themselves for winning lots of state grant money, keeping cops employed and trying to arrest lots of people." Full Article...

  • Smart Phone App Quietly Records Police Encounters

    Over 50,000 people have downloaded the Cop Recorder app (iOS and Android) which provides users with the ability to record audio encounters with police and then upload the recording to OpenWatch, "a participatory citizen media project aiming to provide documentary evidence of uses and abuses of power." The OpenWatch website states that "The recent ubiquity of mobile telephones with media recording capabilities and the ability to run any software the users chooses gives the public a very powerful tool. Now, we are all equipped to become opportunistic journalists. Whenever any of us come in contact with power being used or abused, we can capture it and make it become part of the public record. If we seek truth and justice, we will be able to appeal to documentary evidence, not just our word against theirs. Ideally, this will mean less corruption, more open government and a more transparent society." Full Article...

  • BUI Checkpoints Before July Fourth Weekend

    Northern California should expect to see BUI (Boating Under the Influence) checkpoints at local recreational lakes in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Such checkpoints are held nationwide each year, just before the Fourth of July weekend, in conjunction with the "Operation Dry Water" effort started in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the United States Coast Guard, touted as a successful effort to draw public attention to the hazards of boating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. One such checkpoint was annnounced for Saturday, June 25 at Clear Lake, conducted by the Coast Guard, with assistance from the Lake County Sheriff's Marine Patrol, California State Parks and the California Department of Fish and Game. Full Lake County Article... Full Sonoma County Article...

  • Two Teen DUI Arrests in One Week in Napa & Mendocino Counties

    Two teen DUI arrests occurred in the same week in Napa and Mendocino Counties. In Mendocino County, a 16-year old was arrested for alleged DUI on Monday, June 13, at 12:30 a.m. after Jensen's restaurant employees called police claiming that three kids skipped out on a meal tab. The other two, both 17-year olds, were also charged with alleged theft of the restaurant meal and an earlier alleged theft of beer in Calpella. In Napa, an 18-year old was arrested after he allegedly failed to stop for a claimed equipment violation near Carmel and Pinewood Drive on Friday, June 17, at 1:00 a.m. His vehicle was abandoned after a short pursuit, and the teen was later found and subsequently booked on suspicion of DUI, and allegations of evading, driving on a suspended license, resisting arrest, assault on medical staff, and three counts of probation violation.

  • Court OpinionAppeals Court Rules Sonoma Sheriff's deputies Illegally Entered Private Property, Reverses Cultivation Conviction

    On June 15, 2011, the California First District Court of Appeals ruled, in an "unpublished" opinion (meaning there is no precedent value) in People v. Doolaege, that Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies illegally entered defendants' property: "A person who surrounds his back yard with a fence, and limits entry with a gate, locked or unlocked, has shown a reasonable expectation of privacy for that area. The area is protected from unreasonable government intrusion, or a warrantless search, unless the circumstances excuse the warrant."

  • The court reversed the Sonoma County trial court's denial of a suppresion motion which had argued the illegal entry and subsequent search, and reversed the conviction for unlawful cultivation of marijuana (Health & Saf. Code, § 11358). According to one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer, "Although this is an unpublished opinion, and therefore of limited value defending against similar law enforcement transgressions in other cases, still the message of the case, reinforcing our privacy rights against the police, can and should be impactful here in Sonoma County." Full Article... Read Court Case

  • Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino Residents Stopped by Police for Minor Traffic & Equipment Violations, Arrested for DUI & Marijuana Charges

    A recent number of DUI and drug arrests in Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino Counties have highlighted the risk to drivers of minor equipment violations such as broken tail lights, tinted windows, no front license plate, or minor traffic violations such as failure to signal, rolling stops, and speeding, as residents of the North Coast and Wine Country are stopped by CHP and local law enforcement for such reasons and find themselves arrested for DUI and possession of marijuana and other drugs.

  • Local DUI defense attorneys caution people against driving unsafely, or under the influence, or possession of illegal drugs, but also warn everyone to minimize risk of law enforcement encounters by following even the most minor traffic laws, and DUI lawyers criticize law enforcement's ever-increasing use of minor traffic infractions to pursue major search and seizure efforts, especially as many law enforcement officers' own personal vehicles have tinted windows and no front license plates, and police drive like most California drivers, slowly rolling through stop signs and failing to signal at least 100 feet prior to a turn. Thousands of such hypocritical detentions occur every year in Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma Counties. Napa: No Headlights Leads to Meth Arrest... Napa: Expired Tags Leads to Felony Pot Arrest... Sonoma: Speeding and Failure to Signal Leads to Mendo Co-op Medicinal Pot Delivery Arrests... Sonoma: Equipment Violation Leads to Drug Arrest... Mendocino: Vehicle Violation Leads to DUI...

  • Court OpinionCourt Rejects Failure to Signal as Proper Basis for Police Stop When No Other Vehicles Affected

    On May 27, 2011, the California Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled, in the case of People v. Carmona, that vehicle code sections 22107 and 22108 must be read together so that when a motorist is required by section 22107 to give a turn signal, that signal must be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning, but only in the event other motorists may be affected. In this case, because the evidence is undisputed the officer was not and could not have been affected by the turn (he was on a two-lane road, 55 feet away traveling the opposite direction and Carmona turned right, away from the traveled route) and there were no other motorists on the road, no traffic violation occurred, and therefore the police stop was unconstitutional and any evidence discovered as a result of the illegal police stop was ordered supressed. Read Court Case

  • Court OpinionCourt Allows Warrantless Entry into Home to Prevent Destruction of Evidence

    On May 16, 2011, the United States Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Kentucky v. King, that assuming (without deciding) that the smell of burning marijuana and the sound of people and things moving about after police pounded on the door following a drug sting operation and chase, assuming all of this reasonably led officers to believe that drug-related evidence was about to be destroyed, the court held that warrantless entry was justified, even though the officers' fear of evidence destroyed might conceivably have been caused by announcing their own presence. Read Court Case

  • Four Different Officer Misconduct Stories in Northern California Hit the Press in One Day

    On May 12, 2011, Northern California news outlets reported four separate incidents of alleged on and off-duty police misconduct, in addition to the on-going investigation of alleged "dirty DUI" collaboration between Contra Costa police and a divorce lawyer setting up litigants at bars with cops waiting outside. The four new stories involved allegations of an off-duty CHP officer from Vacaville involved in multiple Thefts from a Target Store, an off-duty Rancho Cordova CHP Captain's Motorcycle DUI, plainclothes San Francisco cops involved in a Drug Arrest Theft Probe, and the ex-commander of the Contra Costa drug task force Running a Brothel. DUI lawyers who fight arrests and police misconduct regularly feel some vindication when these stories hit the mainstream press, said one Napa DUI attorney.

  • Court OpinionCourt Requires DMV to Grant Continuance for Meaningful Defense

    On April 7, 2011, the California Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled, in the case of Petrus v. DMV, that the DMV violated the due process rights of a driver arrested for DUI when it denied a continunace moments after the blood results were given to the driver's DUI lawyer just prior to the start of the DMV administrative hearing, thus denying the opportunity to present a meaningful defense. Read Court Case

  • Faulty Alco-sensor V Breath Machine Causes 100's of DUI Case Reviews

    Hundreds of DUI cases are now under review following discovery of a breath machine defect discovered in Palo Alto and Ventura County concerning a widely-used new machine; the defect can result in higher than accurate results. Full Palo Alto Article... Full Ventura Article... Ventura District Attorney Letter...

  • Multiple Offender Sentenced to 20 Years to Life for DUI Death

    A 57-year old Lake County man was sentenced 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for causing a death while driving drunk. It was alleged that he was on probation for a second DUI and reportedly on his way to DUI program classes at more than twice the legal limit when friends tried unsuccessfully to stop him from driving; he side-swiped two vehicles before colliding with a car and injuring an 85-year old driver who died after several months of hospitalization. Full Article...

    North Bay High Schools Stage DUI Accidents for Students

    High schools in Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma Counties staged their annual "Every 15 Minutes" alcohol-related driving accidents demonstrations students just in time for spring proms and graduations. See the full articles for Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma...

  • DUI Breath Machines Erroniously Calibrated in 1,147 Cases

    Four breath machines used in DUI arrests in Philadelphia, PA, were improperly calibrated, and at least 1,147 DUI cases are under review for letters to defendants offering withdrawal of guilty pleas or new trials. Full Article...

  • Police Allegedly Helped Set Up DUI Arrests in Contested Divorce Cases

    According to the San Fransisco Chronicle, the Contra Costa District Attorney and unnamed sources alleged that Bay Area cops helped a private investigator set up divorce foes in hotly contested cases, by working with decoys who would meet the target over drinks with a fake agenda and then call waiting law enforcement following the meeting to make the DUI arrest. Investigators are reviewing two arrests made in Danville in January, 2011; no doubt the probable cause for the initial stop will be an interesting read, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer who is certain that any such cases would be dismissed by the prosecution. Full Article...

  • Court OpinionAppeals Court Upholds DUI Conviction of Passenger

    The First District Court of Appeals ruled on February 25, 2011, in In re F.H., that where a passenger grabbed the steering wheel and caused the vehicle to change direction (and crash), by that act she displaced the driver's control and operation of the vehicle and made herself the driver as she exercised actual physical control over the vehicle, and thus she was "driving a vehicle," for purposes of that required element of a DUI conviction. Read Court Case

  • Napa Police Arrest Man for Allegedly Riding Bike Under the Influence

    A 50-year old Napa man was arrested for allegedly riding a bile under the influence after reportedly riding through a red light and crashing into a car. Full Article...

  • Sonoma, Mendocino & Napa Police Make DUI Arrests After Chases

    Santa Rosa, Ukiah and Napa police have made DUI arrests following separate car and foot chases, the most recent starting on North Perkins in Ukiah, involving a car chase onto Highway 101 and culminating in a foot chase to a trailer park off Lake Mendocino Drive and Portlock Avenue, where a 32-year old man was arrested on suspicion of evading, transportation of methamphetamine and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Full Mendocino Article...

    In Santa Rosa, a Catholic high school English teacher was arrested following a high speed chase allegedly reaching speeds over 100 mph on River Road, Highway 101 and neighborhoods in South Santa Rosa. Full Sonoma Article...

    In Napa, a 23-year old man was arrested last year on suspicion of DUI following a traffic stop and a foot chase with a K-9 unit in a nearby apartment complex. Full Napa Article...

  • 19-Time Sonoma County DUI Offender Gets 3 Years in Prison

    A 65-year old Santa Rosa man was convicted on January 20, 2011, of violating his probation two days after it was imposed by a Sonoma County judge, when the man was found possessing an unopened bottle of wine and three small sealed liquor bottles.

    The man's DUI problems reportedly started with a Santa Rosa DUI arrest in 1966, and he spent two years in prison in 1988. His latest Sonoma County DUI arrest in July, 2010, resulted in the court's consideration of a residential treatment program, which angered prosecutors; two days after being released, a surprise probation search at the man's Oakmont home resulted in his immediate incarceration. His Santa Rosa DUI lawyer claimed the surprise visit was a set-up; the man had explained to police that a friend was coming the next day to pick up the bottles and he didn't want to dump them out because he didn't want anyone to think he drank them. According to testimony elicited by the man's Sonoma County DUI attorney, the police never checked out the story and the judge was unsympathetic to the explanation. Full Article...

  • Court OpinionCalifornia Supreme Court Upholds Warrantless Cell Phone Search Incident to Arrest

    The California Supreme Court ruled on January 3, 2011, in People v. Diaz, that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution permits law enforcement officers, approximately 90 minutes after lawfully arresting a suspect and transporting him to a detention facility, to conduct a warrantless search of the text message folder of a cell phone they take from his person after the arrest. Full Article... Read Court Case

  • Triple A Offers Free "Tipsy Tow" New Year's Eve

    According to the Ukiah Daily Journal, from 6 p.m. Dec. 31 until 6 a.m. Jan. 1, AAA will be offering free tows of up to 10 miles to drivers who call 1-800-222-4357 and request a "Tipsy Tow." Callers do not need to have a AAA membership. Full Article...

  • Sonoma DUI LawyerHappy Holidays: DUI & Driver Licence Checkpoints Return

    The Bay Area will see as many, if not more, DUI and driver license checkpoints during the 2010 holiday season, as compared with 2009. Check back here and your local news for updates and details.

    Latest Checkpoint Info: Sonoma County Police Announce 2010 Holiday DUI Checkpoint Schedule:

    Petaluma Checkpoint - Friday December 17, checkpoint in the City of Petaluma. Location will not be released to the public.

