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About Los Angeles Criminal Law Center

Los Angeles Criminal Law Center is sponsored by The Rodriguez Law Group, a criminal defense firm serving Los Angeles, CA and the surrounding areas. The Rodriguez Law Group was founded by Ambrosio E. Rodriguez, a former prosecutor with over 18 years experience. During his time as a prosecutor, Mr. Rodriguez handled serious criminal matters including sex crimes and death penalty cases. The information on this site is intended to assist anyone going through the criminal justice process.

Vince Vaughn Arrested at Los Angeles DUI Checkpoint

Drinking and driving will land you in serious legal trouble, even if you are one of Hollywood’s most notable stars. Wedding Crashers actor Vince Vaughn was recently arrested on suspicion of DUI in Los Angeles. The arrest reportedly occurred after Vaughn drove through a “zero tolerance” DUI checkpoint in Manhattan Beach shortly after 1 AM.

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal?

Yes. Getting behind the wheel and driving subjects you to laws of the state of California. California Vehicle Code Section 2814.2(a) VC explains that drivers “shall stop and submit to a sobriety checkpoint inspection conducted by a law enforcement agency when signs and displays are posted requiring that stop.”

How are these checkpoints legal? In most situations, police have to have reasonable suspicion to believe you’ve broken the law to pull you over. However, courts have held that dedicated sobriety checkpoints are an exception to this rule. As long as police follow strict state and federal guidelines and provide sufficient warning that a checkpoint in place, any stops they make are lawful.

In order to be legal, checkpoints must satisfy all of the following requirements:

  • Criteria for stopping motorists must be neutral
  • Checkpoints must be located in a reasonable place
  • Police must take proper safety precautions to reduce risk of injury
  • The duration of a stop must be in good judgment
  • Drivers cannot be detained for an excessive period of time
  • Supervisory officers are obligated to make all operational decisions
  • Checkpoints must be advertised to the public in advance, and
  • Checkpoints must appear official and professional.

As long as police follow these guidelines, traffic stops will be lawful.

What Evidence Can Be Used to Support a DUI Arrest?

You can be arrested on suspicion of DUI even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is not above the legal limit of .08 percent. California provides police with the authority to make DUI arrests if there is sufficient evidence to show that a driver is incapable of driving a vehicle safely.

Evidence that may be used to support a DUI arrest include:

Chemical Testing: Chemical testing results (e.g., breathalyzer, blood test) can be used to show that there are drugs or alcohol in your system. These results do not necessarily have to show that these levels exceed the legal limit. Any amount of a mind-altering substance in your system could prevent you from driving safely. These tests are often used in conjunction with circumstantial evidence.

Failed Field Sobriety Tests: Field sobriety tests are used to gauge a driver’s ability to perform tasks that a sober person should be able to do easily. If you do not perform these tasks well, an officer can use those results to show that you were under the influence.

Communication: The way you interact with an officer during your stop is important. If you do not make eye contact, slur your words, or have trouble following the conversation, police can point to that to prove that you were intoxicated.

Smell or Presence of Alcohol: If an officer smells alcohol on your breath or sees an open container in your vehicle, this could also be used as evidence against you in a DUI case.

Consequences of a DUI in Los Angeles

What kind of consequences will Vince Vaughn face if he is charged and convicted of DUI? The answer depends on how many prior DUIs he has.

First-Time DUI: Most first-time DUI offenses are misdemeanors, punishable by:

  • 3-5 years of probation
  • More than $2,000 in fines
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 6 months
  • Mandatory completion of DUI school or alcohol counseling, and/or
  • Up to 6 months in jail.

Second DUI: Most second-time DUIs are also misdemeanors, punishable by:

  • No less than 96 hours, but no more than 1 year, in jail
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 2 years
  • Probation; and/or
  • DUI school or counseling.

Third DUI: Third-time DUIs can also be charged as misdemeanors. Punishments can include:

  • No less than 120 days, but no more than 1 year, in jail
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 3 years
  • Probation; and/or
  • DUI school or counseling.

