Checking The Status Of Your Traffic Case

June 14, 2015

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If you hired our Law Firm to defend you in a traffic case and are wondering what the status of your case is, this should help:

Initially when you retained the lawyer you were provided a letter attached to the retainer agreement explaining  the process of fighting a traffic violation in Kern County. You can refer to that letter for further information regarding all the steps involved.  In the mean time here is what has happened since you last spoke with us:

We contacted the Court and set a Court date for arraignment on the case. We entered a not guilty plea at this initial appearance and are given a trial to resolve the ticket.  You will be contacted once the case is resolved, there is nothing you need to do in the mean time and there is typically nothing new to report or “update”  you about until we appear at the trial. That date will be anywhere from 45-90 days out from the initial appearance date.

To recap, we are handling the case and there is nothing you need to do but be patient and allow us to go through the process.  Once again, there is no need to contact us for “updates” as there are none.

Once we resolve your case we will contact you immediately via email and report the outcome.

Thank you again for you inquiry and we appreciate your patience during the lengthy process of fighting your traffic ticket in Kern County.


Can The “3 Hour Rule” Get Your DUI Case Dismissed?

June 1, 2015

Bakersfield DUI Attorney, Bruce Blythe talks about the importance of the 3 hour rule on his website.  The following is an excerpt of the discussion:

” since a person’s BAC changes over time it is not always
easy to establish that the driver was at that same level, particularly when the blood is drawn hours later. To remedy this problem the law states that the DA gets a presumption(rebuttable) that the result was the driver’s actual level at the Time of driving as long as it is collected within 3 hours from the time of driving. If the sample is collected outside the 3 hour window they can still use it in Court but the prosecutor must establish that the level was above .08 through independent evidence, such as the use of an expert toxicologist. This rule is often overlooked by defense counsel and should always be scrutinized when evaluating a DUI case”


Process Of Fighting A Kern County Speeding Ticket

May 28, 2015

Thank you for your interest in having our Law Firm represent you in your traffic case. I know this is a difficult time for you, and we will do everything in our power to achieve the best possible result for your traffic violation charge. Most folks do not understand the benefit of hiring a lawyer to fight their ticket. I write to explain the process that applies to your traffic ticket case and how we handle it. Our fee to fight your ticket is a flat fee that covers all the time necessary to successfully resolve your citation and includes all Court appearances, including a trial if necessary.  Once we receive the completed retainer agreement and the fee we will begin working on your case

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The first Court Appearance is called the arraignment. At the arraignment we appear in Court on your behalf, we typically will enter a “not guilty” plea and schedule a new Court date for a Court trial.  You do not need to be present at any stage, we handle everything for you. In some cases the Judge may require bail, however as attorneys we can often persuade the Judge that an O.R. Release is appropriate and no bail is required. Following the arraignment, we may elect to engage in plea bargain discussions with the prosecution. These discussions can often result in the charges being reduced or dismissed. If the plea-bargain is accepted, this will bring an end to the case. Typical plea-bargains include a plea to a less serious charge or a vehicle code section that may not carry points or a charge that does not result in the suspension of your driver’s license.  For example, in VC22348b cases(over 100) the law allows a Judge to suspend your license for a month or more, avoiding this suspension can often be negotiated. If the case does not settle for a plea bargain then it will proceed to a Court trial. A Court trial will generally be set out anywhere from a month to three months, depending upon which courthouse your case is assigned.

A Court trial in a traffic ticket case is like any other criminal case with the exception that there is no jury. It begins with direct examination and cross-examination of the police officer and other witnesses, closing arguments, and a verdict. If you retain our services, you will generally not be required to appear at the trial or any stage of the process .

It is important to understand that each case has its own pros and cons and we strive to achieve the best result given the specific facts and circumstances in your case.  For instance, some cases will not benefit from a full trial so we may negotiate a disposition that is most favorable in light of the possible severity of punishment that could potentially be imposed.  We guarantee to use our best efforts and experience to achieve the best result, but California law forbids any attorney from guaranteeing a result.

Is the quoted fee the only amount I will be required to pay?

The fee we quote you is the only amount you will pay us to fight the case in the trial Court, it is a flat fee to resolve your case, including a Court trial if necessary.  However, the Court may impose a fine or Court costs depending upon the outcome of the case.

The internet sites that guarantee a refund if the ticket is not dismissed do not go to trial, they do not go to court, they send in a pre-printed boilerplate paper declaration that is often rejected and the person is found guilty.  They only refund the fee, not the document processing charge, which is often a couple hundred dollars.  Bottom line, they do not negotiate because they never appear in court.  We do, in fact we go to court at least twice on your case and appear as your attorney before the Judge. We are local lawyers that have 21 years experience fighting cases in a Kern County. Remember, You get what you pay for!

We will send you a letter with the final disposition of your case once a resolution has been obtained. There is no need to contact us for updates as we will timely notify you of any outcome via email. Thank you once again for allowing us the privilege of working on your case.

I hope this letter has helped shed light on the process, and some of the issues that typically arise.


What Is The Difference Between DUI and DWI?

May 25, 2015

California makes it illegal to drive while impaired by a drug or alcohol or both.  The law also makes it a crime to drive above a certain per se limit of .08.  Either way the punishment is the same but the type of evidence used to prove these two distinct offenses can be different.

