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Drugs and DUI in California

Is it possible in California to get charged with drunk driving (aka “driving under the influence”) if you’re high on drugs instead of intoxicated on alcohol? Absolutely. I’m guessing that that isn’t widely known given the fact that I snapped the above picture on April 21, 2019 on Highway 99 in Merced County, California. Weirdly, there are several laws that apply here. I’m going to mention four of them. First, there is California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f). It’s short and sweet. It specifically says: “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle”. You would think that this would be clear enough to not need another law, but you’d be wrong. The problem that arises under Section 23152(f), however, is that there isn’t a specific standard by which “under the influence” of a drug can be proven like it can be with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08 or more for alcohol intoxication. To address this problem, California has two additional laws — Vehicle Code sections 23220 and 23221 — which forbid the driver and passenger of a vehicle from using alcohol, marijuana, and marijuana products while the vehicle is being driven. Lastly, Vehicle Code section 23152(g) makes it “unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.”  ...

California Temporary License Plates on New Vehicles

I’ve never bought a new vehicle in any state other than California. I’m guessing this happens in other states too, but the way it works in California is that you won’t get your actual metal license plates from the California Department of Motor Vehicles until several weeks after you actually drive your vehicle home from the dealership. It used to be that during this time, the only license plate you would have is a paper license plate that usually just had the name and logo of the dealership on it for advertising purposes. Once you got your metal license plates in the mail, you’d install them and throw your paper dealership license plates away. As you can probably guess, having no way to uniquely identify a vehicle for several weeks caused problems. There was no way to catch drivers who would evade automated toll systems at bridge crossings, for instance. FasTrak is a common system in California while in the Midwestern US and East Coast, E-ZPass is more common. Drivers of new vehicles could avoid parking tickets too. It was difficult to track vehicles used in crimes (e.g. bank robberies) as well. If you live in California, you may have noticed that starting in 2019, new vehicles started coming from the dealership with temporary license plates that look like this one. Instead of a paper plate that just had the dealership’s name and logo on it, the new temporary license plate comes with a unique identifying number that is assigned to that particular vehicle until the metal permanent license plate arrives. The reason behind this change is — not...

California: Service of Summons by Acknowledgment

In a prior post, I went over how it’s possible in California to use a newspaper ad to serve a defendant in a lawsuit who either can’t be found or purposely does not want to be found. Serving a defendant by publication in this way is the exception rather than the norm. Today, I’m going to go over another service method which usually isn’t the norm, but really should be: Service by Acknowledgment. The applicable statute in California is Code of Civil Procedure section 415.30(a). “Service by Acknowledgment” is a fancy of way of saying that the summons and complaint in the case is simply mailed to the Defendant along with a form (called the “Acknowledgment”) that the Defendant then signs and mails back to the Plaintiff. The fact that the Defendant signs and mails it back is the proof that the Defendant was served. The benefit of the Service by Acknowledgment method should be obvious: it’s extremely cheap and simple. All it takes is the cost of postage and the Defendant’s cooperation. In comparison, the cost of hiring a process server to locate and serve a defendant would almost certainly be more, especially if the process server has to make multiple attempts. For these reasons, I generally try to use Service by Acknowledgment whenever possible. In California, there are standard Acknowledgment forms. For California family law cases, the Acknowledgement is California Judicial Council Form FL-117. For regular civil cases (e.g. breach of contract, personal injury, etc) in California, the Acknowledgment is Judicial Council Form POS-015. Two points to know about Service by Acknowledgment under CCP section 415.30: The...