Category Archives: DUI

When St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness Collide…Law Enforcement is on High Alert for DUI

Driver's License SuspensionMarch Madness, the NCAA college basketball tournament, starts this week. March Madness is the college equivalent to the NFL Super Bowl. Fans from all over the flock to the tournament, which is hosted in Houston, Texas, this year. Those fans, who are unable to attend the tournament in person, attend watch parties and other special events.

In Las Vegas several casinos and party venues, including Treasure Island, The Hard Rock Hotel, and the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas will be hosting special March Madness events and offering luxury events with premium seating, open bar, and other festivities.

As a lone event, March Madness will bring out a large numbers of patrons looking to have a good time, but March Madness occurs the same week as St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday commemorating Christianity’s arrival in Ireland and widely celebrates Irish culture. Commonly, people celebrate the holiday by wearing green, yellow, and white and partaking in traditional Irish foods and beer.

Party venues throughout Las Vegas and surrounding areas will have drink specials to attract the March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day crowds. In light of the celebratory spirit, Las Vegas law enforcement will be on high alert for drunk and impaired drivers.

According to a press release from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department there will be a “Sobriety Saturation” event on St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday, March 17, 2016 from 7:00pm to 3:00am. During Sobriety Saturation events law enforcement focuses considerable effort on identifying drug and alcohol impaired drivers before they are involved in a collision.

With the increased effort by Las Vegas law enforcement, it is important to be aware of the following:

Las Vegas Law Enforcement can Force a Blood Draw with a Warrant

Assembly Bill 67 went into effect late last year.  Assembly Bill 67 requires law enforcement apply for a warrant or other court order directing for the use of reasonable force to obtain a blood sample.

This means if a driver is stopped under the suspicion of drunk or impaired driving, the driver cannot simply refuse to submit to a blood test. The law enforcement officer now has the power to apply for a warrant or court order authorizing the use of reasonable force to obtain a blood sample.

If the driver refuses the blood draw, requires the officer to obtain a warrant, and is later found to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above, the driver will not only be charged with DUI but also have his or her driver’s license revoked for  fifteen months.

Assembly Bill 67 makes it pointless to refuse a blood sample. Once a driver refuses, the officer can request a warrant or court order from a judge. With such high profile events in the Las Vegas area, judges will likely be on call around the clock to sign a warrant.

Drunk or Impaired Driving in Nevada is Dangerous 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 1,0125 people were killed in alcohol related automobile accidents. According to the CDC, the percentage of alcohol related fatalities is slightly lower than the national average, due to law enforcement’s aggressive efforts, including regular sobriety saturation events.

Predicting BAC is Impossible

For legal purposes, intoxication is determined by a driver’s BAC or Blood Alcohol Concentration. In Nevada, a driver age 21 or older can be charged with DUI if he or she has a BAC of 0.08 or higher.

A BAC of 0.08 indicates the driver has 0.8 parts alcohol in his or her blood per 1,000 parts of blood. An individual’s BAC is a result of several factors including the individual’s weight, fat content, metabolism, amount of alcohol consumed, frequency of alcohol consumed, food consumed, amount of time since the last alcohol beverage was consumed, and other factors.

It is impossible to precisely predict whether a beverage will make a person’s BAC reach or exceed 0.08.Many drivers will say they feel fine or do not feel intoxicated with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. It is important to air on the side of caution and not drive after consuming alcohol.

Nevada Imposes Severe Penalties for Drunk Driving

Even for a first-offense DUI, the state of Nevada imposes serious criminal penalties. A conviction for a first offense DUI is punishable by jail time between 48 hours to a maximum of 6 months, or, at least 96 hours of community service.

The court may also impose a fine between $340 and $1,175.00, a mandatory alcohol education course, license suspension,  and the installation of a breath interlock device. The breath interlock device tests BAC before the vehicle can start.

Penalties for second and subsequent DUI are more severe and result in longer jail time and steeper fines.

A conviction for DUI can seriously disrupt aspect of a driver’s professional and personal life. It is better to be safe than sorry this holiday. Designate a sober driving, hire a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft, and refrain from driving. The consequences for a DUI conviction are not worth it.