    Countywide Roving Patrols, Warrants, Stakeouts - Saturday December 18, officers will be patrolling county-wide conducting probation/parole checks on DUI offenders, serving DUI warrants, and conducting stakeouts of habitual offenders. Officers will also be on patrol searching for DUI drivers.

    Santa Rosa Court Sting - Courthouse sting planned during this campaign period (police wait outside Sonoma County courthouse in sting operation designed to arrest suspended licensees driving away from court appearances). Date will not be disclosed to the public.

    Rohnert Park Checkpoint - Thursday December 30, checkpoint in the City of Rohnert Park. Location will not be released to the public.

    New Year's Eve schedule expected soon. Avoid the 13 Press Release...

  • Court OpinionFederal Court Rules Taser Use Illegal Unless Immediate Threat

    The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on November 30, 2010, in Bryan v. MacPherson, that there must be objective factors to justify a concern of an immediate threat to the safety of officers or others before using a taser on a person. Full Article... Read Court Case


  • Court Opinion Court Rules PAS Test Refusal Evidence Improper for Jury to Consider

    On November 12, 2010, the California First District Court of Appeals ruled in People v. Jackson, that it is improper to allow the jury to hear evidence that a DUI defendant exercised his statutory right to refuse the Preliminary Alcohol Screeing "PAS" test, distinguishing the 1984 Marvin v. DMV case, which had held that evidence of a DUI defendant's refusal to submit to the standard field sobriety tests is admissible to show consciousness of guilt. Read Full Jackson case... Read Full Marvin case...

  • Thanksgiving DUI arrests in Napa & Sonoma up from last year

    CHP reported 24 DUI arrests in Napa and 32 DUI arrests in Sonoma County during the 2010 Thanksgiving weekend, an increase from 16 and 23, respectively, in 2009. Napa and Sonoma DUI defense attorneys always look behind these numbers for police enforcement irregularities and other grant-driven and advancement motivations of police when such figures are released. Full Napa Article... Full Sonoma Article...

  • Governor Signs Bill Reducing Penalties for Possession of Less than One Ounce of Marijuana

    On September 30, 2010, Governor Schwarzengger signed into law SB 1449, a bill which provides for the decriminalization of possession of not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana. Existing law provided that every person who possesses not more than 28.5 grams of marijuana is guilty of a misdemeanor punished by a fine of not more than $100. The new law changes the offense to an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $100, and eliminates existing provisions relating to booking and diversion and referral for education, treatment, or rehabilitation.

    Sonoma County DUI lawyers applaud the further decriminalization of pot possession to essentially the same significance as a traffic ticket, taking badly needed resources away from prohibition-like laws regarding small amounts of marijuana and allowing police, prosecutors and courts to focus on far more important crimes in our community, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney. Full Article... Read Full Text of SB 1449

  • Sebastopol Police Dept. Gets $29,000 for DUI Enforcement

    The Sebastopol Police Department reportedly received a $29,000 federal grant to ramp up DUI enforcement efforts. The money will pay for DUI/driver license checkpoints, overtime pay, and equipment like breathalyzers. Full Article...

  • Court OpinionCalifornia Appeals Court Throws Out DMV Suspension in Case with Breath Machine Testing Too High.

    California's First District Court of Appeals (San Francisco Bay Area) ruled on September 18, 2010, in Brenner v. DMV, that although initial breath testing numbers in a DUI case were sufficient to establish the Department's prima facie case, plaintiff presented evidence that the instrument used to measure his BAC produced results that were higher than the accurate values, reflected by examination of certain calibration records produced by the law enforcement agency with respect to the EPAS breath machine administered to the plaintiff driver. Plaintiff thus rebutted the Department's prima facie showing with evidence that the recorded test results were inaccurate. Accordingly, the burden shifted back to the DMV to prove by a preponderance of evidence that the test results were reliable. Full Article... Read Court Case

  • D.A. Throws Out DUI Cases: False Police Reports

    The Sacramento County District Attorney announced she is throwing out 79 cases, most apparently DUI's, due to alleged falsified police arrest reports. The dismissals follow an investigation of one Sacramento police officer after he was arrested for brandishing a weapon off duty during a street argument. He later pled to disturbing the peace and then resigned from the department. Full Article...

  • Police Take Credit for 38% Drop in DUI Arrests

    The Petaluma Police Department spokesman for the Sonoma County anti-DUI enforcement effort self-titled "Avoid the 13" says police efforts and media attention are to be credited for a 38% drop in DUI arrests compared to Labor Day 2009. But one wonders if officer salaries, equipment expense and other associated costs would be better spent in venues other than massive citizen intrusions absent individualized suspicion, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Court OpinionCourt Throws Out Vehicle Search Justified Solely On Parole Status of Front Passenger

    On August 18, 2010, the California Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled, in the case of People v. Schmitz, that a "mere passenger in a vehicle, who claims neither a possessory nor property interest therein, lacks the "common authority" over the vehicle which would allow him either to consent or object to its search. Consequently, the parole status of such a passenger cannot be relied upon as the sole basis to justify such a search. Read Court Case

  • Santa Rosa DUI & License Checkpoints in August

    The Santa Rosa Police Department reports it will conduct two DUI/Driver License checkpoints in August: Friday 8/13 and Friday 8/27, at undisclosed locations. Sonoma County DUI defense lawyers continue to believe that such citizen intrusions without specified suspicion of wrongdoing are unconstitutional and a waste of taxpayer money, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney.

  • Sacramento Officer Investigated for False DUI Reports

    According to published reports, the Sacramento District Attorney is investigating whether or not a Sacramento Police Officer falsely testified and/or reported in several DUI arrests. Apparently two cases involving the officer were dismissed and more are being investigated. Full Article...

  • Immigrant Rights Activists Challenge DUI/License Checkpoints

    Sonoma County immigrant rights activists continue to protest and warn approaching drivers of regular DUI and driver license checkpoints in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and elsewhere in Sonoma County. Full Article...

  • MADD Focuses on Prohibition, Charity Rankings Slip Lower

    Mothers Against Drunk Driving ("MADD") has apparently begun focusing more on stopping all drinking rather than its original mission to stop drunk driving. Charity watchdog groups have further reduced MADD's rankings. Full Article...

  • Napa Considers New Party House Law

    Napa is considering enacting an ordinance which would continue to hold parents responsible if their home is hosting a party with underage drinking, but the new law would make the offense punishable by a civil fine rather than the existing criminal misdemeanor sanctions. Full Article...

  • SF Lab Problems Known But Not Revealed

    According to various reports, the District Attorney's office knew of existing credibility problems at the San Francisco crime lab, now the focus of official investigations, but no one told the agency which decides whether to accredit the lab as legitimate. Meanwhile, the lab tech at the center of much of the lab's turmoil indicated she would refuse to testify about it in a DUI case before the court.

    One Santa Rosa DUI lawyer points to all the credibility questions surrounding the lab as a vivid local example of the government's quality assurances gone terribly wrong. Full Article...

  • Check Point in San Rafael Friday April 23, 2010

    San Rafael police report that they will conduct a DUI and driver license checkpoint on Friday, April 23, 2010, at an undisclosed location in Marin County, presumably in San Rafael.

    Sonoma County DUI attorneys always question the detention of hundreds of people without cause to believe any individual driver is unlicensed or under the influence, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer who believes such police state tactics are fundamentally unconstitutional and a waste of tax dollars.

  • Santa Rosa Impounds 20 cars 1 DUI Arrest

    Santa Rosa police announced 20 vehicle impounds from alleged unlicensed drivers, while only making one DUI arrest during a DUI and driver license checkpoint on Friday, April 16, 2010, at Guerneville Road and Ridley Avenue.

    764 vehicles were initially detained by officers, 41 drivers were further detained for either DUI evaluation or drivers license checks; 8 drivers were subjected to sobriety tests, and 1 was arrested for DUI. 20 drivers were cited for driving without a driver's license or driving on a suspended driver's license and 20 vehicles were towed for 30-day impound because they were being driven by an unlicensed or suspended licensed driver. 3 subjects were arrested for outstanding warrants, 1 of which was for a prior DUI arrest, and one was arrested for driving on a suspended license and parole violation after a brief pursuit.

  • Petaluma Latinos Speak Out About Police

    On April 21, 2010, members of Petaluma's Latino communities spoke out about Petaluma police practices, including impounding of vehicles and arrests at DUI and driver license checkpoints, where often the sole family vehicle is impounded, taking away families' only means of transportation, financial support and access to education, medical needs and other essential services in Sonoma County. DUI attorneys continue to criticize vehicle impounds, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. The meeting was attended by the Petaluma Police Chief. Full Article...

  • Napa ICE Holds DUI & Other Arrests

    Napa County's ICE immigration holds are criticized by Napa County DUI attorneys as inhumane, an overreaction to petty offenses, and a waste of time and money, said one Napa DUI lawyer. Sonoma County and Mendocino County are likely to follow suit if it hasn't happened already. Full Article...

  • New Breath Ignition Devices

    New breath ignition devices ordered by courts now come with mini cameras to photograph the user in order to reduce fraud.

    Expect such devices to gain popularity with Sonoma County courts who typically order such additional precautions in high blood alcohol and multiple offense DUI cases, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Check Point in Santa Rosa!

    Santa Rosa police report that they will conduct a DUI and driver license checkpoint on Friday, April 16, 2010, at an undisclosed location in Sonoma County, presumably in Santa Rosa.

    Sonoma County DUI lawyers continue to question the expenditure of scarce state funds to detain hundreds of people without cause to believe any specific driver is unlicensed or under the influence, said a Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney who sees such police tactics as an unconstitutional intrusion and a waste of tax dollars. Full Article...

  • CA DUI Laws Get Even Tougher!

    A bill is making its way through the California legislature which, if passed and signed by the governor, could seriously impact those arrested or already convicted of a DUI in Sonoma County, said one DUI lawyer. AB 1601 would delete the 10-year "look back period" thus making each DUI "count" throughout a person's life, and also would provide courts with the discretion to permanently revoke driving privileges on a fourth or more DUI.

    Napa County DUI attorneys question the fairness of ever-increasingly draconian measures designed to increase punishment without addressing the causes of DUI offenses, said a Napa DUI lawyer.

  • Math Challenges Red Lite Cameras

    Math, or perhaps this story should say a stopwatch, resulted in a red light camera ticket being thrown out when the driver's husband timed the duration of the yellow light on the traffic signal in question and proved it was too fast. Full Article...

  • GPS Challenges Speeding Tickets

    Individuals try using high tech GPS devices, some of which track vehicle speed, to challenge speeding tickets.

    DUI lawyers in Santa Rosa have seen this before, when a Sonoma County traffic court ultimately upheld a ticket which was contested on similar grounds, said a Sonoma County DUI defense attorney. Full Article...

  • Sonoma Worries About Tasting Rooms

    The Sonoma County Planning Commission will review hours of operation of wine tasting rooms with an eye toward curtailing DUI arrests some say are caused by longer hours.

    Sonoma County DUI attorneys question whether such puritan logic would lead to decreasing operating hours for taverns, restaurants and liquor and grocery stores too, said one Santa Rosa DUI defense lawyer. Full Article...

  • 99 Pot Plants in Mendocino Allowed But...

    On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors barely passed a new ordinance allowing up to 99 medical marijuana plants with proper credentials, but lots of government oversight. Mendocino DUI attorneys who also practice general criminal defense are keeping a close eye on the ever changing restrictions, according to a Ukiah DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • 2 Petaluma DUI License Check Points

    According to the Petaluma police, two DUI and driver license checkpoints will be conducted in undisclosed locations of the Sonoma County city of Petaluma on April 2, 2010 from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.

    Sonoma County DUI lawyers continue to question the usefulness and constitutionality of such blanket interference with citizens, said a Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney. Full Article...

  • Woman Arrested After Reporting Herself DUI

    On March 13, 2010, a 27-year old Michigan woman reportedly placed a 911 call and stated that she shouldn't be driving because she was intoxicated. She was later arrested and charged with DUI. Full Article...

  • 6 Month Sentence for DUI Death

    On April 1, 2010, a 32-year old Sonoma County woman was sentenced to six months in county jail for the death of a 5-year old boy following a car crash. She had pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter, causing great bodily injury. The boy's family had decided not to seek state prison for the woman. If she were to violate probation, her full 5-year prison sentence would be imposed.

    One Sonoma County DUI lawyer agreed with reports that the lack of field sobriety tests following the crash would have made it difficult for the Sonoma County prosecutor to prove the woman was under the influence of multiple drugs reportedly found in her blood, said a Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney. Full Article...

  • 4 Year Sentence for 5 DUI Deaths

    On March 24, 2010, a 29-year old Sonoma County man was sentenced to four years in state prison following a trial and conviction of five felony DUI charges of vehicular manslaughter causing the deaths of 5 family members in a 2007 rear end crash on highway 101 in Santa Rosa. The jury appeared to be convinced by toxicology reports which indicated the presence of marijuana and trace cocaine levels. Full Article...

