Earlier this month, Hilario Homberto Urena was arrested on suspicion of DUI after the big rig he was driving crossed a yellow line and struck on oncoming vehicle head-on. The driver of the other vehicle died of the injuries he sustained, according to police. The accident occurred in Ontario on Haven Avenue, according to KTLA 5. liquor-sign-728180-m

Urena, who is 40 years old and a resident of the Bay Area suburb of Tracy, fled the scene of the accident before driving onto the 60 Freeway and abandoning his truck. A news release indicated that the crash took place just after 1 a.m. on Thursday, September 11. California Highway Patrol claimed that the truck’s bumper was left at the scene of the accident. When Urena drove onto the 60 Freeway on-ramp, his big rig struck a wall; the truck finally came to rest in a lane of the freeway,. where another motorist hit it. Urena was walking on the freeway when police spotted him and took him into custody.

Police believe that alcohol contributed to the fatal accident, saying that Urena exhibited signs that he had consumed alcohol. He has been booked on charges of felony DUI while operating a commercial vehicle, suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and felony hit and run.

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, felony hit and run – these are very serious charges. As Michigan DUI defense attorneys know, a charge of driving while under the influence is serious enough on its own, leaving the defendant facing possible jail time, steep fines, driver’s license suspension, community service, and more. However, when another person is seriously injured or killed in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, the situation becomes much more serious.

In the state of Michigan, a conviction for OWI causing death or manslaughter may result in penalties which include a maximum of 15 years in prison. If a highway or emergency worker is killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver, the defendant may face up to 20 years behind bars if found guilty.

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Earlier this week, a Wayne man was charged in the September 4 homicide of a Bloomfield Township resident. Bart Mitchell Spencer, a 45-year-old handyman, is suspected of murdering 77-year-old William Whitelaw. According to news reports at the Detroit Free Press, Spencer has an extensive criminal record. hammer-627349-m

At the time of news reports, an arraignment date and time could not be set as Spencer had allegedly violated his parole and was in custody of federal authorities. While several individuals were arrested in connection with Whitelaw’s death, Spencer is the only one charged in the homicide as authorities believe he carried out the murder alone.

According to the news article, Spencer did work for several residents who lived in the condo complex where Whitelaw lived. He had also done work for the victim, and was well-known in the complex. On the evening of September 4, authorities were dispatched to the victim’s condo after Whitelaw’s son called 911 and reported a deceased person.

Several agencies were involved in the investigation including the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Teams, the city of Wayne, the Major Case Assistance Team, and the Troy Special Investigation Unit. In all, Spencer was charged with six felonies including open murder, larceny of firearms, larceny in a building, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and arson – preparation to burn.

Open murder may be charged by the jury as first- or second-degree murder. All of the charges against Spencer are extremely serious, however the homicide charge may result in a life sentence if he is found guilty.

Anyone who is under investigation or who has been arrested for a serious or violent crime must consult with an aggressive Michigan criminal defense attorney at once. It is vital that you invoke your right to remain silent, as anything you say will be used against you. Until you obtain the guidance of a criminal defense lawyer, do not speak to anyone, as your freedom and future are in jeopardy. A seasoned defense attorney will work with you to determine the most effective legal strategy to reach the best possible outcome in your case.

On Tuesday, September 23, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a new law that will essentially make it possible for some motorists to perform community service, rather than paying off old driver responsibility fees. This new law will apply to motorists who were assessed a two-year driver responsibility fee in addition to payment of a traffic ticket for driving without proof of insurance or a valid driver’s license, according to a news article at Mlive.com. The new law was proposed by Senator Bruce Caswell, R-Hillsdale. pickup-31065-m

In announcing the signing of the bill, Governor Snyder said that “While we are ultimately phasing out driver responsibility fees, this program gives Michiganders the opportunity to give back by volunteering as an alternative way to pay their fines.”

Michigan driver’s license restoration attorneys know that many people have their licenses suspended due to DUI offenses, failure to pay child support, and for other reasons. However, many people drive without a valid license, believing they will not get caught. While many do not, many motorists DO get caught driving on a suspended license. This will result in a $500 fine for a first-time offender, along with a driver responsibility fee of $500 for two consecutive years. Ultimately, this is a cost that many people simply cannot afford.

