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How Serious is Road Rage in California

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The recent death of a young boy following a road rage incident has triggered a surge of interest in how large a problem road rage in California is.

On May 21, a young passenger was killed when a man fired a gun at a passing car. The incident took place while the mother of the boy was driving her child to school. She was merging into traffic. Apparently, she flipped off the driver of the Volkswagen where the shot came from. The driver then pulled behind her vehicle. It’s believed that the passenger fired into the vehicle’s trunk and that the bullet passed through the trunk and into the boy who suffered fatal injuries.

Sadly, this is just one instance of road rage in California. According to one California traffic school, 50% of all drivers admit to feeling a sense of rage while driving and many of these have expressed that rage in the form of angry gestures, tailgating, or cutting off another driver. The problem with all of these scenarios is that the road rage instances quickly escalate and can result in serious accidents.

One of the interesting things about road rage is that according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) road rage legally differs from aggressive driving. A person can be an aggressive driver and never experience a bout of road rage and a cautious driver who is famous for their defensive driving can succumb to periods of road rage.

While road rage and aggressive driving aren’t the same thing, they are usually connected. Not only are aggressive drivers prone to bouts of road rage their aggressive driving style often triggers road rage in the drivers who share the road.

Road rage in California is more concerning than aggressive driving because road rage involves anger and often violent actions that are aimed directly at other drivers. While shooting incidents like the one that resulted in the death of a six-year-old child aren’t normal, it’s not uncommon for road rage to result in people getting pushed off the road, getting into serious accidents, and even lead to assault charges. According to The Best Online Traffic School, road rage is responsible for about 66% of all traffic-related fatalities. The same traffic school also reported that during the relatively short span of seven years, road rage was the cause of 12,610 injuries and 218 murders.

What some drivers don’t realize is that an episode of road rage in California can cost them their driver’s license. When an officer responds to a traffic incident that involves road rage they can choose to report the road rage episode to the California DMV who then identifies the driver as a negligent operator and can start the process of revoking their driving privileges.

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Assault with a Deadly Weapon in California

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If you’ve been charged with assault with a deadly weapon in California, it means the police believe that you not only attacked another person, but you used a weapon that’s capable of deadly force while you did so. Many people assume that this means that something like a gun or knife was used at the time of the assault, but that’s not always the case. There have been instances of people being charged with assault with a deadly weapon in California because they used a car, broken bottle, baseball bat, etc.

California’s Penal Code 240 PC deals with assault with a deadly weapon charge. It’s a surprisingly short penal code that simply states, “an assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.”

It’s a Wobbler Law

Assault with a deadly weapon in California sounds like it should be a felony. In a vast majority of the cases, it is a felony, but there are some instances when it’s a misdemeanor charge. In most cases, it becomes a misdemeanor if no one was hurt during the altercation.

What Happens if You’re Convicted of Assault with a Deadly Weapon in California?

Many things will impact your sentencing if you’re convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in California. Factors that are usually taken into consideration include:

✨ Your criminal history
✨ How badly the other person was injured
✨ If you appear contrite
✨ If you had the weapon on you or if you grabbed something convenient
✨ If additional charges were filed against you at the same time

The maximum sentence for assault with a deadly weapon in California is up to 4 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If you are convicted of additional charges at the same time, both the fine and amount of time you are confined to prison could increase.

If someone was seriously injured during the assault, a guilty conviction could be just the start of your legal troubles. In many cases, your victim could also decide to file a civil lawsuit against you. If you’re found guilty of the civil lawsuit, the court could order you to pay all of your victim’s medical bills, make up for any wages they lost while they were healing, and also pay for their pain and suffering.

Considering the severe financial impact a single assault with a deadly weapon charge could have on your future, the next time you’re angry, it’s in your best interest to take several deep breaths and calm yourself rather than acting on impulse.

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Fireworks and Safety

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Fireworks are a fun and memorable way to celebrate the Fourth of July, but they can also be dangerous and in some cases have even been deadly. If you plan on setting off your own fireworks this Fourth of July, you owe it to yourself and your family to use common sense and practice firework safety.

Pay Careful Attention to Your Kids

Kids love fireworks and setting off an elaborate display with them is a great way to make new memories, but you don’t want the memories to include tears and emergency room visits. Never lose sight of the fact that fireworks and kids don’t mix. Encourage your kids to stand back while your setting up the fireworks and don’t allow them to play with any of the firework paraphernalia. Never leave your children unattended when there is even the smallest chance they could get into the fireworks.

