Archive for the ‘DUI Lawyers Vista’ Category

The Officer’s Testimony During Your DUI Trial

Monday, August 4th, 2014

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When you go to trial for a DUI, the prosecution will present the evidence against you just like they would for any other type of crime. There are three main types of evidence used in these cases -officer testimony, field test results and the results of your chemical test. The officer testimony is one of the most important parts of a drinking and driving trial and having a Vista DUI lawyer who can ask the right questions is crucial in fighting these charges.

While witness testimony is important in many cases, driving under the influence charges rely on the testimony of a police officer, who is considered an expert witness. Most officers have been on the stand dozens, if not hundreds, of times before and they are not shaken or nervous about speaking in court. They also tend to have experience spotting, arresting and providing testimony against drunk drivers. For these reasons, what they say is generally more believed and accepted by the jury and judge than an average person who is asked to be a witness after they saw a crime occur.

It is the job of your Vista DUI attorney to remind the court that while the police officer may be an expert in this field, he or she is still human, and thus, subject to biases, forgetfulness and errors. One of the most important aspects of the officer’s testimony is his or her reason for stopping your vehicle. If you were not breaking the law and were driving reasonably, the officer might not have had a legitimate reason to stop you. If he or she pulled you over for no reason, your rights were violated and your DUI lawyer may be able to have the charges dropped. Dashboard driving cameras installed in many police cars can help provide additional evidence to backup or contradict the officer’s testimony.

While juries and judges are inclined to believe a police officer’s observations regarding whether or not someone is intoxicated over the observations of a random person, a DUI attorney in Vista might be able to help convince the court that these assumptions aren’t always valid. In fact, a study conducted by scientists from Rutgers University’s Alcohol Behavior Research Laboratory determined that police, social drinkers and bartenders were all equally good at evaluating whether someone was inebriated; with all three groups correctly identifying the subject’s condition only 25% of the time.

Having a Vista drunk driving attorney with expertise in these types of charges is critical when you attempt to fight a DUI. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Vista, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050.

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Drunk Driving and the 40 Year Old Virgin

Friday, July 25th, 2014

The 40-Year-Old Virgin, starring Steve Carell, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd, is a cult favorite. While there are a lot of fantastic scenes in the movie, the one that really stands out in the mind of most Vista DUI defense attorneys is the one where a drunk girl gives Andy the (terrifying) ride of his life -as seen above. While watching the scene makes it obvious that Nicky is driving drunk, the real question is how many charges could she face and what defenses would be available to her? Also, could Andy be charged for blowing into her ignition interlock device? Let’s look at these questions one at a time.

First, which laws has Nicky broken during this quick drive? Her first crime is asking Andy to blow into her IID for her. Then she starts driving while under the influence and given how intoxicated she acts, it is possible that she is actually above the .15 BAC limit for increased sentencing. Since she already has an IID, this also means she has at least one prior DUI on her record. Once she starts going, she is driving recklessly at excessive speeds. She then hits what appears to be five different cars and since she doesn’t stop, these would all be hit and run accidents. Finally, the ride is brought to an end when she slams into another car, claiming it “came from nowhere.”

Obviously, there are a lot of rules broken in that scene and any Vista DUI lawyer who chose to defend her would have his hands full. Nicky could face enhanced DUI charges for a second offense with excessive BAC, reckless driving charges, up to five hit and run charges, a misdemeanor for making Andy blow into the IID for her, and her negligent driving caused a serious crash, which could turn the DUI charge into a felony if she caused any injuries or deaths. That means she could face a serious DUI felony charge with enhancement along with up to seven misdemeanor charges.

Since it would probably be pretty difficult to argue that Nicky is completely innocent of all charges, it would be up to her Vista DUI attorney to push for some of the charges to be dropped or to obtain lighter sentencing on her behalf. For example, it would be possible to argue that because she took two shots just before she got in the car that her BAC wasn’t as high while she was driving as it was when she was tested after the car accident. This rising alcohol defense may work to eliminate the excessive BAC enhancement on the DUI charge. Her defense lawyer could also try negotiating for a plea bargain that would result in minimal sentencing for all of these crimes in exchange for her pleading guilty. And since she obviously has received a DUI in the past and still has not been able to stop drinking, entering Nicky into a serious, long-term, alcohol-treatment program might make securing a plea bargain a little easier since it would show that she is committed to changing her ways.