Conclusion

Joel Mann is an experienced DUI defense attorney located in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has nearly a decade of experienced defending individuals faced with all types of DUI charges, including First DUI, Repeat DUI, DUI and Marijuana, Out of State DUI, and Per Se DUI.

If you are arrested and face DUI charges during the March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day festivities, contact an experienced DUI defense attorney immediately. Joel Mann offers free consultations and will begin building your defense right away. Contact The Law Office of Joel Mann at (702) 474-6266 to schedule a free consultation.

Recent Changes to Nevada’s DUI Laws

Awesome-Whiskey-Keys

Under NRS 484C.160, Nevada’s implied consent law previously allowed a police officer to use “reasonable force” to obtain a warrantless sample of blood from the person who refused to consent.

After the most recent changes in the law, now an officer can only make the request that the driver submit to an evidentiary test if the officer had sufficient reason to believe that the person was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle or vessel while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.  Should a person not provide their consent to an evidentiary test, the law requires the officer to obtain a warrant signed by a Judge.  However, there are dramatic consequences to your license, that you need to be aware of, should you request a warrant first.

The officer can request different types of evidentiary tests depending on the circumstances. Those evidentiary tests include a blood or breath test to determine the alcoholic content of the blood or breath. A blood or urine test can also be used to test to determine the presence of:

  1. a controlled substance;
  2. chemical;
  3. poison;
  4. organic solvent; or
  5. another prohibited substance.

Knowing that the law allowed warrantless and forced blood draws, officers started pushing the envelop by taking blood by force under circumstances that shocked the public. Officers across the country started conducting “No Refusal Weekends” and conducting forced blood draws during DUI checkpoints.

Since judges were not involved in signing warrants, officers continued to find new ways to take blood. The evening news started showing videos of ordinary citizens being strapped down so that officers could oversee forced blood draws. Public outrage over some of the practices started to mount.

Missouri v. McNeely

Despite the public outrage over forced blood draws, the law enforcement community in Nevada and throughout the county was shocked when the United States Supreme Court decided Missouri v. McNeely, 569 U.S. ––––, ––––, 133 S.Ct. 1552, 1568, 185 L.Ed.2d 696 (2013) (plurality opinion). In McNeely, the Court found that warrantless  forced blood draws violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

A warrantless search is reasonable only where it falls within a recognized exception such as consent or exigent circumstances. The McNeely court then rejected the proposition that exigent circumstances resulted merely from the fact that alcohol or drugs would dissipate in the driver’s blood after a DUI arrest.

Prior to the McNeely decision, many judges used the landmark decision in Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966) to support the proposition that the rapid dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream, by itself, creates an emergency that justifies a warrantless blood draw.

Under McNeely, the court held that the court must review of the totality of the circumstances, not just the rapid dissipation of alcohol, in determining whether any exigency existed.

The McNeely Court recognized that there is no justification for applying the exigent circumstances exception when “officers can reasonably obtain a warrant before a blood sample can be drawn without significantly undermining the efficacy of the search.” Id. at ––––, 133 S.Ct. at 1561.

Although the McNeely Court found that the decision should be made on a case-by-case basis considering the totality of the circumstances, the decision did not provide a list of factors to be considered. Because the totality of the circumstances was not litigated in the case, the Court found there were no exigent circumstances and that the warrantless blood draw was unconstitutional. Id.

Byars v. State

Shortly thereafter, the Nevada Supreme Court held that the consent implied by a person’s decision to drive in this State is not voluntary consent to an evidentiary blood test and, thus, existing laws that allow a police officer to obtain a blood sample from a person without a warrant and without voluntary consent are unconstitutional. Byars v. State, 130 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 85, 336 P.3d 939 (2014)).

Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McNeely, the Byars Court concluded that the natural dissipation of alcohol or controlled substances did not, standing alone, create exigent circumstances justifying a warrantless blood draw.

The court further concluded that NRS 484C.160(7) was unconstitutional because it permits officers to use force to take a suspect’s blood without a warrant, valid consent, or another exception to the warrant requirement.

