Arrested for a DUI in Kern County, But Live Out of the Area?

December 24, 2011

Kern County is an attraction for many.  For some it is due to business, whether it be oil, agriculture, wind farms, the military, or any other number of industries that thrive in the region.  Every year the area sees hundreds of good decent visitors stopped and arrested for DWI, thrown in a local jail and then booted out with a citation to appear in a local Court that the individual knows nothing about, or even where to find it.  When that trip turns into a nightmare due to a DUI arrest, who you gonna call?  One resource is Bruce Blythe, a local Kern County DUI Attorney who has lived in the area all his life and has been practicing drunk driving defense for well over 15 years.  His law firm focuses on these types of charges and, for many, he has been a lifesaver.  The law allows a lawyer to appear for the client on a driving under the influence cases so the individual will not have to travel back to the state if they live elsewhere.  Another advantage to hiring a local law firm is that they know the D.A that will be trying the case as well as the DMV hearing officers who will be presiding over any license suspension matters pertaining to the arrest.  DUI in Kern County carries with it rather stiff consequences so a person facing a court date is well advised to retain a professional that can advocate for the accused and eliminate the serious ramifications that can, and often do, flow from a criminal charge.

Can A Judge Admit a Police Report into Evidence in a DUI Trial?

December 10, 2011

No. A police officer’s report or an accident report may not be used as evidence in any trial of the DUI arrest or accident, whether criminal or civil. In one recent appellate case the court upheld the decision where the judge properly refused to admit into evidence either entire accident report or diagram of accident contained in report. The reason for this prohibition is that if the accident report were introduced into evidence, there is a danger that the jury would consider it to be “official,” and give it more weight than that to which it fairly is entitled. The officer who made the report may use it to refresh his or her recollection. The defendant’s attorney may cross-examine the officer concerning the report and, if the officer’s statements in court are in conflict with the statements in the report, the defendant may impeach the officer. The defendant or his attorney may ask the officer whether a fact stated in the report is true, and may inquire whether the officer asked a witness certain questions. See Evidence Code §771(b) If, after reading the report, the officer has no full and accurate memory of the incident, the officer is required to read into evidence the statements, otherwise admissible, directly from the report.

A Kern County Judge may also permit the officer to read into evidence as a past recollection recorded the statement of a witness contained in the report that was inconsistent with the witness’s testimony at trial.  If a defendant pleads guilty to a DUI or other Vehicle Code violation, the Court, in a DUI trial,  may not receive or consider any written or verbal report of any police or traffic officer, or of any witness of the offense, at any time before pronouncing sentence without fully informing the defendant of all statements in the report and giving the defendant an opportunity to answer the report or produce rebuttal witnesses.

What Can You Expect To See In Traffic Court?

December 10, 2011

Kern County judges and commissioners handle the traffic court calendar call in various ways. Some have prepared a videotape which is played in the courtroom at the beginning of the calendar before the judge or commissioner takes the bench. The purpose of the videotape is to give the defendants facing a speeding ticket an overview of their procedural rights, their options regarding pleas, the range of sentences, the consequences of a particular plea, the traffic violation points that may be assessed, the effect that a particular plea may have on their insurance rates, the option of attending traffic violator school, and how to arrange for payment of any fine that may be imposed. Other Judges prefer to cover these matters in person immediately after taking the bench. Some judicial officers give the defendants a printed advisement in place of or in addition to an oral advisement. An advisement form that might be used as either a spoken or written form.

Some Judges have found that an efficient way to manage the arraignment calendar is to advise the defendants that their names will be called in alphabetical order and that they should have their documents, such as proof of registration, insurance, or correction, in hand to show to the court. When they hear their name called, they should come forward to the podium, state their plea, and present any documents to the clerk. Many judicial officers call several defendants forward at a time (e.g., all defendants whose last names begin with the letters A through D, etc.). They ask the first defendant to take his or her place at the podium, and ask the others to line up in the aisle outside the rail. Calling several defendants forward and asking them to be ready to proceed speeds up the disposition of cases, saving time for both the court and the defendants.

Revocation of Probation, The Court’s Options

December 10, 2011

In California, the Court may revoke probation any time there exists evidence to establish a violation of the terms of that grant of probation. If the kern county court does not wish to terminate probation on a finding of a probation violation, it may set aside an order revoking probation and reinstate the probation on the same or modified terms. (authority to reinstate probation applicable whether imposition of sentence was suspended or execution of sentence was suspended). A revocation order, for a DUI or any other case,  may be set aside for good cause on motion made before the pronouncement of judgment. According to Bruce Blythe, a Kern County DUI Attorney, If probation was revoked after judgment was pronounced, the judgment and order may be set aside for good cause within 30 days after the court has notice that the execution of sentence has commenced.

Because a revocation of probation tolls the running of the probation period, a reinstatement of probation on the same terms and conditions effectively extends the original term of probation by the period of revocation. If the court intends to cancel the tolling effect of the revocation, it must state so expressly on the record When probation is reinstated before the original probation period has expired, the court may extend the probation period up to the statutorily prescribed maximum limits. In misdemeanor cases, probation may not exceed three years, unless the maximum sentence provided by law exceeds three years, in which case probation may be enforced for a period not to exceed the maximum county jail sentence that could be imposed.  In felony cases, probation may not exceed five years, unless the maximum sentence provided by law is more than five years, in which case probation may be enforced for a period not to exceed the maximum state prison sentence that could be imposed.

If an order setting aside the revocation of probation or judgment is made after expiration of the original probation period, the court may reinstate probation for the same period and with the same terms and conditions that could have been imposed immediately following conviction. The court may set the probation period without reference to the original probation term or time served under it.

Understanding DMV Point Counts

December 4, 2011

All vehicle code violations carry points that can be used to suspend a drivers license. The DMV may suspend or revoke the driver’s license of a person whose driving record shows a traffic violation point count of four or more points in 12 months, six or more points in 24 months, or eight or more points in 36 months. See Veh C §12810.5(a), (c). Many misdemeanor violations of the Vehicle Code are given specified traffic violation point counts. Any conviction of reckless driving is given a traffic violation point count of two points. A conviction for driving under the influence results in as assessment of 2 points.  A traffic violator is given one point for any accident for which he or she is responsible.  Any other kern county traffic violation involving the safe operation of a vehicle is given a traffic violation point count of one point with specified exceptions.