Here is an example, say a person is driving with .07 and is pulled over for weaving.  The officer says he failed FST exercises because he swayed substantially and almost fell down.  What is the crime?  He is below the legal limit so the police should just let him go correct?

Not necessarily, you see the cop will claim he was DUI or “driving under the influence” because he was impaired by the alcohol and unsafe to drive.  The law only requires that the person be impaired as to not be able to drive with the same caution characteristic of a sober person in order to convict for DUI in Kern County or any other CA jurisdiction.  The per Se level will not be charged but a jury may convict him or her of driving under the influence nonetheless.

Bruce Blythe is a DUI attorney in Bakersfield with 20 years experience fighting alcohol related crimes.  He can be reached at 661-327-7833 if you have any questions about this article or general questions about your options or information about how to hire a lawyer.


Attorney Gets DUI Dropped To Public Intoxication

March 18, 2015

Anyone arrested for DUI in Kern County should understand that these cases are aggressively prosecuted by the DA and getting a charge dropped is not always that easy but here is a case where it was done.

The client was arrested by the CHP after she was found behind the wheel, asleep with the engine running.  The arresting officer claimed she told him she was on her way home and fell asleep.  Her blood alcohol level was .13 and she was quickly taken to jail and booked.  Thereafter, her licensee was confiscated and she was facing a mandatory suspension and permanent scar on her record.

A DMV hearing was commenced whereupon her license was suspended even though the attorney presented evidence she was not driving with an elevated BAC.  Not deterred, Bruce set the case for trial in Bakersfield and presented evidence that the proof of her guilt was lacking.  The DA agreed and consented to drop the charges to public intoxication.  Mr. Blythe also obtained a “not guilty ” on the charge of driving with a BAC of .08 or more so that she can get a set aside of the suspension from the DMV.

Ultimately, she will walk away with nothing on her driver record, no requirement to attend classes, no SR22 requirement and no points on her record.  Well Done!


Appeals Court Rules No Mistake Of Fact In DUI

February 20, 2015

In the case of People v. Givan a California Appeals Court ruled against a DUI defendant who argued he should be exonerated because of a mistake of fact.  Here are the relevant facts:

While driving over the speed limit Givan ran a red light and struck another vehicle, killing one of its passengers and injuring the driver. Givan’s blood alcohol level (BAC) was .17 percent. He was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing injury, and DUI, driving with a .08 percent or higher BAC. Enhancements and prior serious felonies were charged. He was convicted of all counts; the court found the priors true. He was sentenced to 25 years to life, plus five years. On appeal he claimed the trial court prejudicially failed to instruct on mistake of fact when he relied on such a defense.

The appeals court disagreed.  They found Givan presented expert testimony that his consumption of Monster Energy drinks, in combination with alcohol, masked his ability to perceive alcohol impairment. A mistake of fact defense requires an actual belief in a set of facts which, if true, would make the act with which a defendant is charged an innocent one. For general intent crimes, the belief must be both actual and reasonable. However, a mistake of fact instruction is required only if the defendant’s mistaken belief negates an element of the offense. Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated requires gross negligence (conscious indifference to consequences) that applies an objective standard—whether a reasonable person in defendant’s position would have been aware of the risk. Givan’s subjective belief, while a relevant circumstance in determining whether he had a conscious disregard of the consequences of his acts, did not warrant a mistake of fact instruction because the jury could still find that a reasonable person would have appreciated the risks involved in drinking and driving. Thanks CCAP.

 


How To Get Your License Back After A DMV Suspension

January 31, 2015

Under the Administrative Per Se laws in Kern County and throughout California, the DMV will seek to suspend the license of anyone caught driving with an alcohol level of .08 or more in their blood. If this is proven then the mandatory suspension is anywhere from a minimum of 4 months, up to a maximum of one year. A hearing will be held to determine if the suspension will be imposed. If after the hearing you receive a letter notifying you that the suspension will take place, don’t panic there are steps you can take to obtain an early reinstatement of your driving privileges sooner than the imposed term.

If the suspension was issued for 4 months you can get a restricted license after only 30 days. Here is the step by step process to follow to get your drivers license from the California DMV:

1. Get enrolled in the DUI school, the minimum is the AB541 3 month class. You can start the program early, even before any Court orders if you tell them you want to “self enroll” for DMV purposes. You will need to bring a copy of the decision that was mailed to you. Make sure the program files the enrollment certificate with the DMV. In Kern County there are two main providers of DUI classes, STEPS (661) 871-3353 and TAASK (661) 322-8862. They each have locations throughout Bakersfield and the surrounding cities.

2. Make sure you have an SR-22 filed with the DMV. An SR22 is nothing more than an official proof that you have the minimum required proof of insurance mandated by the DMV. You cannot simply send in the little card you got from the insurance company, that will not be sufficient. The proof must be sent in by the insurance company in order to comply with CA law.

3. You must pay a re-issue fee to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This fee ranges from $140 to $240 dollars and must be submitted in order to receive your original license.
Lastly, make sure you have no outstanding tickets or “holds” on your license such as tickets you never paid or any FTA or failure to appear, unpaid child support, etc.

If you satisfy each of the conditions above.  After 30 days your license will be re-issued and allow you to drive to and from work, during employment, to and from your school and classes, Court, etc.  After 5 months you will be fully reinstated.