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The Dangers of Distracted Driving in California

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Everyone always talks about how horrible drunk driving is but far less is mentioned about the dangers and repercussions of distracted driving, which is as dangerous and even more common than drunk driving.

Distracted driving in California isn’t a new thing. For as long as people have been getting behind the wheel of automobiles, there have been distracted drivers. Examples of distracted driving include:

✽ Daydreaming
✽ Arguing with passengers
✽ Rubbernecking
✽ Trying to pick up a candy bar you’ve dropped
✽ Changing radio stations
✽ Using your cell phone

Distracted driving can result in a number of things going wrong. A single second of distracted driving can result in:

✽ Weaving in and out of your lane
✽ Striking another car/pedestrian
✽ Missing a road sign
✽ Running a red light
✽ Etc.

Over the past twenty years or so, distracted driving has become a much bigger problem. Data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association indicates that distracted driving results in approximately 1,000 injuries every single day and approximately 9 deaths a day. Many of these distracted driving accidents involved a cell phone.

In California, when someone is pulled over for distracted driving and issued a citation, the ticket usually doesn’t say distracted driving, even though that’s usually the cause of the incident. The ticket usually states the effect. For example, if you were playing with your dog who was in the shotgun seat and run a red light, the ticket will likely state reckless driving or failure to yield rather than distracted driving.

If your distracted driving results in an injury or death to another person, the citation may be the least of your worries. When someone is hurt or killed as a result of a distracted driving episode, you could find yourself acting as the defendant in a civil case.

In an effort to lower the number of distracted driving incidents in California, the state has introduced the Just Drive campaign. The idea of the Just Drive campaign is to educate/remind drivers about the dangers of using a cell phone while you’re behind the wheel. Everybody involved in the campaign hopes that the program will remind drivers about how deadly answering a single text or taking a long call can be.

California’s “Just Drive” campaign is quite similar to earlier efforts to reduce the number of drivers who use their cell phones while they’re behind the wheel, but this campaign is geared specifically towards younger drivers who are between the ages of 16 and 24.

In California, you’re not allowed to have your cell phone in your hand while you’re driving. While everyone would prefer it if you simply didn’t use your cell phone at all during your commute, you are allowed to use it provided it’s set to hands-free mode, mounted on your dash or windshield, and can be turned on and off by a single finger touch.

The best way to avoid being the cause of a distracted driving incident is to keep your eyes and mind on the road.

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Who Can Own a Gun in California?

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It’s no secret that the U.S. Constitution contains a statement about the right to bear arms. When the Constitution was originally drafted, men were allowed to own a gun, but over time that has changed. For various reasons, laws and attitudes have shifted, and now some people simply aren’t allowed to own a firearm.

If you live in California and plan on purchasing a gun, you should know that California has some of the toughest gun laws in the United States. It’s worth noting that California’s most restrictive gun laws are constantly being challenged in Federal court and are subject to change so it’s in your best interest to routinely check the state’s current gun laws.

One of California’s gun laws is that to purchase a handgun, you must be at least 21 years old. Be prepared to provide proof of both your identity and your age when you purchase the handgun. If the identification is outdated or the person selling the gun feels it doesn’t look legit, they will stop the sale.

You also must earn your Handgun Safety Certificate. The written portion of this exam is designed to prove that you have a solid understanding of handguns and that you won’t misuse them. The test questions are designed to test how well you understand how to handle your gun, how it operates, and to make sure you’ll use the gun responsibly.

Not every person who lives in California is allowed to own a gun. Several people are explicitly forbidden from owning guns, including:

✦ Anyone who is currently involved in a probation program that prohibits gun ownership
✦ Anyone named in either a permanent or a temporary restraining order
✦ Anyone who has been dishonorably discharged from the military
✦ Anyone who is a registered sex offender
✦ Anyone with a diagnosed mental illness that the court believes indicates that they could be a danger to others and themselves
✦ Anyone who is currently addicted to drugs
✦ Anyone with a history of violent crimes
✦ Anyone with a past that includes a felony conviction
✦ Illegal residents
✦ Anyone who has been convicted of a type of misdemeanor named in Penal Code section 29805
✦ Sex offenders who have been diagnosed with mental disorders

If you are convicted of a violent crime or do something else that causes the state to revoke your privileges regarding gun ownership, you’ll have to get rid of any guns you currently own. The police are legally allowed to confiscate any weapons they find after your ownership rights have been revoked.

Disorderly Conduct in California

Disorderly Conduct in California

Disorderly Conduct in California

One of the problems with California’s legal system is that sometimes it’s difficult to know that you’re breaking the law. In many disorderly conduct cases, people think they’re just having a good time or being opinionated until the police show up. Sometimes people don’t even know what they’ve done until they hear the charges as the booking officer works through the paperwork.

What is considered disorderly conduct can vary from one state to another? Some cities even have different rules regarding what is and isn’t disorderly conduct.