  • Police Training Challenge in DUI Eye Tests

    Several states are questioning the adequacy of police training in the proper administration of the "follow my finger" DUI eye test routinely given to DUI suspects.

    Sonoma County DUI lawyers have often challenged the ability of medically untrained law enforcement to properly administer the tests and then properly interpret and report the results, said one Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney. Full Article...

  • DUI Arrest After Hitting Cop Car

    On March 21, 2010, a Santa Rosa police officer was responding to an emergency call on Mendocino Avenue near Steele Lane, reportedly with emergency lights and siren northbound in the southbound lane, when a northbound vehicle allegedly turned left and struck the police car. The driver, a 37-year old Santa Rosa woman, was arrested for suspicion of DUI with an alleged alcohol level over twice the limit.

  • 3 DUI Arrests at Santa Rosa Check Point

    Santa Rosa police reported 3 DUI arrests and 3 for no license or suspended license, at a checkpoint conducted on March 17, 2010, at Santa Rosa Avenue and Sonoma Avenue. 460 vehicles were stopped, and 3 were impounded for 30 days in spite of protests that such impounds are not required. Sonoma County DUI lawyers continue to examine the legality of these impounds and arrests as the DUI and license cases move through the courts, said one Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney. Full Article...

  • 23 Arrests at DUI Checkpoint Friday

    Petaluma police reported 3 DUI arrests and 20 arrests for no license, plus 2 others for driving on a suspended license, at two Sonoma County checkpoints on March 19, 2010. 1,111 vehicles were stopped, 75 were further investigated, and 12 cars were towed, including 6 for a 30-day impound. Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys will likely examine the legality of the arrests as the DUI and license cases move through the courts, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Check Points!

    Petaluma police report that they will conduct two DUI and driver license checkpoints on Friday, March 19, 2010 at undisclosed locations in Petaluma. Santa Rosa will also host a DUI and driver license checkpoint, thanks to the CHP.

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys continue to question the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars to stop citizens without cause to believe any specific driver is driving under the influence, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer who sees such police state tactics as a thorough waste of tax dollars. Full Article...

  • St. Patrick's Day Check Points

    Santa Rosa and Napa police report that they will conduct a DUI and driver license checkpoint in Santa Rosa, and Napa on St. Patrick's Day evening, Wednesday, March 17th. In addition, CHP will conduct a DUI and driver license checkpoint somewhere on the west side of Santa Rosa on Friday night, March 19, 2010.

    Napa County DUI defense attorneys see a lot of such activity and typically warn drivers to avoid drinking and driving, and avoid any area known to host such checkpoints in the past, because checkpoint locations are often repeated, said a Napa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • 5 Candidates For 2 Judge Seats

    Of three open judge seats in Sonoma County superior court, two are contested in the upcoming June election, with five candidates vying for the two contested seats, including experienced DUI defense attorney John Lemmon, who many DUI lawyers support as a balanced and highly experienced criminal lawyer. Full Article...

  • 2 Arrested in Minor Decoy Alcohol Sting

    Vestiges of prohibition continued to flourish as the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control conducted a sting on March 13, 2010, resulting in the arrest of two people for allegedly buying alcohol for minors acting as decoys. This was reportedly the eighth such sting, and more are planned. According to Mendocino County DUI attorneys, a typical sentences for such an offense include a small fine and/or community service, said one Ukiah DUI lawyer.

  • One Man Gets Two Pot Arrests in One Night

    A 41-year old Santa Rosa man was arrested two times on March 17, 2010, once when he was pulled over for expired tags and police allegedly found 2.5 pound of pot and $55,000 cash, and a second time when the man arrived home from jail to find the police raiding his Sonoma County home, allegedly finding an illegal grow of over 200 plants, 13 pounds of pot, as well as pills, mushrooms, methamphetamine, paraphernalia, a stolen gun and more cash. Full Article...

  • Cop Retires After Accused of Ignoring DUI

    A cop in Pendleton, IN, retired before termination proceedings began following accusations that he stopped an intoxicated driver but let him drive home rather than arresting him for DUI. Santa Rosa DUI lawyers often explain to clients that cops face such consequences of they let people go, even when they are close to home, said one Sonoma County DUI defense attorney. Full Article...

  • Man in Nebraska Too Drunk for DUI Sentence

    A 30-year old man in Papillion, NE, reportedly showed up too drunk to be sentenced at the conclusion of his DUI case. He was re-arrested.

  • SF Lab Tech Accused of Drug Theft

    A 60-year old San Mateo woman who was a former supervisor at San Francisco's crime lab, which analyses and reports to courts on blood tests and drug identifications, reportedly admitted to stealing cocaine which was available as evidence in various pending criminal cases. The crime lab has been shut down pending investigation. Full Article...

  • 10th DUI Gets Rehab, Not Prison

    On March 12, 2010, a 70-year old Modesto man was sentenced to rehab rather than prison for his 10th DUI conviction reportedly dating back to 1974. Full Article...

  • 2 DUI Arrests: Drivers Switch at 55 MPH

    A 20-year old man and a 19-year old woman were both arrested for DUI after reportedly leading police down highway 101 near Windsor at speeds of over 100 miles per hour, and switching drivers while the car was moving at 55 miles per hour. Full Article...

  • DUI Arrest: Man Thrown From Car

    On March 10, 2010, a 21-year old Laytonville man was arrested for DUI after being ejected from his jeep following a solo vehicle collision on US 101 in Mendocino County. Mendocino County DUI defense attorneys would expect a regular DUI in this situation rather than felony injury charges that would result if persons other than the driver were injured, said a Mendocino DUI lawyer.

  • Limo Driver DUI Accident Arrest

    On March 12, 2010, a 25-year old limo driver was arrested for DUI after a solo vehicle accident in Napa. Apparently there were no passengers in the vehicle, stated a Napa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Flip of the Bird Gets DUI Arrest

    On February 26, 2010, a 76-year old Sonoma man was arrested for DUI after flipping off a driver behind him who had called the police on his cell phone complaining of erratic driving.

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys often challenge "tipster" stops with varying degrees of success, but simply extending a finger to another individual would typically not be enough cause for police to detain an individual for questioning, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Sleeping Driver Gets Pot Arrest

    A 47-year old Honeydew man was arrested for possession and transportation of pot in Ukiah after police approached his vehicle while he was sleeping in the driver's seat. Nine pounds of marijuana were reportedly found.

    Mendocino County DUI defense attorneys often challenge the legality of such encounters when the arrested individual was not doing anything suspicious prior to the contact, said a DUI lawyer who practices in Ukiah.

  • Officer of the Year!

    Officer Walt Spiller was named Petaluma Police Department's 2009 Employee of the Year, in part for his 131 DUI arrests, more than 20 percent of the entire department's arrests. Reports indicate he is a motorcycle cop, weapons instructor, and a member of the SWAT team. He will reportedly be recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), and by the Century Council, a national organization against drunk driving and underage drinking. Full Article...

  • UF researchers: Alcohol, energy drinks add up to higher intoxication levels, increased driving risk

    University researchers find that people who consume energy drinks with alcohol are likely to become more intoxicated than those who just drink alcohol. Full Article...

  • Man convicted of DUI 13 times headed to prison

    On March 5, 2010, a 50-year old Santa Rosa man was sentenced to 5 years and 8 months in prison for his 13th DUI conviction. Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys rarely see so many convictions suffered by one individual, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • New radar catches Petaluma speeders

    Petaluma police are now reportedly armed with new laser speed detection devices to stop and arrest local speeders, thanks to a state grant. DUI defense attorneys warn that simple traffic infractions such as speeding and equipment violations are one of the most common precursor to DUI arrests, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • DUI suspect injured in Mendocino County rollover

    On March 7, 2010, a 26-year old Laytonville man was arrested following a solo vehicle collision on US 101 in Mendocino County. Mendocino County DUI defense attorneys would expect a regular DUI in this situation rather than felony injury charges that would result if persons other than the driver were injured, said a Mendocino DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Arrest fallout: Fellow politician says Ashburn lives 'secret life'

    On March 3, 2010, a Republican state senator from Bakersfield was arrested for suspected DUI with .14% BAC and an unidentified male in the vehicle following the staunchly anti-gay senator's visit to a popular Sacramento bar on occasion of its weekly Latin night. Full Article...

  • CHP to serve DUI Warrants

    CHP officials announced a six-month DUI enforcement program which targets people who have outstanding arrest warrants. There are reportedly 948 DUI arrest warrants in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County. CHP officers will apparently be armed with home and work addresses. Full Article...

  • Facebook DUI pics Popular in Hawaii

    A controversial program by the Honolulu Police Department to post online booking photos of DUI arrestees has become popular on facebook where the mug shots remain even after being removed by the police department in its own website.

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys do not favor such activity which seems motivated by derision and compromised by prejudgment, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer, who points out that persons pictured on these sites have been arrested, but not convicted. Full Article...

  • Teen Accused of DUI Crash

    On February 20, 2010, a 17-year old Petaluma woman was arrested following a collision between her vehicle and a mini-van carrying a family of four. At least two persons were injured and an open bottle of tequila was alleged to have been found in the driver's vehicle.

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys worry about these kind of accidents which typically result in further clamor for toughening DUI laws, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Suspected DUI Driver Hits Cop Car

    On February 22, 2010, a 26-year old Petaluma man was arrested following a brief chase which resulted in his allegedly smashing into a cop car. The man was jailed for alleged violation of probation from a prior DUI, driving on a suspended license, and a new DUI. Full Article...

  • Suspected DUI Driver Almost Hits Cop Car

    On March 5, 2010, a 28-year old Napa man was arrested for allegedly almost hitting a CHP cruiser, and then colliding with a 47-year old Napa woman who reportedly sustained minor injuries. Napa DUI defense attorneys would expect initially to see felony charges because of the alleged injuries, stated a Napa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • More Huffing DUI Arrests Seen

    Police report that they are making more arrests for persons driving under the influence of inhalants, often from common household aerosol cans such as Dust Off. The inhaling practice is called huffing, sniffing, dusting or bagging. Police reportedly arrive at the scene of a crash and discover a driver passed out with several cans of Dust Off in the car.

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys have not seen an unusually large number of such cases, but expect to be part of any such trend, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer.

  • Sonoma Bike DUI Are you Kidding?

    On February 18, 2010, a 26-year old Springs woman was stopped by Sonoma County police for riding a bike while intoxicated. Her brother-in-law, who arrived moments later, exclaimed "DUI on a bicycle? Are you f*****g kidding me?" The woman and man were both arrested for public intoxication.

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys point out that the California vehicle code does criminalise riding a bike while intoxicated, as a misdemeanor, although the penalties are far less severe than a regular DUI, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Napa Checkpoint Traps Drugs

    On February 27, 2010, a 31-year old man was arrested after driving to a Napa Police DUI checkpoint and allegedly providing a false name and suspended license. Police reportedly found methamphetamine.

    The Napa Police checkpoint stopped 550 vehicles, and resulted in the arrest of one DUI suspect, eight persons driving on suspended licenses, 10 unlicensed drivers, and 17 impounded vehicles. Napa DUI attorneys are always vigilant for any mistakes in the conduct of such questionable citizen stops that are so far upheld by the US Supreme Court, according to a Napa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • First Sonoma DUI Fatality Alleged

    On February 28, 2010, a 24-year old Healdsburg man was arrested for DUI vehicular manslaughter after a fatal solo vehicle accident killing his 23-year old passenger and injuring another passenger.

    CHP reported that this is the first Sonoma County DUI fatality of 2010, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Another Sonoma Fourth DUI

    A 29-year old Sebastopol man was arrested on February 28, 2010, for his fourth alleged DUI, following a reported traffic stop for using his cell phone while driving on Standish Avenue near Todd Road. Charges are reported to include felony DUI with priors, violating probation and driving with a suspended license. His bail was set at $75,000.

    A 20-year old Sonoma County woman was reportedly arrested for her fourth alcohol-related driving offense just days earlier, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • 4th Alcohol Offence Alleged

    On February 25, 2010, a 20-year old woman was arrested in Sonoma County for alleged open container and marijuana in her car after being arrested earlier in the month for alleged violation of probation on two earlier DUI's following a high speed chase on US 101 in Santa Rosa. She would be facing serious charges if the court proceedings bear out these reports, stated one Sonoma County DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • DC Breath Testing Machines Flawed

    District of Columbia police reported that 8 of their 10 Intoxilyzer 5000 breath testing machines were producing inaccurate results, which may cause the reversal of hundreds of DUI convictions between October, 2008 and February, 2010, leading to vindication of many people and huge headaches for local DC courts, according to a Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney. Full Article...