Nevada’s 2015 Assembly Bill 67

In response to the Byars decision, the Nevada Legislature passed 2015 Assembly Bill 67. The new law made several changes to Nevada’s implied consent scheme.

First, 2015 Assembly Bill 67 eliminated the constitutional defect identified by the Nevada Supreme Court by requiring that if a person refuses to submit to an evidentiary blood test at the request of a police officer:

  1. the officer may apply for a warrant or other court order directing the use of reasonable force to obtain the blood sample; and
  2. the person’s driver’s license must be revoked for a certain period.

NRS 484C.210 now provides that if the subject fails to submit to an evidentiary test as requested by a police officer pursuant to NRS 484C.160, the license, permit or privilege to drive of the person must be revoked as provided in NRS 484C.220, and the person is not eligible for a license, permit or privilege to drive for a period of:

  1. One year; or
  2. Three years, if the license, permit or privilege to drive of the person has been revoked during the immediately preceding 7 years for failure to submit to an evidentiary test.

Secondly, 2015 Assembly Bill 67 authorizes the revocation of a person’s license, permit or privilege to drive if an evidentiary test reveals the presence of a detectable amount of a controlled substance or prohibited substance in his or her blood or urine for which he or she did not have a valid prescription or hold a valid registry identification card.

In those cases, the permit or privilege of the person to drive must be revoked as provided in NRS 484C.220 and the person is not eligible for a license, permit or privilege for a period of 90 days.

A driver should be aware that a person whose license is revoked for refusing to submit to an evidentiary test and is found to have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more could be look at a loss of license for the one-year period plus the 90-day period, for a total of 15 months.  Under the current law there is no provision that allows a person to be able to drive for a recognized hardship during the one-year period.

Thirdly, the Nevada legislature corrected an issue that kept being litigated in DUI cases regarding a person asleep in a car when the car had not been driven.  AB 67 states that “a person shall be deemed not to be in actual physical control of a vehicle if:

  1. The person is asleep inside the vehicle;
  2. The person is not in the driver’s seat of the vehicle;
  3. The engine of the vehicle is not running;
  4. The vehicle is lawfully parked; and
  5. Under the facts presented, it is evident that the person could not have driven the vehicle to the location while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a controlled substance or a prohibited substance.

This allows a person to do the right thing and realize before they drive home under the influence that they can fall asleep in the passenger’s seat and not be assumed to have driven or in actual physical control of the car.  The previous law punished a person who did not drive but fell asleep in the car.  The new law has fixed this issue.

Conclusion

The McNeely and Byars decisions have impacted thousands of DUI cases across the State of Nevada involving a warrantless and non-consensual blood draw.  Even felony DUI cases involving serious bodily injury or death were impacted. Lower courts are making totality of the circumstances decisions in a case by case basis with little guidance from the higher courts.

If your case involves a non-consensual warrantless blood draw, then find out more about how recent decisions will impact the admissibility of the evidentiary blood test in your case. Contact Joel Mann, an experienced criminal defense attorney focused on drunk driving defense. Contact Joel Mann’s office at (702) 474-6266 to schedule a free consultation to discuss the case either over the phone or in the office.

 

Las Vegas Arrests on New Year’s Eve 2015-16

iStock_000003177126SmallIf you are coming to Las Vegas to celebrate on New Year Eve you need to be aware of the dangers in your revelry.  The amount of tourist traveling to nightclubs and gentlemen’s club will substantially increase as many people come to Las Vegas to ring in the New Year. Many club-hoppers, who overindulge in drugs and alcohol, make bad decisions. The loud music, dancing, and crowds often influence people take chances they wouldn’t normally take.  Make sure you do not put yourself another statistic.

Law enforcement officers with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (“LVMPD”) use this opportunity to crack down on drug crimes and rack up arrests for a variety of related offenses, including DUI.

If you going to a nightclub in Las Vegas on the evening of December 31, 2015, or the early morning hours of January 1, 2016, you should expect local law enforcement officers to be out in full force.

In some cases, overly aggressive bouncers and security officers work with law enforcement to help them arrest a patron of the club. An arrest for using or selling any controlled substance comes with serious consequences under Nevada law.