While driver responsibility fees for driving without a valid license or proof of insurance were eliminated in 2012, some people had their driver’s licenses suspended because they failed to pay off old driver responsibility fees. This new law would allow these individuals to complete community service and get their licenses restored by simply paying the standard $125 fee.

Those who are eligible to participate in the new program will be mailed a notice from the Treasury, and allowed to complete 10 hours of community service which will in effect “pay off” one delinquent assessment.

Established over a decade ago, driver responsibility fees were established to balance the state’s budget, however many have come to see these fees as a “death penalty” for motorists who have a difficult if not impossible time paying court costs, fines, and fees in order to legally drive to work. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson called the new law a “common sense” option.

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A Newberg, Oregon woman was recently arrested and charged with DUII (Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants), equivalent to DUI in most other states. 32-year-old Tabatha Browning was arrested on Friday, September 19, for drunken driving while having four children in the vehicle with her, according to Oregonlive.com. bubbly-3-533548-m

Forest Grove police say that Browning was “extremely drunk,” and that her speech was so slurred it was hard to understand her. Forest Grove police spokesman Mike Herb said that the department had received a report regarding a black Jeep Commander that was driving in a reckless manner near an intersection. It was also reported by witnesses that the Jeep had parked in the bushes as it pulled up on a curb. After her arrest, Browning’s BAC (blood alcohol content) registered .19%, more than twice the legal limit of .08%.

The four children in the vehicle with Browning ranged in age from two to 11. In addition to DUII, Browning was charged with four counts of reckless endangering.

While the news article does not indicate whether it is Browning’s first DUI offense, no doubt she will face serious penalties if convicted.

In Michigan, a BAC level of .19% would be considered a “Super Drunk” driving offense, which results in punishment that is harsher than that for a regular DUI conviction. A Super Drunk conviction for a first-time offender may result in up to 180 days in jail, fines of up to $700, driver’s license suspension for one year, possible community service, and more. In addition, a child endangerment conviction will result in up to one year in jail, fines of up to $1,000, vehicle immobilization, and possible community service.

While driving under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substance is a serious matter, doing so with children in the car is far more serious. Anyone who has been arrested for DUI, regardless of whether you had children in the vehicle, must consult with a skilled and aggressive Michigan DUI attorney who will work to protect your legal rights, and obtain positive results.

Earlier this week, a Court of Appeals panel declined to review the case of a man who was sentenced to life for the 2011 murder of his girlfriend. Melvin “Roc” Smith, 30, was found guilty of first-degree murder by a jury in October 2012. balance-875413-m

Smith was also convicted of other crimes at the time including first-degree assault, possession of a firearm after being convicted of a disqualifying crime, stalking, use of a handgun during a crime of violence, and more. In addition to his sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the judge sentenced Smith to an additional 40 years on the other charges.

In June, Smith appealed his sentence to the Court of Special Appeals, who denied to hear the case. He then appealed his sentence to the Court of appeals, who declined to review the case on Monday, September 22.

According to a news article at The Frederick News-post, Smith shot Tranice Richardson, his former girlfriend, after she told him she was breaking off the relationship. She was shot multiple times as neighbors and her son watched. Prosecutors claim that in the days leading up to her death, Smith called her more than 1,400 times leaving threatening messages.

State’s Attorney Charlie Smith said that they were extremely pleased with the Appeals Court’s decision to decline review of Smith’s case.

News reports do not indicate what grounds Smith was trying to appeal his sentence on. Most individuals who appeal a sentence or conviction have a compelling basis to do so, such as his/her rights were violated, an error was made in the criminal justice system, testimony was allowed that should not have been, the jury was improperly instructed, ineffective assistance of counsel, etc.

It appears that Melvin Smith will spend the remainder of his life behind bars. Appealing a sentence of conviction is extremely difficult, particularly in cases of murder or other violent crimes. However, it is not always impossible to have a sentence overturned, depending on the circumstances of your case. Regardless, the most important factor in appealing a sentence or conviction is the quality of attorney you choose to represent you. It is vital to choose a Michigan criminal appeals attorney who is highly experienced and knowledgeable in the appeals process, and although no lawyer can guarantee success, the odds for success are higher with a skilled attorney on your side.