In California, disorderly conduct is generally considered behavior that irritates, stresses, or alarms those around you. That doesn’t mean your little sister can file disorderly conduct charges against you each time you annoy her while you’re at home. However, if the pair of you are at a bar and you start shouting at her, the other bar patrons will likely call the police and you could be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Most disorderly conduct cases in California involve at least one person who is publicly intoxicated.

In addition to getting too wild while at the bar, California considers the following activities to be forms of disorderly conduct:

✨ Lewd/lascivious acts
✨ Soliciting
✨ Engaging in Prostitution
✨ Loud public arguments
✨ Invasion of privacy
✨ “Peeping”

Sometimes loitering can be an instance of disorderly conduct.

The Consequences of Disorderly Conduct in California

Disorderly conduct in California is a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted and it’s a first offense, you could be sentenced to six months in jail and/or be charged a $1,000 fine. If you already have disorderly conduct charges on your record, the punishment could be more severe.

In some cases, disorderly conduct can be connected with additional charges, such as:

Simple assault
✨ Trespassing
Public Intoxication

Disorderly Conduct Defenses in California

Putting together a good defense case in California when you’re dealing with a disorderly conduct charge isn’t always easy. Some defenses that have been successfully used in the past include:

✨ Invoking Freedom of Speech
✨ That you were acting in self-defense
✨ That you were falsely accused
✨ That it was a domestic dispute (this is a tricky defense if you were in a public building at the time)

If you know that you tend to get loud and do rash things when you’re having a good time and drinking, it’s in your best interest to either stay home or make sure you go out with someone who can stop your behavior and help you regain control before anyone calls the police.

What Happens to Debts Of A Deceased Person?

What Happens to Debts Of A Deceased Person?

What Happens to Debts Of A Deceased Person?0

Nothing about the death of a loved one is easy. Not only do you have to deal with your grief and sense of loss, but it also won’t be long before you find yourself trying to straighten out their finances and learning what debts they still owe. Figuring out the finances and making sure all outstanding debts are paid is stressful, time-consuming, and confusing.

The first thing you need to figure out which of your loved one’s debts have to be honored and which became irrelevant when your loved one passed.

Are You Responsible for the Debts?

While very few debts simply disappear when a loved one has passed, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to dip into your own bank account to pay them off. The only time you’ll have to dip into your own money is when you co-signed on a loan with the loved one.

The money from any outstanding debts your loved left behind comes out of their estate. Shortly after your loved one’s passing, public notices are issued. At this point, any creditors you’re loved one owed money to will have to contact you or the lawyer you’re using and alert you to the amount of the debt that’s still owed.

The Estate Enters Probate

Many people mistakenly assume that they’ll collect their inheritance within days of their loved one’s passing. That’s never the case. When you’re loved one passes, everything is put into probate. At this point, the person who has been assigned to act as executor of the will steps in and starts managing the estate. If you’re the executor it’s in your best interest to obtain the help of an experienced probate lawyer.

The first thing that happens is that all of the assets your loved one acquired during their life are collected and valued. In this situation, the only assets that matter are the ones that have monetary value, such as houses, vehicles, investments, jewelry, life insurance policies, and bank accounts. Trinkets and non-valuable belongings can be distributed according to the will. If there’s not a will, the items can simply be divided between family members and friends.

The executor of the will (or the probate lawyer you’ve enlisted) contacts all of the creditors who are still owed money. The creditors have a time frame during which they are allowed to file a claim. If the claim is valid, the debt is paid via actual cash your loved one left or via the liquidation of their assets.

Ideally, there will be enough money to pay off all debts. If there isn’t, high priority debts are the first to be paid

Examples of high priority debts include:

✦ Mortgages
✦ Bank loans
✦ Student loans
✦ Funeral expenses
✦ Medical expenses
✦ Unpaid taxes

It’s only after these debts are paid in full that credit card debt and personal loans are dealt with.

There are some things that aren’t entered into probate. These are considered “pass outside a will” assets. They include:

✦ Life insurance policies
✦ Brokerage accounts
✦ IRAs
✦ 401(Ks)
✦ Payable on death accounts

Once all of the outstanding debts are paid off, any financial assets that remain are pooled together and distributed according to your loved one’s wishes.

Distracted Driving in 2021

Distracted Driving in 2021

Distracted Driving in 2021

Most of us are familiar with drunk driving and know that it’s something we should avoid. Few of us know about distracted driving. Distracted driving is exactly what it sounds like. If you’re ticketed for distracted driving, it means that rather than paying attention to the road, the bulk of your attention was focused on something else.

Most distracted driving tickets are issued because the driver was using their cell phone while driving, but you can be ticketed for getting in an argument with your passengers, trying to set your navigation system while your vehicle is in motion, or even trying to mop up coffee that you’ve spilled all over yourself.

Distracted driving became a thing when manufacturers started installing radios in cars and people started getting into accidents because they were changing the station rather than watching the road. Today, cell phones are the biggest source of distracted driving. Stats indicate that sending a short text while you’re behind the wheel means your 23 times more likely to get into an accident. Many of these distracted driving accidents end with someone getting hurt.