As for Andy, he too committed a crime by blowing into Nicky’s ignition interlock device. This misdemeanor offense is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The thing is, a person must knowingly break this law in order to be convicted of it. While the police might arrest him if he said that he blew on it before the car started, few prosecutors would press charges without any evidence to show that he knowingly violated the law by blowing on the IID. If charges were filed, it is very unlikely that a Vista DUI attorney could not show the court the prosecution lacks evidence to prove these accusations. So, ultimately, Andy would almost certainly be able to beat these charges.

If you find yourself facing any DUI-related charges, even if it is for unknowingly blowing on someone’s ignition interlock device, it is critical you contact a Vista DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss, a top drunk driving defense attorney in Vista

Obtaining A Restricted License After Getting A DUI in San Diego

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

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Losing your driving privileges is never easy, but in a car-centric city like San Diego, it can be a major problem. Unfortunately, if you are convicted for driving under the influence, you will lose your license. But there is hope. A restricted license can allow you to drive to and from school, work, and your court-mandated alcohol treatment classes. Not everyone can qualify for these licenses and the rules can be a bit complex, which is why you should speak to your San Diego DUI attorney if you have any questions about obtaining a restricted license after a drunk driving conviction.

Minors generally cannot receive a restricted license unless they can show they have hardships that require them to obtain a “critical need” restrictes license. A San Diego DUI lawyer can help you prove hardship if you believe you may qualify. If you won at the DMV hearing and have not had another DUI conviction in the last 10 years, you can obtain a restricted license immediately, if you lost at the DMV hearing or did not schedule one, you will need to wait through the 30 day hard suspension before you can obtain your restricted license. If you had a previous DUI in the last 10 years and have had no probation violations, you will need to install an ignition interlock device in your car and wait 90 days before you can apply for a restricted license.

The fee for the license is $125 and anyone who wants get one will need to get SR-22 insurance and enroll in a DUI program before applying.   No matter what, you cannot get a restricted license if you refused to take a chemical test at the time of your arrest. It is important to note that obtaining a restricted license is not mandatory and in some cases, it may lengthen the amount of time your regular license suspension will apply.

It is advisable to discuss the process with your San Diego DUI attorney so you can understand how the restricted driver’s license will affect you. If you have any questions, please call (760) 643-4050 OR (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with top San Diego DUI lawyer Peter M. Liss.

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DUI Checkpoints May Start Testing for Drug Use

Friday, January 24th, 2014

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We have previously discussed the legality of DUI checkpoints in Vista, including your rights at these traffic stops and how to fight them with the help of a top Vista DUI attorney. But now police in Los Angeles have started performing both breathalyzer and cheek swab tests at DUI checkpoints so they can not only test for alcohol intoxication, but also intoxication through the use of drugs. While such measures haven’t been implimented in San Diego county yet, it is entirely possible that they will be in the future, so it is important to learn how this could affect you.

First, like most DUI traffic stops, police can only test drivers using a pre-selected randomized pattern, not because they think a specific driver looks suspicious. They also must allow people the right to turn around and avoid the checkpoint. If the police violate either of these rules, your Vista drug lawyer can show that the checkpoint procedures were violated and that the charges against you cannot hold up, regardless of whether your are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The cheek swab test is also voluntary, but if you refuse the test and police have grounds to suspect you are under the influence of drugs, they can arrest you. This is also important because if the police lead you to believe that the test is mandatory or if they arrest you merely for refusing the test, but without any other reason to suspect you have been driving under the influence, a drug lawyer in Vista may be able to have the charges against you dropped.

If the police do properly follow their procedures, randomly test you and you fail the cheek swab though, you can still fight the charges with the help of a Vista drug attorney. The number one defense against these types of charges is the fact that cheek swabs, like all drug tests, cannot evaluate how much of a substance you used, how long ago you used it and if you are still feeling its effects. This is critical in a DUI case involving drugs because you must be under the influence of the substance while driving in order to be guilty of the crime.

