The DUI Charge Filing Process: Who, When and How?

Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing a drunk driving charge, then you likely have many questions about the process and what will happen in the near future. An experienced DUI lawyer can probably answer any queries you have, which may be especially helpful if you have never been accused of this crime before. The filing process can be a complicated one, but learning some basic information about it might help you feel less anxious when your day in court arrives.

Who Files Charges? 

Once the police officer pulls you over and you are suspected of drunk driving, he or she will write a report and send it to the local district attorney. This official, who may work at many different government levels, is responsible for filing DUI charges against you. He or she may contact you directly after the filing is completed or, if you have a lawyer, information may be sent to the legal office in care of your attorney.

Other government officials may be involved in the filing process. For example, if you reside on military property, such as a soldiers’ base, your commanding officer and the military police could have a hand in deciding your punishment and which charges are filed against you.

When Will You Receive a Court Date? 

If you are arrested directly after being pulled over, you will probably be booked and released before you get a court date. Filing can sometimes take weeks and you may not receive a court date for some time. However, this can work in your favor, as it may give your attorney additional time to build your case and investigate a few details like:

  • The circumstances of your arrest
  • The thoroughness of the police report
  • Whether your charge can be reduced to a lesser offense

It is important to arrive at the courthouse promptly on your assigned day and be prepared to answer any questions posed to you by the court officials and your lawyer.

How Will the Trial Proceed? 

When you arrive at court, the police officer who pulled you over may be present and speak as a witness. Before these statements are given, however, the charges may be reviewed by your lawyer, the district attorney and the judge. You may be asked to speak or you can request that your DUI attorney represent you. The verdict and sentencing phases of the trial will likely be separate.

A drunk driving charge can take months to process, from the time of your arrest to the day you are sentenced. Contact a DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA today for more information about what to expect once you are accused of a DUI.

 


 

Thanks to The Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and the DUI charge filing process.

Appearing in Court for a Ticket

Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you receive a traffic ticket, you may not know exactly what the process entails to handle it. It may seem like the ticket is simply a fine which you can pay and move on, but sometimes it is necessary to appear in court. The laws surrounding traffic tickets can be confusing, so this guide will explain everything you need to know.

Most Common Situation

Nearly all the time, you can simply pay your ticket and be done with it. This is most certainly the “standard” situation. The physical ticket you receive from the police officer will likely have instructions for how you can pay it. You will almost always have the option to pay online or by mail, which is more convenient than visiting the courthouse. The specifics will vary from state to state and from county to county. Remember, you need to pay the ticket to the county in which the ticket was issued, and not the county in which you live.

Appearing in Court

In some cases, you are required to appear in court. This does depend on the state you are in, but usually it only happens for especially severe violations or situations that are extreme for another reason. These reasons may include:

  • Driving drunk
  • Serious injury or death occurred
  • Especially serious traffic violation
  • Reckless driving

There are rules that govern when a court appearance is mandatory, but they vary from state to state. For example, some states require a court appearance if the driver was speeding by more than 30 miles per hour. The ticket will specify whether a court appearance is necessary and the date to appear, and the issuing officer will likely tell you as well.

Contesting a Ticket

If you want to contest a ticket, you need to appear in court. This is an option even if a court appearance is not required. There will be a date set in case you do wish to contest it. This is the right of every US citizen. However, if you do wish to contest your traffic ticket, it is a very good idea to speak with a traffic attorney. Hiring a traffic lawyer in Fairfax, VA is also a good idea, but not taking the time to at least consult with one is a big mistake. You need to know what the laws are, how the law processes traffic violation cases, and what your chances of success are given the circumstances of your case. This should be the first step you take.

 


 

Thanks to May Law, LLP for their insight into criminal law and appearing in court for a traffic ticket.

Pulled Over for a DUI? Here’s What to Know

Criminal Defense Lawyer

DUIs happen to many people, even the more careful ones. You had a nice dinner out with friends, stayed out later than you thought you would, and had that extra glass of wine or beer. You didn’t realize you shouldn’t have been behind the wheel until you saw those red and blue lights in your rearview mirror.

Naturally, it’s important to contact a DUI lawyer in Denver, CO for sound legal advice in a situation like this, but if you find you have been pulled over under the suspicion of driving under the influence, make sure you take the right actions at the onset to avoid making the whole thing worse.

