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California Public Intoxication Laws

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MMany people assume that as long as they don’t get behind the wheel and try driving home they don’t have to worry about how much they drink when they go out. While the decision to never drive after you’ve been drinking is always wise, that doesn’t mean you can get a plastered as you want. There is always a chance that your night of heavy drinking at the bar could result in you getting arrested for public intoxication in California.

The good news is that if you simply have one too many while you’re at the bar, you probably don’t have too much to worry about. California lawmakers have made it obvious that the only time legal concerns and public intoxication combine is when you’re so heavily under the influence of drugs or alcohol that you’re unable to keep yourself and others safe.

For example, if you’re so drunk that you aren’t aware of traffic and start walking down the middle of the road, you’ll be arrested and charged with public intoxication. The same is true if you get so drunk while you’re at the bar that your normal mild-mannered nature abandons you and you start making threats or behaving in a lewd manner.

Public intoxication in California is a misdemeanor. If you’re convicted, the maximum sentence is six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. In many cases, the individual must perform a specified number of community service hours.

The good news about public intoxication is that it won’t impact your driving record. The bad news is that the charge could hurt your future. It’s possible that the charge will make it harder to qualify for scholarships, land your dream job, and be approved for an apartment rental.

The only way you can be charged with public intoxication is if you’re in a public area. That means the best way to avoid the charge is staying home when you decide you want to spend the evening drinking.


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Crosswalk Safety in California

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Walking to work means you don’t have to worry about getting caught in a traffic jam. It’s a great way to build some stamina while also burning a few calories. It also provides you with the means to start slowing down and develop a connection with the world you live in.

Just don’t think that walking to work is safer than driving yourself. A surprising number of California pedestrians are killed annually. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 972 pedestrian deaths in 2019. Approximately 22% of fatal traffic episodes in California involve a pedestrian. These alarming statistics prompted California lawmakers to pass the “Right-of-Way at Crosswalks” law.

The Right-of-Way law is written up in Code, Section 21950(a). When you read through the formal law, you’ll learn that drivers are legally required to yield to a pedestrian who is strolling through a crosswalk. The law requires that drivers yield to the pedestrian in both marked and unmarked crosswalks. The implementation of the law also requires that drivers use a little additional care when approaching a crosswalk and be on the lookout for pedestrians who may be about to step onto the street. If a pedestrian is stepping onto the street, the driver will have to stop to allow the pedestrian to safely cross the road.

Another issue that’s dealt with in the Right-of-Way law is passing while driving through a crosswalk. Passing while driving through a crosswalk is dangerous for several reasons, including that the passing driver may not see a pedestrian until it’s too late.

The interesting thing about California’s Right-of-Way law is that it’s designed to protect the rights of both pedestrians and drivers. Drivers do have the right away at crosswalks that are controlled with signals, provided the signal indicates that the driver can go. In this situation, the pedestrians are supposed to yield for drivers. However, drivers do have to wait for slow-moving pedestrians who may be struggling to reach the opposite side in a timely fashion, and the driver must be prepared to take safe and evasive action if a distracted pedestrian fails to notice the sign.

Drivers who are caught failing to adhere to California’s Right-of-Way law will likely receive a traffic citation which will involve a steep fine, points, and the possibility of having the state consider revoking their driving privileges.


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Think Before Posting those Vacation Photos

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One of the best things about social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter is the ability to quickly post all of your photos so that your friends and family can admire them.

Those same pictures can also make you an easy and attractive target to anyone who is looking for a home to break into.

The problem with posting vacation pictures on your social media account is that if you’re posting those pictures while you’re still on vacation, you are literally telling any would-be burglar that your house is standing empty. This is especially true if you happen to answer a question about how long you’re going to be gone.

Don’t assume that posting vacation pictures is the only way you can get into trouble. The same is true if you make a comment about waiting for a flight, discuss an out-of-town business trip, or even a routine lunch date. Most importantly, don’t take advantage of the option some social media sites provide allow you to share your precise location with all of your friends and family.

Most people feel comfortable sharing vacation photos on social media accounts because they reason that they are all friends and that their friends would never steal from them. But take a moment to go through your current friend’s list. How many of those people do you really know and how many are people who you’ve simply met a few times at different events or through other friends?

The first thing you should do is change your account settings so that the only people who can see your posts are your friends and family. If you also use social media for a business, then create a separate account for your business and make sure you don’t include any of your travel plans on it.

The next thing you need to do is refrain from sharing information about vacation plans, weekend getaways, and more on social media. When it comes to posting the pictures, wait until you get home. When you do decide it’s time to post those holiday snaps, make it very clear that you’re already home and that life has returned to normal.