If you are arrested for driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, a DUI attorney in Vista can help you fight the charges no matter what your specific circumstances. If you have any questions, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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The Types of Evidence Used in a Vista DUI Trial

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

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Different types of trials require different evidence. For example, a murder trial may include a weapon and DNA evidence. A DUI trial, on the other hand, requires quite unique evidence. This evidence is what your Vista DUI lawyer will need to fight to help you prove your innocence, so it is important to understand what specific forms of evidence will be used in a DUI case in San Diego.

Officer Testimony

The police officer’s testimony in a DUI trial can make or break your case. That’s because the officer will describe why he or she pulled you over, what made him or her believe you were drunk and a description of your behavior and the statements you made before and after your arrest.

While the courts trust the memory of a police officer far more than a civilian, they also accept that the police are human and do make mistakes, which is why a dashboard cam or conflicting officer testimonies can work to your advantage with the help of your Vista DUI lawyer.

Additionally, factors of the officer’s testimony can be brought into question by your attorney. For example, the officer may claim that you smelled like alcohol, but the reality is that he or she is usually only smelling the kind of alcohol your were drinking, not pure alcohol. This means that if you spilled wine on your shirt or were drinking a particularly pungent variety of gin, the officer easily could have smelled it, even if you were entirely sober by the time you drove. The police may also point out that you had blood shot eyes, something which can easily be explained away by exposure to cigarette smoke (a common occurrence at parties), a medical condition or fatigue.

Chemical Test Results

Chemical test results are the cornerstone of the prosecution’s DUI case. They include blood, breath and urine tests administered by professionals to evaluate whether or not you drank more than the legal limit or if you were under the influence of drugs. We already discussed how your Vista DUI lawyer can fight these test results in this article.

Field Test Results

The last common form of evidence in a DUI trial are your results in the field sobriety tests. While these tests are not mandatory and most DUI lawyers in Vista will urge you not to take them, many people are not aware of this until it is too late.

The field sobriety test results can be attacked by your Vista DUI attorney based on the fact the officer subjectively determines whether the person passes the tests. Additionally, unless a person is well coordinated or athletic, many sober individuals would not pass the field sobriety tests.

If you have been accused of drunk driving, remember, there is help. To speak with Vista drunk driving defense lawyer Peter M. Liss, please call (760) 643-4050.

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Should Police Administer the Nystagmus Test?

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

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We have previously discussed how the field sobriety tests are largely inaccurate, but as it turns out, one of the three standardized tests used by California police officers is so wildly inaccurate that one scientific study labelled the test a “deliberate fraud.” That is why it is so important to only work with a Vista criminal lawyer who is not only experienced, but who also keeps up on the newest news in DUI defense news.

The study’s results were released in the Journal of Forensic Science Society with the revealing title, “The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test: fraudulent science in the American courts.” If the headline wasn’t a big enough giveaway as to the study’s findings, here is a small excerpt of their research:

 Bypassing the usual scientific review process and touted through the good offices of the federal agency responsible for traffic safety, it was rushed into use as a law enforcement procedure, and was soon adopted and protected from scientific criticism by courts throughout the United States. In fact, research findings, training manuals and other relevant documents were often held as secrets by the state. Still, the protective certification of its practitioners and the immunity afforded by judicial notice failed to silence all the critics of this deeply flawed procedure.

Despite the critiques of DUI lawyers in Vista and around the country, many courts and police officers consider the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (the one that requires you follow the officer’s pen or finger with your eyes) to be the most important test of the three standardized field sobriety tests. According the study though, it is not only fundamentally flawed, but 95% of police officers administer the test incorrectly. The paper goes on to explain “his summary critique demonstrates that it is scientifically meretricious and that the United States Department of Transportation indulged in deliberate fraud in order to mislead the law enforcement and legal communities into believing the test was scientifically meritorious and overvaluing its worth in the context of criminal evidence.” Keep in mind, this is not something written by a Vista DUI defense attorney, but a group of scientists.