Pull over right away

When you see the flashing lights of a police vehicle behind you, pull over immediately. Turn off the engine of your vehicle and put your keys on the dashboard, where the officer can see them easily as they approach the car. These actions indicate you will not try to drive away, and this also demonstrates to the officer that you are going to cooperate.

Communicate with the officer

Communicate with the police officer and don’t give them any reason to believe that you are trying to hide something. This means you should turn the radio off, put your cell phone away and put your hands on the top of the steering wheel. However, keep your seat belt on until the officer sees you in the vehicle. If you take it off before they approach the car, it will look like you weren’t wearing it while driving.

Don’t indict yourself

You should not lie to a police officer, but you’re not required to say things that will establish your guilt, either. If the officer asks you how many drinks you’ve had, you can say “I don’t recall the exact number.” If you give them an exact total, this could support charges against you that an alcohol blood or breath test would not.

Take the sobriety test

In most cases, refusing to take a sobriety test won’t work out for you. A refusal results in your license being suspending immediately in many states, usually for a year. A refusal can be used as evidence of your guilt in court. However, whether to take a test this is up to you, and keep in mind that you do have the legal right to refuse one. But again, a refusal usually results in your loss of your driving privileges for a year, even if the DUI case is eventually dismissed.

Stay respectful and calm

Staying respectful and calm in a situation like this is important. The police officer will respond to your emotional state, so if you behave angrily or combative, it could make the entire experience worse for you. Follow the officer’s instructions and avoid being emotional.

When you have been charged with a DUI, you could be facing jail time, the loss of your driver’s license, fines and other penalties and consequences. Work with an experienced DUI lawyer in Denver, CO to protect your rights and work toward the best outcome possible given your circumstances. There is a lot on the line when you’ve been charged with a DUI. Speak to a skilled DUI lawyer in Denver, CO about your case as soon as you can.

 


 

Thanks to Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and what you need to know about a DUI.

What is the Difference Between an Estate Plan and a Will?

Divorce Lawyer

Often, wills and estate plans are terms that are used interchangeably when going through the process of putting your affairs in order. However, it’s important to be aware that a will and estate plan are not one and the same. A will is just one component to an estate plan. The process of estate planning can be incredibly complex, because of this, working with a lawyer experienced in this area of practice can provide you with the support you need in developing a clear plan for the future. 

Key Elements to an Estate Plan

An estate plan is made up of many parts. When developing your estate plan, there will be a number of decisions you will be charged with making. The process of doing so can be complex, it will be important that you take the proper steps to ensure that the estate plan you develop is valid, and leaves nothing out. A lawyer can provide you with guidance for each component to an estate plan:

Will

A will is a document that outlines how you would like your assets distributed to heirs. Within your will, you will outline:

  • Guardianship over your children
  • Naming beneficiaries for your assets
  • Identifying an executor to oversee your estate
  • Specific instructions for the distribution of your assets

Medical Directives

Medical directives can make up a number of key documents. Medical directives give you the opportunity to designate someone who will make decisions regarding your healthcare in the event that you are unable to. In some cases, a person may assume this responsibility on a temporary basis. Other situations may call for the person who has been appointed to make significant decisions, such as whether or not you should remain on life support. However, it’s important to note that if you have clearly outlined your wishes, your healthcare proxy may not be required to make this decision as it will already be outlined in your estate plan. 

Power of Attorney

When you designate someone to have power of attorney, you give them the ability to make key financial decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so. Without someone appointed to hold this role, a costly and time consuming court process may be required in order to appoint a conservator to oversee your affairs. 

Designating Beneficiaries

A lawyer can help you to designate beneficiaries on your accounts. Naming beneficiaries is essential to ensuring that money from your accounts is designated in the way you would have liked. Common accounts that you may want to name a beneficiary on include:

  • Insurance Policies
  • Retirement Accounts
  • IRAs
  • Pensions

With so many elements to consider, you will want to make sure that you have left nothing out. With a lawyer by your side, you can have the peace of mind you deserve in knowing that you have a clear plan in place for when the time comes. 

A Lawyer Can Help You

A lawyer plays a critical role in putting together your estate plan and will. While this process can appear cumbersome, a lawyer can help you to complete the process as smoothly and quickly as possible. Developing your estate plan and will doesn’t have to be stressful. Working with an attorney with experience developing wills can help to mitigate familial conflict, protect your interests, and provide your family with a clear path of your wishes. This can make all the difference when you are no longer able to communicate with your loved ones. Contact an estate planning lawyer in Phoenix, AZ today to get started.  