Subsequent DUIs, or DUIs involving certain aggravating factors, will be charged as felonies. The consequences can include serious time in prison, the loss of your ability to drive, and staggering fines.

Get the Help of an Experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney

Have you been arrested on suspicion of DUI? You need the help of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will determine the best strategy for defending you against criminal charges. This may involve proving that the initial traffic stop was illegal or undermining the validity of the state’s evidence against you. Call the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center to schedule a free consultation.

Street Racers Facing Murder Charges for Deadly Accident

Street racing has become incredibly popular across Los Angeles. Since The Fast and the Furious hit theaters in 2001, more than 180 people have been killed in residential Los Angeles street racing accidents. Despite the known dangers of the practice, young drivers across the city continue to make Los Angeles roads more dangerous.

The drivers who decide to race are not the only ones who put their lives and safety on the line. Unfortunately, anyone else who happens to be on the road at the time of a race is in danger. Most recently, two young boys – ages 6 and 8 – lost their lives because two young men felt the urge to race one another down a street in Perris.

Deadly Perris Street Racing Crash

According to reports, two cousins, Ricardo Zuniga and Josue Leyva-Gallegos, were both stopped at a traffic light in Perris on May 15. The pair chatted through open windows and agreed to meet back at Zuniga’s home to hang out. As the light prepared to turn green, Gallegos turned to his cousin and said “you ready?”

As soon as the light changed, both men hit the gas and sped off down the road. Driving at high speeds is dangerous enough. Driving at high speeds on the wrong side of the road, which is what Zuniga was doing, is even more dangerous. As the men raced in one direction, a young man driving his two young brothers home from school in a Nissan Versa approached. Zuniga, who was driving against traffic on the wrong side of the road, was unable to avoid a collision. The two young boys were killed in the crash and the older brother was hospitalized with serious injuries.

Charges for Street Racing Fatalities

The two street racers fled the scene immediately. Police investigating the crash were ultimately able to locate both men and arrest them on suspicion of street racing. Zuniga was charged with two counts of murder, as well as driving without a license and proof of insurance, while Gallegos was charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. The consequences of their actions may be more severe since they fled the scene.

Murder vs. Vehicular Manslaughter

One of the cousins was charged with murder, while the other was charged with vehicular manslaughter. Why? Both men are equally responsible for the deaths of two young boys, but the roles they played in the accident were not identical. As a result, they face unique criminal charges that are very specific to their actions.


Zuniga was driving a car against traffic on the wrong side of the road when he collided with the Nissan Versa. It is this specific crash that caused two young boys to lose their lives. Since Zuniga operated the vehicle that caused the fatal crash, he is facing criminal charges for murder.

In California, murder is defined in Penal Code 187 PC as the “unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” Murder charges are generally split into two different categories: first-degree and second-degree.

First-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 25-year-to-life in prison, generally involves willful and deliberate acts of murder that are planned in advance.

Second-degree murder, which carries a sentence of 15-years-to-life in prison, generally involves willful acts that result in another person’s death, but that are not planned out or premeditated. In other words, another person is killed because of actions that are so incredibly reckless and dangerous that you should know that death is a likely consequence.

Zuniga will likely be charged with second-degree murder for this actions. He did not get into the car and drive it with the specific intent to kill those young boys. However, he did willfully drive a car at high speeds on the wrong side of the road. He should have known that this behavior was very dangerous and likely to result in death.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Gallegos was charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. While he was not driving the specific car that was involved in the fatal crash, he played an important role in the accident. Had he not been racing his cousin, the crash would likely have never happened.

In California, vehicular manslaughter is defined in Penal Code 192(c) PC to mean causing the death of another person while “driving a vehicle in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence.” If the unlawful act is a felony, murder charges can be substituted.

Since street racing is a misdemeanor offense in California, Gallegos can only face charges for vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. If convicted, he can face up to 6 years in a California state prison.

