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Visalia Criminal Law Blog

Concerned citizen calls police about drunk driver

Police in California say that a call from a concerned citizen led them to a seriously impaired driver on the evening of Nov. 11. After receiving the call at approximately 11:19 p.m., emergency operators dispatched officers from the Petaluma Police Department to a fast food restaurant on East Washington Street. Upon arrival, the officers took a 36-year-old Sonoma County man into custody on suspicion of drunk driving charges.

According to media accounts, the 911 caller became concerned after observing a vehicle being driven erratically on Highway 101. The caller is said to have told operators that the car was swerving across the roadway. The caller claims to have followed the vehicle to a restaurant parking lot and observed its driver drinking from an open container and urinating on the pavement.

Drunk driving statistics from Napa County

At least one driver is arrested for DUI in Napa County every 12 hours during the summer months, according to statistics released by the California Highway Patrol and other agencies. They made 184 drunk driving arrests between June and August of this year. While Napa police arrested 40 people suspected of driving under the influence, the Sheriff's office arrested 36 more drivers. The California Highway Patrol conducted the vast majority of the arrests, seizing 108 people on DUI charges during that time.

Napa County has more DUI arrests than other parts of the state, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety. In 2015, the city of Napa had 433 drunk driving arrests, making it the city with the second-highest DUI rate among 105 areas of similar size and population. The 2015 statistics showed that one person each week was injured or killed in car accidents that involved a drunk driver between the ages of 21 to 34.

One state will lower DUI limit on Dec. 30

California drivers who are traveling east for the holidays should be aware that on the day before New Year's Eve, Utah will drop its blood alcohol content limit from .08 percent to .05 percent, giving it the lowest drunk driving limit in the nation. The move comes at the recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board, and other states, including California, could eventually follow suit.

A new survey conducted by the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute found that 55 percent of Americans would like to see the legal blood alcohol level reduced to .05 across the country. In fact, 46 percent support lowering the legal limit all the way down to .00 percent. Currently, all states have a standard limit of .08. On Dec. 30, Utah will become the only state with a lower limit.

Alleged drunk driver crashes car in Garden Grove

In the early morning hours of October 23, a suspected drunk driver crashed his vehicle into several objects along a California street, causing it to burst into flames. The incident took place in Garden Grove.

According to the Garden Grove Police Department, the 24-year-old defendant was driving south on Euclid Street when he smashed into a light pole, a street light and a bus stop bench as he approached Main Street. His vehicle then caught fire as a result of the collisions. The defendant and two male passengers were able to exit the vehicle and escape the flames. One of the passengers suffered moderate injuries and was taken to an area hospital for treatment.

Penalties for driving without a license in California

A person caught by California authorities driving without a license issued by the state could face penalties ranging from a fine to jail time. The exact circumstances determine the severity of the punishment.

Someone who has a valid license but did not physically have it when stopped by police could receive an infraction. The person must bring the valid license to the court and pay a fine up to $250. The court will then dismiss the charge, and the person will avoid a criminal record.

Former California public worker facing embezzlement charges

Prosecutors in California have filed felony charges against a 29-year-old woman who allegedly embezzled about $38,000 from the San Miguel Community Services District. The woman reportedly took the money while working as a bookkeeper for the Community Services District between February and November 2015. Attorneys from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office filed the charges on Oct. 5.

Investigators from the office's Public Integrity Unit investigated the case, but initial reports do not provide details of the investigation or reveal what led authorities to suspect that the woman could be misappropriating public funds. They also do not mention what the woman is alleged to have used the embezzled money for.

California marijuana reform for criminal records

A new law in California will make it easier for residents with marijuana convictions to have their records expunged or to request a reduction of their sentences. Assembly Bill 1783 promises to streamline a process that has previously been difficult.

Several other states have enacted legislation to allow those with marijuana convictions to get their records expunged or sealed more easily. California joins Oregon, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire in this effort, following legislation in these states to legalize marijuana.

Prosecutors claim Ponzi scheme bilked investors out of millions

Some California residents might have been lured by the promise of robust returns in a debt reselling scheme that bilked hundreds of people out of millions of dollars according to federal prosecutors. A 14-count indictment unsealed on Sept. 19 in Maryland alleges that three men maintained lavish lifestyles with money that they told investors would be used to purchase portfolios of delinquent mortgage, student loan and credit card debt. The men face decades behind bars if convicted according to media accounts.

Prosecutors say that the elaborate Ponzi scheme involved 30 companies and 55 bank accounts. The men are alleged to have used $73 million of the $364 million they raised from investors to purchase luxury homes in Texas, Maryland, Nevada and Florida. The men are also said to have spent $35 million gambling in casinos and purchased dozens of luxury cars.

Rams player arrested for alleged DUI

On Sept. 16, California authorities arrested Los Angeles Rams football player Aaron Neary on suspicion of drunk driving. He was taken into custody in Simi Valley.

According to media reports, Neary, who is a center on the Rams' practice team, was spotted driving erratically near Royal Avenue and Sinaloa Road at around 6:27 p.m. Witnesses called 911 to report that they saw a vehicle crash into various objects, including trash cans, mailboxes and a bus stop sign. Neary allegedly kept driving after each collision.

Man with 3 previous DUIs busted for DUI, drug possession

On Sept. 4, a 30-year-old California man was arrested on suspicion of drugged driving and possession of illegal substances in Redwood City. He has three prior DUI convictions.

According to the California Highway Patrol, officers observed a white 2016 Audi stopped on the right shoulder of northbound U.S. Highway 101 at approximately 12 a.m. They further noticed that someone was sitting in the driver's seat, so they approached the car to check on that person's condition. When they got close to the car, they allegedly smelled marijuana coming from inside the vehicle.

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