If you are considering an appeal, consult with a capable and aggressive lawyer who will thoroughly review your case to determine if there may be solid grounds for appealing.

On Tuesday, September 23, 13 people were arrested in connection with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute drugs including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, according to a news report at NBC4i.com. The arrests were made in Columbus and involved local, state, and federal agencies. addiction-215628-m

Authorities state that some of the arrests were made at Michoacana market businesses throughout the city. Investigators in the case claim that members of the group used profits from the sale of illegal drugs to purchase vehicles and in an attempt to launder the proceeds.

According to the indictment, members of the group distributed cocaine, or were charged with possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. Five people were arrested for distributing methamphetamine, or possession with intent to distribute. In addition, it alleges that those arrested have conspired to distribute heroin since the beginning of 2011.

Those arrested in the drug bust range in age from 25 to 47 and include both men and women. Agencies who participated in the investigation include the DEA, IRS, the ATF, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Columbus Division of Police, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

In addition to other charges, many of the 13 arrested were charged with intent to distribute 5 or more kilograms of cocaine.

5 kilograms of cocaine is equal to 5000 grams. In the state of Michigan, individuals who are charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine in amounts greater than 1,000 grams will face potential life in prison if convicted. In addition, the judge may impose a fine of up to $1 million.

Distributing or selling drugs is extremely serious business in Michigan, whether those drugs include cocaine, heroin, meth, marijuana, Vicodin or other prescription drugs, ecstasy, or any illegal substance. Even a possession charge is serious, particularly if an individual is found to have more of a substance in his or her possession than would be considered “normal” for personal use, as prosecutors may attempt to trump up the charge to one of possession with intent.

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According to news reports at Fox Sports, UFC fighter Nick Diaz was recently arrested for drunk driving, his second DUI arrest in the last 10 months. bar-5138-m

Diaz was reportedly pulled over on a routine traffic stop near Stockton, CA, Diaz’s hometown on September 6 just before 2:30 in the morning. He was also found to be driving on a suspended license at the time of the stop. Diaz was also arrested for destruction of evidence and obstructing a police officer.

News reports claim that after being taken to the police station, police gave Diaz the option of taking a breath or blood test. He agreed to a breath test, but asked to go to the restroom before giving a breath sample. Diaz tried to induce vomiting, thinking that it would get rid of the alcohol in his system; he repeatedly attempted, although officers told him to stop. These attempts would have no impact on the results of the breath test, which measures the level of alcohol in air expelled from the lungs.

Diaz was arrested in November of last year for driving under the influence and unsafe speed for prevailing conditions. Since that time, he has missed several court dates and changed defense attorneys three times. News reports state that it is unclear how all of this will affect the most recent charges against Diaz, who is scheduled to fight Anderson Silva in Las Vegas on January 31 of next year.

In the state of Michigan, a second DUI conviction within seven years of the first will result in up to one year in jail, one year driver’s license revocation (absolutely no driving), vehicle immobilization or forfeiture, up to 90 days community service, fines of up to $1,000, six points on driving record, and more. The only way for an individual to be granted restricted driving privileges is through participation in sobriety court program sanctioned by the state.

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Today, distracted driving has become more of a problem than ever before. Cell phones are a large part of this distraction, as motorists text while driving, talk on the phone, or do other things with their phones – even though it is against the law in many states. How does cell phone use compare with drunk driving when it comes to accidents and the danger involved? bottle-wine-507990-m

A detailed study was conducted in 2003 by researchers at the University of Utah regarding the effects of cell phone use while driving. This paper, entitled “Fatal Distraction? A Comparison of the Cell-Phone Driver and the Drunk Driver” indicated that ultimately, those who use cell phones while driving were involved in more accidents than drunk drivers. The study found that motorists who used cell phones while operating a vehicle were less responsive and more impaired than motorists who were driving with alcohol levels of 0.08% or above.