The researchers continue to argue that the continued use of the test is not due to its scientific validity, but to the fact that it has been used for so long that people assume it must be scientifically valid. In the study’s words, “The state’s argument for the field sobriety tests does not rest on proof of merit, but upon qui tacet consentit reasoning that those tests have been so widely accepted they must have been subjected to some kind of review prior to adoption in the many jurisdictions where they are used, that somewhere along the way someone would have spotted the flaws and shortcomings.”

While so many people assume that anyone charged with drunk driving must be guilty if the evidence is against them, Vista DUI lawyer Peter M. Liss knows this simply isn’t true. In fact, it is precisely because the evidence is so unreliable despite what the prosecution would have you believe that you need to work with a skilled DUI defense attorney in Vista.

If you are ready to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss to discuss how he can help you fight your drunk driving charges, please call (760) 643-4050.

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Vista Criminal Lawyer Peter M. Liss in the News

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

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This blog may talk a lot about Vista criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss’ excellent reputation around the county, but it’s one thing to say that he has defended a number of high-profile cases in the area and has been interviewed repeatedly by many top news organizations and another thing to provide proof. The articles below serve as testimony that Peter Liss truly is one of the most respected criminal attorneys in Vista.

DUI Hit and Run Accident Resulting in Severe Injury of a Marine

In this case, an intoxicated woman involved in an accident with a US Marine fled the scene before authorities arrived. The woman, who had a BAC of .37, was scared, confused and left the scene not because she was avoiding responsibly, but because she wanted to tell her husband, who is also a Marine, what happened before he left for work.

While the defendant faced up to nine years in prison, as her Vista DUI defense lawyer, Peter Liss helped her secure a plea bargain for half of that sentence. Additionally, the bargain allowed the defendant to serve on a firefighting crew while in prison.

The story was covered by multiple outlets, including a few different stories featured in the Union Tribune and in multiple stories by CBS.

Driver Charged With Fatally Hitting A Toddler

Right now, Peter Liss is defending a very high profile case involving a man accused of hitting and killing a three year-old boy with his car. The driver was exiting a driveway and hit and killed the boy. Once the driver realized what happened, he immediately exited the car and began trying to help.

While police initially arrested the driver on suspicion of drunk driving, a preliminary alcohol screening (the only test performed in this case) showed the defendant had a BAC of .02%, far below the legal limit of .08%.

He is still being charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving without a valid license and providing officers with false identification. The charges could result in a two and a half year jail sentence. Ultimately, the case will come down to whether or not the prosecution can prove that the driver was operating his vehicle in a negligent manner, which his Vista criminal attorney, Peter Liss, says he was not doing.

While more coverage of the case will undoubtedly end up in the press as the trial progresses, it has already been covered by the Union Tribune, Fox and KUSI.

If you have been charged with a crime, you want the best Vista criminal lawyer available. Peter M. Liss not only has a sterling reputation, he also offers affordable rates and has an office directly across from the Vista courthouse. If you are ready to schedule a free initial consultation, please call (760) 643-4050.

 

What Is SR-22 Insurance? Will I Need It?

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

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While you may have heard of SR-22 insurance in the past, you probably never paid attention until you had legal problems. So what exactly is a SR-22 and will you need it in order to get back on the road? Vista DUI lawyer Peter M. Liss explains.

You cannot get a restricted license or any license returned unless you file an SR-22 with the DMV.  If you call your insurance company after setting up a policy, the company will file it electronically for you.

While the name refers specifically to the form submitted to the DMV that shows you have insurance, SR-22 is often referred to in terms of insurance policies available for people who need the proof of insurance. Because the certificate is necessary for drivers who have had their license revoked, some people refer to policies that include SR-22 certificates as “high risk insurance.” Not all companies offer such a service and those that do often charge higher premiums to those who need it.

Though drunk driving is the most common reason people need SR-22, other reasons include getting into an accident while uninsured, losing your license after the DMV declared you a negligent operator for obtaining too many points on your record or being convicted of reckless driving. If you stop paying your premiums or cancel your insurance during the mandatory SR-22 period, the company will send the DMV a SR-26 and your license will be suspended again until you turn in another SR-22. If you aren’t sure how long you will need SR-22 insurance, your Vista DUI attorney can let you know based on the specifics of your case, but most people need the documents for three years.