Don’t assume that just because you’re not actively posting your vacation photos while you’re away from home that you don’t have to worry. Make it very clear to anyone you’re traveling with that you don’t want to be tagged in any of their vacation photos.


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What to Do if You’re Being Stalked

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Every single year, approximately 7.5 million Americans become the victims of a stalker. If you suspect that you’ve attracted the attention of a stalker you must remain calm while simultaneously taking steps to protect yourself.

Don’t Dismiss the Threat

One of the biggest mistakes many stalking victims make is deciding that they are imagining things or that the situation isn’t all that serious. When it comes to a stalker, it’s best to be over-cautious. Being the victim of a stalker not only puts your mental health at risk, but it can also be life-threatening. The University of Gloucestershire conducted a six-month study that revealed that stalking was a component in 94% of the studied homicides.

As soon as you even suspect you’ve attracted the attention of a stalker, you need to take steps to protect yourself.

Block Your Social Media Accounts

Social media has made stalking easier than ever before. Routing posts provide an incredible amount of information that a stalker will use against you. When you feel that you’ve attracted the attention of a stalker, set all of your online profiles to private and stop posting updates, particularly updates that a stalker could use to figure out where you’re going and your routine.

Alert Loved Ones to the Situation

Even if you only have a funny feeling about someone, you should talk to your loved ones about the situation. Not only will they help you decide if you’re imagining things, but they can also take steps to make sure you’re protected. A perfect example of how alerting a loved one to the situation will help you out is that they’ll be willing to accompany you on errands. Not only is there safety in numbers, but the second pair of eyes means you will have a witness to the stalking which will strengthen your case if you have to press charges.

Start Keeping a Record

Pull out a notebook and start recording everything that relates to your stalker. This record should include gifts you’ve received, any time they’ve been in the same location as you, and all virtual and in-person conversations you’ve had with them. It’s a good idea to keep copies of these records in different locations. The data you collect will be a key piece of evidence against your stalker.

Get Serious About Personal Protection

You can’t afford to get casual with your personal protection. As soon as you feel that you’re becoming the victim of a stalker, you need to take a long look at your current situation and evaluate how you can make it safer. You need to lock your doors. You need to alert loved ones about where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Consider taking a self-defense class. Get into the habit of frequently checking in with loved ones. You may even want to consider staying with a friend or loved one until you can figure out how to resolve the situation.

Talk to the Police

As soon as you start to feel threatened by the stalker, it’s time to contact the police. The amount of protection they can provide will depend on your exact circumstances. Even if the situation hasn’t escalated to the point of you being able to obtain a restraining order or file charges against your stalker, contacting the authorities is always a good idea since it officially shows that you’re concerned about the situation and creates yet another record that strengthens your case. The police will also likely have some advice about additional steps you can take to protect yourself.

The most important thing to remember when you’ve attracted the attention of a stalker is to cut your ties with them and to trust your instincts.


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Boating While Under the Influence in California

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Everyone knows about the dangers and legal consequences of driving while under the influence, but we have a tendency to get lax when it comes to other situations. For example, while most of us would never dream of getting behind the wheel of our car after we’ve had a few beers, we have no hesitation when it comes to steering a boat as we drink.

One of the reasons we don’t give boating under the influence a second thought is because very little is ever said about the legal repercussions of doing so. The truth is, that if you’re caught driving a boat while intoxicated, your immediate future could be ruined.

The issue of boating under the influence in California is dealt discussed in Harbors & Navigation Code 655. The law states that:

(b) No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, any drug, or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug.

(c) No person shall operate any recreational vessel or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane, or similar device if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more in his or her blood.

(d) No person shall operate any vessel other than a recreational vessel if the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 percent or more in his or her blood.

(e) No person shall operate any vessel, or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device who is addicted to the use of any drug. This subdivision does not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program approved pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code.

(f) No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate water skis, an aquaplane, or a similar device while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug, and while so operating, do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in the use of the vessel, water skis, aquaplane, or similar device, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than himself or herself.

Getting caught boating under the influence isn’t a joke. You will be charged and face legal consequences. The exact consequences will depend on if it’s your first offense and exactly which aspect of Harbors & Navigation Code 655 was violated.

In most situations, boating under the influence in California is a misdemeanor offense. The maximum sentence for a first-time offense is six months to one year in jail and/or a potential fine of up to $1,000. It’s also possible that the judge will include substance abuse counseling and community service into the sentence.

In the right circumstances, a boating under the influence charge can become a felony offense. This usually happens if your actions resulted in someone getting hurt or if you caused a boating accident that created substantial property damage. If convicted of felony boating under the influence in California, your sentence could include 16 months to three years in jail.