It is important for you to recognize that the Las Vegas nightclubs have staff watching at every location, especially the bathrooms.  Joel Mann has had many drug cases originate from club staff waiting in the bathroom for any signs of drug use.  Once they suspect you of using drugs they will take you into custody and bring you down to the casino’s holding room, awaiting for Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to arrive.

The most commonly used drugs in Las Vegas nightclubs include: marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, GHB and heroin.

Defenses to drug crimes after an arrest in a Las Vegas nightclub can include:

  1. The law enforcement officer conducted an illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution that should lead to the suppression of the evidence at trial;
  2. The law enforcement officer or someone acting in cooperation with the officer manufactured the crime and entrapped the defendant into using or selling drugs when the defendant was not otherwise predisposed to commit the crime; or
  3. The defendant did not actually or consecutively possess the drug because he didn’t know of its presence.

Knowledge often becomes in issue in drug cases in area nightclubs because another person could secretly plant the drugs on the defendant in order to avoid detection.

The penalties and punishments for drug possession in Las Vegas, Nevada, depend on a host of factors including the type of narcotics possessed, the quantity of the narcotics, and the surrounding circumstances.

Under Nevada law, a criminal charge of selling drugs is classified as either a Category C felony or a Category B felony depending on the type of drugs sold. The maximum sentence for these offenses includes a lengthy prison sentence and stiff fines.

For possession with intent to sale, the offense is classified as a Category D felony.

Simple possession of a controlled substance is a Category E felony in Nevada that carries with it one to four years in prison. For first time offenders charged with a possession charge, it is usually possible to avoid any incarceration by completing counseling and probation.

Drug crimes involving marijuana involve an entirely different set of penalties.

The top nightclubs in Las Vegas, Nevada, include:

  • Bellagio:
    • The Bank
    • Hyde
  • The Cromwell:
    • Drai’s
  • Delano:
    • FDR
  • Hard Rock Hotel:
    • Vanity
    • Body English
  • Luxor:
    • Savile Row
    • LAX
  • Mandalay Bay:
    • Foundation Room
    • LIGHT
  • Mirage:
    • 1OAK
  • Palms:
    • Rain
    • Moon
    • Ghostbar
  • Paris:
    • Chateau
  • Planet Hollywood:
    • Extra Lounge
  • SLS:
    • LiFE
  • The Sayers Club
    • Foxtail
  • Wynn:
    • XS
    • Tryst
    • Surrender
  • Venetian:
    • Tao

Additional Resources

Statistics on New Year’s Eve Arrests in Las Vegas – Each year the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) releases final statistics on the number of arrests made on New Year’s Eve. The 2014-2015 New Year’s Eve celebration stood out as one of the most orderly within recent history with 19 people being booked into the Clark County Detention Center on various felony and misdemeanor offenses. Two other people received Class II citations from within the Strip corridor. The Downtown Area Command, which covers the Fremont Street Experience, reported 3 arrests. Only 9 DUI arrests occurred within the Metro’s jurisdiction. By comparison, for the New Year’s Eve celebration four years earlier, 159 people were arrested including 68 arrests for DUI by the police department and another 48 arrests for DUI by the Nevada Highway Patrol.

Conclusion

Joel Mann is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has extensive experience defending clients charged with drug and alcohol related offenses. He is experienced with the tactics used by officers with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in drug cases in area nightclubs during New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Joel Mann also knows the importance of obtaining the surveillance video of the incident when it is likely to be helpful to the case. In many cases the surveillance video might help establish important defenses to the charges.

For your New Year’s Celebration, keep in mind that area police will be out in full force. If an arrest occurs, contact Joel Mann to discuss your case and important defense to protect your good name after a criminal charge is made against you. For charges related to drug crimes or DUI, Joel Mann has the experience to help you fight for the best result in your case.

Metro Police Sure to Be Looking for Drunk Drivers in Las Vegas over Halloween Weekend

Police

Las Vegas understands the perils of drinking and driving during Halloween holiday all too well. Numerous accidents in recent years have claimed the lives of innocent people and led to offenders convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) to be sentenced to decades in prison.

