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Keep Your Car Running Smoothly This Summer

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For many of us, the long days of summer means a chance to take long and scenic road trips. We use the time to drive to beaches, visit out-of-the-way hiking trails, and drive to distant relative’s homes for long weekends. We love the sun and warm weather but seldom stop to think about the toll the heat takes on our vehicles.

The good news is that as long as you follow these summer car maintenance tips, your car will be ready and able to accompany you on all of your summertime adventures.

Check Your Battery’s Attachment

Most people only think that they have to worry about their battery during the winter because the cold weather forces the battery to work harder when starting the car. While the battery doesn’t work as hard during the summer months, the combination of heat and constant vibrations can cause it to steadily break down. The best way to preserve your battery during the summer is to make sure it’s securely attached so that it experiences minimal vibrations.

Another thing to look for is corrosion. Summer heat leads to excessive evaporation which can cause the battery connections to corrode. Routinely checking and cleaning the connections helps keep the battery in perfect operating order.

If your battery is three years old, bring your car to a mechanic so they can check the battery and see if it’s time to replace it.

Get Into the Habit of Checking the Coolant

The warmer it is outside, the harder your car has to work. It’s going to go through more coolant. Each month, take a few minutes to check and top off both the coolant and the oil. Keeping these topped off spares you the headache of being stranded on the side of the highway and will ultimately extend the life of our car. If either the coolant or oil is low each time you check, bring your car in so your mechanic can check for leaks.

Keep an Eye on the Tire Pressure

Asphalt gets extremely hot in the summer which is hard on your tires. In addition to checking the tire pressure about once a week and keeping them properly inflated, you also need to keep an eye on their condition. At the start and end of summer, you should consider getting them rotated and balanced. The more diligent you are about the health of your tires, the better your vehicle’s fuel economy will be this summer.


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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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Updating Your California Driver’s License

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Your driver’s license not only proves that you’re legally allowed to drive in California, but it also serves as your main source of identification. It’s important that all the information that appears on your driver’s license is current.

You should already know that you’re not allowed to drive on an expired driver’s license in California.

According to the California DMV, changing your address on your driver’s license should be one of the first things on our agenda following your move. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving to California from another state or if you’ve simply moved across the street, you have 10 days to contact the DMV about the change in residence. That really isn’t much time, so it’s in your best interest to pencil it into your schedule as one of the things you should do before you start unpacking.

Even though the California DMV doesn’t give you much time to change the address on your driver’s license, they have taken steps to make it as simple as possible.

In most California counties, you have three options for changing your address on your license:

  • You can visit your local DMV office
  • You can mail in a change of residence form to the DMV
  • You can go online and fill out a virtual form which the DMV will file

While all options are good and legal, the benefit connected to going to the actual DMV office is that they will give you a temporary license that will have your new address on it. That way, if you do get pulled over and ticketed, the ticket information will go to your new address rather than your old one.

If you fail to contact the DMV about the change of address on your driver’s license in a timely manner, you may face a small, additional fee when you finally get around to completing the chore. While it’s unlikely that you’ll get a ticket for having the wrong address on your license (assuming it’s not expired) if mail concerning the ticket is sent to the wrong address, it could result in some substantial late fees getting attached to any ticket for moving violations the officer did issue.

The biggest risk connected to not updating your address on your driver’s license could be that it causes problems with your insurance company, which may use the failure to change the information as a reason to delay paying when you file a claim. They may even decide to drop your policy altogether.

When all is said and done, it’s best to simply take a few minutes and update your address.


pico-rivera-bail-bonds

Telemarketer Fraud

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If you hate telemarketers, you’re not alone. Legal Beagle reported that in 2017, Bank my Cell conducted a survey that revealed that out of 1,200 people, 75% of them actively avoided calls that they knew were from telemarketers. 85% of the people who responded to the survey reported that even the thought of dealing with telemarketers triggered anxiety-related issues.

The reason most of us loathe dealing with telemarketers is that the calls are time-consuming and the person on the other end of the line keeps pushing even though we’ve told them no several times. Most of us also hate feeling guilty when we have no option but to hang up on the irritating telemarketer.

It turns out, there’s another reason to avoid telemarketers. That reason is telemarketing fraud.

Cornell Law School defines telemarketing fraud as: “Phone and telemarketing fraud refers to any type of scheme in which a criminal communicates with the potential victim via the telephone. Because many reputable companies use telemarketing to conduct business, criminals can often effectively use the method as a way to obtain a victim’s credit card information or identity and then use this information to make unauthorized purchases elsewhere. Victims have difficulty distinguishing between reputable telemarketers and scam artists. Frequent victims of telemarketing scams include the poor, the elderly, and immigrants without strong English skills.”