The best way to make sure you don’t have to deal with the hassle of a boating under the influence charge in California is making sure that a designated captain who agrees to not to drink is the only person who piolet the boat.

Your boating adventures should be handled the same way you handle nights out with friends.


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California Ear Bud Laws

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Earbuds are awesome. They provide you with a way to tune out all the noise connected to the world and lose yourself in music, white noise, audiobooks, and podcasts. The earbuds fit snugly into your ear so that you don’t have to worry about anyone being disturbed by what you’re listening to.

What you might not know is that California does have some earbud laws that could impact you.

Cars and Earbuds

The first is you aren’t allowed to drive with earbuds in your ears. Not even if you’re using them to use your cell phone. The reason driving with earbuds in both of your ears is strictly prohibited in California is because lawmakers believe that the noise-canceling features of earbuds make it difficult to identify and react to outside stimuli that could prevent you from getting into an accident. It’s also possible that having the sound pumped directly into your ears, rather than coming from your radio speakers serves as a distraction.

There is some wiggle room. The law reads that you can’t restrict both ears, but doesn’t say anything about having an earbud in a single ear.

It’s worth noting that even if you don’t have anything pumping through the earbuds, you still can’t drive with two earbuds.

If you are caught driving while wearing earbuds, the experience will cost you. The traffic violation will cost $160 plus court costs, plus any other violations the traffic officer is able to cite you with.

California Bikes and Earbuds

Don’t assume that just because you’re on a bike, you can get away with wearing earbuds. The same law that applies to drivers also applies to bikers. You can have an earbud in one ear, but not in both. If you’re caught with both ears covered, you will be ticketed.


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4 California Bike Laws you Probably Don’t Know About

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Do you spend a lot of time biking in California? If so, there are some California bike laws you’re probably not familiar with.

Bikes and Crosswalks

Did you know that as a cyclist, you’re not supposed to stop your bike in the middle of a crosswalk? When you’re on a bike, you need to treat it the exact same way you would if you driving a car. Instead of pulling into the crosswalk, you’re supposed to stop at it. This gives pedestrians the opportunity and space needed to use the crosswalk.

Prep Your Bike For Nighttime Rides

If you’re cycling at any time between dusk and full-on morning sunlight, you need to have your bike properly equipped with enough equipment that motorists can easily see your bike. It’s not enough to simply rely on the reflectors the bike came with You should also have a red solid or flashing light attached to the back of your bike that can be easily seen from a distance of 500 feet away. On the front of your bike, you need to attach a white light that not only helps with your visibility but can also be seen from 500 feet away.

Ideally, you should wear clothing that has reflectors on it as well.

Keep One Ear Open

You see it all the time, cyclists cruising along with headphones in their ears, taking advantage of their ride to listen to audiobooks, songs, and podcasts. What you probably don’t know is that you can’t legally have two ears full of earbuds or be covered by a headphone while you’re cycling. CVC 27400 states that you must leave one ear uncovered while you’re riding your bike.

Stay Away from that Oversized Bike

If you think it’s okay to send your child out on the bike they haven’t quite grown into, or you’re tempted to purchase a massive bike you’ve been admiring each time you visit your favorite bike shop, you need to think again. California’s bike laws prohibit you from operating an oversized bicycle on public roads.

CVC 21201(c) states that, no person shall operate upon a highway a bicycle that is of a size that prevents the operator from safely stopping the bicycle, supporting it in an upright position with at least one foot on the ground, and restarting it safely.

Were you familiar with these bike laws?


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Tips for Kids Going Back to School

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The threat of your young child disappearing when they go back to school is far greater than you imagine. According to Child Find of America, approximately 2,300 children are abducted every single day in the United States. The National Center of Exploited and Missing Children reported that in 2020, an estimated 1 in 6 missing children were victims of sex trafficking.

Stranger danger and abduction prevention lessons are something you and your children should always be working on. With the start of school just around the corner, now is the time to sit down with your child and review everything they know about stranger danger and staying safe.

While you’re shopping for school supplies, use this time with your child to review the rules you should already have in place regarding accepting rides from strangers.

The rules your child should already be familiar with include:

  • Never get into a stranger’s vehicle
  • Always staying several feet away from a stranger’s vehicle
  • Knowing that if a person makes them feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable, that they should immediately seek out the assistance of a trusted adult

Abductors usually don’t bother with children who are traveling in packs, which is why it’s important to teach your child that they should always have a friend or two with them wherever they go. The more friends they have with them while walking home from school, playing in the back, and riding bikes, the safer they will be.

Now is the perfect time to teach your child how to be aware of their surroundings. This is something you should do by example. Put your phone in your pocket and actively survey your surroundings when you walk to and from buildings. Teach your child to notices is strange people are hanging around places like the playground. Teach them to be particularly aware if they notice that the same person shows up in multiple locations your child is at and to let you know about this person.