The research consisted of, among other things, the use of a simulator which allowed the researchers to measure how the subjects of the study reacted when a vehicle in front of them applied the brakes. The results indicated that the participants with blood alcohol levels at or above .08% were involved in no more accidents than normal, however those talking on cell phones exhibited an 8% slower reaction time than the normal baseline, and were involved in more rear-end collisions. The study also found that drivers talking on cell phones required 15% longer to return to normal speed, while those with alcohol in their systems did not vary from normal baselines for returning to normal speed significantly.

For Michigan DUI attorneys, this information is quite interesting, considering the difference in penalties between the two offenses. In most areas in Michigan, a motorist can be fined $100 for a first offense of texting while driving. The penalties for a first DUI conviction include fines of up to $500, up to 93 days in jail, driver’s license suspension, possible community service, and more.

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Dwight Howard, center for the Houston Rockets and former L.A. Laker recently had his driver’s license suspended for failure to pay a fine for allegedly running a red light on April 14, according to news reports. The problem is, Howard is accused of running a red light in Winter Park, FL on that day – and a spokeswoman for the Rockets claims that Howard was in Texas playing basketball that day. traffic-lights-in-the-evening-1078398-m

According to Yahoo! News, Howard kept his Florida home after playing for the Orlando Magic until late July of this year when he sold it for $3.4 million. Howard’s vehicle was allegedly caught on a red light camera which captures images of vehicles that proceed through an intersection after the light has turned red. At that point, a citation is mailed to the owner of the vehicle. The spokeswoman said she did not know if Howard had a car in Orlando that other people may be authorized to drive.

Another report at the Orlando Sentinel states that while living in the Orlando area, Howard had received as many as 10 tickets for running red lights, along with speeding tickets and other citations. This information was gather from Reuters, according to the news report. Ultimately, Howard paid all fines with the exception of the ticket for running a red light in April – which seems to be impossible if he was in Texas playing basketball at the time.

It will be interesting to see how this story plays out.

Having your driver’s license suspended is far more serious than people realize, not to mention inconvenient. When you cannot drive at all for any length of time, it makes going to and from work or running errands impossible without the assistance of others. No one wants to be a burden to friends or family members.

While most people have their licenses suspended because of DUI, racking up points for speeding, running stop lights, and other offenses can also result in driver’s license suspension. Regardless of why your license was suspended or revoked, it is extremely important to consult with an experienced Michigan driver’s license reinstatement attorney. The process of having your license restored is complicated, so legal guidance is a must to ensure the best possible results.

On Monday, September 15, a press release was issued by U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade in reference to two Detroit residents who have pleaded guilty to defrauding the Internal Revenue Service by using the identities of individuals who are deceased. paper-work-911375-m

According to the press release, Adreann Turnage and Brenda Knight, both of Detroit, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting in the use of false identification, and wire fraud. Special agents of the IRS Criminal Investigation unit conducted the investigation, including Acting Special Agent in Charge Jarod Koopman.

The two women, along with Knight’s husband Willie Watkins and others, devised a scheme using the social security numbers and names of people who had recently died to collect tax refunds. In 2010, those involved in the scheme filed hundreds of fraudulent tax returns which resulted in more than $1 million in refunds. In filling out the tax returns, those involved used the Making America Work Credit, Earned Income Credit, and Education Credits in order to get refunds which were then deposited into bank accounts that were set up solely for receiving the tax refunds. Watkins, Knight’s husband, had control over many of the bank accounts. Some of the tax returns were filed electronically via an account on the Internet set up in Turnage’s name. The group used public Internet access to electronically transmit many of the returns from coffee shops and hotels.

Knight and Turnage may face substantial prison time along with thousands of dollars in fines for their participation in the fraudulent tax scheme. Using false identification for the purpose of committing a violation of federal law will result in prison time of up to 15 years and/or fines of up to $250,000 for those found guilty. A maximum of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both may be handed down by the court for wire fraud.

Jarod Koopman warned that the investigation of identity theft is a top priority of the IRS – Criminal Investigation unit. In addition, McQuade urged family members to practice vigilance in protecting the private information (including taxpayer information) of deceased loved ones.

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