May 28, 2010

LAW OFFICES OF MARY PREVOST: HOW TO AVOID A DUI ARREST AND CONVICTION THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

I write and re-write this article every season and every year. But time and time again I see friends and people I know who have read it coming to me because they got arrested in San Diego, Orange County, Imperial County, Riverside, San Bernardino or Los Angeles for a DUI.

Okay, think about it... How smart is it to drive a two-ton killing machine through the streets with, say, a .16 blood alcohol level? Not very. In fact, it is abundantly stupid and inherently dangerous for you and everyone in your vicinity. How about.... How smart is it to take a cab instead of driving? How about, since it's the holiday season and we all know we are going to imbibe, just planning to take a cab from the start? Yes, now we are getting smarter.

Yes, think about it. A GOOD DUI attorney will charge you about $5,000 pre-trial to work up your case. Yes, people, there are defenses to high blood alcohol DUI's. I just got an offer of a wet reckless on a .17 blood alcohol case. I got another "wet" offer on a .17 blood alcohol level case where the client had an accident. I recently sued San Diego's top DUI cop in federal court and won $10,000 in settlement from the City because the cop falsified the basis for his stop.

That's not to say that your case can be won. Many can, many can't. It depends on how competent your lawyer is, how the cop did the investigation, if the machines used were properly calibrated, and what you said at the time of the investigation, amongst other things.

Remember, anyone with a law license from the State of California can take your money and represent you on a DUI. That doesn't mean that they know what they are doing. Would you request advice from a podiatrist if you had cancer? Of course not.

I am the first attorney in San Diego to be voted into the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard by a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents. I see attorneys take cases, take money, and plead the cases right out without doing any work. One such attorney ranks high on the search engines and never, never, never goes to court. Instead, he sends some appearance attorney to go to court and plead out 20 cases per day. He keeps all the money, does little to no work, but has a great marketing director. Don't be fooled.

Now, if you haven't read it before, read it now. And if you have read it before, read it again. This article is chock full of info on what to do if you get stopped for a DUI and arrested.

It's starting now. Police agencies all over San Diego are setting up roadblocks, and putting officers on overtime, to make as many DUI arrests as possible. Hopefully, the tips below will come in handy for you over this Memorial Day holiday.

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1. If you drive in San Diego during Memorial Day, and you plan on having a cocktail or two, make sure you know where your license, registration and proof of insurance are. San Diego DUI officers historically write in their San Diego DUI reports (putting only facts that harm you in them) that the suspect "fumbled for his wallet" and couldn't find his registration. They use this to try to show you were impaired. Be prepared.

2. When you get signaled by the San Diego DUI officer to pull over for a DUI assessment, do so immediately and safely. Roll down your window and put your hands on the steering wheel.

3. If a San Diego DUI officer asks you if you know why you are being pulled over, remember you don't have to answer. What a dumb question! He knows why he is pulling you over. He is pulling you over to assess you for drunk driving, and he's using the fact that you might have committed some minor vehicle code violations as an excuse. Don't make any admissions to him. So, you can just ask him, "why?"

4. The next question the San Diego DUI officer is likely to ask is, "Have you had anything to drink tonight." Remember your rights? You are not required to speak to officers. I know, I know, you think, "But if I don't talk to the officer, he will be mad." Let him be. You are not at a social gathering; he is not invited to your next birthday party. So don't worry about how he feels. He is collecting evidence against you. Don't give him any. It is best to say, "Officer, I appreciate what you do for a living, but I don't wish to answer any of your questions." You do NOT have to answer. The less from you he gets, the better for you in the long run. He is gathering evidence. But, you say, maybe he will let me go if he knows I'm being honest with him. NO. Most people who are pulled over and have alcohol on their breath get arrested. It's just a fact of life. Don't give him anything to put in that report that he can use against you later.

5. He may then say, "I'd like you to complete a series of tests for me." Again, let him know that you do not wish to participate in any tests. You are not required to comply. San Diego DUI officers try to give a series of field tests to determine if you are impaired. I have NEVER known any officer to do these as per the standardized protocol. I hold a certification authorized by the United Stated Department of Transportation to administer these tests, and was required to pass a practical and written test to get that certification given by a nationally re-known sergeant with the Idaho State Police. Cops learn how to do these, and then promptly forget them, making up their own "tests." Do not do them. Do NOT let the officer collect more false "evidence" against you. Just reiterate that you do not wish to perform and tests. It's your right.

