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Drunk Driving on Halloween

drunk-driving-on-halloween

It’s no secret that getting behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking is a bad idea, yet there are a few nights of the year where drivers leave their common sense at home and drive home after having one too many. Halloween is such a night.

Why People Drink on Halloween

Halloween is a festive holiday. A time when lots of people like to cut loose and relax. There are usually lots of parties where the alcohol generally flows. The happy atmosphere combined with the anonymity of wearing a costume makes it easy to cut loose and lose track of how much you’ve had to drink.

The Dangers of Drinking and Driving on Halloween

There’s never a safe time to drive after drinking, but it’s particularly dangerous on Halloween. The lure of free candy means that the streets are full of very young children. Many of these children aren’t paying attention to anything but getting to the next house as quickly as possible. They don’t look before they cross streets or rush around blind alleys. Sober driver’s often struggle to stay alert when driving through popular trick-or-treating areas. With alcohol dulling your reflexes the odds of you getting into a drunk driving accident on Halloween increase.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Halloween is one of the holidays when police officers are out in force and they are going to be extra alert. The slightest sign that you’re driving while impaired on Halloween and they will pull you over.

The Consequences of Drunk Driving on Halloween

The legal blood alcohol count (BAC) for the average adult driver in California is 0.08%. If it’s any higher, the police will file drunk driving charges against you. Even if you’re BAC is slightly lower than 0.08% when you’re pulled over, there is still a good chance that they’ll arrest you so that they can conduct a second test once the last drink you enjoyed hits your system.

Getting found guilty of DUI on Halloween will have a serious and negative impact on the quality of your life.

  • First offense – $390-$1,000 in fines, up to 6 months in jail, your license can be suspended for up to 6 months
  • Second offense – $390-$1,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, your license can be suspended for 2 full years. The court can order your ignition locked for a full year.
  • Third offense – up to $1,800 in fines, minimum 120 days maximum 12 months in jail, your license can be suspended for 3 years and your ignition can be locked for 2 years.

If you’re planning on drinking this Halloween, it’s in your best interest to arrange for a cab, Uber driver, or have a friend serve as your DD. The last thing you need is to end the holiday with a drunk driving conviction.

Tips for Protecting Yourself From Fake News

tips-for-protecting-yourself-from-fake-news

The term fake news has been used a lot over the past four years. The good news is that hearing the term so often has made people stop and think about how much we take news stories for granted. Today, more than ever, we have come to understand that even the most trusted news sources have an agenda and that they understand how to work an angle.

You’ll be happy to know that there are some things you can do to protect yourself from fake news.

Don’t Rely on a Single Source

The more versions of a news story you read/watch/listen to, the more similarities you’ll pick out. These little commonalities are the kernels of truth. Pay attention to them and you’ll eventually get to the real story.

Check the Sources

The best way to protect yourself from fake news is by paying careful attention to the sources provided. This doesn’t mean looking at which new anchor is presenting a story (though that’s also a good idea) but looking at how that new anchor got the story. Did it come from someone who was in the middle of a situation, or was it from a second, third, or fourth source?

Double Check Quotes

Many people mistakenly think that just because a news story includes quotes, that the story must be relevant. Taking quotes out of context or only sharing a portion of what the person said can completely alter the tone of a news story. If a quote feels off or seems manipulative, it’s a good idea to find the entire interview and read the quote for yourself. You’ll be surprised how often seeing the comments in their entirety completely changes the news story.

Do Your Own Research

Don’t take any news story at face value. Learning how to do your research is one of the best ways to protect yourself from fake news. Research doesn’t mean turning to your social media accounts. Most of what you see on social media isn’t news, but rather people’s responses to fake news. Try to find out the origins of the story, who was responsible for publishing it, and check to see which people are involved. The more time you dedicate to researching a news story, the greater the odds are that you’ll eventually find the truth.

The great thing about learning how to protect yourself from fake news is that it doesn’t take long before you start to recognize the early signs, such as click-bait headlines and strangely chopped interviews, of fake news.

Hitchhiking in California

hitchhiking-in-california.

Signs warning drivers about the dangers of picking up hitchhikers litter the sides of California’s highways. Upon seeing these signs, most of us assume that we’re close to one of the state’s prisons and that cops are worried that a hitchhiker could be an escaped convict. Few of us know that the reason there are so many signs warning about hitchhikers scattered along California’s immense span network of highways is because hitchhiking is actually illegal.