  • Sonoma Women Dies in DUI Crash

    On February 17, 2010, a 36-year old woman was killed when her car crashed after a Sonoma County deputy reportedly suspected a DUI and a chase ensued. Full Article...

  • NW Considers Allowing Drivers to Sleep It Off

    The New Mexico state senate is considering a bill which would prevent drivers from being arrested if they are parked, "sleeping it off."

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys have long asked for such legislation because otherwise people place themselves at risk of a DUI arrest by pulling over and making themselves a target of police action by simply trying to do the right thing, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Checkpoints Target Immigrants and raise lots of cash

    A Berkeley study suggests that unlicensed driver car impounds and the money trail seem to undermine the claim that the increasing spread of DUI checkpoints in California are motivated by those who want to prevent DUI fatalities; rather, it appears that this police activity disproportionately impacts immigrants, not drunk drivers, and has become a valuable revenue stream for local government.

    The full study can be seen here: in English, and en Espanol. Click here for a New York Times video of the story.

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys see DUI/driver license checkpoints typically once a month in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Sebastopol and Windsor, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Court OpinionCourt Allows Charges Police Promised to Drop

    On January 29, 2010, the California First District Court of Appeals ruled, in the case of People v. C.S.A., that, absent authorization from the district attorney, a court cannot enforce a police promise to drop charges against a defendant who makes a deal to cooperate and provide information about others in exchange for dismissal. Read Court Case

  • Charges against Man for DUI Witness Beating

    A Nevada man was arrested on charges of felony burglary and intimidating a witness to influence testimony. The man allegedly beat a witness who refused to lie for the suspect's 19-year old brother facing a 3rd DUI and prison if convicted. Full Article...

  • Scammers call Sonoma grandpa for fake bail money

    Phone scammers continue to try telephoning family members, saying that your relative was arrested for DUI, asking you to wire money for bail or lawyers. The scammers apparently use personal information such as names and relationships to appear credible.

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys typically recommend if this happens to you that you call the police department or jail, or another relative of the supposed arrestee, to confirm details before sending money, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • License Sting at Costa Mesa Courthouse

    On February 8, 2010, four individuals were arrested in Costa Mesa after police followed them out to their vehicles following court appearances involving suspended licenses.

    According to Sonoma and Napa County DUI defense attorneys, such stings occur in Napa and Santa Rosa at least a couple times each year, and are due soon in Sonoma County, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Scam Bail Calls to Grandma Continued

    Phone scammers continue to try telephoning family members, saying that your relative was arrested for DUI, asking you to wire money for bail or lawyers. The scammers apparently use personal information such as names and relationships to appear credible. Full Article...

  • Napa Pot Dispensary Coming Soon

    The Napa City Council is preparing to adopt new regulations which would allow for at least one medical marijuana dispensary inside city limits, likely in a medical office area. Official rules are expected by early summer, said a Napa County DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Guerneville Woman Faces 3rd & 4th DUI

    According to Santa Rosa CHP, a 52-year old Guerneville woman was arrested on February 5, 2010, for a second suspected DUI in about a week, after allegedly swerving once off the roadway. CHP stated that the Sonoma County resident had two other DUI convictions within the last 10 years.

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys typically recommend extreme caution after a DUI arrest in order to avoid complications related to bailing out of jail and tougher resolutions when arrested for a new offense when a prior arrest is still pending, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Modesto Man faces Prison After 10th DUI

    A 70-year old Modesto car dealer was sentenced to three years in prison following conviction for his reported tenth DUI since 1974. It was not clear how many DUI's occurred within the current 10 years.

    According to one Napa County DUI defense attorney, the man's request for rehab treatment rather than prison may be granted by the judge in light of the absence of any history of injuries, and a current blood alcohol level of 0.14%, with no evidence of prior treatment, said the Napa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Santa Rosa Police Seek Super bowl DUI's

    According to local law enforcement, the 13 Sonoma County police agencies will be looking for DUI's during Super Bowl Weekend, February 6-7, 2010, due to traditionally more DUI incidents surrounding the event.
    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys typically recommend designated drivers or waiting until you are completely sober before driving before and after the big game, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • DUI Fugitive Arrested After Facebook Posts

    DUI and assault cases move forward after 39-year old Indiana man allegedly jumped DUI bail then later uploaded to Facebook his own wanted poster and the name of the tattoo shop where he was working, boasting they'd never come and get him... they did... knock, knock, wanna practice your jailhouse tat skills?

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys typically recommend locking down social networking sites, or deleting accounts, during any criminal or civil court case, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Bar Tenders with Breath Machines

    Bartenders in one Utah town were given breath test machines to help patrons determine if they are over the limit. Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys would like to see such options for local patrons who are unsure if they are at the limit, but most lawyers advise that if you are unsure, don't drive, said a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Fresno is Nation's Drunkest City, Reno is Next

    According to a men's health magazine, Fresno, California ranks number one among larger American cities on a list of the Nation's "drunkest" cities.

    According to a Sonoma County DUI defense attorney, Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco ranked towards the bottom of the list, and North Bay cities such as Santa Rosa, Napa and Ukiah were not in the top 100, said the Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • More Inflated Blood Lab Results in DUI Cases

    A Colorado Springs, CO government lab reports nearly twice the number of inflated lab results from DUI blood tests than first thought. Officials believe human error is the cause of results showing higher than accurate alcohol levels in blood samples from DUI arrestees. According to one Sonoma County DUI defense attorney, malfunctioning equipment and human error are a common concern in government labs, and several California problems were reported in the last few years, said the Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Traffic Tickets Increase; Data Entry Lags

    Santa Rosa police are writing many more traffic tickets, but they are at least 45 days behind in entering data into their systems to alert the Sonoma County traffic court and the persons cited. Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys are aware of the increasing backlog of tickets and other cases, and counsel their clients to telephone the courts often and watch their mail for notices, said one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • New Alleged DUI Crash hit/Run Napa

    A 45-year old man was arrested for suspected DUI and hit & run by American Canyon police after allegedly hitting a fire hydrant and then taking off. There was no report of injuries in the solo accident, observed a Napa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Mendocino County DUI LawyerNapa DUI Checkpoint 1/29/10

    Napa police announced a DUI checkpoint for Friday, January 29, 2010. Santa Rosa DUI attorneys expect a similar Sonoma County DUI checkpoint soon in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Windsor or Sebastopol, according to Sonoma DUI lawyers. Full Article...

  • 79 Yr old Man Arrested for Road Rage DUI Murder

    A 79-year old New York man with an alleged violent criminal history was arraigned on January 28, 2010, on a series of felony charges including road rage, DUI and murder in connection with an incident in which he allegedly rammed the back of a vehicle repeatedly until it crashed into oncoming traffic, killing the other driver.

    According to one Mendocino County DUI defense attorney, such road rage incidents are not unheard of, but the age of the suspect is uncommon, said the Mendocino DUI lawyer.

  • Tinted Windows Lead to DUI Arrest

    On January 23, 2010, a 19-year old Rohnert Park man was arrested for DUI after police stopped him for suspected tinted windows violation. He was reported to have two young children in the vehicle who were not in safety seats.

    According to one Sonoma County DUI defense attorney, such common vehicle code violations as tinted windows and no front license plates are often justifications for police to stop motorists who are ultimately arrested for more serious crimes such as DUI and drug possession, said the Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Car Flipped on Bicentennial Off Ramp = DUI

    According to CHP, on January 25, 2010, a 24-year old Santa Rosa man flipped his GMC Envoy when he took the northbound off-ramp at Bicentennial Way and lost control. He was later arrested for DUI and taken to the Sonoma County jail facility, one block away from the scene. Full Article...

  • 2 Arrested for DUI in Sebastopol

    In the early morning hours of January 22, 2010, 2 Sonoma County residents were arrested by Sebastopol police for DUI after being called to Petaluma Avenue, one 23-year old female from Sonoma, and one 44-year old man from Santa Rosa. Full Article...

  • women arrested for DUI Prob Viol Kills Self in Jail

    On January 21, 2010, Teresa Hagan, a 49-year old Windsor woman arrested for allegedly violating her DUI probation, reportedly hanged herself in her cell at the Sonoma County jail, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's office.

    According to one Sonoma County DUI defense attorney, it appeared from news accounts that she was facing additional consequences from her original multiple offender sentence, in addition to new penalties, if the new allegations were found to be true, said the Santa Rosa DUI lawyer.
    Full Article...

  • Sleeping in Car = DUI in some states

    The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled that a man sleeping in his car outside his apartment can be convicted of DUI if a jury concludes he had dominion and control over the vehicle. Many other states also have such laws. According to one Sonoma County DUI defense attorney, California law requires proof of some movement of the vehicle in order to convict for DUI, said the Santa Rosa DUI lawyer. Full Article...

  • Roving Citizens have Fun Calling in DUIs

    Citizens in several communities are reported to be hanging out in bars and parking lots waiting for individuals to drive away intoxicated so that the groups can report suspected illegal driving to the police. YouTube videos and Craigslist boasting have been posted of the suspected driving and later arrests. Many Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys would disapprove of such activity as dangerous, nonproductive, and a type of vigilante activity that raises questions of these groups' motives, objectivity and skill, according to a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer.
    Full Article...

  • New CA Laws for 2010

    A host of new California laws will become effective in 2010, according to local Santa Rosa DUI defense attorneys, including the four-county ignition interlock pilot program and the ability of multiple DUI offenders to obtain restricted driving privileges earlier than current law provides, if they install an ignition device, said one Sonoma County lawyer. Click here to see News Station KERO summaries and links to each new bill, and here for the CHP summary of new laws affecting Sonoma County.

  • Man Convicted of Pot DUI in Mendo

    On January 12, 2010, a Mendocino County jury convicted a Covelo man of driving under the influence of marijuana after he was seen smoking a joint while driving erratically; he was sentenced to 5 years probation, 15 days in the Mendocino County Jail, $2,410 fines, two years license suspension and the second offender DUI program.

    According to Ukiah DUI defense attorneys, pot DUI's are much more difficult for the government to prove because there is no generally accepted scientific evidence showing if, and to what degree and at what quantities, presence of marijuana in blood samples indicate driving impairment in a specific individual, said one Mendocino County DUI lawyer.
    Full Article...

  • More Blogs Rail Against Tougher DUI Laws

    Two more commentators, one on Ron Paul's Blog, and James Baxter, President of the National Motorists Association, argue that the annual wave of tougher DUI laws demolishing the rights of average citizens and the accused are an embarrassing show of self-serving politics.

    Many Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys agree, citing the large number of laws and criminal procedures aimed solely at DUI arrests, which trample constitutional rights afforded to other criminals far more harmful to society and which throw resources at a problem much less deserving of attention than many more destructive forces in our communities, according to one Santa Rosa DUI lawyer.

  • Napa Group: Train Bartenders to help Avoid DUIs

    A Napa community group is pushing for a law requiring responsible beverage service training for employees who serve alcohol. The group hopes this, and changes to tavern practices such as drink specials and food service, will help discourage over consumption. At least one Napa County DUI defense attorney applauded the motive and publicizing the role of servers in alcohol consumption, but questioned the practicality of proposals aimed away from personal responsibility, said the Napa DUI lawyer.
    Full Article...

  • Fatal Sonoma DUI Case Proceeds as Felony

    On January 7, 2010, Santa Rosa Judge Arthur Wick ruled that a 55-year old Forestville woman will stand trial on felony charges related to a head-on collision in Sonoma County killing a 54-year old Rohnert Park mother of five and injuring the woman's daughter. According to a Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney, the felony charges include vehicular manslaughter.
    Full Article...

  • Holiday DUI Arrests Up From Last Year

    The CHP's highly publicized "AVOID the 13 DUI Task Force" reported 219 alleged DUI offenders arrested through Saturday night, January 2, 2010, since the campaign began on Friday December 18, 2009, up from 176 arrests last year. Of those arrested, 191 people were arrested for DUI and 29 were arrested for DUI warrants. A later Petaluma360.com report cited 201 new DUI arrests through Sunday night. There were checkpoints and roving DUI patrols in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, and Sonoma, as well as arrests throughout the county, according to one Santa Rosa DUI defense lawyer.

    Sonoma County reports no alcohol-related fatalities since the campaign began on Friday, December 18th, but there were 10 DUI injuries. During the 2008 winter holiday DUI campaign, 176 individuals were arrested for DUI in Sonoma County, and there were 4 DUI fatalities and 24 DUI injuries.

    In spite of the rise in arrests in Sonoma County, there was a decline Bay Area-wide, where there were nearly 2000 DUI arrests made by 125 law enforcement agencies in the nine Bay Area counties during the 2009 holiday enforcement period, down from just over 3,000 arrests last year, according to a Sonoma County DUI attorney.
    Full Article...