6. The San Diego DUI investigation officer may then tell you he wants you to take an in field breath, hand held, breath test. Do not take this "test." It is unreliable, and regularly exhibits blood alcohol numbers higher than what you really are. The cop really, really wants you to do this now, because you have made no statements, and you have refused his field "tests." He wants this badly. He NEEDS some evidence. Do not do it. You are NOT required to blow into the little hand held machine.

7. The officer will most likely arrest you, cuff and take you downtown. You will be required to take a breath or blood test. You must choose to take one of these tests, or he will take what is called a "forced blood test" and your driver's license will be suspended for a full year.

A few pointers: If you are still absorbing alcohol, the breath test will read high. It is also an INDIRECT measurement of blood alcohol level. If you take blood, you won't get a result for at least a week. Also, SDPD and Sheriff's don't use the proper amount of sodium fluoride and potassium oxalate in the blood tubes, so you can attack those results later. Personally, I wouldn't let anyone hired by the city or county to draw my blood, after learning all I know about the incompetence of the people drawing the blood, and the lack of sanitation protocol in place. Why risk infection? (See, article on frightening practices in the San Diego crime lab).

If you are arrested, you will be released within 12 hours on your promise to appear. You will received a pink piece of paper called a "DS-367." This document tells you that you, or your lawyer, must call the Department of Motor Vehicle within ten days of the arrest to secure a hearing to determine whether or not the DMV will take your license. Do not miss this deadline or you will be suspended automatically.

So, be careful. Don't drink and drive if you can help it. Drive safely. Don't talk to cops. Be polite, but do not let them gather inculpatory evidence against you. And when you get home call this San Diego DUI Defense lawyer.

Continue reading "LAW OFFICES OF MARY PREVOST: HOW TO AVOID A DUI ARREST AND CONVICTION THIS HOLIDAY SEASON" »

May 17, 2010

WHAT COST TO DEFEND DIRTY COPS? ORANGE COUNTY TAXPAYERS ARE GETTING RIPPED OFF.

On December 27, 2005, Ron Capizzi filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the County of Orange and a bunch of rogue Orange County deputy sheriffs.

After three grueling years of all out litigation, including the taking of every deposition possible at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars in litigations costs, the case finally settled on the eve of trial for $38,000 on December 15, 2008.

Three years of litigation. Tens of thousands of dollars in litigation costs. Why didn't this case settle sooner?

The answer is easy. Counties and cities hire outside counsel to represent them in such cases. It is not valuable to a private civil law firm to settle a case early. The interest of the law firm is to bill the county for the largest amount possible. Settling the case early is a conflict. The best interest of the county is generally not the best interest of the law firm.

What happened in the Capizzi case is typical of outside law firms billing the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in costs and attorney fees for cases that should be handled quickly and settled immediately. I suspect, and will soon find out, that the Santa Ana law firm of Sullivan & Ballog billed more than 100,000 in costs and fees to the County of Orange over those three years. It's public record.

And what did the county get out of it? A big bill. The county and it's cops got thrown under the bus. After all that time, they finally gave money to the Plaintiff. But they gave much, much more money to the attorney who defended him. The cops didn't win. The County didn't win. The plaintiff and his attorney didn't win. But Santa Ana law firm Sullivan & Ballog won big.

Now, it's happening again. The same Santa Ana lawfirm is billing, billing, billing on the case of Toy White v. County of Orange. (A separate law firm also just settled a different case by a different lawfirm against Deputy Allan Waters, one of the cops in the White case on the even of trial. Click HERE for the story. We'll be getting those costs and fees, too).

You will remember that Toy White is the 5'1" cosmetics rep who was brutally beaten to the ground when the dogcatcher and a band of four - count 'em FOUR - heavily armed Orange County deputy sheriff's burst into her house to take her dog that had been involved in a minor bite. They didn't have the right. They had no warrant. There was no legal cause to bust into her house and slam her to the floor, other than what they made up in their reports to justifies their actions. See HERE for story in the Orange County Register.