The issue of hitchhiking is addressed in CA Veh Code § 21957 (2018) 21957. The law states that “No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride from the driver of any vehicle.”

Clearly, the law doesn’t want anyone hitchhiking, but what if you’re vehicle has broken down and you need a ride into town? Are you supposed to walk the whole way?
And what if you pick up a hitchhiker?

It’s obvious that the law was created to discourage hitchhiking, but it’s the language you want to pay particular attention to. It states that you can’t stand in the middle of the road and try to flag oncoming traffic down and asking for a ride. If one of California’s highway patrol officers catches you doing so, they’ll likely stop and ask you to move off the road. They might even issue a ticket.

However, according to the strict language of the law, you are free to stand on the shoulder of the road and attempt to flag down an approaching vehicle. The trick is, you have to do it in such a way that you’re not disrupting traffic.

If you are a driver who spots someone who wants a lift, you’re allowed to stop and offer them one, but not if you’re on one of the state’s massive freeways. Stopping on the shoulder of one of those could disrupt the flow of traffic and cause a serious accident. You’ll have to somehow signal to the hitchhiker that you’ll meet them at the next exit.

It doesn’t matter if you’re the person offering a hitchhiker a ride or if you’re the person accepting the ride, it’s important to remember that inviting a stranger into your car is a risk. Make sure you use sound judgment and are very careful.

Is it Legal to Drive with Earbuds in California?

is-it-legal-to-drive-with-earbuds-in-california

Bluetooth headphones that let us do everything from answer phone calls to listen to our favorite tunes were invented, it seems like we always have earphones inserted into our ears. It’s so easy to listen to your favorite music or audiobook while you’re getting ready to go and leave the earbuds in once your driving.

What some people don’t realize is that continuing to use their earbuds while driving isn’t legal in California.

For years, driving with headphones on has been illegal in California. Many lawmakers assumed that earbuds fell into the same category as headphones, but as is always the case, someone protested that they weren’t the same thing. Rather than argue with every single driver who got pulled over for wearing earbuds, California lawmakers passed a law that officially made it illegal to drive with earbuds.

The new law means you can’t wear headphones, earbuds, or a single ear Bluetooth earpiece while you’re behind the wheel.

Why Can’t You Wear Earbuds While Driving in California?

You might not think that your earbuds impact your ability to safely drive but California lawmakers disagree. There are a few reasons why they have made it illegal to wear earbuds while driving, including:

  • Earbuds, particularly noise-canceling earbuds make it important to hear sounds, such as train whistles, sirens, and honking, that are happening outside your car. Failing to hear the sounds increases the likelihood of you getting into an accident.
  • Listening to things via earbuds can pull your attention away from things that are taking place on the road in front of you, such as a child running across the street or a school bus turning on their flashers.
  • Earbuds encourage you to answer your phone while driving, something that drastically increases the risk of you getting into an accident.

Consequences of Wearing Earbuds While Driving in California

The good news is that if you get caught driving while wearing earbuds, you won’t face criminal charges. Unless you’re lucky enough to be pulled over by an officer who is willing to let you get away with just a warning, you’ll be issued a ticket and charged a $197 fine. The traffic infraction will add a single point to your driving record which will likely increase your insurance premiums. Additional points and fines will be added if you got into an accident or violated additional traffic laws while wearing your earbuds behind the wheel.

All things considered, it’s in your best interest to remove your earbuds and listen to the radio while you drive.

The Long-Lasting Consequences of Drunk Driving in California

the-long-lasting-consequences-of-drunk-driving-in-california

Like all other states, California has taken a hard stance on drunk driving. It isn’t tolerated. If you’re caught behind the wheel after having just a little too much to drink, you’ll face steep consequences that will have a major impact on the overall quality of your life.

California’s Legal Limit

California has different legal limits for different types of drivers. For the average, adult driver in California, anything over a blood alcohol count (BAC) of 0.08% is considered too high to legally drive. Drivers under the age of 21, anything over 0.05% is considered a DUI. Commercial drivers as well as drivers who are involved with a ride-share program aren’t allowed to get behind the wheel if their BAC is above 0.04%

If you are pulled over and the officer believes you’ve been drinking, they’ll likely administer a breath test that measures your BAC. If the BAC is considered close, but not quite at the legal limit, it’s likely you’ll still be arrested. The reason for this is because it can take a little time for the true BAC to be accurate. You’ll receive a second test at the jail. By this point, the BAC level will be accurate. If it’s above the legal limit, the officer will go through with the arrest. Both of the BAC tests are admissible in court. In many cases, the first test is a breath test and the second test is taken via a blood draw.