In 2012, a 42-year-old man pleaded guilty to felony DUI involving death after his car struck and killed a 12-year-old girl in the area of Sandstone Bluffs Drive and Wesley Lake Place on Halloween in 2011. While that man’s blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.06 was below the legal limit, he admitted to taking prescription pills before the incident.

Two years later, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to between seven and 20 years in prison for a DUI resulting in death after his truck struck and killed a 17-year-old mother who was on her way home from trick-or-treating with her 2-year-old son and her fiancé’s aunt and uncle. In that case, the man had a BAC of 0.103 percent, and investigators estimated that his truck was traveling at least 77 mph in a 45 mph zone near Ann Road and Coleman Street.

Both of these men are now facing up to 20 years in prison for their crimes. This is not to mention the entire of lifetime of guilt they will personally have to carry even upon their respective releases.

In recent years, Halloween has only grown in its status as one of the major drinking holidays. Considering that the evening is also a time when many children and other minors are openly roaming suburban streets as part of trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods, people who get behind the wheels of automobiles after consuming alcohol are only adding to the likelihood that they will cause or be involved in a tragedy.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) has not yet announced any specific times or locations for increased DUI enforcement efforts, but such efforts seem all but a certainty based on years past. If you are out anywhere in the Las Vegas area with plans to consume alcohol during Halloween weekend, you will want to make sure that you have alternative plans for your return home besides driving.

LVMPD not only sets up DUI checkpoints in one area of Las Vegas, but police also use “saturation teams” to patrol “hot spots” by drawing additional officers from area commands. Even if a person is fortunate enough to be arrested for drunk driving without having been in an accident resulting in the death of another person, DUI charges can still cause an enormous number of other problems that can include possible imprisonment and fines.

If you are arrested for allegedly driving drunk anywhere in Clark County, you should seek the help of an experienced Las Vegas DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Police officers are under additional pressure to file more drunk driving charges during these holidays, and this can occasionally lead to arrests being made without probable cause or sufficient evidence of intoxication.

DUI Charges Are Not Always the Only Problem

pulled over cop lightsWhen people are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in the Las Vegas area, they also frequently receive tickets for the alleged offenses that led to reasons for the traffic stops. In most cases, these citations for alleged offenses such as improper lane change or a broken taillight pale in comparison to the DUI arrest and ultimately get dismissed as part of a plea bargain.

However, there are other cases in which a DUI may be just one of several serious criminal charges an alleged offender is facing. For example, a 43-year-old man was charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in substantial bodily harm after an alleged hit-and-run accident on September 6.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the alleged drunk driver was attempting to park his truck at a liquor store on South Rainbow Boulevard when he ran the vehicle onto the sidewalk and struck a 37-year-old employee standing in front of the establishment. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) Lieutenant Jeff Goodwin told the Review-Journal that the victim was pinned up against the building.

The alleged offender then backed into an unoccupied sport utility vehicle in the parking lot before driving away on Rainbow where he was forced to stop when police blocked his path. The victim was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

In Nevada, a DUI resulting in death or substantial bodily harm is classified as a category B felony, but failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury to or the death of a person is also a category B felony. Some of the other serious charges that people arrested for DUI in Clark County also face include, but are not limited to:

  • Possession of a Controlled Substance
  • Driving While License Suspended
  • Reckless Driving
  • Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
  • Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

If you were charged with another crime in addition to a recent DUI arrest, it is in your best interest to seek the help of a knowledgeable Las Vegas DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you have no prior criminal record, a prosecutor is highly likely to use any extra criminal charges to seek the harshest possible sentence against you. Working with an experienced attorney will give you the best chance of having the charges reduced or possibly even dismissed.

Don’t End Your Summer with DUI Arrest: Las Vegas Police to Use Checkpoints, Saturation Patrols This Weekend

SobrietyCheck

Whereas Memorial Day is the first major holiday weekend of the year in the United States that is frequently considered the start of summer, Labor Day is generally viewed as the last holiday weekend of the season when the days are their longest. As a result, many people throughout the greater Las Vegas area will be looking forward to one last outdoor barbecue or one more late night out that probably involves more than one alcoholic beverage.

