Thursday, November 28, 2013

DUI Checkpoints in Las Vegas

The LVMPD sets up sobriety checkpoints throughout the valley during the holiday season in an effort to catch drunk drivers. DUI checkpoints are unique because they are the exception to the probable cause rule. Although law enforcement officers normally must have probable cause to stop drivers and test them for intoxication, probable cause is not required at sobriety checkpoints, also known as roadblocks. If a person is arrested for drunk driving after being stopped at a checkpoint, their charges could be ruled invalid if the officers did not follow a set of strict guidelines.

Nevada law requires that:
  • Checkpoints are set up on a highway where they are clearly visible to oncoming traffic from at least 100 yards away.
  • Officers set up a sign with the word “Stop” near the center divider of the highway, and the letters must be big enough and bright enough to be read at least 50 yards away.
  • There is at least one flashing red light set up near the checkpoint, and it must be visible to oncoming traffic from at least 100 yards away.
  • Warning signs are set up on the side of the highway at least a quarter mile from the checkpoint so that oncoming drivers are notified that a roadblock is up ahead. The signs should be big enough and bright enough to be read by drivers and there should be bright or flashing lights around them to attract attention.

In the event that you are driving during the holidays and see warning signs for a roadblock up ahead, you are allowed to take any available legal detours to avoid going through the checkpoint. For example, you can turn onto a side street to avoid the checkpoint, but you cannot make a sudden U-turn into oncoming traffic to avoid it.

If you were arrested for drunk driving at a checkpoint in the Las Vegas area, it’s important that you retain knowledgeable legal counsel right away. Your attorney can determine if law enforcement followed all requirements for the roadblock and may b
e able to get your charges dropped if they did not.

De Castroverde Law Group fights drunk driving charges for clients throughout Clark County, NV. Visit the DUI Defense section on our website to learn more about your rights and options. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Stay Safe While Driving During the Holidays

The holiday season is a busy time for travelers, and increased traffic on the roads, combined with poor weather, typically leads to more accidents. If you and your loved ones plan to travel by car for the holidays, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the risk of accidents.

Before Your Trip
  • Take your vehicle to the shop for routine maintenance and to have your tires inspected.
  • Check your windshield wipers and pack chains if you will be driving through an area that could get snow.
  • Pack chargers for your phone and GPS and put them in an accessible place in the car, so that you won’t have to take your eyes off of the road to search for them.
  • Plan out your route in advance and also have a map marked out, in case your GPS is unreliable.
  • Have a list of emergency numbers on hand, such as AAA, in case of an accident.
  • Pack snacks and drinks for yourself and passengers.
  • Inform your relatives or friends of when you plan to leave, the route you are taking, and when you should arrive.
  • Plan to leave early to avoid the heaviest traffic times.

While on the Road
  • Get plenty of sleep before hitting the road, so that you are well-rested and alert.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination and plan for traffic and other delays.
  • Make sure you and your passengers wear seat belts at all times and that children are properly restrained.
  • Stop every few hours so that you can stretch your legs and take a break, or plan to share the driving responsibilities with another person.
  • If you start to feel sleepy, go to a hotel or pull off the road into a safe area to rest.
  • Follow the speed limit and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles at all times.
  • Do not allow yourself to be distracted by your phone, passengers, or anything else while driving.
  • Stay calm and avoid getting frustrated if you get stuck in traffic.
  • Watch for objects in the road or stopped vehicles, so that you have time to respond.
  • Slow down and be extra cautious if it starts to rain or snow.
  • Be sure to use your headlights when needed.
  • Drive courteously and safely; be sure to use your signal, be patient, and don’t cut off other drivers.

If you are involved in a collision, try to move your car onto the side of the road and call 911. Remain inside your vehicle if possible and turn on your hazard lights. If it is safe to do so, get the other driver’s information and take pictures of the scene. Although being involved in an accident is frightening, try to remain calm so that you can think clearly and stay in control of the situation.

De Castroverde Law Group represents clients in all types of injury and insurance claims in Clark County. Visit our Car Accidents page to learn about your options if you are involved in a collision during the holidays.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Street Racing in Las Vegas

Street racing is categorized as a reckless driving offense in the state of Nevada because it involves operating a vehicle in a way that displays willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. It doesn't matter whether the race occurred on a highway, in a residential area, or when no one else was on the road; if you participated in an illegal drag race, you could face criminal charges.

Street racing can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending upon the factors involved in the incident and the defendant’s criminal record.