Penalties of Driving Drunk in California

California lawmakers aren’t playing around when it comes to drunk drivers. The penalties are steep and were designed to scare people into only getting behind the wheel while they’re sober. The penalties become more severe each time you’re charged with a DUI.

First Offense

The first time you’re caught driving while under the influence, the maximum amount of time you can spend in county jail is six months. You’ll also be charged fines that will range from $390-$1,000. Your license will be suspended and you won’t be able to drive for up to six months. Your ignition can be locked for 6 months to one full year, and you’ll only be allowed to drive on a restricted license during that time.

Second Offense

The second DUI charge means a minimum of 92 hours and a maximum of 1 full year in a county jail. The court can charge you fines that range from $390-$1,000. You can lose your license for a full two years, making it difficult to work, especially if you live in a rural area. After you get a restricted license, the court can limit your driving with an ignition lock that will remain on your vehicle for up to one year.

Third Offense

The third offense you’re found guilty of DUI charges, you’ll be sentenced to as little as 120 days or as long as one year in jail. You’ll get charged at least $1,800 in fines. You’ll also lose your license for 3 years and potentially have an ignition lock installed on your vehicle for an additional 2 years.

California lawmakers have arranged things so that each DUI conviction remains on your record for a full 10 years.

In addition to actual DUI penalties, if you were in an accident while driving drunk, you will also face any charges that were incurred during the accident. This can include minor traffic offenses or vehicular manslaughter.

Medications Can Mess up Your Life

There are several medications that can play havoc on your body when you mix them with alcohol. The problem with many medications, even some over-the-counter allergy medications is that they alter the way your body absorbs alcohol. This means that if you go to the bar and have your normal amount of alcohol, and the amount that in most cases allows you to legally drive home, the medication could have created a significantly higher blood alcohol level and you’ll be arrested for DUI. Several people have had their lives destroyed because they didn’t realize how badly the medication and alcohol would react.

If you’re on medication, it’s in your best interest to not get behind the wheel if you have accidentally mixed the alcohol and the medication. Call a friend, get a room, hire a taxi. Do anything other than getting in your car.

The Reality of Prop. 25

the-reality-of-prop-25

The November third election is a big one for California voters. Not only do they have to decide which candidate they want in the Oval Office, but they also must decide if they want to vote for or against, Proposal 25.

What is Proposal 25

The goal of Prop 25 is to end the current cash bail system. If it passes, California would be the first state to do away with this system. Instead of using a tried and true cash bail system, the state would create a system that would run a “risk-assessment” on suspects. Each suspect would be assigned a risk which would categorize them as:

  • Low-risk
  • Medium-risk
  • High-risk

Partying During a Pandemic

partying-during-a-pandemic

The pandemic has been running our lives since March. There isn’t a single aspect of life that it hasn’t impacted. Many of us have grown tired of all the restrictions the virus has placed on our lives and are starting to rebel against the shutdown lifestyle. Many of us are starting to look at the upcoming holiday season and wondering, “what would happen if I hosted or attended a party during the pandemic?”

Is Partying During a Pandemic Legal?

If you’re wondering if it’s legal to party during a pandemic, you’re unlikely to get a clear response. Most people, including any police officers you speak to, will likely tell you it’s a bad idea. But just because somethings a bad idea, that doesn’t mean it’s illegal, right?

When the pandemic reached California, the governor made the tough decision to ban large gatherings. According to the order, any party that involved 250 or more people was strictly prohibited. Smaller gathering remained legal but only if participants agreed to adhere to social distancing guidelines which include maintaining a 6-foot gap between people who don’t live together.

Are People Partying During the Pandemic

If you’re wondering if people are throwing parties during the pandemic, the answer is yes. If you’re wondering if they are getting in trouble, the answer is also yes. How much trouble largely depends on where the party took place, how many people attended, and if the sight of the large gathering scared the neighbors who called the police.

You would be hard-pressed to find a city that’s more determined to prevent parties than Los Angeles. The strain COVID-19 has placed on the local health care system has been severe. Many city officials are determined to do everything they can to halt the virus in its tracks. This includes doing things like shutting off all the utilities to places where large parties are taking place.

It’s unclear if the city will take more drastic steps, such as arresting people who throw/attend parties if the partying during the pandemic trend continues.

