According to reports in late January, the San Mateo County Superior Court will cut up to two dozen jobs and suspend the majority of services in the South San Francisco and San Mateo branches. They will also be closing five courtrooms. It is assumed that most of the courtrooms being closed will be in the South San Francisco Branch. The reports say that most likely all of the Misdemeanor cases, a majority of which are DUI cases, will be moved to the Redwood City Courthouse.
Reports said the cuts would result in losing five court commissioner positions and 16 to 21 staff members. These changes may take place as early as July 2013. Reports also said two Courtrooms will remain open at the South San Francisco Superior Court branch to handle preliminary hearings. This means that most likely Felony DUI cases will still take place at least in part at the northern branch location.
The court in South San Francisco currently handles over a thousand new cases every month. It often takes two months from the time of a misdemeanor arraignment to the next court date, which shows how backed up they have become.
Tags: Bay Area · Bay Area DUI Lawyer · DUI Statistics · Drunk Driving Arrest · General DUI Topics · In The News · San Mateo County DUI
San Francisco Courts have recently increased their monitoring of those facing DUI charges. Those facing felony DUI charges, or facing misdemeanor DUI charges with very high blood alcohol levels or prior convictions, are being given extra conditions to stay out of jail after their first court date.
Judges are now requiring Vi Cap, which is a system that the Sheriff’s department hooks up to your home phone line or modem to help confirm you are not drinking alcoholic beverages while your case is ongoing. The defendant is required to pay for this alcohol monitoring system, and it can cost as much as $20.00 per day. In some cases, usually more serious cases, the Court will require a SCRAM alcohol bracelet that is worn on your ankle and monitors alcohol intake 24 hours a day. Scram can cost a defendant up to $50.00 a day, depending on income level.
A judge will order you to sign up for the Vi Cap at the arraignment, and then you must report to the Sheriff’s office to get the process underway. Once the monitor is hooked up in your home, you are required to blow into it at least twice a day at specified times. You have a 45 minute period twice a day when you must be home and wait for someone to call you, instructing you to blow into a hand held device. The machine takes a picture of you blowing into the device, and then you put the device on a stand and the machine takes a picture of the alcohol results, which should be zero. If alcohol shows up on the test, you can be put in jail for violating the no drinking terms of your release.
Other Bay Area counties are also getting stricter, but San Francisco is the only one using the Vi Cap machine. Most other counties will require someone with multiple DUI’s and high Blood Alcohol levels to do a certain number of AA meetings per week while their case is pending.
Tags: Bay Area · Bay Area DUI Lawyer · DUI Accidents · Drunk Driving Arrest · General DUI Topics · New DUI/Driving Laws · San Francisco DUI Lawyer
SB 289 has just been introduced, and if passed would create a zero tolerance policy for any drugs found in a drivers blood. The bill claims that drivers with a prescription for the drugs in their system will be exempt.
This bill is an attempt to make it easier for prosecutors to convict people for driving under the influence. Currently, what must be proven in a non alcohol DUI charge is that the driver was not driving with the care and caution of a sober person.
The newly proposed law is a direct attack on elderly drivers, who are more likely to be on pain medication than younger drivers. Although the backers of this bill are claiming police will not charge DUI’s for those who have a prescription for the medication, it is already happening, even without this new law. The number of DUI arrests for those under the influence of “prescription medication” has increased over recent years, and this law just opens the door wider.
Backers of this bill have claimed that the law will only apply to those pulled over for driving erratically and those failing field sobriety tests. This claim is totally false, as police have and will continue to pull people over for ANY vehicle code violation, or suspicion, and look for clues of impairment. An elderly person who takes their prescription meds, rolls a stop sign, and tells the office that they took their medication is seriously looking at a DUI conviction under this new bill.
Medical Marijuana users, who suffer from chronic pain, are also being singled out here. Marijuana stays in the system for days, weeks and even months after use. Someone who smoked marijuana the day before would not be able to risk driving for the next few days or more.
Zero tolerance is not the answer, and this bill would be bad law.
Tags: Bay Area · Bay Area DUI Lawyer · Drunk Driving Arrest · General DUI Topics · In The News · New DUI/Driving Laws
News: FEB 13, 2012
In most Bay Area counties, if you or your lawyer show up to court for your first DUI court date (arraignment), there are a number of things that can happen. Usually a not guilty plea is entered and the lawyer fights the case. However, sometimes the District Attorney’s office has not filed the charges by your arraignment date and there will eventually be a new Court date. That is what happens in most Bay Area Counties. The District Attorney or the Court will send you a letter with a new court date, or the Court itself might assign you a new arraignment date.