Misdemeanor Street Racing Penalties
Street racing is charged as a misdemeanor if the offense did not lead to any deaths or injuries. Sentencing will depend upon whether you were convicted of illegal racing in the past, and can include the following:

First Offense
  • Fines of $250 to $1,000
  • License suspension for 6 months to 2 years
  • Impoundment of the car used in the race for 15 days
  • 50 to 99 hours of community service
  • Incarceration in county jail for a maximum of 6 months
Second Offense
  • Fines of $1,000 to $1,500
  • License suspension for 6 months to 2 years
  • Impoundment of the car used in the race for 30 days
  • 100 to 199 hours of community service
  • Incarceration in county jail for a maximum of 6 months
Third Offense and Subsequent Offenses
  • Fines of $1,500 to $2,000
  • License suspension for 6 months to 2 years
  • Impoundment of the car used in the race for 30 days
  • Incarceration in county jail for a maximum of 6 months

Felony Street Racing Penalties
Street racing is charged as a felony offense if the incident caused a victim to suffer substantial bodily injury or led to fatality. Sentencing for felony street racing generally includes:
  • Fines of $2,000 to $5,000
  • Incarceration in state prison for a minimum of 1 year to a maximum of 6 years
If you were arrested for street racing in Las Vegas or Clark County, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced defense team at De Castroverde Law Group. Visit our website to learn more about the importance of hiring a criminal lawyer for your case.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

LVMPD Trying to Put an End to Pedestrian Deaths

In the last two weeks at least four fatal pedestrian accidents have occurred in the area. On Monday, Las Vegas Metropolitan police officers met to discuss what can be done to prevent these tragic accidents. The victims include both adults and children, and a fatal accident that occurred Sunday night marked the 94th traffic-related death this year.

Although some pedestrian accidents involve victims jaywalking instead of using crosswalks, many of these incidents are caused by driver negligence. Pedestrian accidents are often caused by drivers who:
  • Drive while intoxicated
  • Drive while distracted
  • Fail to stop at traffic lights and stop signs
  • Drive recklessly
LVMPD officers are dedicated to finding a solution to the problem of pedestrian accidents, but said that they are running out of ways to get both drivers and pedestrians to be more careful.

Pedestrian Safety Tips

There are different steps pedestrians can take to protect themselves while walking or biking in Las Vegas.
  • Always use designated crosswalks.
  • Check both ways before crossing the street, even if it is your turn to walk.
  • Be careful at intersections where drivers make right-hand turns.
  • Be careful when crossing in poorly-lit areas.
  • Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Carry a flashlight and wear reflective clothing to increase your visibility when walking at night.
  • Avoid texting or using your phone while walking, so that you can stay aware of your surroundings.
If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident caused by a careless or reckless driver, you may have grounds to file an injury claim. Learn more about your legal options by visiting the Pedestrian Accidents page on our website.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Understanding Premises Liability

Under premises liability law, property owners have a responsibility to protect their visitors and patrons from harm. “Premises” refer to both private property, such as a person’s home, and commercial property, such as a retail store or hotel. While the owner of a property cannot prepare for every possible accident that could occur, the law requires that they take reasonable care to prevent injury to others.

Reasonable care refers to the owner’s duty to keep their property free of potential hazards and eminent dangers. This means that an owner could be held liable if someone was injured on their property because they failed to take reasonable action to prevent the accident from occurring.

Premises liability cases often include injuries caused by:
  • Spills or leaks that are not cleaned up
  • Failure to post caution signs after a floor is mopped
  • Broken steps and handrails
  • A bite or attack from an unrestrained dog
  • Broken or uneven cement or pavement
  • Exposed tree roots in a walkway
  • Insufficient lighting in a parking garage or walkway
  • Objects left in walkways
  • Negligent or insufficient security
  • Negligent lifeguards at a pool
  • Exposed electrical wiring
  • Lack of fencing and barriers at a pool

If you were injured as a patron or visitor on another’s property, you may be able to seek compensation for your suffering and expenses by filing a premises liability claim. Your claim or lawsuit must be able to prove that:
  • You were lawfully on the premises when injured.
  • The property owner knew or should have known that a potentially dangerous condition existed on their property.
  • The owner’s negligence in addressing the hazardous condition directly contributed to your injury.

If you were injured in the Las Vegas area, our team at De Castroverde Law Group can help you explore your legal options. Visit our Premises Liability page to learn more about filing a claim or lawsuit against a negligent property owner.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What are Bad Checks?

In the state of Nevada it is illegal to write a check to pay for a product or service if you are fully aware that you do not have enough money in your account to cover the expense. According to NRS 205.130, writing a bad check involves passing a check in an act of willful fraud, or with the intent to defraud the seller. You could also be charged with this offense if you pass a check or draft to obtain money, delivery of property, the use of property, services, or credit extended by a licensed gaming establishment. Writing bad checks occurs frequently in Las Vegas, so the LVMPD and criminal courts prosecute these offenses harshly.
The penalties for writing a bad check will depend upon the amount the check was written for and whether the defendant has prior convictions for this crime.

Checks written for less than $250:
  • A misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 in fines, restitution for the amount of the bad check, and a maximum of 6 months in county jail.
  • If the defendant has 3 prior convictions for bad checks, the offense is charged as a Category D felony, punishable by fines up to $5,000, restitution for the amount of the bad check, and incarceration in state prison for 1 to 4 years.