The inclination to relax and have additional drinks increases the likelihood of motorists driving under the influence (DUI). As a result, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) has already stated that it is planning sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols throughout the Valley for two days of the holiday weekend.

While the number of total DUI arrests by the LVMPD has seen a steady decline since 2012, do not think that this means police officers are not still actively looking for drunk drivers. This past February, Lt. Todd Raybuck of the LVMPD told KNPR-FM that a large majority of DUI arrests are southern Nevada citizens, with officers frequently catching people driving drunk between the Vegas Strip and valley neighborhoods.

It is in your best interest to plan ahead before any activities that will involve alcohol consumption this weekend. Try to arrange a ride or cab if you will be drinking, but it can be even better if you are able to completely stay off the road. Even if you are not planning on drinking, you will still share the road with others who probably have.

The combined efforts of checkpoints and saturations patrols will increase police presence to help stop more alleged drunk drivers. DUI checkpoints are referred to in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) as “administrative roadblocks.” Under NRS 484B.570, such roadblocks must satisfy the following requirements:

  • The roadblock must be established at a point on the highway clearly visible to approaching traffic at a distance of not less than 100 yards in either direction;
  • A sign must be placed near the centerline of the highway at the entrance to the roadblock displaying the word “Stop” in letters of sufficient size and luminosity to be readable at a distance of not less than 50 yards in the direction affected by the administrative roadblock, either in daytime or darkness;
  • At least one red flashing or intermittent light, on and burning, must be placed at the side of the highway at the entrance to the roadblock, clearly visible to the oncoming traffic at a distance of not less than 100 yards; and
  • Warning signs must be placed at the side of the highway, containing any wording of sufficient size and luminosity to warn the oncoming traffic that a “police stop” lies ahead, and a burning beam light, flare or lantern must be placed near the signs to attract the attention of the traffic to the signs (the signs must be placed at a distance of not less than one-quarter of a mile from the entrance to the roadblock if it is in a rural area or 700 feet from the entrance to the roadblock if it is in an urban area).

Saturation patrols, on the other hand, involve large numbers of officers being deployed to specific roadways. Between the obvious checkpoints and the visible increased police presence of saturation patrols, the hope is that many people are discouraged from even getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

If you are planning on drinking this Labor Day weekend, the one surefire way that you can absolutely guarantee you will not be arrested for DUI is to simply not drive drunk. Should you have anything to drink, either stay where you are or arrange to have somebody pick you up.

In the event you have been arrested because you misjudged the amount of alcohol you consumed or you believe the breath test used by police officers produced a false positive, you should immediately contact an experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney. An arrest for drunk driving is not the same as a conviction, and a lawyer can fully investigate your case to determine whether a checkpoint was illegally set up or some other law enforcement error could result in your charges being dismissed.

Increase in Fatalities Likely Means Increase in Las Vegas DUI Enforcement, Arrests

Sobriety Checkpoint

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) set up a driving under the influence (DUI) checkpoint at Las Vegas Boulevard and Windmill Lane on July 14, the same night that a Nevada Traffic Safety Committee meeting addressed an increase in traffic-related fatalities in the Las Vegas Valley. According to KVVU-TV, there have already been 100 such fatalities in 2015 after there were 77 in 2014, and the Valley has seen seven bicyclist fatalities after none were killed at the same point last year.

Two nights before the checkpoint and safety meeting, two people were killed in a five-car accident on North Lamb Boulevard near Interstate 15 in Las Vegas when a pickup truck traveling at speeds that witnesses told the Nevada Highway Patrol may have been going 100 mph ran a red light and slammed into the other vehicles. The Associated Press reported that the truck’s driver, 26-year-old Arian Galindo, was arrested and faces felony DUI charges after a 52-year-old man and a 34-year-old man were killed in the accident.

A little more than two weeks before that crash, 40-year-old Abraham Lebron Jr. was arrested on suspicion of DUI involving death and hit-and-run after striking and killing a bicyclist in Las Vegas on June 26. According to the Las Vegas Sun, Lebron Jr. fled but turned himself in after striking a bicyclist who was crossing Sahara Avenue at Mohawk Street.

