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Drunk Driving Checkpoints Trap More Sober Immigrants Than Drunk Drivers

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Archive: Mar 2016

Drunk Driving Checkpoints Trap More Sober Immigrants Than Drunk Drivers

Article 16-11

¡No Se Deje!

Many Municipal Police Departments routinely set up Drunk Driving Checkpoints to identify and prosecute drunk drivers.  A report by the well respected Investigative Reporting Program of the University of California revealed that these “checkpoints” are much more successful at impounding the cars of sober immigrants than arresting drunk drivers.  As a result, California cities received a share of more than $40 million dollars in towing fees and police fines in 2009 from unlicensed drivers.  The towing fees are shared between the towing companies and the cities.

 

Because of the enormous amount of money cities receive from impounding fees, it is not surprising that more cars are impounded each year.  In 2007, 15,700 cars were impounded in California.  This number increased to 17,900 in 2008 and to more than 24,000 in 2009.  The towing fees and fines paid by vehicle owners range from $1,000 to $4,000 according to the financial records of the various cities.  The cities also charge the car owner an average fee of $155 and charge the towing companies a franchise fee.

 

Official records revealed that CITIES WITH LARGE LATINO POPULATIONS ARE IMPOUNDING CARS AT 3 TIMES THE RATE OF CITIES WITH SMALL LATINO POPULATIONS.  In non-Latino communities, the police impound on average 7 cars of unlicensed drivers for every drunk driving arrest.  In Latino communities the ratio is usually much worse.  In Montebello, police impound 60 cars of unlicensed drivers for every drunk driver arrested.  City and Police representatives insist that the locations of the checkpoints are not specifically designed to target Latino/Immigrant communities. Yet in the city of San Rafael which is only 25% Latino, 10 of 12 drunk driving checkpoints were established on streets surrounding Latino neighborhoods.

 

Undocumented immigrants are the tragic victims of these so called “drunk driving checkpoints”.   Although they are not “drunk driving” and did not commit any moving traffic violations, their vehicles are impounded for 30 days then they must either pay outrageously high towing fees or lose their cars permanently.  Ironically, drunk drivers arrested at these checkpoints can remove their cars from the tow yard the next day.

 

The California Safe Streets Act which authorizes impounding the vehicles of unlicensed drivers was intended to make streets safer by taking the cars of unlicensed drivers.  Yet drunk drivers, which clearly make streets even more dangerous, do not lose their vehicles.  Such results seem unfair and illogical. The law may also be unconstitutional according to some legal experts.  A Federal Appeals Court has ruled that police officers cannot impound a vehicle if the only violation is unlicensed driving.  A lower Federal District Court has ruled that impounding is allowed because it is punishment for driving without a license which is a crime (misdemeanor) in California.  Even so, criminals must be convicted before punishment (impounding) can be legally imposed.  That decision appealed to the same Federal Appeals Court that ruled impounding is not allowed.   Municipal Police Departments continue to impound the vehicles of unlicensed drivers. The California Highway Patrol has stopped impounding the cars of unlicensed drivers. ¡NO SE DEJE!®

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.    

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Do Drugs and Alcohol Affect Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

The use of alcohol or drugs can complicate a workers’ compensation case, but it does not usually prevent an employee from collecting benefits. Whether you are concerned about the prescription your physician gave you for chronic pain or you have a history of recreational drug and alcohol use, this is what you need to know.

Failing a Drug Test After a Workplace Accident

Your employer may require you to take a blood or urine test if injured on the job. If company policy mandates drug testing after a workplace accident, you may not have the ability to refuse the test. An individual can test positive for certain drugs without being physically impaired. A positive result does not automatically bar an employee from securing benefits.

To disqualify an employee from claiming benefits, an employer would need to prove that the employee was impaired at the time of the accident and that the drugs or alcohol in his or her system were the primary cause of the incident.