Examples of common telemarketing fraud include:

  • Selling a fake product via the telephone
  • Telling you that for a seemingly nominal amount of money, you’re eligible for a free product/service/trip that the telemarketer has no intention of giving you
  • Fake debt collection calls

Telemarketing fraud is illegal in California. Cases involving telemarketing fraud are covered by California’s general larceny statutes which are defined in California Penal Code Sections 484-490.

In California, if the amount of money/good gained through a telemarketing fraud case is less than $900, it’s considered a petty theft case. Sentencing can include six months in jail and a large fine.

If the telemarketing fraud case involves damages greater than $900, the accused will face felony charges. If convicted, they could be sentenced to a full year in prison, charged up to $10,000 in fines, and ordered to pay restitution to the victims.

One of the biggest challenges connected to telemarketing fraud is that many of the cases happen in different states or even different countries, which makes pursuing legal action difficult.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of telemarketing fraud is not agreeing to any offers or providing any financial information until you’ve had a chance to thoroughly research the offer/business.


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What is Felony Stalking

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While everyone knows that stalking is a crime, few realize that it can be a felony or a misdemeanor and in some cases, the accused might be charged with both a felony and a misdemeanor.

Every single state has stalking laws. While the nuances of stalking laws vary from one state to another, for the most part, each state has the same description of what can be considered stalking. As a rule, any behavior that can be considered prolonged harassment, an obvious attempt to frighten someone, the unwanted monitoring of a person, using proximity to threaten a person, or actions that lead to emotional distress is covered by stalking laws.

Anyone who engages in the following types of behavior will likely be charged and convicted of stalking in California:

  • Going out of your way to follow a person
  • Frequently showing up at locations where you know a specific person will be
  • Using GPS to monitor a person’s movements
  • Constantly filming/photographing someone without their permission
  • Obsessively monitoring someone’s social media accounts, phone calls/texts, reading their emails, and studying their computer activities
  • Going out of your way to gather as much information as you can about a specific person
  • Leveling threats against a person or their loved ones (including pets) if they don’t spend time with you
  • Instigating property damage
  • Sending gifts and other forms of communication after you’ve been told to stop doing so

While it’s true that it can sometimes be difficult to determine when stalking crosses the line from a misdemeanor and becomes a felony, the general rule of thumb is that anything that seems more intense than simple harassment will likely be considered a case of felony stalking.

The exact punishment a person receives following a stalking conviction in California often varies from one case to the next. When handing down a sentence, the judge looks at a variety of factors, including:

  • Your criminal history
  • The type/intensity of the stalking episodes
  • If the victim had a POP order that you ignored
  • If anyone was hurt because of your actions

The sentence for a misdemeanor conviction can include spending a maximum of one year in county jail and being required to pay a fine that doesn’t exceed $1,000. In most cases, you’ll also be told that you’re legally required to stay away from your victim and that you’re also not allowed to contact them.

The sentence for a felony stalking conviction in California can include spending three years in state prison. If you have prior stalking convictions on your record, you could be sentenced to five years in prison.


consequences-of-domestic-violence

Domestic Violence in California

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Domestic violence is a complex crime so it shouldn’t come as surprise to learn that the laws dealing with domestic violence are equally complicated.

The first step in unraveling this complex system is knowing exactly what domestic violence is. California defines domestic violence as actions that either harm or threaten to harm an intimate partner.

It’s important to understand that there are sub-categories of domestic violence which include:

  • Domestic battery (actual physical abuse)
  • Domestic assault (the use of words or actions to threaten physical abuse)

It’s not unusual for domestic violence cases to involve both domestic battery and domestic assault.

California law is written in such a way that only a limited number of people can file domestic violence charges. At this point, domestic violence charges can only be filed by:

  • Spouses
  • Registered domestic partners
  • Live-in lovers (also considered a cohabitant)
  • Someone who shares a child with the accused
  • Fiancées
  • Someone who has been in a steady romantic relationship with the accused.

California law states that both current and former domestic partners can file domestic violence charges.

Many people are surprised to learn that domestic violence is one of California’s wobbler crimes. That means it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. When the prosecutor is looking at the case, they consider many variables when deciding if they want to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges.

Considerations include:

  • Circumstances surrounding the incident
  • How badly the victim was injured
  • The accused’s criminal past
  • The couple’s history (have there been numerous reports of domestic violence)

If convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault, the accused could spend the next year in county jail. If convicted of felony domestic assault, they could be sentenced to four years in state prison.