A first-time DUI arrest in Nevada is typically classified as a misdemeanor, and a conviction could possibly result in a maximum sentence of six months in jail. However, this becomes a category B felony under Nevada Revised Statute § 484C.430 if the DUI results in death or substantial bodily harm to another party. A conviction for this offense is punishable by a minimum of at least two years up to 20 years in prison as well as a possible fine of at least $2,000 up to $5,000.

Additionally, an alleged offender could fact category A felony vehicular homicide charges if he or she has three previous DUI convictions and causes the death of another person while driving drunk. In these cases, alleged offenders could be sentenced to 25 years up to life in prison with no possibility of paroles until at least 10 years of the prison term have been served.

The recent high-profile fatal crashes in the Las Vegas area means that officers throughout Clark County will be more aggressively seeking to keep drunk drivers off the road in hoped of reducing DUIs causing death or serious bodily injury. Motorists in and around the valley should fully expect more checkpoints as part of a concentrated effort to apprehend alleged DUI offenders.

It is important for any person who is charged with vehicular homicide to understand that if alcohol consumption is proven by a preponderance of the evidence, then he or she may be able to use the affirmative defense that he or she consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol after driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle, and before his or her blood or breath was tested, that caused his or her breath to have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. An alleged offender must file and serve on the prosecuting attorney a written notice of intent to use this defense at least 14 days before the trial, hearing, or other time as the court may direct.

All drivers in Clark County should always avoid drinking and driving, but they should also be prepared for local police to be a little more eager to place alleged offenders under arrest for any signs of possible impairment. Do not assume that a drunk driving arrest is an automatic conviction. An experienced Las Vegas DUI attorney can investigate all of the circumstances involved and fight to possibly have criminal charges reduced or dismissed.

Las Vegas Law Enforcement to Focus on DUI Until After Super Bowl Weekend

024-0904131528-suspicionlessCheckpointUntil February 2, the Monday after Super Bowl weekend, drivers in the Las Vegas area can expect to see increased checkpoints checking for drunk drivers.  The ramp-up is part of a coordinated effort, and will be the first of six planned increases in patrols over a set period of time in 2015.

The Super Bowl campaign is part of a new “Nevada Joining Forces” program administered by the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety. OTS received a federal grant, which it is passing down to state and local law enforcement agencies for traffic safety campaigns. The Nevada Highway Patrol received one of these grants, and is using the funds for both a public service announcement campaign and to pay for the increase checkpoints

It is actually the third Joining Forces DUI campaign since Thanksgiving of 2014. Future campaigns will focus around holidays. Nevada Highway Patrol Loy Hixson told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that officers typically make about 60 to 70 DUI and DUI-related arrests on Super Bowl weekend.  He said it had traditionally been one of the less busy holiday seasons.

DUI checkpoints may seem daunting, but there are actually a number of regulations under Nevada Revised Statutes 484B.570 that law enforcement must follow in setting them up. There must be a “Police Stop” warning sign at least a quarter of a mile from the checkpoint. At least flashing light at the roadblock must be visible from at least 100 yards away, and the roadblock itself must be visible from at least 100 yards. A stop sign must be visible from 50 yards. If an arrest results from a checkpoint where police failed to follow any of these rules, the arrest may be suppressed, which could lead to charges being dismissed.

The law allows police to briefly stop drivers at the checkpoint. All other traffic stops require reasonable suspicion, which means an articulable set of facts that would cause an objective person to believe criminal activity is afoot. If a driver approaches a roadblock and then turns around and drives the other way, that fact alone does not warrant reasonable suspicion to make a stop. Such a traffic stop may be suppressed after a motion from your attorney.

Even if a driver is arrested at a checkpoint, there are a number of possible defenses. For one, you may still refuse a standardized field sobriety test, breath test, urine test or blood test at a DUI checkpoint. Second, whether the officer was required to get a warrant as the current Nevada’s implied consent law grants a person the right to refuse all testing unless the officer obtained a warrant. Third, whether the SFST may have been improperly administered. Finally, was he equipment in a chemical test properly cleaned or calibrated.