Have a Ready Supply of Water

One of the biggest problems with fireworks in California is that they contribute to the wildfire problem. If it’s extremely hot and dry, you should want to hold off on using your fireworks until after you’ve gotten some rain. If you really can’t resist setting off the fireworks, at least make sure you have an ample supply of water on hand. In addition to keeping buckets, hoses, and sprayers close, you should also thoroughly spray the area and get everything damp before lighting the fireworks.

Don’t Light Duds

Yes, fireworks are expensive and it’s frustrating to have one that doesn’t perform well, but don’t try to get your money’s worth out of it by relighting it. Leave the duds alone. Lighting duds is how many people lose fingers and suffer extensive burns. In addition to not relighting it, liberally soak it with water before disposing of the defective firework.

Keep Medical Supplies on Hand

In addition to always wearing eye protection while setting off fireworks, you should also keep a medical supply kit close at hand. Make sure that the kit is liberally stocked with medical supplies that are designed to treat burns. If you get burned while lighting your fireworks, treat the injury right away and then seek professional medical help.

By putting safety first, you and your family will enjoy a fun Fourth of July holiday!

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Prepare Your Pets for Fireworks

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The Fourth of July is right around the corner which means people are going to set off fireworks. Even if you have no intention of being around fireworks, you need to take steps to protect your pets from them. Don’t assume that just because your neighbors have never set off fireworks in the past that you don’t have to worry about them.

The first thing you need to do to prepare your pet for the possibility of Fourth of July fireworks is to plan on the loud noises scaring your pet. Most pets hate fireworks. Consider getting a tight coat for your pet to wear which will help ease their anxiety. If you know that your pet is already sound sensitive and it suffers from anxiety, you should talk to your veterinarian about getting some calming medications.

As the evening grows long, don’t let your pet out of your house. The Fourth of July is one of those dates when you should complete your evening walk early in the evening. You want your pets to be tucked inside your home before the light show begins. If your pet has to go outside during, or even after the firework display, take them out on a leash. Animal shelters throughout California and the rest of the United States report that they get more reports of lost pets in the days following The Fourth. Almost all of these pets involve an animal who never runs off so their owner got too casual.

It wouldn’t hurt to take a current photo or two of your pet in the days leading up to the Fourth of July. Having a current photo that you can show local animal shelters, vet clinics, and post on lost pet social media sites drastically increases the odds of someone identifying your pet and returning them to you.

If you haven’t already gotten your pet microchipped, now is an excellent time to do so. The microchip makes it possible for animal shelters to quickly reunite you and your lost pet.

If possible, stay home so that you can comfort your pet. Even if they appear to be ignoring you, your presence really will make them feel better and it will also help them recover more quickly.

If you leave the house during the fireworks display, be careful while going through the doors. Expect your pet to want to bolt through the door with you.

When it comes to fireworks and pets, it’s in everyone’s best interest to prepare for the worst.

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Understanding Felony Probation in California

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In some situations, when you’re convicted of a felony, a judge might decide that instead of spending time in prison, you can stay home and be placed on what is referred to as felony probation. While there are always exceptions, felony probation in lieu of prison time is usually only considered for what are considered s mild felonies or in the case of first-time offenders.

Anyone who is convicted of a felony that involves a violent crime such as murder and felony sexual assault will not be eligible for felony probation. If you have a history of violence, even if those charges were misdemeanors and you’re currently being convicted of a non-violent felony, a judge will be unwilling to consider felony probation.

The key to felony probation in California is that you have to adhere to all of the rules connected to the probation. Failing to meet a single requirement or doing something you were told not to do while on probation will result in you being sent to prison.

If the judge decides that you’re a good candidate for felony probation, you’ll hear the term suspended sentence. This term is used to provide formal notice that should you violate the terms of your probation, you’ll be sent to prison. Should you get into trouble while you’re on felony probation, not only could the judge decide to chose to sentence you to jail, you could also face additional criminal charges.

Don’t expect felony probation to be something you can just breeze through. Most felony probation periods last from 3-5 years. During this time, your life will be under intense scrutiny and there will several terms and conditions you’ll have to meet.

Conditions that are attached to felony probation often include:

✦ Regular meetings with your probation officer
✦ Drug tests
✦ Paying restitution to your victims
✦ Mandatory community service
✦ Submitting to home searches
✦ Avoiding people who are specifically mentioned in the terms of your probation
✦ Agreeing to not leave California

If you’re granted felony probation, it is in your best interest to pay careful attention to what the judge says. If you have any questions about the terms of your probation, you need to take those questions directly to your lawyer or probation officer. If you do make a mistake while you’re on felony probation, you should be honest about it, which could make a judge more tolerant and less likely to revoke your probation.