If you test positive because you were on a prescribed medicine but were not taking more than the prescribed dosage, you can still collect workers’ compensation benefits. An employer must follow strict testing guidelines for a blood or urine test to hold up in court. Any violation of an employee’s rights or uncertified testing may render the results invalid in a workers’ compensation claim.

On-the-Job Alcohol and Drug Use in California

In the state of California, privacy laws protect employees from random or unexpected drug testing. An employer needs to have a realistic reason for testing and use fair measures. The type of job and substance and the circumstances all play a role in when and how an employer handles the situation.

Most employers do not have any reason to question an employee’s legal or illegal substance use until the substance starts to interfere with daily work. For example, over-the-counter sleeping pills have a range of effects on users. Some individuals can take one every night and feel refreshed and ready for work the next morning. Other users may experience extreme drowsiness or impairment well into the next day. An employer may have a valid reason to test an employee who demonstrates impairment during the workday.

Proving Your Right to Compensation After a Positive Test Result

An employee trying to obtain workers’ compensation benefits may need to address allegations of intoxication before the claim can move forward. There are several ways to refute the findings of a drug or alcohol test:

  • Discredit the employer’s testing methods.
  • Prove that the accident would have occurred despite any level of impairment.
  • Use witness testimony, recordings, and any other evidence to prove the employee was acting reasonably at the time of the accident.
  • Provide a scientifically plausible reason why a test might have shown a false positive.

Testing positive for drugs or alcohol may present an obstacle during a workers’ compensation claim, but it is very unlikely that it will prevent a successful settlement. In some cases, it may reduce the amount of total benefits you can collect. If you are concerned about the results of a drug or alcohol test after a workplace injury, consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Finding a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

At DiMarco Araujo Montevideo, we understand the complexities of privacy and alcohol and drug testing in workers’ compensation cases. We know what an employer needs to present legitimate evidence against an employee, and are prepared to investigate your case fully. If another factor caused your accident, having alcohol or drugs in your system should not affect your ability to collect fair compensation. For more information, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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LA LEY TAMBIEN PROTEGE A INMIGRANTES INDOCUMENTADOS

 

Artículo 16-10

¡No Se Deje! ®

A Romina Aida Zadorian, que hacía negocios como RZ SERVICES, se le hicieron 106 cargos de delitos graves (felony) incluyendo gran robo, falsificación y robo de identidad y también de practicar la ley sin licencia y hacerse pasar como abogada.   Los cargos criminales acusaron a Zadorian de operar un negocio para ilegalmente tomar dinero de inmigrantes indocumentados al prometerles falsamente obtener residencia legal, permisos de trabajo, y/o ciudadanía de E.U.  Los investigadores dijeron que cada víctima perdió entre $6,000 a $20,000.  Los fiscales también dijeron que  Zadorian cobraba dinero adicional a sus clientes por “cuotas de registro” y se quedaba con esos fondos en vez de enviarlos a las agencias correspondientes.

 

La Barra de Abogados de California y el Fiscal de Distrito de Los Angeles trabajaron juntos para investigar las quejas de más de 100 víctimas en este caso.  Investigadores de la Barra de California obtuvieron una orden de la corte y allanaron las oficinas de Zadorian donde confiscaron 33 cajas que contenían 1,030 archivos de clientes.  Como resultado, RZ SERVICES fue cerrado inmediatamente.  La Barra de Abogados del Estado de California reportó que 16 negocios fueron cerrados desde 2006 por práctica ilícita de la ley.  La fianza para Zadorian quedó fijada en  $1,115,000.00

 