  • Women Tests above .70 Nearly 9 Times Over

    A 45-year old South Dakota woman was found passed out in her vehicle on December 1, 2009. She was later arrested for DUI and allegedly tested at .701% blood alcohol, nearly nine times over the .08 legal limit. According to a local Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney, Sonoma County lawyers rarely see cases over .30%; .40% is considered a lethal dose of alcohol in approximately 50% of the population.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionFed Court Limits Taser use to Safety Threats

    On December 28, 2009, a federal appeals court in San Diego, CA, ruled in the case of Bryan v. McPherson, that police use of tasers is illegal unless objective facts indicate that a suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of an officer or a member of the public.

    Sonoma County residents have been fighting taser use in Santa Rosa and surrounding communities for years, according to a Santa Rosa DUI defense lawyer. Read Court Case

  • Widow Sues Police For Not Arresting DUI Suspect

    A Chicago widow is suing police who allegedly cited a driver for a traffic infraction and let her go moments before she was involved in a fatal 2-car collision. The suit claims that if police had arrested the driver for DUI then the accident and death would not have happened.

  • Homeless DUI Parolee Arrested for No Contact

    On December 29, 2009, a 44-year old Sonoma County homeless man was arrested in Santa Rosa for allegedly failing to report to parole officers after his release from prison last May on DUI and burglary convictions. Police claim he has six prior DUI convictions. A Sonoma County DUI defense lawyer says attorneys are often saddened by the downward spiral of lives caught up in the criminal justice system.
    Full Article...

  • Judge Accuses DA of DUI Grand Standing

    On December 18, 2009, a Santa Rosa Judge lashed out at the Sonoma County District Attorney for what the judge called political grandstanding in a press release issued by the DA's office publicizing the outcome of an earlier repeat offender DUI sentencing for a 5-time offender who received one year in county jail.

    Veteran Judge Elliot Daum said that the news release was politically motivated and filled with "grotesque misstatements and half-truths," just before the re-election campaign for District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua. "I'm offended by it," said Daum, "I do not want litigation in this court by press release." The DA denied impropriety.

    Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys find these sentencings hard to predict. Daum's Friday sentencing concluded with an 11-time offender sentenced to 3 years prison, and a continuance for later sentencing of a 13-time offender. Adding uncertainty to the process was the earlier dramatic reduction by a Santa Rosa judge of a prison sentence in a fatal DUI crash, from an initial 12-year prison sentence to just 3 years, according to a local Santa Rosa lawyer.
    Full Article...

  • 26 DUI Arrests in First Two Days of Holiday

    The Sonoma County "Avoid the 13" Anti-DUI effort resulted in the arrest of 26 individuals for DUI in Santa Rosa, Windsor, Petaluma and surrounding towns on Friday, December 18 and Saturday, December 19, the first two days of the '09 holiday enforcement period, according to law enforcement, although none were attributed to the local Windsor or Santa Rosa checkpoints. On Sunday another 21 people were arrested during roving patrols.

    Napa County reported 20 DUI arrests during the same period. The one Bay Area reported alcohol-related death this weekend was in Napa. The whole Bay Area reported 468 DUI arrests over the weekend, down from 641 in 2008.

    According to a press release, future checkpoints will be conducted every weekend during the campaign period. Locations of the checkpoints will not be disclosed to the public. Sonoma County law enforcement will deploy local DUI Patrols in every community in Sonoma County during the 17-day campaign. CHP staffs 80% of its officers during the 4 Day Christmas and New Year's holiday weekends. During the 2008 holiday DUI campaign, 176 individuals were arrested for DUI in Sonoma County; there were 4 DUI related deaths and 21 DUI related injuries.

    On Friday, December 18, 2009, 10 people were arrested for DUI. Three others were arrested for outstanding DUI warrants. Although none of the DUI arrests occurred at the Windsor checkpoint, 1,512 drivers were screened on EB and WB Windsor River Road between Bell Road and Old Redwood Highway. 49 were directed to a secondary evaluation area for further investigation for DUI or a driver's license check. 13 drivers were arrested, 1 for possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, 1 for driving on a suspended license from a DUI, 8 for driving without a license, and 3 for open container. 6 vehicles were towed, and 1 was impounded for 30 days.

    On Saturday, December 19, 2009, between the hours of 6:00 pm and 12:00 am the Santa Rosa Police Department conducted a DUI Checkpoint on College Ave near Morgan St. 1326 vehicles screened, 58 drivers were directed into a nearby parking lot for either DUI evaluation or drivers license checks. 27 drivers were evaluated for DUI, and none were found to be over .08%. 12 were cited for driving without a driver license and one was cited for driving on a suspended driver license. 10 vehicles were towed for thirty-day impound because of an unlicensed or suspended license driver.

    One Napa DUI defense attorney pointed out that of the nearly 3,000 persons stopped by law enforcement without a warrant or probable cause during these two checkpoints, not one was found to be DUI. Defense lawyers argue these warrantless intrusions are not only ineffective, but unconstitutional, even though the US Supreme Court allows them.
    Full Article...

  • Passenger Convicted of DUI in Santa Rosa

    On December 21, 2009, an 18-year old woman in Sonoma County was convicted of DUI for grabbing the steering wheel of the vehicle her boyfriend was driving, and causing a crash.

    Although such a case is not unheard of, DUI defense attorneys question the reasonableness of the court's finding that the passenger was in control of the vehicle at the time, according to a local Santa Rosa lawyer.
    Full Article...

  • Bill Requires Ignition Devices Nationwide

    On December 21, 2009, two U.S. Senators and MADD announced they will introduce a bill requiring states to impose mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for anyone nationwide who is convicted of a DUI, or a state will lose federal highway funds. According to DUI defense attorneys, this method of tying federal highway funds to increased DUI penalties is how the nation came to have a uniform drinking age of 21, and a uniform DUI level of .08%, said one Santa Rosa lawyer.
    Full Article...

  • Lots of New Judges Soon In Sonoma County

    Nearly one-third of the judges and commissioners in the Sonoma County superior court will be new on the bench shortly. Four are reported to be retiring (Rosenfeld, Owen, Joy and Denenholz), and three more are not expected to run for re-election in June (Antolini, Rushing and Wong). In addition, if any of the remaining six up for re-election are not successful, then even more change is in Sonoma County's future.

    DUI defense attorneys are uneasy with the prospect of new judges, according to one Santa Rosa lawyer, due to uncertainty about criminal expertise and prosecution-favored appointments by a republican governor.
    Full Article...

  • 3 Multiple Offenders Sentenced In Sonoma County

    Three multiple DUI offenders will be sentenced the week of December 14, 2009, in Sonoma County Superior Court, according to DUI defense lawyers. Attorneys for the offenders and for the District Attorney's office will make arguments all week in Santa Rosa.
    Full Article...

  • Tahoe & Sac DUI Check Points 12/18/09

    On Friday, December 18, 2009, South Lake Tahoe Police will conduct a DUI checkpoint along Lake Tahoe Boulevard and Pioneer Trial. On the same evening, an unrelated Sacramento checkpoint will also be conducted in the south part of that city by Sacramento Police.
    Full Article...

  • Lakeport DUI Check Point 12/19/09

    On Saturday, December 19, 2009, three Lake County law enforcement agencies will participate in the "Avoid the 3" collaborative anti-DUI program. The Lakeport Police Department, Clearlake Police Department and the Lake County Sheriff's Office will conduct a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) checkpoint at an undisclosed location in the city of Lakeport.

    Local Mendocino County DUI defense lawyers expect to see a rise in DUI arrests in Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, and Marin, and surrounding counties in the next few weeks, said one Ukiah DUI defense attorney.
    Full Article...

  • Sonoma County Police Plan Holiday DUI Focus

    Sonoma County law enforcement will be focused on DUI violations during the holiday period and will perform stakeouts, and probation and warrant checks, of repeat DUI offenders on Dec. 19. At least one DUI checkpoint will be set up at an undisclosed Petaluma location on Dec. 25, according to the Petaluma Police Department, which is the lead agency in the county's Avoid the 13 anti DUI campaign. Local Santa Rosa DUI defense lawyers expect to see a rise in DUI arrests in the next few weeks, said one attorney.
    Full Article...

  • ACLU Cautions Against Misuse of DUI Stats

    An ACLU leader in Rhode Island cautioned that state's leaders not to overreact to NHTSA statistics which show Rhode Island's alcohol-related fatalities increased in 2008. Echoing Santa Rosa DUI defense attorneys, the ACLU said that such statistics are often used to justify further encroachment into citizen rights versus police powers, even though statistics show that during longer periods the state's fatality rates have actually decreased.
    Full Article...

  • Blood Test Mistake At State Lab

    Officials in Colorado Springs, CO, admitted that hundreds of DUI cases may need to be re-examined in light of evidence that many blood samples were reported falsely high after testing at a state laboratory.
    Full Article...

  • Petaluma Police Stake Out Arrest for 4th DUI

    A 49-year old man was arrested on December 9, 2009, for his alleged fourth DUI after police reportedly recognized his car parked outside a bar, staked it out for an hour, followed the suspect home and arrested him at his Sonoma County residence for DUI, driving without a license, and violation of probation from a DUI conviction earlier this year which disallows any alcohol when driving, typical probation terms according to a Santa Rosa DUI defense lawyer.
    Full Article...

  • Lawyers Surprised by DUI Sentence Reduction

    Napa and Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys and the Sonoma County District Attorney's office were equally surprised by the recent sentencing reduction by a Santa Rosa judge in the Morse case where one person was killed and another left in a coma following a DUI accident. Lawyers did not expect such a dramatic reduction from the original 12-year prison sentence to just three years following the court's reconsideration.
    Full Article...

  • Fortuna: DUI Patrol 12/11/09

    Fortuna police in Humboldt County announced special "saturation patrols" on the streets of their city starting after 8:30 p.m. on Friday night, December 11, 2009. Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys have seen numerous such patrols in Petaluma and many lawyers expect more throughout the holidays in Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sebastopol, thanks to several recent state grants for such police activities.
    Full Article...

  • Fresno: 22 DUI Check points in 3 Weeks

    Fresno police announced 22 DUI checkpoints between now and New Year's Eve, with numerous bar-watches and "saturation patrols." According to one Sonoma County DUI defense attorney, this is a relatively high number in one area, compared to totals lawyers see in Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sebastopol where most of Sonoma County's checkpoints are typically conducted.
    Full Article...

  • San Mateo: 2 Men with 8+ DUIs Each

    In October, 2009, San Mateo sentenced a 42-year old Belmont man to two years in prison for his 8th DUI conviction, and are now prosecuting a 46-year old Redwood City man for his ninth DUI. According to a Santa Rosa DUI lawyer, defense attorneys here believe that the Sonoma County record is 13 DUI arrests for one man.
    Full Article...

  • Napa Crash Leads To DUI Arrest

    A 50-year old Sonoma County man was reportedly arrested on Monday, December 8, 2009, after hitting a stop sign, guard rail and fences in Napa. A passenger reportedly suffered minor injuries.

    A Napa DUI defense attorney says Napa DUI lawyers feel the high profile media coverage of such accidents, followed by lobbying by families of injured victims is the leading cause of the peculiar discriminatory targeting of DUI crime for annual political grandstanding, increased punishment and millions in state grants, while other equally and more serious criminal activity goes unreported and unaddressed, according to the Napa DUI lawyer.
    Full Article...

  • Mendocino Crash Leads To DUI Arrest

    A 22 year-old Redwood Valley man was arrested for DUI in Mendocino County on Tuesday, December 9, 2009, after leading police on a 14-mile chase before crashing into a tree. The man allegedly has two prior DUI's in the last two years.

    Mendocino County DUI lawyers say such cases are not common, but happen in Mendocino County from time to time, according to a Ukiah DUI defense attorney.
    Full Article...

  • State: No Probable Cause in Tiger DUI Probe

    Florida Highway Patrol reportedly sought a subpoena to access Tiger Woods' blood test results from a Florida hospital following his vehicle crash, but the state denied the request for lack of probable cause that Woods was DUI. Woods was later ticketed for careless driving on Dec. 1.
    Full Article...

  • Calif DUI Fatalities Down in 2008

    NHTSA reported that alcohol-related fatalities decreased in California between 2007 and 2008. Sonoma County numbers were not reported in this study, according to a Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney.
    Full Article...

  • Courts Urged To Use Scram More Often

    The company which manufactures the SCRAM alcohol monitoring bracelet urged courts to utilize the device more often to enforce court orders and provide evidence of sobriety in a variety of circumstances. Lawyers have seen an increase in the use of the device in Sonoma County, according to a Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney.
    Full Article...

