Think Like a Lawyer:  DUI Defenses

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, don’t give up on a powerful defense. This article will explain key DUI defenses that you can discuss with your lawyer to plan an attack against the prosecution’s evidence:

Reasonable Suspicion for the Stop. Examine the reason for the stop.  Did the officer observe a violation of the law?  Or did he pull you over because of a guess or a prejudice?  The officer must have reasonable suspicion that the driver or passenger have committed, is committing or will commit a crime.  Reasonable suspicion is more than a hunch and has to be based on specific facts.  If the officer can’t justify the stop, then your attorney can file a Motion to Suppress the evidence.  If the motion is successful, the prosecution will typically not have the evidence available to convict you.

Don’t Assume the Blood Alcohol Tests Are Irrefutable. A test is intimidating evidence, but there are still ways to undermine the reliability of this evidence against you:

  • Undermine the reliability of the testing procedures.
    • Did the administrator of the test have the proper training?
    • Were the testing procedures followed with exactness?
    • Was the device functioning properly?
    • Were there results that were inconsistent with each other?
    • Did they observe you prior to the DUI?
    • Were you smoking, eating, drinking, burping, vomiting, etc. prior to or during the test?
  • Rising Blood Alcohol. The relevant point in time for blood alcohol level is at the moment you are driving.  If your blood alcohol level goes up after you are arrested because the alcohol is absorbing into the blood stream, then you have an argument that the test is not accurate to the level while you were driving.
    • The amount of food that is consumed, the gender of the driver, and other factors may play into whether the blood alcohol defense can be credibly asserted
  • Medical Problem Defense. The key point here is whether you have a medical problem that would render the results inaccurate.
    • Do you have a medical condition such as asthma or emphysema that affects your lung capacity and ability to blow into a machine?

Fight the Officer’s Observations and Field Sobriety Tests.

  • The key here is to undermine the validity of the tests. Do you have a medical condition?  Were there weather conditions?  Did the officer explain and administer the tests properly?
  • tests, or if correct instructions were not given, then you can question the reliability of the conclusions drawn from the tests.

Don’t give up.  There are many possible defenses in your case, so consult with your attorney.

 

 

 

Visitation Rights of Grandparents in California

Are you a grandparent who adores your grandchildren and is concerned about visitation in the event of divorce?  This article will help you understand your rights as a grandparent.

  1. Can a grandparent ask the court for visitation?

Yes, a grandparent can ask the court for reasonable visitation.  In order to grant that request, a court has to evaluate two factors:  1) there has to be a bond already in existence between grandparent and grandchild, such that the visitation is in the best interest of the child, and 2) the court has to balance the best interest of the child in having visitation with the parents’ right to make decisions about their child.

  1. Can the grandparents take action to get visitation if the parents are still married?

Generally, no, the court will not order visitation for a grandparent if the parents are still married.  The exceptions to this general rule include:

  • Grandchild has been adopted by a stepparent
  • Child does not live with either parent
  • One of the parents joins the grandparents in their petition for visitation
  • A parent’s whereabouts are unknown
  • The parents are living separately
  1. Where can I find more information about grandparent custody rights? 

California Family Code section 3100-3105 can provide more information about grandparent custody rights.  You could also consult an experienced family law firm, such as David Knecht Law.

  1. How does a grandparent ask for visitation in court? What is the process?

A grandparent can file a petition in court to ask the court to order visitation with a grandchild. In general, the first step would be to find out if there is an existing case already open or whether the grandparent needs to start the case themselves. The next step would be to file the appropriate paperwork and serve those on the parents. Subsequently, a hearing or mediation may be scheduled. When the judge makes a decision, he or she will sign a court order.

A grandparent can add security, love, and wisdom to a grandchild’s life.  If you are a grandparent who is concerned about securing the legal right to visit your loved one, contact a firm that is experienced in family law, David Knecht Law.

 

Alimony: Federal Tax Code Changes

There’s a change to the tax code that could impact you.  If your divorce is final after December 31, 2018, then alimony will no longer be deductible in your federal taxes if you are the person paying the alimony.  It will no longer be included in your gross income if you are the person receiving alimony.

Where does the new rule come from?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), signed into law in 2017 will end the alimony-payer deduction and the payee’s income inclusion for agreements executed in after 2018.

Is there a “grandfather clause”?

Yes, alimony agreements executed on or before December 31, 2018, are grandfathered in.  Also, if you later modify an agreement that was executed prior to December 31, 2018, then you can choose to stay grandfathered in or adopt the new rule.

How is the new rule different than the old rule?

The old rule was that the alimony was tax deductible and the money paid to the spouse was included in income.  The new rule is that the party paying alimony no longer gets the deduction and the person receiving it now doesn’t have to report those amounts as income.

Does this change California State tax?

No, the new rule relates to federal taxation but not state taxes.  Your California state tax rules will remain the same.

What’s the practical effect of this change?

The general impact is that overall more taxes will likely be paid because previously the payor spouse received a tax break through a reduction of their gross income, and the receiving spouse was at a lower income. For each couple, though, the practical impact of this may vary.  There may be other strategies that can be employed that have tax advantages to both parties, so consult with a Fairfield lawyer to find out the best options for your particular circumstances.