Representantes de la Barra de Abogados del Estado de California  y la oficina del Fiscal de Distrito de Los Angeles dijeron que es una gran prioridad condenar a las personas que victimizan a los miembros de nuestra comunidad de inmigrantes.  Agregaron que hacer públicos estos casos sirve como factor disuasivo a otros que podrían estar pensando en una conducta criminal similar.  Estas agencias aconsejan a las personas que investiguen cuidadosamente los méritos, experiencia, y credenciales de aquellos que se proponen a sí mismos como abogados licenciados.  Esto se puede hacer usando el sitio web de la Barra de Abogados del Estado www.calbar.org o llamando a sus oficinas al (800) 843-9053 para verificar el estatus del supuesto abogado.  El Ex Fiscal de Distrito de L. A. Steve Cooley aconsejó a las personas a usar abogados licenciados, especialmente abogados de inmigración, para asuntos de inmigración.  Los abogados licenciados son altamente regulados para proteger al público y las quejas contra los abogados son investigadas rápidamente.  La Barra de Abogados del Estado trabaja efectivamente para asegurar que los abogados culpables de mala conducta sean castigados y paguen restitución a sus víctimas.

 

Romina Zadorian se declaró “Sin objeción” a 8 cargos de gran robo bajo los términos de un pacto de confesión.  “Sin objeción” es el equivalente a “Culpable” en casos criminales pero no puede ser usado contra la persona en procedimientos civiles.   Los restantes  98 cargos fueron desechados.  Se le ordenó pagar $870,000 en restituciones a 101 víctimas y fue sentenciada a 10 años en prisión.   Este caso reafirma a los inmigrantes que también serán protegidos por la ley y advierte a las personas inescrupulosas que explotan a los inmigrantes que serán enviados a prisión aún si sus víctimas son inmigrantes indocumentados. ¡NO SE DEJE!  ®

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ABOGADO

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THE LAW ALSO PROTECTS UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS

Artículo 16-10

¡No Se Deje! ®

Immigration Consultant Gets 10 Year Prison Sentence

For Defrauding Immigrants

 

Romina Aida Zadorian, doing business as RZ SERVICES, was charged with 106 felony counts including grand theft, forgery and identity theft as well as practicing law without a license and impersonating an attorney.  The criminal charges accused Zadorian of operating a business to unlawfully take money from undocumented immigrants by falsely promising to obtain legal residency, work permits, and/or U. S. citizenship.  Investigators stated that individual victims lost from $6,000 to $20,000.  Prosecutors also said that Zadorian would collect additional money from her clients for “filing fees” and keep those funds instead of sending them to the appropriate agencies.

 

The State Bar of California and the Los Angeles District Attorney worked together to investigate the complaints of over 100 victims in this case.  State Bar investigators obtained a court order and raided Zadorian’s offices where they confiscated 33 boxes containing 1,030 client files.  As a result, RZ SERVICES was immediately shut down.  The California State Bars reported that 16 businesses were shut down since 2006 for the unlawful practice of law.  Bail for Zadorian was set at $1,115,000.

 

Representatives of the California State Bar and the office of the L. A. District Attorney’s office said that it is a high priority to convict people that prey on members of our immigrant community.  They added that publicizing these cases will provide a deterrent to others that may be considering similar criminal conduct.  These agencies advise people to carefully investigate the qualifications, experience, and credentials of those that hold themselves out as licensed attorneys.  This can be done by using the State Bar website, www.calbar.org or calling their offices 1-800-843-9053 to verify attorney status.  L. A. District Attorney Steve Cooley advises people to use licensed attorneys, especially immigration attorneys, for immigration matters.  Licensed attorneys are highly regulated to protect the public and complaints against attorneys are promptly investigated.  The State Bar works effectively to ensure that attorneys guilty of misconduct are punished and pay restitution to their victims.

 

Romina Zadorian pled “no contest” to 8 counts of grand theft under the terms of a plea bargain.  “No contest” is the equivalent of “Guilty” in criminal cases but cannot be used against the person in civil proceedings.   The remaining 98 counts were dismissed.  She was ordered to pay $870,000 in restitution to 101 victims and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.  This case reassures immigrants that they too will be protected by the law and warns unscrupulous people that exploit immigrants that they will be sent to prison even if their victims are undocumented immigrants. ¡NO SE DEJE!®

 

 

JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.

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