 


 

Thanks to Kamper Estrada, LLP for their insight into estate planning and creating a will.

What Is a Revocable Living Trust?

Divorce Lawyer

If you are in the process of planning your estate, it is important for you to know what your options are. You may have heard that you can have a will or a trust for your estate. For the most part, it is true that these are your two options, but do you know why you might want one over the other? Most people have a good idea of what a will is and how it works, so this guide will go over what a trust is, what makes a living trust special, and what benefits a trust might have over a will.

What Is a Trust?

A trust is essentially an agreement with a trustee. When setting up a trust, you give a set of property to the trustee and decide what condition to place on the trust. When this condition is met, the trustee passes the possessions along to whoever is designated by the trust. Trusts can be set up for all sorts of reasons besides estate planning. For instance, you can set up a trust to gift a large amount of money to someone when he or she graduates college. For estate planning, the condition on the trust will likely be the death of the individual who sets up the trust, allowing his or her possessions to be passed on to loved ones.

Trusts offer these benefits over a will:

  • Ability to put conditions on possessions
  • Minimize or eliminate estate taxation
  • Avoid the probate period

The main reason most people choose a trust over a will is to put conditions on certain possessions. For instance, you can decide that your grandson will receive $5,000 when you pass, but only if he is 18 years old at the time.

Revocable Living Trusts

Trusts can either be revocable or irrevocable. This refers to whether you can make changes to the trust or access the items in the trust. With a revocable living trust, you can still access anything you put in the trust, allowing you to continue living off your possessions. If you need to make any chances, a revocable trust can allow you to do this. Irrevocable trusts do not have this luxury. The main benefit of an irrevocable trust is that no one can access it no matter what. This is usually only beneficial when trying to prevent debtors or law enforcement from accessing your possessions. You can learn more about the in-depth aspects of trusts by speaking with a Folsom living trust lawyer.

 


 

Thanks to Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and a revocable living trust.

Do’s and Dont’s of Getting Pulled Over for DUI

Do’s and Dont’s of Getting Pulled Over for DUI

Nobody wants to think about being pulled over by the police, especially for driving under the influence. But even good motorists can make a mistake and the worst can happen. What you do in these circumstances can have major implications for your license, your money, and even your freedom. Would you know how to handle being pulled over for a suspected DUI? If your answer is no, take heed of the following tips to prepare yourself should you ever be in such a bind.

What is DUI?

DUI is not limited to just one type of substance. Driving impaired is the offense of operating a motor vehicle while hindered by:

  • Alcohol
  • Illegal drugs
  • Prescription medications

Even over-the-counter drugs can lead to a DUI charge if an officer feels they have made you incapable of safely operating a vehicle. Consequences can include suspension of your driver’s license, heavy fines and even jail time – so knowing what to do is critical.

Do Remain Composed

Being pulled over is upsetting, but mouthing off to an officer can only make the situation worse. An officer treated with respect may be less likely to make an arrest or write an incriminating report. Maintain a helpful and friendly demeanor, including stepping out of the vehicle and answering questions honestly.

Don’t Say Anything Incriminating

Being polite to the officer does not mean that you have to share every single detail. While you are obligated to provide things like your name, license, and insurance information, you don’t have to answer whether you’ve been drinking. If the officer pressures you to answer, you can push back. In some cases, this can result in arrest. However, a DUI lawyer will have a much easier time arguing your case later if you haven’t inadvertently admitted guilt.

Don’t Take a Field Sobriety Test

No matter what the officer says, you aren’t legally required to take a field sobriety test, so don’t. This includes breath tests, blood or even urine tests. The results of any of these can be used as evidence against you, and you don’t want to help the police build their case. This is another instance in which you may be arrested. But a night in jail is preferable to a much longer period of incarceration should a court rule against you.

A DUI charge can have serious implications for your future. Use these tips if you’re pulled over and be sure to contact a DUI lawyer in Bloomington, IL promptly to defend your freedom.

Thanks to Pioletti, Pioletti & Nichols for their insight into criminal law and getting pulled over for a DUI.