Fighting Criminal Charges in Los Angeles

Street racing is incredibly dangerous and can have devastating consequences. While the act of street racing itself is only a misdemeanor offense in California, unintended accidents can have life-changing results.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a street racing accident, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as you can. You have the right to defend yourself, and the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with our skilled Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys today.

Drinking and driving in Los Angeles can have serious consequences. This is true even if you are involved in a single car accident that involves no reported bodily injuries. Rapper Mac Miller recently learned this the hard way after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

According to reports, Miller was driving his SUV in Hollywood Hills when he lost control of the vehicle, hit a curb, and struck a utility pole. The accident caused significant damage to the area and, fearing the consequences, Miller and his two passengers fled the scene on foot. Police promptly found Miller and placed him under arrest for drunk driving.

Driving Under the Influence in Los Angeles

There are two ways you can be arrested for driving under the influence (“DUI”) in Los Angeles.

Per Se Intoxication

The first is if chemical testing shows that your blood alcohol level (“BAC”) exceeds the legal limit. For adults, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if your BAC exceeds .08 percent. If you are driving a commercial vehicle, your BAC cannot exceed .04 percent. Drivers who haven’t yet reached the legal drinking age of 21 cannot drive if their BAC exceeds .01 percent. Chemical tests can include roadside breath tests and/or more conclusive blood tests.

Reasonable Suspicion

The second way you can be arrested for DUI is if police have reason to believe that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, you can be arrested for DUI even if your BAC does not exceed the legal limit. This type of DUI is left solely to the discretion of the arresting officer.

In order to make an arrest for this type of DUI, however, police must have probable cause to believe that it is unsafe for you to drive. Police may have cause to believe that you are under the influence if you:

  • Fail field sobriety tests
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Cannot communicate effectively
  • Or the vehicle smell like drugs or alcohol
  • Have slurred speech
  • Cannot keep your eyes open
  • Cannot balance or stand still
  • Have drugs and/or alcohol in plain sight in the vehicle.

Police will thoroughly document why they executed the traffic stop as well as why they believe you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The state will rely heavily on the officer’s report and testimony during your case.

Consequences of a DUI in Los Angeles

How serious is a DUI arrest in California? The answer will depend on the specific circumstances of each case. Absent any aggravating factors, most first and second DUI offenses will be charged as misdemeanors. Misdemeanor DUIs are punishable by time in jail, significant fines, probation, and the suspension of your driver’s license. The more times you’re convicted of DUI, the harsher the consequences.

  • First DUI Conviction: maximum of 6 months in jail, $1,000 in fines, and the loss of your driver’s license for 6 months
  • Second & Third DUI Conviction: maximum of 1 year in jail, $1,000 in fines, and the loss of your driver’s license for 1 year.

If DUI results in serious bodily harm or if an offender has multiple DUI convictions, the crime may be charged as a felony. In California, felony DUI is punishable by between 16 months and 3 years in prison, $25,000 in criminal fines, and the possible revocation of your driving privileges.

Defending DUI Charges in Los Angeles

Just because you’re arrested on suspicion of DUI does not mean that you’ll be charged, tried, and convicted of the crime. You have the right to defend yourself by presenting arguments on your behalf. These arguments should help to explain your behavior and/or undermine the prosecution’s case against you. Defenses that may be helpful in a Los Angeles DUI case include:

  • You were not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol
  • Police did not administer chemical test or field sobriety tests correctly
  • There is no proper chain of custody of the evidence in your case
  • Police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle
  • You have been falsely accused
  • The results of the chemical testing are inaccurate or flawed, or
  • Your Constitutional rights were violated in some way.

If your rights were violated the state should not be allowed to benefit from its own misconduct. Your attorney can file a motion to suppress any evidence that has been tainted by the state’s unlawful actions.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys

Have you been arrested on suspicion of DUI in Los Angeles? Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center to schedule a free consultation. Our skilled Los Angeles criminal lawyers will review your case, explain your rights, and devise a strategy to protect you from the consequences of your arrest. The state will start to build its case against you immediately, so it is important to call us now.