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San Jose DUI defense attorneyA new bill, recently passed by the California State Senate, seeks to increase the penalties for all drivers convicted of a DUI by enforcing the installment of an interlock device. Currently being piloted in four counties – Alameda, Tulare, Los Angeles, and Sacramento – the measure is now being sent to the Assembly for consideration. If passed, this new law could impact the lives and driving rights of more than 200,000 drivers each and every year.

What Is an Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a lot like a breathalyzer test, but it is connected to the ignition of your vehicle. Before you can start your car, you have to blow into the mouthpiece. If the device detects a blood alcohol concentration above the preprogrammed limit, the ignition remains disabled and you are unable to start your car. The device also requires that you periodically complete what is known as a “running retest” while driving. This requires that you blow into the device at random intervals while driving. If you fail the running retest, the device will not shut off the engine, but it will record the event and cause your vehicle to alert the authorities.


b2ap3_thumbnail_drug-crimes.jpgThere are more immigrants in California than in any other state, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. This comes out to more than 10 million immigrants in this state alone, meaning that one in four of the nation’s population that was born outside of the U.S. resides in California. While these numbers primarily refer to people who are living legally in the country, it is no secret that California is also home to thousands of immigrants who are illegal, who have not received permanent residency status or a green card. While this makes the state one of the most diverse, it can also mean it is one of the most divided when it comes to policy and policing. One of the most recent of these rulings to be considered by state legislators is one that would allow illegal immigrants to plead guilty to minor drug charges without fear of deportation that such an act would usually trigger.

Minor drug charges are often dismissed if a person pleads guilty and undergoes drug counseling. If, however, the charge is brought against a person living illegally in the country, such proceedings could trigger deportation. The new bill currently being debated by state officials would allow illegal immigrants to plead guilty to such charges and undergo counseling, without fear of deportation.

In 2013, fewer than 3 percent of federal criminal charges went to trial, in large part due to the acceptance of plea bargains. While plea bargains proved to largely be a good option for minor drug charges, there were unexpected consequences to their rise in popularity: the so-called “Rockefeller Laws” implemented in New York were one such example, in which punishments for minor drug infractions increased sharply to combat the rise of plea bargains.



Have you ever paid for a traffic ticket you thought you didn’t deserve? When it comes to tickets for traffic violations, often times the easiest and quickest solution is to bite your tongue and pay, no matter how fair the ticket actually is. Some Californians say they even plan for traffic tickets throughout the year and budget for them.  In the past, contesting a traffic violation might have first required that the tickets fines be paid before being heard. A recent emergency action passed by California court leaders aims to change that. This June, for the first time, many Californians will be able to dispute their traffic violations in court without being required to pay the fines beforehand.

Imagine being told that you had to serve time in prison before your case was ever heard in court. On a much smaller scale, that is essentially what was being told to millions of Californians looking to dispute their traffic violations in court. They would not be heard unless they paid first, thus denying their right to being “innocent until proven guilty.” Since 2006, almost 5 million Californians have had their licenses suspended due to unpaid violations. Ticket costs have risen dramatically in California over the past few years, adding to the problem. A ticket for running a red light can run upwards of $500. Not stopping at a stop sign can be $300 or more.  



California recently joined states like Montana, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maine in establishing clear protection for personal information stored on laptops, tablets, and cellphones. In the past, information stored on a cellphone or other device could be searched by law enforcement without a warrant or wiretap order and used in criminal cases. Just this month, however, the California State Senate approved a bill that would place restrictions on access to digitally stored personal information, and would require in most cases that law enforcement obtain a search warrant prior to access.

Access to information stored digitally, including locational information, has been a complicated issue in the past for both California and the United States as a whole. The Supreme Court has yet to decide on the issue, leading to a mess of certain states that require warrants, and many that do not. California law enforcement, prior to this recent bill’s approval, was able to access any personal information, including sent and received text messages and emails. In the past, law enforcement officials would be required to obtain a search warrant for a person’s physical mail box, but not for their emails or text messages.


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