Make it very clear that it doesn’t matter if a stranger has candy, is saying they are lost/hurt, or has kittens/puppies to play with that your child is not to approach them. That their best course of action is leaving the immediate area and finding a trusted, familiar adult.

Teach your child to scream. If the worse does happen and a stranger approaches your child, the screams will cause the adult to quickly decide that your child isn’t worth the effort and they will flee the scene.

Don’t assume that just because your child is older that you no longer have to worry about abductions. According to the Missouri Child Identification and Protection Program, 81% of abducted minors were 12 years old or older.


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Getting Into Trouble for Vandalism in California

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California lawmakers have little patience for vandalism. The exact law dealing with the issue is Penal Code 594 PC which defines vandalism.

“Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state law, is guilty of vandalism:

  • Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material.
  • Damages.
  • Destroys.

Whenever a person violates this subdivision with respect to real property, vehicles, signs, fixtures, furnishings, or property belonging to any public entity, as defined by Section 811.2 of the Government Code, or the federal government, it shall be a permissive inference that the person neither owned the property nor had the permission of the owner to deface, damage, or destroy the property.”

Most people assume that vandalism is a deliberate act, such as spraying graffiti on the side of a commercial building, and in some situations, that’s certainly true. However, there have been many instances where vandalism has been added to other charges. In many of these situations, people had no intention of committing an act of vandalism and don’t even realize they have until their defense lawyer explains the list of charges that have been filed against them. An example of this is being charged for vandalism because you broke a window during a fight.

Even doing something as seemingly innocent as leaving a handprint in some wet cement can be considered an act of vandalism.

Don’t assume that a vandalism charge isn’t something you don’t have to take seriously. Yes, it’s a misdemeanor but a guilty conviction could result in you spending some time in jail. If you’re convicted of felony vandalism, the long-term impact the single incident has on your life could be huge.

Vandalism in California is a wobbler offense, meaning that it can be a misdemeanor or a felony. The only thing that determines which way the charge wobbles is the monetary amount to the damage. Don’t assume that you would have to do a lot of damage to be charged with felony vandalism. If your act of vandalism results in $400 or more worth of damage, you’ll be charged with a felony. Considering today’s cost, that’s not much vandalism.

If you’re convicted of misdemeanor vandalism, you could be sentenced to a full year in jail and asked to pay a $1,000 fine. In many cases, the judge will also order restitution. It’s common for community service and probation to be a part of the sentencing.

A guilt conviction for felony vandalism could end in a sentence that includes up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The reason the penalties connected to vandalism are so severe is that state lawmakers want people to stop and think about their actions beforehand. Throwing a few eggs at your neighbor’s house when you’re upset about them blocking your driveway might seem like a good idea until you realize that doing so could result in you being sent to prison.

When it comes to acts of vandalism you should always stop and think if the moment of satisfaction will be worth the potential fallout if you’re caught and convicted.


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Evacuating from Wildfires

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Wildfires are terrifying. Not only do they happen unexpectedly but they leave a path of total destruction in their wake. If there is a wildfire in your area, you should start preparing for evacuation as soon as you hear the news. Getting started early means you’ll be ready to go if the police do issue a formal evacuation notice.

Fill Up Your Gas Tank

When there is a wildfire in the vicinity, the last thing most people want to think about is gasoline, but taking a trip to the nearest gas station should be your first priority. Fill up your car’s gas tank so that it’s ready to go if there’s an ordered evacuation. The full gas tank allows you to quickly put a safe amount of space between you and the wildfire.

Secure Your Pets

If you have pets, you should plan on bringing them with you. The problem is that the smell of smoke and your anxiety changes their behavior. This makes it difficult to catch them. Rather than run the risk of them getting lose or you being unable to load them into the car, catch them as soon as possible.

Pack Your Vehicle

The next thing you need to do is pack your vehicle. The idea is to have everything ready to go so that as soon as the police issue an evacuation order, you can jump in your vehicle and hit the road. Items you should pack include water, some quick snacks, money, important papers, pet supplies, and enough clothing to get you through a few days.

Fireproof Your Home

Once you’ve prepared for a possible wildfire evacuation, you can go around your home and prepare it for a wildfire. While there isn’t a lot you can do to save your home if the wildfire reaches your property, you can do things that lower the risk. Simple things that can be done include moving anything flammable, such as gas cans, bags of leaves, and paint can at least 30 feet from your home’s foundation. Clear dead leaves from your gutters. Make sure there isn’t anything in your yard that could make it difficult for firefighters to reach your home.

Good luck and stay safe!