  • Military Court: unconstitutional To Require Sailors to Report DUI

    A military court ruled that the Navy and Marines rule requiring sailors to report DUI arrests off-base is an unconstitutional requirement violating protections against self-incrimination.
    Full Article...

  • Petaluma Arrests 11 Check Point Drivers

    Petaluma police reportedly arrested four people for DUI at a checkpoint at westbound East Washington Street at Gray Street in southern Sonoma County. The DUI checkpoint stopped 1,018 vehicles and checked 657 of the drivers for signs of DUI. 56 drivers were checked for drinking. One person was allegedly arrested for driving with a suspended license, two for driving without a license and two for drug offenses. Two Rohnert Park men, ages 22 and 24, were arrested for alleged public intoxication. Five vehicles were towed and one was impounded for 30 days because it was allegedly being driven by a driver with a suspended license
    Full Article...

  • Green Tongue Pot DUI Charges Dropped

    TMZ.com and the lawyer for rapper Nas report that DUI charges against Nas have been dropped. The police claimed that the rapper was examined at a DUI checkpoint, admitted to smoking pot, and had green tongue and eye tremors. Sonoma County DUI defense lawyers dispute the "ridiculous" claim that green tongue is any indication of smoking marijuana, said one Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney.
    Full Article...

  • Petaluma Man Found After No Show for DUI Jail

    Petaluma police apprehended a man who allegedly failed to show for a second DUI jail sentence (typically 30 to 45 days) and reportedly called in sick when he learned that police staked out his Novato job site. Police showed up at his parents house and learned he had moved in with his girlfriend in Santa Rosa, where he was eventually found and arrested on a no-bail warrant. DUI defense attorneys say that Petaluma police are among the most aggressive in Sonoma County. One lawyer expressed continuing surprise at the lengths Petaluma goes to stake out and apprehend DUI suspects as compared to other serious crimes in Sonoma County.
    Full Article...

  • Petaluma DUI & DL Check Point Sat 12/5

    Petaluma police announced a DUI and driver license checkpoint planned for Saturday, December 5, 2009, in 2 undisclosed locations. Sonoma County DUI defense attorneys have seen numerous such checkpoints and many lawyers expect more throughout the holidays in Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sebastopol, thanks to several recent state grants for such police activities.
    Full Article...

  • Judge Reduces Prison Sentence In DUI Fatality

    Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Ken Gnoss announced that he reduced the sentence of the Merced County District Attorney's son from 12 years to three years and four months in the fatal DUI accident which left one dead and one in a coma. The defendant's DUI defense attorney had argued that three years was a more typical sentence. Lawyers on both sides were surprised by the judge's decision to reconsider his original sentence.
    Full Article...

  • Napa DUI Check Point 11/27/09Napa DUI Checkpoint

    Napa police announced a DUI checkpoint for Friday, November 27, 2009.
    Full Article...



  • DUI's Effect on Staying In U.S. , Travel To Canada

    According to immigration lawyers, DUI convictions are negative factors but shouldn't bar getting a visa to travel to the United States, nor should it bar naturalization. Any individual with immigration issues should consult with a local immigration lawyer if faced with a Napa, Sonoma or Mendocino County DUI arrest or conviction.

    DUI defense attorneys also advise that North Bay residents with one or more DUI convictions who are planning travel to Canada consult with a lawyer long before finalizing trip details because extensive bureaucratic maneuvering may be required and successful entry into Canada is not guaranteed.
    Full Article...

  • 2nd Offender Probation Check = Arrest

    Sonoma County police arrested a 22-year old second DUI offender on November 24, 2009, after allegedly executing a probation search of his Cotati home, finding alcohol in violation of his no-possession/use probation clause, and then locating him in Petaluma driving on a suspended license. He was not intoxicated at the time of arrest.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionFlipping the Bird at Cop is Free Speech

    The Pittsburgh City Council approved a $50,000 settlement to a man wrongfully arrested for disorderly conduct when he flipped off a cop. Charges were later dropped after the man was forced to appeal. The man later sued in federal court to recover his costs of defending himself.

    The federal district court case may be found here: Hackbert Decision, and an interesting discussion of the law in this area can be found in the UC Davis Law Review.
    Full Article...

  • SR DUI Check point: No DUIs But 40 Cars Taken

    Santa Rosa police conducted a DUI and driver license checkpoint Saturday, November 21, 2009, at Guerneville Road and Ridley Avenue in West Santa Rosa. 545 drivers were stopped, 58 were further detained and investigated by the police, five were further subjected to field sobriety tests (all passed) and 40 vehicles were impounded for 30 days to the detriment of cited drivers (most with no license or suspended licenses). The U.S. Supreme Court upheld such checkpoints years ago if conducted in compliance with certain guidelines.

    Sonoma County DUI defense lawyers, and other attorneys and immigration groups have been trying to work with the Santa Rosa Police Department to change the (discretionary) 30-day impound policy, viewed by many as disproportionately impacting immigrant families whose only source of income is often the one family car.

    Two other arrests were made at the DUI checkpoint for outstanding warrants and two more for alleged drug possession.
    Full Article...

  • Lake County Police Accused of Racial Profiling

    The Lake County Sheriff's Office is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for racial profiling of detainees, and for internal racial, disability and sexual orientation discrimination within its own ranks, according to a KGO I-Team Report.
    Full Article...

  • 12 DUI's Man in Crash in Santa Rosa

    On Friday, November 20, 2009, Santa Rosa police arrested an individual, allegedly convicted 12 previous times since 1983 for DUI, for a reported 13th DUI, as a result of a solo non-injury accident on Highway 12 at Stony Point Road. The police claim the 50-year old man was driving on a suspended license and in violation of his parole. According to Sonoma County police, this man holds the county record for most DUI convictions.

    On Friday, November 20, 2009, Santa Rosa police arrested an individual, allegedly convicted 12 previous times since 1983 for DUI, for a reported 13th DUI, as a result of a solo non-injury accident on Highway 12 at Stony Point Road. The police claim the 50-year old man was driving on a suspended license and in violation of his parole. According to Sonoma County police, this man holds the county record for most DUI convictions. A Santa Rosa DUI defense attorney stated that if the facts reported are true, then the man is in serious need of treatment. If he is convicted of a 13th DUI, he is facing years in prison. Lawyers routinely defend DUI cases, but it is extremely rare to see more than five DUI's on a record.
    Full Article...

  • Petaluma Arrests Repeat Offender Buying Alcohol

    On Friday, November 20, 2009, Petaluma police reported arresting an individual allegedly convicted five previous times since 1990 for DUI. He was reportedly attempting to buy bottles of wine in violation of his probation. DUI lawyers believe that Petaluma is the only town in Sonoma County which stalks DUI offenders at home, work and about town in an apparent effort to ensure compliance and prevent crime. At least one Santa Rosa DUI attorney is troubled by the rabid focus of state resources on DUI's to the exclusion of other violent crimes and community policing.
    Full Article...

  • Man Who Didn't Drive Convicted of DUI

    A New Mexico man was convicted of DUI after deciding he was too drunk to drive safely, and decided to sleep it off rather than drive. That state's law allows a DUI conviction when an individual is "in control" of a vehicle, including being in the driver seat and access to keys.

    A New Mexico man was convicted of DUI after deciding he was too drunk to drive safely, and decided to sleep it off rather than drive. That state's law allows a DUI conviction when an individual is "in control" of a vehicle, including being in the driver seat and access to keys. Such a conviction would be unlikely in Sonoma County where lawyers would argue California's law requiring movement of the vehicle for a DUI conviction, according to a Santa Rosa lawyer.
    Full Article...

  • State Gives Santa Cruz $480K to Fight DUIs

    Adding to the list of cities and counties receiving DUI enforcement grants is Santa Cruz, which announced a $480,000 grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety to fight alcohol and drug-impaired driving. Similar grants have recently been announced all over the Bay Area, including Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sonoma County CHP, according to DUI defense attorneys. Lawyers are preparing for more DUI arrests and cases to defend than in prior years.
    Full Article...

  • Petaluma Stakes out Repeat Offenders Again

    Sonoma County's Petaluma Police Department arrested 6 repeat offenders after operations on November 14 and 16, 2009, investigating 16 individuals through probation checks, surveillance and court warrants as part of the department's "Habitual DUI Offender Stakeout Program" funded by the state.
    Full Article...

  • NY Law: Ignition Device for First DUI

    A law signed on November 18, 2009, requires individuals convicted of a first DUI to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles, and makes DUI with a child in the vehicle a felony offense. Sonoma County may experience similar requirements, according to local lawyers, if California's pilot program in four other counties ultimately becomes law statewide. Santa Rosa DUI attorneys are prepared for such developments as the Sonoma courts are already considering such ignition devices in high alcohol cases.
    Full Article...

  • 20 DUI Cases Dropped: Cop Not Credible

    More than 20 DUI cases have been dismissed by Chicago authorities who found that the arresting officer, a DUI "top cop," was not a credible witness. The officer has been the subject of intense controversy since multiple civil rights cases were filed against him accusing him of targeting Gays and Lesbians and making numerous false DUI arrests. Dash cam videos appear to challenge many of his sworn police reports.
    Full Article...

  • Car vs. Oak Tree = Santa Rosa DUI Arrest

    On November 10, 2009, a car crashed into an oak tree on Bennett Valley Road in Santa Rosa. A woman was trapped in the vehicle but freed by firefighters and taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. She was later arrested by Sonoma County CHP for DUI.
    Full Article...

  • Residents Protest Santa Rosa Police Brutality

    On October 22, 2009, approximately 200 people gathered in front of the Santa Rosa Police Department and spoke about personal and political perspectives, challenging police practices with respect to use of tasers, DUI checkpoints and impound practices, and excessive force.

    The three hour gathering and march throughout downtown Santa Rosa was unpermitted, but police kept a respectful distance as residents from many nearby communities, including young people, parents, immigrants, and lawyers, expressed their displeasure with unchecked police excess and the lack of citizen oversight.
    Full Article...

  • Montana Supreme Court Upholds Necessity Defense

    On November 12, 2009, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the DUI conviction of a woman who was not permitted by the trial court to present evidence to the jury that the reason she drove was to escape a dangerous bar fight. In Montana, as in most states, it is okay to break the law if required to avoid death or serious harm.
    Full Article...

  • Napa DUI patrols 11/14/09

    Napa police announced additional DUI patrols planned for Saturday, November 14, 2009. Napa DUI defense attorneys are always prepared to challenge such questionable citizen stops, although to date they are upheld as legal by the US Supreme Court, according to a Napa DUI lawyer.
    Full Article...

  • State Gives Stockton $352K To Fight DUIs

    Adding to the list of cities and counties receiving DUI enforcement grants is Stockton, which announced a $352,000 grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety to fight alcohol and drug-impaired driving. The Stockton Police Department will spend the money on additional patrols and enforcement of traffic violations. Similar grants have recently been announced all over the Bay Area, including Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sonoma County CHP, according to DUI defense attorneys.
    Full Article...

  • 3 Years Prison for Jail Threats

    A Sonoma County judge sentenced a Petaluma man to three years in prison for threatening a Sonoma County Jail guard and his family while awaiting trial in the Santa Rosa jail on DUI and parole violation charges.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionAppeals Court: 2x Over Fog Line = Illegal Stop

    An appellate division opinion was issued by the Santa Barbara Superior Court, in People v. Golis, holding that two minor drifts over a fog line is not reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation, and the resulting pull over and subsequent DUI arrest by police was an illegal detention and arrest.
    Read Court Case

  • Denver Voters Reject Impound Law

    Denver, CO voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure which would have severely limited police officer discretion when determining whether to impound vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers.

    In Sonoma County, community groups and attorneys, including at least two Santa Rosa DUI defense lawyers, are attempting to relax Santa Rosa Police Department policies, arguing that automatic impounding disproportionately impacts low income families whose only source of income may be a single vehicle which could be retrieved from a traffic stop by a licensed driver faster, cheaper and with more compassion in many situations than a tow company and the police.
    Full Article...

  • DMV Closed Every Friday Until 1/29/10

    Sonoma County's Santa Rosa DMV will be closed, along with most other state offices, on the first three Fridays of every month until June 30, 2010. The holidays will close the DMV for the fourth Friday of November and December.

    DUI lawyers say these closures, combined with the separately run Sonoma County Superior Court closures on the third Wednesdays of every month, will make a tough job even harder for attorneys and drivers alike trying to resolve DUI business. Full Article...