 

Medical Malpractice Law FAQ: How do I know if a doctor has made previous medical errors?

As a patient, you naturally want to be able to trust your doctor. Before you opt to have any kind of medical treatment, it is important to choose a doctor who you can trust to provide you with the proper care. If you are concerned about your doctor, or a potential doctor, having a history of medical malpractice, there are resources that can assist you. 

If you believe you or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice, please call a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. 

Resources to Review the History of a Doctor

By law, a doctor must have a state license in order to practice. Any suspensions, penalties, or disciplinary actions are linked to their license and recorded in the home state of the doctor. The Medical Board has files on all licensed doctors and the public is allowed to access this information. As a medical malpractice lawyer might explain to you, these files may not inform you about whether medical malpractice has occurred. In this case, you would likely need to review court cases that involve the doctor’s name. To explore these options further, you are encouraged to visit the American Medical Association website for a complete list of state board websites. If you think your doctor has committed malpractice against you and would like to know if this has happened before, it may be best to ask a medical malpractice lawyer for help. 

Once You Have Found Where to Look in Your State

In general, all medical board websites will look slightly different from one state to another; however, the information should largely be the same. For example, you may review the status of the doctor’s license and their disciplinary history. Typically you can search for this information using the doctor’s name, license number, or the name of their practice. 

What Happens When You Discover Disciplinary Actions

When you are reviewing the medical board website, you might feel confused about what you are reading – particularly when you find out the doctor who treats you has received disciplinary actions. If you are curious about these findings, you could discuss them with your doctor to see whether they can be explained in a satisfactory manner. In the event of their license being suspended or revoked, and they are still practicing, please call a medical malpractice lawyer for advice. 

When You Also Feel You’ve Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice

In the event that you are reviewing your doctors’ history because you believe you may be the victim of malpractice, it may be in your best interest to consult a medical malpractice lawyer. If it is true that negligence or wrongdoing caused you unnecessary harm, compensation may be available. When you speak with your lawyer, he or she will know what questions to ask to determine if you have a case. 

Get a Case Review

If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, and would like to know what options may be available, having a strong, skilled legal advocate on your side is recommended. For a consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer in Miami, FL, please call a law firm today.

Thanks to Needle & Ellenberg, P.A.for their insight into medical malpractice and doctor errors.

Revocable Living Trust and Estate Planning

Revocable Living Trust

Planning your estate is one of the most important things you can do, no matter how many or how few assets you have, or how young you are. Determining exactly where you want your wealth and belongings to go in case something unexpected happens to you, will ensure a much easier transition for your family and result in a more intact estate.

Living Trust

A living trust is an entity that you set up and put your large assets into while you’re alive, legally taking them out of your possession while maintaining control of them. As the creator of the trust, you become the grantor and if you choose you can also be the trustee, which is what allows you to manage and control the assets within the trust.

You can put almost anything into this entity including bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, investments, and more. As you maintain control of your assets, you will also continue paying taxes as necessary, using Form 1040 and your own social security number.

Living trusts have many benefits, including:

  • Avoiding probate and the excessive court time and legal fees that come with it
  • Keeping your estate private, away from public record
  • Providing instructions on what to do if you die, as well as if you become incapacitated and unable to make sound decisions

Revocable Trust

When a trust is “revocable” this simply means that you are able to make changes to the trust at any time. This is beneficial if you form the trust while you’re young and acquire additional assets throughout your life that you would like to add to it. You are also able to take things out or cancel the entire trust.

Thus, an irrevocable trust is one in which you put assets into, name its beneficiaries, and then you no longer have any control over them. It is up to your designated trustee to pay the beneficiaries based on the rules you originally set forth in the documents when the trust was formed. This entity is assigned its own taxpayer identification number.

Plan Your Estate

Many individuals set up a will and last testament for their belongings, not realizing the future benefits of a trust and how it can protect your family from unnecessary court time, legal fees, and waiting for months for assets to be distributed while going through probate. Consult with an experienced Sacramento estate planning lawyer to help you determine the best options for your financial situation and see if a revocable living trust would be right for you and your family.

Thanks to Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and revocable living trusts.

DUI Vs. Using Your Phone: Which is More Dangerous for Driving?