The punishment for misdemeanor domestic battery includes a year in county jail and a $2,000 fine.


drunk-driving-laws

You’ve Been Arrested for DUI… Again

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Getting arrested and charged for DUI once in California is terrifying and life-altering. The second time you’re arrested for the same thing is even worse.

Like many states, California lawmakers have decided that to take a hard stance on drunk drivers. One of the ways they’ve done this is by creating laws that make a second (and each additional offense) significantly worse than the first. The reason for this is because while a single DUI could be the result of a bad judgment and an honest mistake, additional arrests indicate that you have a habit of driving while under the influence and a menace to society.

DUIs are addressed in California Vehicle Code Section 23152. The second time you’re convicted of a DUI in California, the result will include losing your ability to drive, fines, mandatory enrollment in substance abuse programs, and jail time.

When you’re convicted of a second DUI in California, you will be required to spend at least 96 hours in the county jail. That’s the minimum amount of jail time connected to a second DUI. The maximum amount of time you can serve is 12 months.

You should expect to pay a higher fine than you did for the first offense. Typically, the fine for a second DUI is between $390 and $1,000, but that might not be all you’ll have to pay. Most courts add penalty assessments to the DUI fine. These assessments can multiply the fine to five times the anticipated amount. In some situations, the judge will allow you to choose to extend the amount of time you serve in jail or do a great deal of community service in exchange for paying the fine.

Since January 1, 2019, a guilty conviction of a second DUI in California requires that the judge order an ignition interlock device be attached to your vehicle. This only happens if the two convictions are less than 10 years apart.

The second DUI means you’ll lose your driving privileges. The good news is that the loss of your license probably won’t be permanent. In California, the current license suspension for a second DUI is a 1-year suspension (administrative per se) or a 2-year suspension if you are convicted.

It’s worth noting that in some situations, the judge will grant you a restricted license. This doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed to drive wherever you want. By if you’re able to present a compelling case to the judge, they’ll allow you to drive to work and to manage things like transporting your children. If you’re caught driving to places that aren’t specified in the paperwork connected to your suspended license or you’re driving at a time when you’re not supposed to, the restricted driving privileges will be taken away.

The only way you’ll be granted a restricted license is if you didn’t refuse to take a blood or urine test when you were originally arrested for the second DUI.

In addition to dealing with the actual criminal consequences of a second DUI, if you damaged property or injured/killed someone while driving drunk, it’s likely you’ll also find yourself engaged in a civil case as well.

The best way to avoid all of these consequences is making sure you never get behind the wheel after you’ve been drinking or using drugs.


barking dog laws

Coping with a Neighbor’s Barking Dog

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Living in a dog-friendly neighborhood is great. There’s something about a community that’s full of dogs that makes the area feel homier and safer. The only downside is if one of your neighbor’s dogs is a barker.

The problem with barking dogs is that while one or two woofs aren’t a big deal, continuous barking quickly becomes nerve-wracking. Even worse, one dog barking usually sets off several other dogs until the noise is almost unbearable.

If your neighbor has dogs that are prone to barking, there are a few things you can do about the situation.

The first is to kindly alert your neighbor to the situation. You want to do this in a non-confrontational way. Many people are very attached to their dogs and don’t respond well to criticism but will often explore options if the issue is addressed in a low-key, conversational manner. Hopefully, you’re not the only neighbor who comments on the situation.

Give the dog owners a few days to explore training and other options. If the dogs continue to bark, your next step is getting recorded proof of the issue. Taking a short video of the barking is the best way to show that this is a chronic problem. Don’t expect this to be a simple process. You need to figure out a way to get a video that proves the dogs bark continually but also shows that you’re doing nothing to make them bark. You also have to be mindful of trespassing and privacy laws while taking the video.

It’s time to file a noise complaint. This can be a bit challenging. Most homeowners associations deal with noise complaints, but if you’re not part of one, you’ll have to find out which city department deals with barking dogs. In some areas, it’s the police. In others, it’s animal control. When you file the complaint, try to do so anonymously. Not knowing which neighbor filed the complaint minimizes the risk of retribution if your neighbor is upset.

If the barking continues, your last recourse is taking your dog-owning neighbor to smalls claim court. Don’t expect to get a big settlement from the case. At the most, you might get a paltry sum for pain and suffering. The biggest thing taking the owner of a barking dog to court does is let them know that they are legally and financially responsible for their dog’s actions.