California drivers have been getting distracted driving tickets for several years, but now that 2021 has begun, those tickets are a much bigger issue.

California law refers to distracted driving as “anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road, or hands off the steering wheel – especially when texting or using your phone.”

The tweaks made to the distracted driving law in 2021 focus exclusively on anyone who is using their cell phone while they are behind the wheel.

The first time you’re caught using a cell phone while driving, you’ll be issued a ticket for $162. Any distracted driving tickets you collect after that first one will cost a whopping $285. If you get two or more tickets that are connected to using a cell phone while driving, the state will add a point to your license. Too many points and the state could suspend your driver’s license.
If you’re in an accident or cause a moving violation while you’re driving, the police officer will likely write additional tickets. When all is said and done, deciding to answer a text message while you’re behind the wheel could destroy several months of careful budgeting.

At this point, you will only receive a distracted driving ticket if you are using your hands to operate your cell phone. Hands-free phone operation is still allowed.

Tougher distracted driving penalties are just one of the changes drivers will encounter during 2021.

Selling Real Estate Without a License

Selling Real Estate Without a License

Selling Real Estate Without a License

Selling real estate seems simple enough. Someone wants to sell their house. You know a few people who would be interested. You agree to act as a broker between everyone. Considering that people sell houses as “for sale by owner” all the time, what can possibly go wrong.

Yes, it’s possible that this could turn into a good deal for everyone, it can also go horribly sideways. While state laws do allow you to sell your house without the aid of a real estate agent, you’re not allowed to step in and act as a broker for another person unless you’ve been properly licensed by the state.

Getting a real estate license in California isn’t necessarily difficult, but it does require some commitment on your part. The state real estate board wants proof that you clearly understand the ins and outs of real estate law.

The State of California won’t issue a real estate license to you until you’ve:

✦ Completed a specified real estate course
✦ Passed a written exam
✦ Undergone a thorough state background check

It is important to understand that California has two different types of real estate license: a license that allows you to act as a real estate salesperson and another that allows you to act as a real estate broker. You won’t be granted a broker’s license until you’ve first obtained your salesperson license. The state won’t even consider your application to become a broker until you’ve obtained a great deal of hands-on experience working as a real estate salesperson.

Failure to become properly licensed before selling real estate has serious legal repercussions. If you’re caught, you could be facing either a felony or misdemeanor charges. The punishment often depends on why you were eventually caught, how many properties you ultimately helped sell, and if you have ever been charged with selling a property without a license in the past.

In many cases, you’ll serve time in either jail or state prison. It’s also likely you’ll be required to pay a steep fine, have a probation period, and even be required to do community service. Depending on the situation, you could also have to pay restitution to everyone involved in the case. There’s also a chance that civil charges will be filed against you. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be allowed to legally sell real estate after you’ve been convicted.

All things considered, it’s best to put in the work and obtain your real estate license rather than trying to take a short cut.

What Happens When You Fail to Pay A Parking Ticket

What Happens When You Fail to Pay A Parking Ticket

What Happens When You Fail to Pay A Parking Ticket

Parking tickets are a royal pain. The second you see the little slip of paper on your windshield, you know your weekly budget is about to take a hit. Considering how tight money is these days, it’s perfectly natural to wonder what would happen if you simply threw the parking ticket in the trash and pretended it never existed.

The good news is that you won’t be arrested for failing to pay a parking ticket. It’s not a criminal act, but don’t assume that just because you won’t go to jail that your actions won’t have consequences. They will.

The first thing that happens when you fail to pay your parking ticket on time is that the amount you owe increases.

The next step is if an officer notices that you’ve collected five unpaid parking tickets they can arrange to have your vehicle towed and impounded. At this point you have two choices, you can pay the tickets, the cost of the towing, and the impound fees, or you can appeal the decision.

If you decide to fight the impounding of your vehicle, you need to contact the city offices and find out when the tow hearing will take place. During this period it’s up to you to prove that the vehicle was either towed illegally or that you, the registered owner, wasn’t notified when the vehicle was towed. Or that the tickers were paid and there was simply a glitch in the system that made it appear that you had several outstanding parking tickets. If you’re able to prove your case, all the fees connected to the towing and impounding of your vehicle will be waived. If you can’t, the impound fees will increase daily until you’ve paid all of your outstanding bills.

One of the more irritating things many drivers report is that they continue to get parking tickets for a vehicle that they no longer own. This isn’t just costly, it’s also irritating and can do severe damage to your reputation. The most likely reason this happens is that the person you sold the car to failed to register the vehicle to themselves and is still using the same license plate that you put on the vehicle.

In order to fight parking tickets that were actually issued to the driver of a vehicle you sold, you’ll have to go to court and show a bill of sale that includes the date you sold the vehicle. Pulling the plate off any vehicle you sell should prevent you from getting into a similar situation in the future.