The City of Mission Viejo, who employed the dogcatcher, settled the case. But it's not amazing that the C ounty refuses to take resposibility for it's rogue bunch of brutal cops.

Now, the same firm that ripped off the County of Orange, the Orange County Sheriff's Department and the cops in the Capizzi case to the tune of more than $100,000 in litigation costs and attorney fees, is refusing to made any good faith settlement offers in the Toy White case. Is this another Capizzi case? Uh, we think so.

Same lead attorney - Al Ballog. Same law firm - Sullivan & Ballog.

I am preparing a California Public Records Act request to various cities and counties to get the exact costs of litigation and attorney fees on a series of cases, like Capizzi and White.

What you will see - because I've obtained the litigation cost bills and attorney fees billed to public entities in the past - is a pattern and practice of out-of-control billing by outside firms that will make you more ill than when you first heard about the $1,500 toilet seat on Airforce I.


Continue reading "WHAT COST TO DEFEND DIRTY COPS? ORANGE COUNTY TAXPAYERS ARE GETTING RIPPED OFF. " »

May 5, 2010

ORANGE COUNTY SHOULD STOP WASTING TAXPAYER MONEY PROTECTING A ROGUE, DIRTY COP

On July 7, 2007, Laguna Niguel resident Toy White, a beautiful, petite 5'1" blonde was beaten down in her home by a posse of Orange County sheriff deputies. Leading the pack was dogcatcher Harold Holmes. The dirty, ugly facts can be read in depth here. Download file

Today, the City of Mission Viejo settled Mrs. White's claims against City based on the dogcatcher's unlawful actions. Holmes' part in the ruckus was his insistence that Mrs. White relinquish her dog to him for quarantine even though the dog had its rabies shots, and the dog qualified for home quarantine.

Holmes burst into the house to take the dog, and four sheriff deputies burst in behind him, threw Mrs. White to the ground causing her serious injury, handcuffed her, arrested her for resisting arrest and battery on an officer, sent her to jail where she was strip searched, and caused her to be prosecuted.

Once the DA got the full picture, the DA dropped the charges.

But why isn't the County of Orange taking responsibility? Why? It was the cops who beat this tiny cosmetics rep into the ground in her own house. It was the cops who had her wrongfully prosecuted, having trumped up false charges to cover their dirty acts.

And the piece de resistence is that we've all heard about one of the dirty cops. Allan Waters. Ring a bell? Remember the rash of news stories about how a Sheriff's deputy let a raging drunk Waters drive home after a vehicle stop, only to have Walters hit another car head on, sending the elderly occupant to the hospital? Read about it HERE.

Yeah, that's our boy, Allan Waters. In his spare time, when he's not drinking, he's beating up 5'1" blonde cosmetic executives.

Well, he not only beat up little Toy White, he beat up another guy. That guy's name is Robert Isaac. Lo and Behold, Waters busted into Isaacs house, too, causing him injury. And guess what, the County of Orange is defending this cop who is on administrative leave and is pending two really serious civil rights suits.

Attorney Steve Ehrlich from Orange County represents the plaintiff in the Isaac beat down. I represent Mrs. White in the White beat down.

The County of Orange taxpayers are paying two high-priced lawfirms maybe $200 per hour to represent this dirty cop on two separate cases. How many tens of thousands of dollars will the taxpayers be forced to spend on the lawfirm of Sullivan & Ballog, who represents Waters in my case, and the firm of Lawrence, Beach, Allen & Choy in the Isaac beat down case. I guarantee you that by the end of both of these litigations, the County of Orange will have well exceeded $100,000 in attorney fees and litigations costs defending a dirty cop.

It's sickening. The taxayers should stand up and say "We're madder than hell and we're not going to take it any more." They should send the high-priced civil attorneys packing, along with their crummy client. Protect little elderly people from being smashed to smithereens by this drunkard Waters. Protect nice, law abiding cosmetic executives from being attacked in their houses by Waters. Protect whomever from whenever they run into Waters.