However, this is not what happens in San Francisco. Until recently, if your case was not ready to be filed at your arraignment date, you would not get a courtesy notice. Instead, once the DA filed the complaint post arraignment date, typically a $10,000.00 DA arrest warrant would issue and you would need to surrender to a police station to get the warrant recalled and your case started. Once surrendering, you would need to post bail (10% of the $10,000.00) through a bail bondsman, or wait in jail for potentially days until they brought you to court. Learn more about how a San Francisco DUI lawyer can help.
Why San Francisco did not send out courtesy notices with new court dates is unknown and outrageous. Currently in some cases that they are filing after the arraignment date, a letter will be sent from the police requesting you to call and come in to sign a new promise to appear in court. But for many older cases with DUI arrest warrants, the misdemeanor unit at the DA’s office and the San Francisco Superior Court Clerk’s office are telling you to surrender to the police and either post bail or wait in jail until they take you to court.
The good news is if you are reading this blog post, you now have another way to avoid jail and bail. If you have an older DUI Arrest Warrant in San Francisco, you should be able to do the following for a quick walk through booking and avoid the agony of bail and jail pre arraignment: Go to the 4th floor at 850 Bryant Street and head down the North Hall and through the glass doors. To the right side of the hall you will find the Central Warrants Bureau. Go to window #4, where you will find officer Jeff Dong. He is usually there Monday through Friday from 8-5. In most of these cases Officer Dong can do a walk through booking and you will be out of the building in no time. He will usually let you pick whatever Court date works best for you.
Tags: Bay Area · Bay Area DUI Lawyer · DUI Arrest Warrant · Drunk Driving Arrest · General DUI Topics · San Francisco DUI Lawyer
NEWS: FEB 13, 2012
According to CHP, San Francisco Bay Area DUI Arrests over the Thanksgiving Holiday totaled 215 this year. In 2010, the number of Drunk Driving Arrests in the Bay Area over the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend was 249.
The total number of DUI arrests in the State of California decreased this year for the same Thanksgiving Holiday four day period. While 1,419 were arrested for DUI in California in 2010, the number was 1,350 in 2011.
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The number of traffic related deaths in California almost doubled this year over the four day weekend, from 12 in 2010 to 21 in 2011. It was not reported if any of these deaths were DUI related.
Tags: Bay Area · Bay Area DUI Lawyer · DUI Statistics · Drunk Driving Arrest · General DUI Topics · In The News · San Francisco DUI Lawyer
NEWS: December 18, 2009
How accurate is the testing of Breath and Blood in DUI cases? We know and hear a lot about the “margin of error” in the testing methods used to determine one’s blood or breath alcohol level. According to most credible forensic toxicologists, the margin of error for blood testing (drawing blood) is up to 10%. The breath testing of a person increases the margin of error to 20%.
There are a number of different Blood Alcohol Calculators that can be found to help determine what your BAC would be if you enter in a number of factors. Number of drinks or ounces of alcoholic drink, over how many hours, your weight, and alcohol level of the drinks, can give you a rough estimate of your BAC. These BAC Calculators don’t factor in many other variables that can effect absorption and elimination rates, thus only a rough estimate should ever be taken from the results.
One more problem in trying to calculate BAC is we often do not know the exact alcohol percentage of the drinks consumed. An example of this is that our government allows a wine maker to over or understate the alcohol level by 1%. This may not seem like a big deal, but it can be the difference between being over or under the legal limit. Here is an example, and this is only a rough calculation since we are using a BAC Calculator:
A 180 pound person drinks 20 ounces of 13% wine (4-5 half glasses) over a two hour period. Using one of many BAC Calculators the ethanol content of their blood would be 0.0783 percent. Same person and same amount of 14% wine, the BAC Calculator puts them at 0.0866 percent – OVER the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Why does the government allow this 1% tolerance? One reason is to allow wine makers to create a label before it is time to bottle the product. Alcohol levels change over time in wine making and historically it has been very expensive to send off wine samples for alcohol percent testing. My question is, with computers today, how hard is it to make a last minute change of one number on a label?
New technology exists today that may eventually change this 1% tolerance.
Pictured here is an Oenofoss machine.
It can measure up to seven parameters in wine, including ethanol level. Apparently all you need is one drop of wine and you can almost instantly get a result. It appears the main reason most wine makers do not have this machine on site is the cost. I’m told you can have one for around $30,000. Just like big screen TV’s the price will eventually come down and all wine makers will have similar machines.