Drivers in Las Vegas should be wary of checkpoints until February 2. If arrested, though, it does not mean a conviction, especially with the assistance of a dedicated Las Vegas DUI lawyer.

Supreme Court Hears Case on Whether Officer’s Mistake of Law Justifies Traffic Stop

Traffic ViolationThe U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday on Heien v. North Carolina, a case involving whether police officers can justify a traffic stop due to a reasonable belief of the law that is inaccurate. The case could have implications

In the case, an officer in North Carolina pulled over a driver who only had one brake light working. The brake light malfunction was cited as the reason for the stop. During the stop, the officer searched the car and found cocaine. The driver was charged with cocaine trafficking and cited for the broken brake light.

However, North Carolina law only requires a driver to have “a stop lamp.” It is not, therefore, against the law to driver with only one brake light working. The officer had made the stop on the basis of a mistaken belief about what the law says.

The case was appealed in state court. The appeals court found that the mistaken belief that the driver had committed a traffic violation did not warrant “objectively reasonable justification” for a traffic stop. The North Carolina Supreme Court disagreed, saying the officer’s mistake was “reasonable” and therefore justified reasonable suspicion.

The matter before the U.S. Supreme Court now is whether a perceived violation of the law can be sufficient grounds to give officers reasonable suspicion to conduct a stop. The implications of their decision could extend to whether a similar mistake could give probable cause to conduct a search or make an arrest.

If the Court rules that a mistake in law can lead to a reasonable suspicion, traffic stops would be significantly affected, as demonstrated by the case Heien is based upon. Traffic laws are complex, and it would be easy for a police officer to make a mistake about vehicle requirements or any of the other myriad laws that regulate motor vehicles and how they are operated under the law.

A traffic stop can lead to drug arrests, DUI arrests and many other criminal charges.

The implications may extend beyond traffic stops, though. Gun rights groups filed a brief siding with the defendant, in part because weapons laws are similarly technical and could lead to searches and stops based on officers’ mistakes on the law.

The case may have profound implications on police’s ability to make stops that often lead to arrests on more serious charges. According to observers, the justices seemed split on their leanings during oral arguments.

 

Nevada Considering Performance-Based Test for DUI – Marijuana

CopLightsMembers of the Nevada Legislature are currently considering changing policy for determining when a person is considered too impaired by marijuana to drive. A committee of state legislators voted in favor of moving forward with implementing performance-based tests for marijuana, instead of testing the blood or urine for metabolites and other chemicals associated with cannabis use.

Currently, Nevada Revised Statutes § 484C.110 sets policy for driving while under the influence of marijuana. Under the present law, a person is considered per se intoxicated if he or she has 10 ng per milliliter in the urine or 2 ng per milliliter in the blood for marijuana, or 15 ng per milliliter in the urine or 5 ng per milliliter in the blood for marijuana metabolite. A person with this amount of substance in his or her system is considered “per se” intoxicated, meaning he or she is intoxicated despite to which he or she has full use of his or her faculties.

The Advisory Commission of the Administration of Justice’s Subcommittee on the Medical Use of Marijuana, chaired by Sen. Tick Segerbloom of Las Vegas, voted 9-3 to request a draft modeled after the law in California. Under California law, it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana to the extent that a person in unable to act with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, this effects-based approach has been adopted by 33 states.

The proposal would better reflect the reality of marijuana impairment. THC, the most significant impairing chemical in marijuana, does not operate in the same way as alcohol, in which BAC has a very heavy correlation with level of intoxication. Different people’s bodies process THC in different ways. People develop a tolerance to THC. It also remains in the system for a much longer time than alcohol, often long after the user stops feeling effects.

This is especially critical for the many people who use medical cannabis to treat a condition, which is legal in Nevada.  A person who ingests medical cannabis may have sufficient THC in their system to violate DUI-marijuana laws for hours or more after no longer experiencing any type of real impairment of their faculties.

The Nevada Legislature will consider changing the law during their regular 2015 session. It is expected to have some pushback from law enforcement and prosecutors.

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