Before you start to take action against your neighbor’s barking dogs, make sure your own dogs are quiet.


consequences of carpool cheating

The Truth About Carpool Cheating

consequences of carpool cheating

The rules seem simple enough. If you are the only person in your vehicle, you must stick to a certain lane of traffic. If you’re carrying multiple people in your car, you’re free to use the carpool lane which typically travels at a significantly faster speed. The system is designed to encourage people to carpool whenever possible.

The problem with the system is that there are always a few people who decide the rules don’t apply to them and they zip along in the carpool lane even though they’re the only person in the vehicle. There are even people who go so far as to strap a mannequin into the passenger seat so that the cops think that they’re legally driving in the carpool lane.

In 2016, ABC 7 News reported that the Metropolitan Traffic Commission had conducted a study that revealed during afternoon and evening hours, 19% of the drivers in the carpool lane are carpool cheaters. The number of cheaters rose significantly during the morning rush hour when an estimated 24 percent of vehicles in the carpool lane only had a single driver.

The results of the study aren’t being taken lightly.

“Our fear is that the cheat level gets so high that everyone feels the only people not in the carpool lanes are chumps,” said Randy Rentschler, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The numbers indicate that highway patrol officers simply aren’t catching enough carpool cheaters. If enough of the cheaters got caught and issued the surprisingly heavy carpool cheating ticket they would decide that they’re better off sticking to the slow lane. Until the odds of getting caught cheating grow worse, people are going to continue to look for creative ways that they can drive in the faster carpool lane.

A perfect example of this is a gentleman who was recently busted, time, cheating in the carpool lane. Bay Area police pulled over a Ford SUV that was zipping along in the carpool lane. Once the driver was pulled over, it became obvious that there was something strange about the passengers. A closer inspection revealed that they were nothing more than coats that had been stuffed with a variety of items.
The driver was issued a ticket.

The California Highway Patrol isn’t fooling around when it comes to carpool cheaters. The ticket a first-time offender receives is a staggering $490. If you get caught again, the fine increases. This was the fourth time the Bay Area driver in the Ford SUV had been pulled over.

Carpool cheaters are a good source of income for the California Highway Patrol. In 2017, the state collected approximately $350,000 from carpool cheaters.


Community service

Community Service in Criminal Cases

Community service

Many people find that they have to complete a specific number of hours of community service as a part of their sentence. Some people love this because the community service can reduce fines and jail time. Others hate having to do so much work without getting paid.

Judges have the right to make community service a part of a sentence. Sometimes the community service replaces fines, jail time, and probation. In other cases, it’s used in tandem with the other consequences.

Community service has become so popular amongst judges that some large communities discovered that they had to hire another person and even create whole new county offices just to help with the community service portion of sentencing. These separate offices help people find promising community service opportunities, track hours, and make sure everything is properly reported to the sentencing judge.

The great thing about community service is that there are lots of different options. The only stipulation is that the work has to be done in connection with a non-profit organization and that you don’t get paid for it. You can choose to complete all of the hours by working with a single non-profit or you can divide your time up with multiple organizations.

Some communities also have government programs that qualify as community service.

When you find out that you need to complete X amount of hours of community service, the first thing you need to do is sit down and think about what you like. The entire process will be more enjoyable if you’re doing work you like or at least working for a cause you’re passionate about.

Popular community service choices include:

  • Helping out at animal rescues
  • Assisting at homeless shelters
  • Helping organize non-profit events, such as awareness runs and festivals
  • Community improvement/beautification projects
  • Speaking to school groups

Once you’ve identified the type of work you’d like to do, it’s time to contact the non-profits and find out their requirements. Make it clear that the volunteering work you’re doing is for the courts. Some non-profits choose not to track hours for the courts. Others require a background check that you won’t pass because you have a criminal record.

If the first non-profit you contact doesn’t work out, contact another one until you find one that’s happy to accept you.

Create a schedule and stick to it. You want to complete your community service hours as quickly as possible so that the judge doesn’t revisit your sentencing and decide you’re shirking your responsibilities. If for some reason, you do run into a problem and won’t be able to complete the required number of hours by the court-appointed deadline, you need to contact the court and let them know. It’s likely that as long as you can prove that you’re making a genuine effort they’ll choose to extend your deadline.

Be diligent about recording the number of hours you’ve worked at your community service project. Get the person who is supervising you to sign off on your time after each session. Turn the information to the court.

The great thing about community service is that you can sometimes use it to make important new connections, develop skills, and possibly even find a program you want to continue helping even after you’ve fulfilled your community service requirements.