  • State Gives CHP Millions to Chase DUIs

    CHP announced that $5.6 million dollars was awarded to its agency to enforce DUI's in Sonoma County and around the state. The Santa Rosa area CHP office located in Rohnert Park is expected to benefit like all other offices in California. The funds will be used for DUI and licensing checkpoints, minor traffic violation enforcement, and community education. According to one Santa Rosa lawyer, he and other DUI attorneys see more DUI arrests from CHP than any other law enforcement agency.
    Full Article...

  • Sebastopol Police: 2 Halloween Eve DUI Arrests

    In separate incidents, police arrested a man reportedly testing at .26% blood alcohol after an alleged hit and run incident, and another man reportedly testing .17% blood alcohol after a brief chase in Sebastopol on Halloween Eve.
    Full Article...

  • CHP: Wrong Way Driver Fatality on 101

    A woman was killed in an alleged DUI fatality when a man apparently entered US 101 in Healdsburg just north of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, driving north on the southbound off-ramp, and driving into the fast lane and causing a head-on collision between his Ford Explorer and the woman's Honda Civic.
    Full Article...

  • Police Coach Blood Draw Witness

    A San Diego DUI lawyer released copy of a police memo to witnesses who testify about their procedures collecting blood samples from DUI suspects. The memo coaches how to testify and the important points to make during trials when witnesses don't remember specific details.
    Full Article...

  • Petaluma Continues Aggressive DUI Arrests

    Petaluma announced a new $200,000 grant from the state will allow the Sonoma County city to continue its aggressive DUI enforcement, including DUI checkpoints and staking out repeat DUI offenders.
    Full Article...

  • Napa DUI Patrols Halloween

    Napa County announced stepped up DUI enforcement for Halloween night, beginning at 7:00 p.m. Given Sonoma County's high-visibility "Avoid the 13" summer campaigns, Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sebastopol residents should also expect similar increased enforcement and DUI checkpoints during Halloween weekend.
    Full Article...

  • More Breath Machine Problems

    More DUI testing problems in the North Bay: after problems were announced last spring in Sonoma County's Santa Rosa testing laboratory, a breath machine used by Marin CHP suffered a "catastrophic failure" in its electronics, raising questions about its accuracy in DUI cases where it was employed.
    Full Article...

  • Another Gov't Tox Lab's Results Inaccurate

    A third government toxicology lab this year is reported to have produced incorrect lab results in criminal cases. Government toxicology labs test blood samples in DUI cases and produce alcohol level numbers used against defendants in court. Another Southern California lab reported falsified results last spring, and the Santa Rosa lab in Sonoma County also reported problems in early 2009.
    Full Article...

  • Napa DUI Check Point Coming Soon

    Thanks to a $124,000 state grant, Napa County will begin DUI checkpoints and courthouse driver license stings soon. Sonoma County has been operating such checkpoints, and license stings near the Santa Rosa courthouse, for several years, according to a Napa DUI lawyer who also practices DUI defense in Santa Rosa and Ukiah.
    Full Article...

  • CHP Notices RE Court Closures Fail to Appear

    Sonoma County's CHP citations with court dates for October's third Wednesday of the month, when courts are closed due to state budget constraints, failed to be corrected in about 40 traffic cases where those cited showed up at the Santa Rosa courthouse without a lawyer only to be told to call for another court date.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionChief Justice: Const. protects DUI's Less

    John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, dissented from the court's denial of review of a Virginia Supreme Court case which threw out a DUI arrest because the police didn't witness bad driving as reported by an anonymous informant. Roberts wrote that "The imminence of the danger posed by drunk drivers exceeds that at issue in other types of cases." He added that the court has upheld drunken-driving policies "that might be constitutionally problematic in other, less exigent circumstances." The dissent is in Virginia v. Harris.
    Full Article...

  • Chicago Gays Protest Cop Sued for false DUI Arrest

    A civil rights march by Chicago's gay and lesbian community became a protest about a MADD-decorated "DUI top cop," Richard Fiorito, who is the subject of multiple federal civil rights lawsuits, and reportedly a state criminal investigation, for allegedly making dozens of false DUI arrests and targeting the gay community. Fiorito was only recently placed on administrative leave after mounting criticism.

    Santa Rosa defense lawyers recently discussed similar allegations of homophobia and illegal targeting of DUI enforcement against gays with respect to a law enforcement officer in Sonoma County who regularly patrols at night in Guerneville's downtown area where several gay bars are located.
    Full Article...

  • Judge To Reconsider 12-Year Prison Sentence

    A Santa Rosa judge will reconsider the 12-year prison sentence he handed to a 19-year old convicted of killing a Berkeley student and permanently disabling another in a DUI crash. The DUI driver is the son of the Merced County District Attorney and the case has received widespread press coverage in Sonoma County and around the country.
    Full Article...

  • CA Gov. Ends Low Cost Insurance Program

    Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill which would have extended California's low cost insurance program (less than $375 per year), citing low use and effectiveness. Only 142 policies were sold in Sonoma County since the program was established in 2007. The program will expire at the end of 2010.
    Full Article...

  • MAAD Charity Finances Get Poor Marks

    Mothers Against Drunk Driving ("MADD") Canada is under fire for reportedly spending only 19 cents of every dollar raised to support its mission to the public, and for a CEO who won't reveal his salary. Charitynavigator.org grades the US MADD organization with just one star (out of four), meaning that MADD "fails to meet industry standards and performs well below most charities in its cause."

    Activistcash.com states that MADD's "$46 million bureaucracy spends over $12 million in salaries, pensions and benefits alone each year," and criticizing MADD's shift away from drunk driving to a prohibition-era focus on any drinking before driving -- regardless of whether it's done responsibly and legally.
    Full Article...

  • A Soldier Gets Warrant for Service

    A soldier serving in Iraq was slapped with an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court for a second DUI.

  • New York May Require Ignition Device

    New York may become the 12th state to require an alcohol detection device attached to all DUI offender vehicles. Sonoma County may see such devices in Santa Rosa and elsewhere by 2016 if a similar law passes in California.

  • Pilot Program: DUI = Ignition Device

    California may require first-time DUI offenders in certain counties, including Alameda and Sacramento Counties, to install an ignition interlock alcohol detection device in their vehicles in a new pilot program which could lead to a state-wide requirement for Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sonoma County by 2016.
    Full Article...

  • Hairspray Triggers Scram Device

    A Florida judge ruled that hairspray was the likely factor making the SCRAM alcohol detection anklet trigger false positives for a DUI suspect on pre-trial release. The SCRAM anklet was recently introduced to Sonoma County, at a Santa Rosa press conference, for use in certain DUI pre-trial release and post-sentencing cases.
    Full Article...

  • DUI Results in Deportation

    A Mexican national deported in 2007 will be deported again following a Texas DUI arrest.
    Full Article...

  • Police Claim 253 Labor Day DUI Arrests

    Sonoma County law enforcement claimed 253 drivers were arrested for DUI during the weeks leading up to and including Labor Day weekend, including daily DUI patrols throughout the county, 8 DUI checkpoints in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Rohnert Park, and in Geyserville at Lake Sonoma. The AVOID the 13 taskforce also conducted an operation on Friday, August 28, 2009 where officers from all 13 Sonoma County law enforcement agencies came together to conduct DUI probation and parole checks, serve warrants on DUI offenders, and then search for DUI drivers in the evening.
    Full Article...

  • Court Weighs Radar VS. GPS

    A Sonoma County traffic commissioner in Santa Rosa will decide a Petaluma speeding ticket case pitting the accuracy of police radar against a defense attorney arguing the reliability of GPS technology installed by parents to monitor speed and location of their son.
    Full Article...

  • 25 Arrested At Geyserville Check Point

    Sonoma County CHP and local police arrested 25 people in a Lake Sonoma Labor Day weekend checkpoint in Geyserville, bringing the total Sonoma County arrest effort to 193 so far, according to officials.
    Full Article...

  • 19 Arrested at Rohnert park DUI Checkpoint

    Two Sonoma County checkpoints in Rohnert Park during Labor Day weekend resulted in 19 arrests out of 1,621 vehicles stopped, and 60 directed to further evaluations.
    Full Article...

  • Jail Over Crowding Feared

    Sonoma County officials fear that state prison cuts will result in overcrowding in the county's Santa Rosa jail facilities.
    Full Article...

  • More Courthouse License Stings

    Police in Vista, CA reported 4 felony probationer DUI arrests in a license sting in San Diego where police watch to see if suspended drivers appearing in court drive away after their appearances. Napa, Petaluma and Santa Rosa police are expected to continue similar stings in Napa and Sonoma County, in light of available grant money, according to Napa and Sonoma DUI defense attorneys.
    Full Article...

  • Alaska Court Allows Rising Bac Defense

    On August 28, 2009, the Alaska Supreme Court overturned a state law prohibiting defendants from arguing that, due to recent consumption, their alcohol level may have been over .08% at the time of arrest but not at the time of driving. The court unanimously ruled that prohibiting the rising blood alcohol defense denies defendants due process of law.

  • 3 Petaluma Accidents = 3 DUI Arrests

    Petaluma police arrested three different drivers charged with DUI, allegedly involved in 3 different crashes in a two hour period on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 in Sonoma County.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionCourt Upholds Med License Suspension

    A California Appeals Court upheld the suspension of a Doctor's medical license in Watson v. Medical Board, following four DUI arrests.
    Read Court Case

  • Santa Rosa & Petaluma Check point DUI & License Arrests

    Sonoma County's Santa Rosa and Petaluma Police Departments were busy with DUI and license checkpoints during the August 21-23 weekend, arresting 3 people for DUI, 18 for license violations, and impounding 16 vehicles. Citizen protests nearby tried to warn drivers who might lose their sole source of income, the family car.
    Full Article...

  • marin DUI Check Points Coming

    Marin County law enforcement announced a series of DUI checkpoints leading up to the 2009 Labor Day Weekend. The first is planned for Friday, August 21 from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. in San Rafael, the second for Friday August 28 from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. in Sausalito (exact locations unknown), and the third for Friday September 4 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Red Hill Avenue at Ancho Vista Avenue in San Anselmo. In addition roving DUI patrols are planned.
    Full Article...

  • 5th DUI Arrest for Petaluma Man

    A 51-year old Petaluma man was arrested on August 14, 2009, after allegedly being convinced to take a taxi home, then circling his truck twice in the taxi while police staked out his vehicle. He reportedly has four prior DUI convictions and was on probation for DUI.
    Full Article...

  • Driver + Passenger = 2 DUI Arrests

    A 19-year old driver and his 17-year old passenger were both arrested for DUI by Sonoma County CHP after Santa Rosa police responded to an accident scene in July, 2009, following an incident where the passenger allegedly grabbed the wheel of the car. The passenger was arrested at the scene for felony DUI with injuries, and the driver days later for misdemeanor DUI after police examined blood test results.
    Full Article...

  • Phone Scam: Your Son Arrested for DUI Send Bail $

    Phone scammers are reportedly telephoning family members and saying that your relative was arrested for DUI, asking you to wire money for bail or lawyers. The scammers apparently use personal information such as names and relationships to seem credible.

  • 29 DUI Arrests in 1 Sonoma Weekend

    Sonoma County CHP reported 29 DUI arrests in and around Santa Rosa over the August 7-9, 2009, weekend including 8 teenagers. Speculation on the reasons included hot weather, the last weekend of the Sonoma County Fair, and the looming start of the school year.
    Full Article...

  • Clear Lake Boating DUI Check Points

    Lake County will conduct its first boating sobriety checkpoint on Saturday, August 8, 2009, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. between Buckingham Point and Anderson Island, using a 7-member Lake County Sheriff's marine patrol team with assistance from CHP, Fish & Game, and Sutter and Sacramento sheriffs.
    Full Article...

  • Man Hits Caltran Truck: Gets DUI Arrest

    A 25-year old Santa Rosa man reportedly drove through construction cones and hit the back of a Caltrans truck near River Road in Sonoma County before being arrested for DUI on July 29, 2009.

  • Wrong Way on 101 Leads to 4th DUI arrest

    A 46-year old Windsor woman was arrested in Sonoma County for an alleged fourth DUI, violation of probation and suspended license on July 28, 2009, after reported trying to drive the wrong direction on Highway 101 in Santa Rosa.

  • Sonoma CHP Make 20 Weekend Arrests for DUI

    On the weekend of July 25, 2009, Sonoma County CHP arrested 20 people for alleged DUI in incidents reportedly involving 2 accidents, 13 invalid licenses, and three violations of probation.
    Full Article...

  • Chinese Sentence Main to Death in Fatal Crash

    A court in China sentenced a 30-year old man to death for a fatal DUI crash which killed four people.
    Full Article...

  • DUI Murder Conviction Upheld: 43 Yrs Prison

    On July 20, 2009, the California Court of Appeals upheld a man's second degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter and hit and run convictions (43 year prison sentence) in Sonoma County, stemming from an accident which killed a 39-year old Ukiah woman on US 101 in Windsor after the man had been warned not to drive by the bartender and patrons. This was the man's 6th DUI.

