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How Child Passengers Affect a DUI CaseDriving under the influence by itself has potentially serious penalties if you are convicted. Having a child with you in your vehicle at the time of your alleged DUI incident will aggravate the charge and the penalty. You are liable for the safety of any passengers, but prosecutors may charge you with child endangerment if they believe that you put a child at risk by driving impaired. Because it was likely your child in the vehicle, you have both your freedom and your parental rights at stake during your case.

DUI with Child

California law defines a child in a DUI case as someone who is younger than 14. The child passenger did not need to be in danger for prosecutors to charge you with DUI with a child. If the court rules that you were guilty of DUI, the child’s presence in the vehicle is enough to prove the aggravated DUI charge. A DUI with a child conviction includes mandatory jail time. How long you must stay in jail depends on whether you have any previous DUI convictions on your record. You would be sentenced to:

  • 48 hours in jail if it is your first DUI;
  • 10 days in jail if it is your second DUI in 10 years;
  • 30 days in jail if it is your third DUI in 10 years; and
  • 90 days in jail if it is your fourth DUI in 10 years.

Two days in jail is less than the maximum jail sentence you can receive for a first-time DUI conviction without any aggravating factors. However, first-time DUI offenders can receive probation instead of jail time, while DUI with a child guarantees you time in jail.

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Officers Follow 12-Step Process to Identify DUI with DrugsThe driving under the influence of drugs evaluation process is increasingly important in California because of the recent legalization of recreational marijuana. Most California Highway Patrol officers have received training to identify signs of drug-related impairment, but fewer officers are certified to recognize which drug may be impairing the driver. Being accused of using an illegal drug may have different consequences than being accused of using marijuana. Many law enforcement organizations follow a 12-step drug recognition process that the International Association of Chiefs of Police endorses:

  1. Breath Alcohol Test: The arresting officer must first determine whether the suspect is under the influence of alcohol. The officer can request a drug recognition evaluation if the breath test is negative but the officer believes the suspect is impaired.
  2. Interviewing the Arresting Officer: A drug recognition expert (DRE) starts his or her evaluation process by asking the arresting officer about the subject’s appearance and behavior.
  3. Preliminary Examination: The DRE examines the suspect to determine whether factors other than drugs could be affecting the suspect’s condition and if the suspect needs immediate medical attention.
  4. Eye Test: The DRE administers the horizontal gaze nystagmus and vertical gaze nystagmus tests.
  5. Divided Attention Tests: The DRE conducts several field tests to evaluate the suspect's balance and ability to follow multiple directions at once.
  6. Vital Signs: The DRE checks the suspect’s blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.
  7. Dark Room Examinations: The DRE uses various lighting conditions to determine whether the suspect’s pupils are dilated or constricted.
  8. Muscle Tone Check: The DRE checks the suspect’s muscles to see if they have become rigid or flaccid.
  9. Check for Injection Sites: The DRE looks for any marks on the suspect’s body that may indicate the injection of a drug.
  10. Suspect Interview: The DRE asks the suspect whether he or she has used drugs and details regarding the drug use.
  11. Conclusion: The DRE decides whether the evidence suggests that the suspect was impaired by drugs and attempts to identify the drug that is responsible.
  12. Toxicology: Chemical test results will later confirm whether the DRE’s evaluation was accurate.

Responding to Drug Evaluation

Most of the steps in the drug recognition evaluation process are subjective tests. Factors other than drug use can explain the symptoms that the DRE is looking for. Even the presence of a drug in your body does not prove that you were impaired. Refusing a drug recognition evaluation is in your best interest, though it may result in further penalties. A San Francisco DUI defense attorney at Burglin Law Offices, P.C., can protect you against DUI charges related to drugs or alcohol. To schedule a free consultation, call 415-729-7300.

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 Four Reasons Why Field Sobriety Tests Are Unreliable EvidenceThe name “field sobriety test” makes these exercises sound more official and clinical than they actually are. FSTs help police officers guess whether a driver may be impaired by using subjective exercises, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk-and-turn exercise, and one-leg stand. An experienced criminal defense attorney has many ways to refute the results of an FST if the prosecution tries to use them as evidence in a driving under the influence case. The defenses center around the many flaws with FSTs:

  1. FSTs Are Naturally Subjective: The accuracy of a test depends on a consistent application of the test and measurable results. Officers use FSTs as suggested exercises to help make judgments. They have discretion in the ways they administer FSTs and can draw different conclusions from the same results, depending on their experience and training. FSTs are not meant to provide empirical evidence of a person’s intoxication.
  2. The Subject Does Not Have a Baseline Result for the FST: An officer conducting an FST is looking for universal symptoms that suggest impairment. However, the officer is assuming how the subject would perform on the test under normal circumstances. A person’s normal physical condition will affect his or her ability to walk straight or maintain his or her balance.
  3. Many Factors Can Affect an FST: Subjects do not perform an FST in a controlled environment that allows for unbiased results. The levelness of the ground and the time of the day can both affect how someone performs. A subject may have more difficulty maintaining his or her balance on a sloped surface or seeing where he or she is walking when it is dark. The subject is also likely to be tired because most DUI stops occur at night.
  4. The Subject Is Feeling Stressed: An officer may misinterpret confusion or mistakes during an FST as signs of impairment by the driver. The subject is likely nervous because of the traffic stop, even if he or she is not under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Stress distracts people when they are listening to instructions and can cause them to make mistakes that they normally would not make.

Dealing with FST Results

You should not agree to take an FST, and police cannot require you submit to one. You would risk providing evidence for a DUI case against you. An officer may choose to arrest you on suspicion of DUI if you refuse an FST, but the prosecution must provide other evidence of the offense. A San Francisco DUI defense attorney at Burglin Law Offices, P.C., can contest your DUI charges when the prosecution lacks credible evidence. Schedule a free consultation by calling 415-729-7300.

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California Changes BAC Limit for Ride-Share DriversA new California law went into effect on July 1 that has lowered the threshold to charge ride-share drivers with driving under the influence of alcohol. The law sets the blood alcohol concentration limit for these drivers at 0.04, as opposed to the 0.08 limit for most other drivers. The change is meant to treat ride-share drivers more like commercial drivers in terms of DUI enforcement. Ride-share drivers risk losing their jobs and receiving criminal penalties if they are convicted for a DUI charge.

About the Law

The law added a section to California's vehicle code that states that it is unlawful for a driver to have a BAC of 0.04 or more while also having a passenger for hire in the vehicle. Commercial vehicle drivers, such as taxi drivers, have the same BAC limit. While drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft are considered to be providing the same service as taxi drivers, the same DUI law did not apply to them because:

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How Has Legal Marijuana Affected DUI Rates?Since states first started legalizing recreational marijuana use a couple of years ago, there has been a debate as to whether the new laws have caused an increased number of impaired driving incidents in those states. Those who believe it has caused an increase will cite arrest statistics for driving under the influence charges in which the suspects had THC in their systems. Skeptics argue that the testing procedures do not definitively prove when marijuana use is responsible for impaired driving. With the recency of California’s legalization, it may take years to determine how the new law has affected DUI incidents and arrests.

Bay Area Data

The California Highway Patrol suspects that a San Jose man was under the influence of marijuana when he allegedly caused a fatal crash in Fremont in May. The CHP’s Golden Gate Division released statistics of DUI arrests involving marijuana in 2017, which was before the new marijuana law was enacted. According to the statistics:

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