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Failing to Use Your Blinker in California

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It’s such an easy thing to do. You hit the little switch on the side of your steering wheel, which activates your blinker light so that all the other drivers on the road understand that you’re about to make a turn. Even though using your blinker is one of the easiest things most of us do during the course of our day, there are still drivers who don’t fail to signal that they’re about to make a turn.

Common reasons drivers give for not using their blinker include:

✨ They were in a designated turn lane so they shouldn’t have to use a blinker
✨ Other drivers should be driving defensively and therefore be prepared for them to do anything
✨ They forgot to activate their blinker

Whatever excuse you use for not using your blinker when you decided to make a turn, you should know that by neglecting your blinker, you’re putting yourself in a position to get a traffic ticket, or even worse, getting into a serious accident.

In 2012, the Autoblog reported that the Society of Automotive Engineers conducted a study that explored just how dangerous failing to use a blinker really was. The results surprised everyone. According to the collected data, failing to use a blinker resulted in even more accidents than distracted driving.

The Society of Automotive Engineers reported that they observed that approximately 25 percent of drivers failed to signal that they were either turning, changing lanes, or while passing. Based on this data, the ground determined that there are 750 billion instances of drivers failing to use their turn signal each year which means that approximately 1-2 million accidents each year could have been avoided had the driver taken the split second needed to signal their intentions.

During the period of time that the study of blinkers was underway, they reported that there had been 950,000 vehicle crashes that were the result of distracted driving situations.

If a police officer catches you in a moment when you’ve failed to use your blinker, the consequences could be severe. While there’s a chance they’ll let you off with a warning, there’s an equally good chance they’ll issue you a ticket that comes with a $238 fine and will also result in a point being added to your driving record. That point is particularly troubling since 4 points in a 12-month span or 8 points in a 36-month span can result in the state suspending your driver’s license.

When all is said and done, using your blinker each and every time you make a turn or change lanes is the best way to prove that you’re a good and responsible driver.

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Wrongful Termination in California

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It’s strange that more time isn’t dedicated to talking about California’s wrongful termination laws. Considering that the vast majority of California’s adult population is employed by someone other than themselves, there is a chance that a large portion of California’s population could potentially be the victims of wrongful termination.

Wrongful termination refers to an employer either firing or laying off an employee for an illegal reason. Examples of wrongful termination situations in California include:

✨ Firing for a reason that goes against public policy
✨ Letting an employee go because they are considered a whistleblower
✨ Firing an employee for notifying management about the violation of rights under the Fair Employment and Housing Act
✨ A termination that violates either an actual or an implied contract

Very few wrongful termination cases make it into the criminal justice system, though there are always exceptions. What’s far more likely is that the employer and terminated employee will meet again in California’s Civil Court. If you decide to file a civil lawsuit for wrongful termination against your employer, you need to understand that the burden of proof rests on your shoulders. These cases aren’t easy because most employers will create a plausible excuse for letting you go, it’s up to you to prove the real reason they let you go.

In most successful wrongful termination cases, the plaintiff managed to provide documentation in the form of positive performance reviews, employee/employer email/text transcripts, and testimonials from co-workers that revealed the real reason the employer fired the plaintiff. Since getting copies of this documentation from the employer is virtually impossible employees should always protect themselves by saving everything, even if they think they’re in a positive employee/employer relationship.

When it comes to a wrongful termination case, it’s in your best interest to act as quickly as possible. The first reason for filing the lawsuit as quickly as possible is because it helps keep the situation fresh in the minds of witnesses which makes their testimonies more valuable.

The second reason to act quickly is that there is a statute of limitations on wrongful termination cases. The statute of limitations varies depending on why the wrongful termination happened. For example, if the termination violated an oral contract between the employer and employee, the statute of limitations is 2 years. If the termination was the result of a violation of the Whistleblower under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act a complaint has to be filed with the US Department of Labor within 180 of the termination. If the termination went against the WARN Act, the statute of limitations is a full 3 years.

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You’ve Finally Graduated! Don’t Forget to be Smart!

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It seems like you’ve been waiting your whole life to finish school. Many people consider the summer between high school and the time when they start college (or trade school, or simply start working full time) to be one of the most exciting and fun times of their life. While it’s okay to have fun and celebrate your accomplishments, it’s also important that you remember to play it safe during this time.

One of the biggest mistakes teens make after they graduate from high school is getting drunk, which is bad enough, and then compounding that mistake by getting behind the wheel. Don’t be the person in your group who spends the months following high school graduation dealing with the consequences of a drunk driving charge.

