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Los Angeles California Civil Rights Law Blog

Preparing for the challenges of winter driving

Drivers in California will want to be prepared for the storms and the snowy, icy or wet roads that they encounter during winter. This means ensuring that their vehicles are ready and equipped. The first thing that drivers should do is have a mechanic check the components, such as the battery, brakes and ignition; ensure the right tire pressure; and ensure the right antifreeze levels.

Inside their vehicles, drivers should have fresh antifreeze, a tank of gas and an emergency kit containing things like jumper cables, ice scrapers, tire chains, a first-aid kit and flares or reflective triangles. When stranded in snow, drivers are advised never to push their vehicle out. They should never leave their car but should light flares in front of it and behind it.

How drivers and pedestrians can contribute to safety

In 2016, there were nearly 6,000 pedestrian deaths. This was an increase from 2015, meaning that a pedestrian died in a traffic accident roughly every 90 minutes that year. However, there are several steps that pedestrians in California can take to stay safe and that drivers can follow to keep roads safer for them.

Pedestrians should use sidewalks when they can, and when they cannot, they should walk facing traffic. They should remain alert, behave predictably and avoid getting distracted by devices. If crosswalks are available, they should be used although pedestrians should still look both ways for cars. They should always assume drivers do not see them. It's recommended that pedestrians use intersections if there are no crosswalks and an area where traffic can be clearly seen, or they should at least cross in an area that is well-lit if there is not an intersection. Pedestrians should make an effort to be visible, wearing bright colors and carrying a flashlight at night or wearing reflective clothing. They should also be aware of cars in driveways and parking lots and should avoid using drugs or alcohol.

California employers may cheer if daylight saving time ends

One of the ballot measures California residents voted on when they visited the polls on Nov. 6 determines whether or not the Golden State will continue to observe daylight saving time. Employers dislike daylight saving time because it causes hours to appear and then disappear as clocks are moved forward and then back. This can create a bookkeeping headache for employers and lead them to run afoul of federal and state wage and hour laws.

Workers who are on duty when the nation's clocks move forward will work one hour less than their timecards indicate, and those who are at their posts when daylight saving time ends will appear to have worked one hour longer than they really did. Laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act require companies to pay their nonexempt workers only for the time that they actually put in, which means that either shifts or wages must be adjusted when the clocks change.

What are my self-defense rights on my property?

Home is where we should feel the safest. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. However, knowing the rights you gain when you are on your own property may help you feel more secure.

If you are worried about a home invasion or you just want to know more about your property rights, read on to learn about self-defense laws on your property in Florida.

Car accidents could rise along with cannabis legalization

Recreational cannabis is legal in California, but many people may wonder about the impact of legalization on roadway safety. There's little evidence on how cannabis can affect a person's driving abilities, and there has only been limited research to find a legal limit for cannabis consumption before driving that's similar to the blood alcohol concentration used to regulate drunk driving. However, some studies indicate that concerns are legitimate when it comes to the potential for increased car accidents due to cannabis intoxication.

On one level, the concern is far broader and extends to all forms of drug-influenced driving. For example, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report reviewing a Texas motor vehicle crash in which 12 people were killed when a pickup truck rammed into a church bus. The driver was found to be under the influence of drugs, including marijuana as well as sedatives. Some of the most serious accidents involving drugs include cannabis in combination with more powerful substances, and the opiate crisis presents its own threats to safety.

Probable cause and your rights

Driving home late after work one evening in California, an officer pulls you over for having a tail light out. After approaching your vehicle and asking you preliminary questions, the officer asks to search your vehicle. You worry that the officer may find traces or marijuana or an empty beer can if you consent to the search, but you also worry that refusing to consent will make the officer believe you have something to hide.

Perhaps after a long day, you accidentally take a wrong turn down a dead end in your neighborhood. You attempt to quickly turn around, but an officer watches you and pulls you over to question you. Upon lowering your window, the officer notices a strong smell of marijuana in the car, and the officer arrests you and charges you for driving under the influence of drugs.

The safety concerns connected to stretch limos

There are many for-hire vehicle options here in the Los Angeles area. One such option that people sometimes chose in connection to parties, celebrations or other special events is a stretch limo. However, there are some safety concerns that come up in relation to such vehicles.

Accidents involving such limos can have devastating results. This is underscored by a tragedy that recently got a lot of coverage nationally. This was a stretch limo crash in New York that led to 20 deaths.

PRESUMPTION OF FAULT IN ACCIDENTS WHILE USING CELL PHONE

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New Driver Cell Phone Law

California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5

Our firm recently settled a claim on behalf of an auto accident victim in which the opposing party was using her cell phone while driving. When asked at the scene about driving with her cell phone in hand, she professed that she was not texting or talking but was, instead, "just using my Google Maps." While using a GPS in hand used to be legal, it is now officially illegal!

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