If you are feeling alone and isolated, don’t run the risk of crossing the law by throwing a large party during the pandemic. Try touching base with your favorite people via Zoom, Facebook Live, or Skype. If you desperately need to see people in the flesh, host a small intimate gathering and be diligent about maintaining all social distancing standards.

California Earthquake Survival Tips

california-earthquake-survival-tips

California is known for its earthquakes. Unlike wildfires which can be somewhat predictable and avoidable, there’s never much warning before an earthquake occurs. Even with the surprisingly accurate MyShake earthquake phone app you usually have less than a minute to prepare yourself for the tremor.

Early preparation and common sense is your best line of defense when it comes to surviving a California earthquake.

Keep Your Home in Good Repair

Routinely go through your home and any outbuildings and make sure that they are earthquake ready. The house met the current earthquake building guidelines when it was constructed, but it’s up to you to make sure that it stays earthquake ready. The best way to make sure your home remains standing during an earthquake is by staying on top of all home repairs.

Secure Your Space

At least once a week, go through your entire house and make sure it’s earthquake-proof. Make sure there is enough room in closets for you to fit into the small space during an earthquake. Double-check that you haven’t placed anything on a high shelf where it could fall off and hit you during an earthquake.

Create a Disaster Plan

Creating a disaster plan for an earthquake isn’t easy. You have no way of knowing where you or the rest of your family will be when an earthquake takes place. What you can do is arrange a place where everyone will meet following a large earthquake. You can also make sure that your entire family has a communication plan in place that will allow you to connect with one another after the earthquake.

Have Emergency Supplies on Hand

Create small emergency packs and store them throughout your home. The packs should contain non-perishable food, first aid supplies, a flashlight, batteries, and water. You should keep at least one of these packs in each of your rooms as well as in your car.

Purchase Earthquake Protection

Make sure you’re insured against an earthquake. This insurance means you’ll get reimbursed if your home is destroyed during the earthquake, making it possible for you to start over.

Lend a Helping Hand

Once you’ve successively survived a California earthquake, it’s time to help others. Check on your neighbors and make sure they’re okay. Offer shelter to those who need it. Volunteer with earthquake survival groups. The sooner everyone pitches in to help, the sooner the state will recover from the earthquake.

Evading Police in California

evading-police-in-california

Police chases might look exciting on television, but the reality is much different. Evading the police in California is dangerous, especially if the event takes place in a place that is heavily populated by either other drivers or pedestrians.
Fleeing from the police, even if they only want to question you, can result in serious legal consequences.

The Right to Remain Silent

the-right-to-remain-silent

We’re all familiar with the Miranda Rights, which basically grants us the ability to not tell the police anything if we’re arrested. While we’ve heard thousands of television cops recite the famous words “you have the right to remain silent” few of us actually know what that means.

The History of the Miranda Rights

The Miranda Rights take their name from Ernesto Arturo Miranda. He was arrested in 1963 and placed in a line-up. The victim selected Miranda. When the police questioned him, he confessed to the crime. It looked like an open and shut case, when in fact, it turned into a case that forever changed police procedures in the United States.

After Miranda was found guilty of raping and kidnapping, his attorney argued that the case should have been thrown out because Miranda was never told that he had the “right to remain silent.” Instead of ignoring the claims, the case, along with three similar cases, made it to the Supreme Court. In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that in situations like the one Miranda found himself in, the police can’t use a confession unless the accused has first been advised of their right to remain silent and reminded that if they confess, the confession can be used against them during the court case.

What the Right to Remain Silent Really Means

The right to remain silent doesn’t mean that the police can’t question you. The right to remain silent is designed to provide you with a layer of protection in two different circumstances.

If you are in court and under oath, the right to remain silent means you aren’t legally required to say something that could incriminate you in criminal activity. If you do say something, the prosecution can use the confession, even an inadvertent one, against you. In this type of situation, the right to remain silent is commonly referred to as Taking the Fifth.

The second situation where the right to remain silent comes into play is if you’re being detained by the police. They’re allowed to question you, but you don’t have to say anything that could be considered a confession to a crime.

When do the Miranda Rights Come into Play?

The police are supposed to read you your Miranda Rights as soon as they make a move to take you into custody. Being taken into custody means that you don’t have the ability to leave when you decide that you’ve had enough. You’re right to remain silent kicks in as soon as the police put handcuffs on you, which is why it’s important to remain cool, calm, and collected while they drive you to the police station. You don’t want to lose your temper while you are in the back of the car that could be used against you.