The first thing to remember as you celebrate your freedom from high school is that even though you’re legally an adult, you still aren’t old enough to legally drink. You should avoid alcohol as you celebrate your life. Getting caught with booze at this point in your life will result in you being charged with a “minor in possession.”

If convicted of minor in possession charges, your sentencing could include:

✦ Being required to do up to 32 hours of community service
✦ Having to pay a $250 fine

If you are convicted of minor in possession charges a second time, the sentencing includes:

✦ Up to a $500 fine
✦ As much as 48 hours of required community service

In addition to fines and community service, you will also lose your driver’s license for a full year after your MIP conviction. The conviction could also impact your acceptance into college and eligibility for some scholarships.

If you get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol as a minor, you are in even more legal trouble. Since you haven’t turned 21, any blood alcohol content that exceeds 0.01% is considered drunk driving. If your blood-alcohol level is 0.01% to 0.04% the officer who pulls you over will confiscate your driver’s license. The only way you can hope to get it back is by scheduling an Administrative Hearing during which you’ll learn how the county intends to handle the situation. You will likely be charged with minor-in-possession and may face additional consequences.

If your blood alcohol level is 0.05%-0.08%, you will be charged with a misdemeanor drunk driving charge. The first conviction results in:

✦ A one-year suspension of your driver’s license
✦ Mandatory attendance in an alcohol education program that lasts at least 3 months
✦ Mandatory attendance in a youth drunk driving program

In many cases, additional charges, such as reckless endangerment, distracted driving, and minor in possession charges are also filed against the young drunk driver.

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Leaving Kids in Hot Cars in California

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Kids and hot cars are never a good combination. Everyone knows that, yet there is still an average of 38 children who die each year after they’re locked into a hot car.

While accidents do happen, children overheating in the car something everyone would like to forget. If you’re traveling with a small child who can’t possibly let themselves out of the car, you need to figure out what steps you can take to make sure they aren’t accidentally forgotten. The hotter it gets, the more you’re going to have to worry.

One of the things that might help you remember that your child is in the backseat of your car is understanding that it’s illegal to leave your child there. California passed Kaitlyn’s Law in 2001. The law was created in memory of Kaitlyn Russel, who was only six months old when she died after her babysitter forgot her in a hot car for over two hours.

Kaitlyn’s Law not only makes it illegal to leave an infant in the car, but it also makes it illegal to leave an infant in the care of anyone who isn’t at least 12 years old if the vehicle is running or there are keys in the ignition and if there are unsafe conditions, such as overheating.

Kaitlyn’s Law makes it illegal to leave your unsupervised infant in the car period. So even if there is no danger of them overheating, you still have to bring them into the store or appointment with you.

Leaving a child under the age of six in a vehicle when they have no supervision can result in a $100 fine. It’s not unusual for the judge to waive the fine after you’ve completed a community education program.

In many cases, leaving a young, unsupervised child in the car, especially on a hot day, will result in you being charged with child endangerment. It is one of California’s wobbler offenses. In felony cases, you could face up to six years in prison. In misdemeanor situations, you could be sentenced to a year in county jail. In both situations, the Child Welfare Service will likely become involved and decide if you should retain custody of your child.

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Resisting Arrest in California

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No one wants to be arrested. For many, resisting arrest is almost a knee-jerk reaction. The problem with the reaction is that it can make any legal issues you’re already dealing with much worse.

California’s Penal Code 148 PC deals with the issue of resisting arrest. When you read through the penal code you’ll discover that simply running or throwing a temper tantrum when an officer is trying to arrest you isn’t the only way you can be charged with resisting arrest. If you do anything that is a blatant attempt to delay or obstruct the arrest process you will face resisting arrest charges in California. You can also be charged with resisting arrest if you interfere with a peace officer or an emergency medical tech.

There aren’t many valid defenses against a resisting arrest in California charge. Some that have been successfully used include:

✦ The resistance wasn’t willful
✦ The resistance charges were false accusations
✦ That there wasn’t probable cause for the arrest

The good news is that resisting arrest in California is only a misdemeanor charge, not a felony.

If you’re convicted, the judge could order you to serve a year-long sentence in a county jail. They can also require that you pay a $1,000 fine. Most judges consider all the circumstances surrounding the case as well as your criminal history before deciding if they should lighten the sentence. It’s not unusual for a judge to decide that probation should be used instead of actual jail time.

When all is said and done, it’s usually in your best interest to stay calm, cool, and collected while you’re being arrested.