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Is standing on one leg really a good way to test for impairment?

Well, it's a pretty good indication of impairment, but it only works about two-thirds of the time. Even so, officials consider those odds good enough to make it one of the three tests that make up the Standardized Field Sobriety Test battery administered by officers here in California and across the country. In addition to the one-leg stand, the horizontal gaze nystagmus and the walk and turn tests round out the three tests that make up the SFST.

The primary issue with all three of these tests is that they require a subjective opinion from the officer administering them. To show how much the opinion of law enforcement officers can vary, several of them watched the same video of someone taking these tests. Some believed that the person in the video was impaired and some did not.

What are the penalties for drunk driving in California?

Now that summer is in full swing, many Californians are going to the beach, barbecues, ballgames, and block parties. This also means that many Californians will have a drink or two at these events. However, police in California will be on the lookout this summer for those who they believe are drunk driving. This means that even if a person has only had a couple beers, glasses of wine, or cocktails, they could find themselves facing DUI/DWI charges. Therefore, it is important to understand what the penalties are for those who are convicted of drunk driving in California.

California laws against drunk driving are some of the strictest in the United States. For a first DUI conviction where no one was injured, a convicted person could be fined almost $2,000, incarcerated for two days, face a six month driver's license suspension, and undergo an alcohol education program.

How does the criminal trial process work in California?

Being accused of a crime can be a confusing and frightening situation. After all, one's very future and freedom may be on the line. While it is important to have a criminal defense attorney by your side in such situations, it can also help to have a basic understanding of how the criminal trial process works in California.

First of all, prior to the commencement of the trial, a jury must be selected in a process known as "voir dire." To select a jury, the prosecuting attorney and defense attorney will each ask possible jurors questions. This is to ensure that the final jury is impartial and fair.

California Assembly passes bill on marijuana enforcement

Possession and use of marijuana may be legal in California in certain circumstances, but that hasn't closed the door on the issue of whether or not one can be charged with a drug crime involving marijuana in California. This is because, despite what California law says, marijuana use and possession is still against federal law.

However, the California Assembly recently approved a measure that would make California a "sanctuary state," meaning that officers in California will not help with the enforcement of federal marijuana laws unless there is a court order to do so. Through this bill, officers in California would not assist federal drug agents when it comes to the arrest of those who are abiding by California's marijuana laws. The bill narrowly passed in a 41-32 vote, and will now go on to the California Senate.

Marijuana DUI? Now possible with new mouth-swab tests

California has been at the forefront of marijuana acceptance in the U.S., along with a handful of other states. However, even as the drug becomes more accepted in the mainstream, some concerns remain. Namely, how safe is it to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana or THC? And how would police departments test for the presence of the drug in your system?

Police in San Diego have now invested in a way to detect marijuana and other drugs in seemingly impaired drivers by using a mouth-swab device that has already been in usage in about a dozen other states, according to a recent report by the Los Angeles Times.

What are the consequences of refusing a breath test?

Many people in Sacramento over the past Memorial Day weekend spent their time at barbecues, parties, the beach, or other festivities that signal that summer is here. While at these events, they may have had a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a cocktail to help them unwind. However, on their drive home an entirely unrelated reason, such as a broken taillight, might have caused them to see red and blue lights flashing in their rear view mirror. In these situations, when an officer approaches and asks if you have been drinking, what do you say?

While it many people in this situation may want to decide not to submit to a breath test if asked to by an officer, believing that they truly have not consumed too much alcohol to drive, there are consequences for refusing a breath test. This is because in California recognizes a concept known as "implied consent." In essence, this means that in exchange for the privilege of driving, a motorist automatically agrees to take a breath test if asked to do so.

When can one act in self-defense?

Sometimes, when another person threatens your safety or causes you harm, you may have to act to defend yourself, even if this means hurting the aggressor. That being said, a person in Sacramento who does this may be charged with a violent crime, such as assault or battery. However, they may be able to have the charges against them dropped if it can be shown that they acted in self-defense.

Self-defense laws vary between states, so if a person wants to argue that he or she acted in self-defense, that person may want to consult with an attorney to better understand the laws of self-defense in their state. However, in general self-defense is legal if it is done to stop unlawful force or violence via a similar level of force or violence.

What motorcyclists should know about DUI charges

Memorial Day serves as an early kickoff to summer across the country. For Californians who ride motorcycles, it means a chance to enjoy the warm weather by taking a trip along the coastline or through a national forest. But, with warm weather comes cold refreshments, and a sometimes chilling reminder of the physical dangers and criminal penalties associated with drinking and riding.

Motorcyclists are more likely to engage in risky behavior than other drivers

Mandatory minimum sentencing for drug crimes may go up

Many Californians are familiar with the decades-old War on Drugs. The campaign included a push to incarcerate those who committed even minor drug crimes. However, policy has changed over time, and in recent years, the Justice Department sought to reform the way courts sentenced people convicted of drug charges. However, the new Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions, has ordered federal prosecutors to return to the harshest sentencing guidelines of the War on Drugs, including increased use of mandatory minimum sentences.

Policy memos created in 2013 and 2014 told federal prosecutors to impose the strictest charges only on those who commit significant crimes, such as those involving violence or high-level drug trafficking. In the time since these memos were implemented, the number of people charged with drug crimes that were subjected to mandator minimum sentencing went down significantly, resulting in a 14 percent drop of the number of people in prison. However, these memos have now been rescinded by the current Attorney General.

Detecting drugs in a traffic stop in California may not be easy

Hearing sirens and seeing red and blue flashing lights in your rear-view mirror is a situation no one in California wants to be in. If a person is being accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, they may expect that they will be asked to perform some standard field sobriety tests and that they will be asked to submit to a breath test to determine whether their blood alcohol content level is above the legal limit. However, the police's ability to test whether a person is driving under the influence of drugs is more of a gray area.

Police officers may be able to smell drugs such as marijuana on a person or in the person's vehicle. However, actually proving in court that the person was driving under the influence of drugs is not as easy as proving the person was driving under the influence of alcohol. This is because, unlike standardized field sobriety tests and instruments such as Breathalyzers, there is no real scientific method to determine if a person is driving under the influence of drugs.

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