Checks written for $250 or more:
  • A Category D felony, punishable by fines up to $5,000, restitution for the amount of the bad check, and incarceration in state prison for 1 to 4 years.

Possible Defenses

The key element of writing a bad check is the intent to defraud. Law enforcement and the prosecution must be able to prove that you intended to defraud the recipient of the bad check. If you did not intend to defraud anyone, you can fight your charges. Common defenses used in bad check cases include:
  • Lack of intent to defraud. In some cases, the defendant wrote a bad check unknowingly, assuming that there were sufficient funds in their account. Perhaps the defendant believed their paycheck was going to be issued before writing the check, or they did not know that their spouse or partner had withdrawn a significant amount from their account.
  • The account had sufficient funds. If the defendant’s bank account had sufficient funds when they wrote the check, they are not guilty of a crime. If the defendant can produce bank statements that show that they had the money in their account when they wrote the alleged bad check, the charges may be dropped.
  • The defendant paid within 5 days. In most cases, a person will not be prosecuted for writing a bad check if they pay back the money they owe within 5 days of being notified that their check bounced.

To learn more about this crime, visit the Bad Checks page on De Castroverde Law Group’s website. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What is Distracted Driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2010, approximately 1 out of every 5 car accidents that occurred in the United States was caused by distracted driving. That same year, distracted driving accidents injured approximately 416,000 people and led to 3,000 fatalities.

Although many people consider distracted driving to be synonymous with texting while driving, this dangerous habit can involve much more than cell phone use while behind the wheel. There are three main types of driver distractions: visual, manual, and cognitive.

Visual Distractions

A driver is visually distracted when they take their eyes off of the road, either for a few seconds or a longer period of time. Common forms of visual distraction include:
  • Reading or composing a text message
  • Looking at a cell phone
  • Looking at something on the side of the road or in the distance, such as a collision
  • Reading a map or GPS

Manual Distractions

Manual distraction occurs when a driver takes one or both hands off of the wheel for a few seconds or a number of minutes. This type of distraction commonly occurs because the driver is:
  • Eating or drinking
  • Writing a text message
  • Answering or making a phone call
  • Adjusting the stereo
  • Reaching for something in another part of the vehicle
  • Grooming, such as applying makeup or using an electric razor

Cognitive Distractions

A driver is cognitively distracted when their mind is completely or partially unfocused on driving safely. Although the driver’s hands may be on the wheel and their eyes on the road, they can still be cognitively distracted if they are driving while:
  • Exhausted
  • Emotional
  • Extremely stressed
  • Talking to passengers
  • Conversing over the phone
  • Composing a text message

Many drivers do not realize that they are allowing themselves to be distracted while on the road, or the risk that they are placing themselves and other motorists in. Be mindful of your actions while you drive and make the choice to practice safe driving.

De Castroverde Law Group represents accident victims in the Las Vegas area. If you were injured by a distracted driver in Clark County, visit the Car Accidents section on our website to learn about your options.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Teacher Charged with Kidnapping Teen Girl

Clark County School District police have released more information about the November 1 arrest of a Las Vegas kindergarten teacher. The 44-year-old man, M.S., was arrested for allegedly kidnapping a teenage girl, who was found at his home.

M.S. became a person of interest in the case of the missing Henderson girl after CCSD police became aware of the man’s interactions with the girl over social media. When initially questioned about the girl’s whereabouts on October 31, M.S. denied knowing anything about her location. Police then performed surveillance on the man’s home and found the missing teen unharmed.

The man was charged with kidnapping, even though the girl was a willing participant, according to CCSD police. He also faces charges of child abuse, obstruction of justice, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Nevada Kidnapping Laws

Kidnapping is a felony crime in Nevada under NRS 200.310, and in some cases can also be charged as a federal offense. First degree kidnapping occurs when a defendant willfully confines, seizes, entices, abducts, conceals, or carries away a person with the intent to do any of the following:

  • Hold the victim for ransom
  • Exact money or valuable assets from the victim’s relatives, friends, or others for the return or disposition of the victim
  • Commit sexual assault, robbery, or extortion upon the victim
  • Inflict substantial bodily harm upon or kill the victim

According to state law, it also qualifies as kidnapping when a defendant entices, takes, leads, carries away, or detains a minor with the intent to imprison, confine, or keep them from his or her guardians, or if the defendant intends to commit upon the minor any illegal act. 

First degree kidnapping is a Category A Felony in Nevada, and sentencing depends upon whether or not the victim sustained substantial bodily harm during the ordeal. In the case of M.S., the girl did not suffer bodily injury, and so he could face such penalties as:

  • 15 years in state prison, with possibility of parole after a minimum of 5 years; or
  • Life in prison, with the possibility of parole after a minimum of 5 years served.
To learn more about this felony offense, visit the informative Kidnapping page on our website.