  • Court Opinion9th Cir. Affirms Warrant Required to Enter Home

    The 9th Circuit of the Federal Court of Appeals ruled on July 16, 2009, in Hopkins v. Bonvicino, that law enforcement may not make a warrantless entry into a home without consent solely to obtain a breath or blood sample and/or make a DUI arrest. The Court sharply criticized the California Supreme Court which had reached the opposite conclusion in People v. Thompson, 38 Cal.4th 811 (2006)
    Read Hopkins Case... Read Thompson case...

  • DA's Son Gets 12 Years For Fatal DUI Crash

    On July 15, 2009, Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Ken Gnoss sentenced the 18-year old son of the Merced County District Attorney to 12 years in prison for a fatal Rohnert Park DUI crash following a fraternity party, marijuana, a fake ID, and beer from Safeway, ultimately leading to tragedy in many lives.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionCA Supreme Court Allows New evidence In DUIs

    The California Supreme Court ruled on July 9, 2009, in People v. McNeal, that "partition ratio" evidence may be introduced regarding whether breath machine results are accurate as to an individual defendant (rather accepting the general population breath-to blood assumptions pre-programmed into the machine) in the generic DUI charge (although not in the second, .08% charge).
    Read Court Case

  • 49 DUI Arrests over July 4th Weekend

    Sonoma County's "Avoid the 13" law enforcement agencies reported 49 DUI arrests over the 2009 July 4th weekend during "saturation patrols" in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Rohnert Park, Cotati, and Sebastopol.
    Full Article...

  • 2 Hit & Runs + 2 Routine Stops + 1 Stakeout =5 DUIs Petaluma

    On Saturday night, June 27, 2009, and Sunday morning, Petaluma police reportedly staked out a DUI probationer and arrested him on a warrant and driving on a suspended license, while four more DUI arrests happened elsewhere in the city with two unrelated alleged hit & run's and two other routine traffic stops.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionUS Supreme Court Requires Lab Techs to Testify in Person

    On June 25, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusettes, that defendants have the right to require state lab analysts to testify in person regarding results of blood or other chemical test results used as a basis for prosecution.
    Read Court Case

  • Santa Rosa's Downtown Citizen "Roundup"

    On Friday night, June 26, 2009, Santa Rosa police arrested four people in the downtown Santa Rosa area for DUI, violation of probation for DUI, or public intoxication, in a "targeted" enforcement effort reportedly aimed at decreasing problems associated with alcohol in the downtown area.
    Full Article...

  • DUI Check Point in Petaluma

    On Friday night, June 19, 2009, Petaluma police arrested 11 people for DUI (including one violation of DUI probation) in Sonoma County, and impounded 11 vehicles from suspended and unlicensed drivers, in checkpoints at two different locations on Lakeville Highway between 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.
    Full Article...

  • Suspended License Court Sting Nets 10 Arrests

    Sonoma County law enforcement lying in wait arrested ten people on June 11, 2009, as they drove off from court appearances in Santa Rosa. Allegedly all had suspended licenses and nine of the ten had been suspended for DUI.
    Full Article...

  • Pizza + Accident + 0.50 Bac = Felony DUI

    Petaluma police arrested a 40-year old woman on June 9, 2009. She allegedly ignored pleas not to drive, left a Round Table pizza parlor and rear-ended two cars, later testing at 0.50% BAC, more than six times over the legal limit.
    Full Article...

  • ACLU: Stop Mandatory Impounds

    The Northern California ACLU and others urged San Francisco to revise its vehicle impound laws in a comprehensive memo to the Chief of Police and the City Attorney, outlining the law and sociopolitical concerns. Defense lawyers and others in Sonoma County are seeking similar revisions with respect to the Santa Rosa Police Department, although DUI impounds are not expected to be affected in any event.
    Full Article...

  • Sonoma DUI Program Director Arrested for DUI

    On May 29, 2009, Sonoma County CHP reportedly arrested the 53-year old director of the Sonoma County DUI Program for allegedly being under the influence of prescribed meds, all after an off-duty firefighter reportedly spotted a Mercedes-Benz driving recklessly on Bodega Highway and flagged down a deputy sheriff, who in turn called CHP to the scene. The man stated he was able to operate his vehicle safely.
    Full Article...

  • Petaluma Cops Target Repeat Offenders

    Petaluma police reportedly boast of harassment of DUI offenders, identifying and targeting them, surveillance at home and work, tailing them, as part of state-funded program with 12 convictions so far.
    Full Article...

  • Man's Alcohol Breath in DUI Court = Jail

    A 45-year old man in Monroe, PA, charged with vehicular manslaughter and DUI allegedly causing the death of a state senator, reportedly drove to court for his wife's unrelated assault charges and was breath tested with an alleged .10% blood alcohol. A judge revoked the man's bail, remanding him to custody.
    Full Article...

  • Medical Board Suspends Doctor After 5 DUIs

    A 52-year old doctor in Lodi, CA, had his medical license suspended after an alleged 5th DUI and driving with a suspended driver license. His brother's medical license was also reported suspended for allegations of DUI, unprofessional conduct and drug use.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionCourt Explains & Reverses Meth DUI

    On May 5, 2009, a California Court of Appeal reversed a methamphetamine DUI conviction in People v. Torres, ruling that the government must prove not only that a person is under the influence of meth, but also that meth impaired driving ability to the degree that the driver could not operate a vehicle in a prudent and cautious manner.
    Read Court Case

  • DUI Check point in Petaluma

    4,148 vehicles were stopped in a series of police roadblock "DUI Checkpoints" in Petaluma on Friday and Saturday nights of Memorial Day Weekend, 2009. Eight DUI arrests were made, and ten vehicles were towed from alleged suspended or unlicensed drivers.
    Full Article...

  • Motorcyclist critically injured in suspected DUI

    A 26-year old Windsor man was critically injured in a suspected DUI on April 30, 2009, when he crashed his motorcycle into the rear end of a FedEx truck on Shiloh Road. Sonoma County police reported that he had a blood alcohol level of 0.21%.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionUS Supreme Court Vehicle Search Limits

    On April 21, 2009, the US Supreme Court ruled in Arizona v. Gant, that a warrantless vehicle search incident to arrest is only permissible if the officers reasonably believe an arrestee could gain access to the vehicle to obtain weapons to harm the officers or to destroy evidence related to the basis of the arrest.
    Read Court Case

  • Women Arrested for Felony Motorcycle hit

    A 46-year old Windsor woman was arrested in Sonoma County for an alleged fourth DUI, violation of probation and suspended license on July 28, 2009, after reported trying to drive the wrong direction on Highway 101 in Santa Rosa.
    Full Article...

  • Teen Arrested for Felony DUI

    An 18-year old Petaluma man was arrested by Sonoma County police for felony DUI on April 12, 2009, after allegedly crashing his car into a wall and tree on North McDowell Blvd., injuring one of three passengers.
    Full Article...

  • Man Tasered in DUI Arrest

    Police in Sonoma County tasered a man on April 10, 2009, and then arrested him for DUI and resisting, after a car crash on Highway 101 outside Santa Rosa near Cotati.
    Full Article...

  • Women's Breath alcohol in DUI Court = Jail

    A 28-year old woman, with an alleged .34% blood alcohol concentration DUI, appeared for her case in court near Atlanta, Georgia. Apparently, she had alcohol on her breath. The judge issued a bench warrant for contempt of court and she was taken to jail for two days.
    Full Article...

  • Government Labs Testing DUI Blood Admit Problems

    Both Northern and Southern California government toxicology laboratories, which test blood and other samples submitted by police who make DUI and drug arrests, report irregularities and problems. Their test results are the ones used against defendants in court.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionCourt Overrules DMV on Lab Tests

    On March 27, 2009, a California Court of Appeals reversed a DMV DUI suspension in Molenda v. DMV, where the DMV relied upon improperly recorded blood test results and inadmissible preliminary breath test results.
    Read Court Case

  • Felony DUI Charges for D.A.'s Son in Fatal Crash

    The 18-year old son of the Merced County District Attorney was charged with felony DUI following a crash on February 14, 2009, that allegedly killed a 22-year old driver in Santa Rosa.
    Full Article...

  • Government Misreads Blood Test

    DUI charges against a man were dropped after it was discovered that the government mistakenly read blood alcohol tests.
    Full Article...

  • Cell Phone Driving=DUI Arrest

    A 19-year old Santa Rosa man was arrested for DUI on January 30, 2009, after giving chase, crashing his vehicle, fleeing, and then tasered, all starting when Santa Rosa police saw the driver using his cell phone and chose to make an enforcement stop, according to reports.
    Full Article...

  • Felony DUI Arrest in Crash on 101

    A 25-year old Petaluma man was arrested for felony DUI on January 22, 2009, allegedly causing a crash on 101 in Sonoma County by trying to pass a vehicle on the shoulder of the freeway. Allegations include violation of probation for a prior DUI and driving on a suspended license.
    Full Article...

  • 3 DUI's and 2 Injured sisters

    A 35-year old Santa Rosa man, who was arrested January 3, 2009, for an alleged DUI involving reportedly serious injuries to two young sisters, allegedly has three prior Sonoma County drunk driving convictions.
    Full Article...

  • New Laws

    See the newest DUI and traffic laws for 2009.
    Full Article...

  • Pressure to order ignition devices

    Local media pushes for more Sonoma County DUI sentences to include court-ordered installation of ignition interlock devices.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionAppeals Court: Involuntary intox not a crime

    The Fifth District Court of Appeals in California ruled on June 26, 2008, in People v. Holloway, that if a person does not reasonably know the intoxicating effects of prescribed medications, then a jury may conclude that the person is innocent of DUI.
    Read Court Case

  • 4 DUI's and a fatal Crash

    A 52-year old Santa Rosa woman involved in a three-car pile-up December 29, 2008, on Highway 12, which killed herself and an elderly woman, was allegedly wanted on a Sonoma County warrant for driving without a license and reportedly had four prior DUI convictions.
    Full Article...

  • 10 Month DUI Sentence

    A 19-year old Santa Rosa woman was sentenced by a Sonoma County Judge on December 22, 2008, to 10 months incarceration and four years of probation for a DUI incident which badly injured another woman in Windsor.
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionDMV Can't Suspend For Boat DUI

    The California Court of Appeals ruled in June, 2008, in Cinquegrani v. DMV, that the DMV cannot suspend a driver license due solely to a boating DUI conviction.
    Read Court Case


  • Court OpinionCourt Reverses Drunk in "Public"

    The California Court of Appeals ruled in March, 2008, in In Re R.K., that an area of private property that is not open to common or general use is not public for purposes of California Penal Code Section 647(f), commonly known as "drunk in public."
    Read Court Case

  • Court OpinionPassenger has standing to challenge stop

    On June 18, 2007, the US Supreme Court ruled in Brendlin v. California, that a passenger may challenge the warrantless stop of a vehicle on Fourth Amendment grounds to suppress evidence later found in his possession.
    Read Court Case

  • Court OpinionAppeals Court: Weaving in lane is not enough

    The California Court of Appeals ruled on May, 2007, in Arburn v. DMV, that an officer who sees a "vehicle was weaving in Lane #2," and was "traveling at about the speed limit" when it "almost hit the west curb" provides sufficient observations to support a valid initial detention to investigate.
    Read Court Case

  • Court OpinionCourt Allows Cop stop based on Anonymous tip

    The California Court of Appeals ruled in February, 2007, in People v. Dolly, that police may stop a vehicle based on an anonymous tip that a "driver is all over the road" or an assault.
    Read Court Case

  • Lawyers for Police Assoc. warn re: impounds

    Lawyers for the California Police Officers' Association warned agencies to seek legal advice in light of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruling below regarding vehicle impounds, stating that the Miranda decision "does appear to impact upon an officer's authority to have a vehicle towed."
    Full Article...

  • Court OpinionImpounds for No License can be Illegal

    The Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled in November, 2005, in Miranda v. City of Cornelius, that police may not impound a vehicle solely because a driver is unlicensed.
    Read Court Case

  • Court OpinionPAS Devices Used in Under-21 Cases Must be Proven Reliable

    The California Court of Appeals ruled in October, 1995, in Coniglio v. DMV, that the DMV has the burden of proving the reliability of a PAS device used to suspend an under-21 driver in a zero tolerance arrest. The testimony must show the apparatus was in proper working order, properly maintained, whether the standards for calibration were followed, that the test was properly administered, or evidence explaining how the PAS device should be administered, and that the administering officer was competent and qualified to administer the test. Read Coniglio Case... See also, Molenda v. DMV (2009)...


Legal