San Mateo dui lawyer
Tags: BAC Calculator
NEWS: November 19, 2009
CHP DUI enforcement in Oakland and San Francisco has recently increased on the Bay Bridge. The newly installed “S-Curve,” or as I heard a radio host this morning refer to it as “Mess-Curve,” has resulted in an increase of CHP enforcement. The new section of the San Francisco to Oakland connection is scheduled to be in place for the next four years.
To slow cars down, CHP has lowered the speed limit and increased the number of officers patrolling this section of the Bay Bridge. The result has been a huge increase in tickets for Vehicle Code violations, including DUI arrests.
According to a CHP officer I spoke with recently at a San Francisco DMV hearing last week, although they are not supposed to comment on DUI arrests, he indicated that the number of San Francisco and Oakland Drunk Driving Arrests has increased since the placement of the extra CHP patrol cars.
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Tags: Bay Area · Drunk Driving Arrest · In The News · San Francisco DUI Lawyer
NEWS: October 27, 2009
What happens when you go to court in San Mateo County on a DUI charge?
This depends on they type of charge. The most serious charges for DUI are felonies, punishable by years in State Prison.
Most DUI cases involve misdemeanor first offense arrests. You should get a DUI lawyer to represent you in court. Hiring a DUI lawyer usually means you will not have to appear in court in San Mateo County for the first court date. In most cases that lawyer can enter a not guilty plea and set a new court date a month or so later.
If your case involves a high blood or breath alcohol level, an injury and or accident, or prior DUI convictions, you and your lawyer need to plan ahead. In these cases you usually end up on San Mateo County supervised pre-trial release program. Basically you are put on a probation without even being convicted, to avoid having to stay out of jail while your DUI case is pending.
What does this mean? It means you will be tested for alcohol, and possibly drugs, and have to report in periodically to the San Mateo County probation office for testing.
If you are going to court for the first time on a 3rd or 4th DUI in San Mateo County, you will probably need to take extra steps to stay our of jail and avoid having to come up with a huge bail. A good DUI Lawyer will probably advise clients to take some or all of the following steps help avoid your being taken into custody at the first court date:
1. Attend as many AA meetings as you can between date of arrest and court date. I’m talking every day if possible. Get proof of attendance and bring it to court.
2. Start individual counseling and bring a letter to court from your therapist.
3. Self enroll with a company like LCA to have a SCRAM alcohol detection bracelet attached to your ankle for alcohol monitoring. Make sure to have a letter for the court from the SCRAM company that says violations will be reported to the San Mateo County Superior Court.
4. Be on time to court, dress nice, and do not come in with alcohol on your breath.
San Mateo County DUI Lawyer
Tags: General DUI Topics
NEWS: October 27, 2009
The question that I get asked over and over by those who know I’m a DUI lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area is how much alcohol can you drink, and still legally drive home?
This is a good time of the year to remind everyone of those answers.
The holidays bring on increased CHP and local police DUI enforcement. The “avoid the DUI” drunk driving task forces are looking for all possible DUI arrests.
Drinking and driving is not illegal. What is against the law is not being able to drive with the care and caution of a sober person, and being at or over the .08% alcohol limit.
We all absorb alcohol at different rates and eliminate or burn off at different rates. If you go by thinking you burn off a beer or glass of wine each hour, you are asking for trouble. The average person burns off less than one drink an hour. Some burn off as little as a half drink per hour.
When describing a drink, we’re talking about one drink equalling approximately a 4-5 oz glass of wine, a 12 oz glass of a 5% beer, or a 1.5 oz shot of 80-proof liquor.
You can use the charts on my website to see what your alcohol level will be after X number of drinks over any period of time. However, the best advice you can follow is don’t push the limits.
How accurate are the limits?
The breath machines are not always accurate. There is a 20 percent margin of error on the breath machines the cops use to try and arrest and convict you for DUI.
If you are still absorbing alcohol, and I’ll save the science of alcohol absorption for a future post, blowing into a breath machine can result in a higher result than your actual level.
On an empty stomach you will absorb almost all of the alcohol quicker than if you have food in your stomach. It can take an hour or two or even more for most of the alcohol to absorb on a full stomach. ”Slower in” means “slower out”.
Bay Area DUI Lawyer
Avoid DUI’s in the Bay Area this holiday season. Be smart, be safe, and remember that no cab ride home is ever too expensive when compared to the cost of a DUI in California.
Tags: General DUI Topics