Dangerous Driving Behaviors

With cell phones taking center stage in today’s daily life, using them in the car has become very common. However, is talking on the phone or texting on it any less dangerous than drunk driving? A recent study carried out by Harvard University aimed to find the answers to these questions, and the results are pretty clear: phone use is just about as dangerous as driving while intoxicated (archive.sph.harvard.edu/cas/Documents/drinkingdriving/drinkingdriving912.pdf).

The university tested 40 college students and found that those who used a cell phone while behind the wheel were 9 percent slower to tap their brakes, drove slower in general, and were 19 percent slower to return to normal speed after they hit the brakes. Researchers also found that phone-using drivers were more likely to crash and displayed 24 percent more variation in their following distance as they switched attention between their phone and the road.

For the drunk driving portion, participants had a blood alcohol level of over 0.08 percent, and they didn’t do much better. Intoxicated drivers drove even more slowly than those using the cell phones, but they were more aggressive overall. They also followed the test’s pace car at a closer distance and were twice as likely to hit the brakes just four seconds before a crash would have happened. In the end, however, the researchers found that the drunk drivers’ accident rates, their reaction times to vehicles braking in front of them and their recovery of the speed lost after braking did not differ significantly from drivers who were not using their phones or distracted in any way.

The results from the Harvard study line up with many other studies performed over the years on the same topic. For example, in 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 3,450 people were killed in distracted-related incidents. This figure includes accidents related to more distractions than just cell phones, but at 14 percent of the overall total, cell phone use by drivers was a major cause.

One of the biggest car distractions today is texting, particularly among younger drivers. The average time it takes to read and reply to a text is around 4.6 seconds, and for a person driving 55 mph, that means covering the entire length of a football field while they’re not looking at the road. Despite this, Integrity Insurance reports that a recent survey found that around half of Americans in the US today admitted they text while driving, despite 90 percent of that same responding group saying they knew it was dangerous to do so (https://www.integrityinsurance.com/tips/dangerstexting).

If you are involved in a car accident that caused serious injury or death and you are being accused of being on your phone at the time, you can be facing some serious charges and penalties that will affect your life now and for years down the road. Contact a criminal lawyer in Denver, CO for guidance and help throughout your case. When you are facing serious consequences, you simply can’t afford to leave anything to chance.

 

Thanks to Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and dangerous driving habits.

 

Slip and Fall Injuries on Cruise Ships

Cruise Ship Accidents

One of the most common types of accidents on cruise ships are slip and fall accidents. These incidents often result in severe pain and injury to the victim. Victims can suffer concussions, fractured bones, internal injuries or bleeding, and more. Many times, the slip and fall is not the fault of the victim but happens because of some form of negligence on the part of the cruise line.

Slip and Fall Accidents on Ships

There are many different ways that slip and fall accidents can occur on cruise ships. For example, if there is luggage left in the hallway or a piece of loose carpeting, the passenger can trip and seriously injure themselves.

Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere on and off the ship – in passenger rooms, restrooms, hallways, decks, and on gangways, tenders, and more.

Just like any business, the cruise line is required to make sure all areas passengers will be in are hazard-free and to warn passengers about any unsafe conditions that may exist. If the accident occurs because of negligence on the part of a crew member, liability still falls on the cruise line and they are legally responsible for the damages the victim suffers.

Pursuing a Claim

When a victim has suffered a slip and fall injury on a cruise line, they should seriously consider retaining the services of a cruise ship accident attorney to represent them against the cruise line. It is important to remember that cruise line companies are usually huge corporations and if a person is unfamiliar with the requirements for filing an accident claim, their case could be jeopardized.

There is often a large amount of paperwork required by the cruise ship, as well as information and documentation the cruise line company may require in order to process the claim. And not only are there certain timelines that may need to be met to process the claim, as well as just trying to determine where exactly the claim should be filed.

A cruise ship accident attorney is well-versed in all these matters and can make sure that all of the requirements have been met. Your attorney will also know exactly what type of evidence will help your case.

Contact a Cruise Ship Accident Attorney for Assistance

If you or a family member has been injured in a slip and fall accident or any other type of cruise ship accident, contact a personal injury lawyer in Salt Lake City, UT today for a free case evaluation. Attorneys have extensive experience fighting for injured clients against all of the major cruise lines. You can meet with attorneys who will evaluate your case and determine what legal options you may have.

 

Thanks to Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into personal injury claims and cruise ship slip and fall injuries.