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New DUI Diversion Law Causes Controversy

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california defense lawyerA new law that allows judges to grant diversion to those convicted of misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI) has been causing confusion in the California court system, according to The Press-Enterprise. Critics of the measure say judges are applying it inconsistently, often granting diversion to defendants with means while poorer defendants are punished with criminal penalties. 

Assembly Bill 3234

Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco, introduced Assembly Bill 3234 as part of a criminal justice reform package designed to, among other things, give judges the discretion to place first-time DUI offenders into a diversion program instead of jail. 

Ting said the measure was modeled off of a program that proved successful in Los Angeles County. Since judges could grant diversion, he explained the county court system had 2,000 fewer jury trials, which saved some $12,000 per day. Also, according to Ting, those who completed a diversion program were less likely to re-offend. 


california dui lawyerAhead of Labor Day weekend, a multinational alcohol company launched a virtual campaign to warn Californians who plan on partying over the weekend about the dangers of drinking and driving. Diageo North American partnered with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research to launch the “Wrong Side of the Road.” 

Wrong Side of the Road

The educational project includes a website that hosts a series of videos in which people who have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) share their experiences. Many of the individuals describe the social stigma they feel as a result of their DUI conviction.

Diageo, which owns Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Guinness, and dozens of other beverage brands, explained they wanted to show how catastrophic it could be not just for you, but the people in your life if you decide to drink and drive. 


san Francisco dui lawyerMost people are honest, especially when they talk to a police officer, but that police officer might not be as forthright about his or her intentions. When a police officer suspects that a driver is driving under the influence (DUI), he or she may ask questions to find evidence or clues of drunk driving. DUIs and traffic infractions result in more injuries and death than any violent crime, but also DUIs are incredibly hard to prove. 

When a police officer pulls you over and suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol, they will ask you what seems like common, getting-to-know-you questions, but in reality, what they are doing is phishing for information. The police officer may be gathering details and building the foundation of a DUI case. 

While it seems logical to stay silent during this exchange, the honest person might feel like they are trying to hide something. It begs the question: When should you answer questions and when should you stay quiet during a DUI stop?


california defense lawyerIn a DUI case, the reason why a police officer pulls you over plays an important role. Identifying a traffic violation gives the officer probable cause to stop you in the first place. The officer can gather further evidence of drunk driving. How do police officers determine that there is probable cause for a DUI stop?

The short answer is nobody knows you are driving drunk — not even police officers — just by the traffic violation. However, police are trained to look for specific behaviors to single out possible drunk drivers and follow them until they see a traffic violation to build a DUI case. 

A Vehicle in Motion

One of the first lessons in DUI training is called “Vehicle in Motion.” The lesson is used to train police officers how to identify driving behaviors that could lead to DUI stop, and how to observe and document the behaviors for a DUI case. The training is provided by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency managed by the federal Department of Transportation. 


CA defense lawyerIn an effort to keep unsafe drivers off the road, California law typically requires a driver’s license suspension for a person who is arrested or convicted for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. However, in a world that frequently relies on personal vehicles for transportation, the loss of driving privileges can be a major inconvenience and even a cause of financial hardship. If your license has been suspended for DUI-related reasons, you may be able to mitigate some of the consequences by applying for a restricted license.

Restricted Licenses for California DUI Arrest Suspensions

In California, a DUI conviction is not necessary for a driver’s license suspension to go into effect. Rather, you could find your license suspended for four months if a chemical test shows that you had a BAC of at least 0.08. You may be able to contest your suspension with the help of an attorney at an administrative DMV hearing, but if the suspension goes into effect, you will be unable to legally drive under any circumstances unless you obtain a restricted driver’s license.

The California DMV offers two options for obtaining a restricted license under these circumstances. The first is to agree to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) in your vehicle, in which case you would be able to drive for any reason as long as the device does not register alcohol in your breath. The second option is to serve at least 30 days of the suspension and then agree to drive only for the purposes of employment and attending a DUI program. For either option, you must apply through the DMV, pay a fee, and provide proof of insurance. These restrictions typically last for the duration of the suspension or slightly longer.

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