You do not need a SR-22 if you are not planning on driving, but in order to get your license after such a suspension, you will need to obtain the document. In order to get a restricted license before your official suspension is over, you will need to obtain SR-22 documents. Your Vista DUI lawyer can advise you on how to get your license back in the most timely fashion after a criminal driving charge.

If you have any questions about SR-22 documents, insurance and your right to drive after a DUI, please contact Vista DUI attorney Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050.

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Can I Get A Restricted License After Getting A DUI?

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

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One of the most difficult things people who receive DUIs need to deal with is the loss of their driving privileges. In a car-oriented city like San Diego, just getting from home to work and back can be a nightmare without being able to drive a car of your own. That’s why many people who receive DUIs opt to get a restricted license that will allow them to travel from home to work, school and their court-mandated alcohol rehabilitation classes. Unfortunately, not everyone convicted of drunk driving is eligible for a restricted license. If you are interested in getting such a license, please speak with your Vista DUI lawyer.

There are a lot of factors that play into eligibility for a restricted license in California. Your Vista DUI attorney can help explain whether or not you qualify given the circumstances of your case. For the most part, minors who have received DUIs are unable to obtain restricted licenses from the DMV unless they can prove hardship conditions that show the minor needs a “critical need” restricted license. The criminal court may also grant persons under 21 who have been convicted of a DUI a restricted license. Anyone who refused to take a chemical test will be ineligible for a restricted license.

If this was your first DUI conviction within the last ten years and you won at the DMV hearing, you will be able to obtain a restricted license without waiting through the standard 30 days hard-suspension. If you did not win at the DMV hearing or did not schedule a hearing, you must wait 30 days after your hard suspension was enacted. If you already had a DUI within the last 10 years and have no probation violations, you will need to have an ignition interlock device installed in your car and serve out 90 days of your suspension or go through at least one year of your license suspension before you can apply for restricted driving privileges.

No matter what your specific circumstances, in order to get your restricted license, you will need to obtain SR-22 insurance and enroll in a DUI program. You will also need to pay a $125 fee for the license. It is also important to realize that applying for a restricted drivers license is not mandatory. You only need to do so if you would like to have your right to drive reinstated early, though with restrictions. Also, in some cases, obtaining a restricted license may lengthen the amount of time your license suspension will apply. As you can see, these laws are very complex, which is why it is usually beneficial to contact a Vista DUI lawyer before applying for a restricted license.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please call (760) 643-4050 to speak with top Vista DUI attorney Peter M. Liss.

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Have A Fever? The Breathalyzer Might Think Your’re Drunk

Friday, October 4th, 2013

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We’ve already discussed how diabetes and certain diets can result in a false positive on a breathalyzer test, but did you know that even something as seemingly minor as a fever can result in your being charged and convicted of drunk driving? It’s true, and that’s exactly why you should write down every detail of your DUI arrest as soon as your are released. A small detail like this can make all the difference when it comes to fight a drunk driving conviction with the help of your Vista DUI lawyer.

So how big of a difference can a fever have on your breathalyzer results? Well, a number of studies on the subject have shown that a one degree centigrade change in body temperature (about a 1.8 degree change in Fahrenheit), can change a breathalyzer test result by anywhere from 6.5% to 9%. That can easily push what would normally be a BAC of 0.07% over the legal limit of 0.08%. If you had a mild fever when you received a breathalyzer test, this could be critical information to your Vista DUI attorney.

This is particularly important when you consider that many cold remedies, like Dimetap and Nyquil, contain alcohol -some up to 25%. If you’re particularly small and took a cold medication to treat your fever, you could even be charged with drunk driving without ever having consumed an alcoholic drink.

Of course, while fevers are the most common reason a person’s body temperature has risen, if you were in a hot tub, exercised vigorously, or were in the hot sun before you were given a breathalyzer test, be sure to tell your Vista DUI lawyer as it may affect your case.

If you have been charged with drunk driving, remember that every detail can be important. Vista DUI lawyer Peter M. Liss will look at all potential defenses to your case to help you get the best possible outcome. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please call (760) 643-4050.

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