San Fernando Valley Criminal & DUI Defense Lawyers

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Beware of the Habitual Deuce Offender (H2O) Unit

You likely didn’t notice several plain clothed cops hanging around outside of court in Van Nuys or San Fernando. They may have a cop radio hidden in a pocket or under a newspaper, but they can be spotted by the trained eye. Several officers from LAPD’s Valley Traffic Section have been working for years under a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety. The grant funds a 5 man team to police “habitual traffic offenders”, including DUI offenders and people driving while their licenses are suspended.

The team is part of the Valley Traffic Division’s DUI task force. They develop files on chronic traffic offenders including their addresses, places of business and even their court dates. The officers will stake out the offenders’ homes, go to their places of work and follow them on their court dates. The cops on this crew often where plain clothes and drive unmarked cars. They generally tend to look for people who have been twice (or more) convicted of DUI and who are driving on suspended licenses.

Sometimes the units prey make it easy on them when they have the audacity to drive to court dates while on a suspended license. The unsuspecting suspect will then make their court appearance and get spotted by the cops. The undercover sleuths will then follow the suspects out of court and see if they walk to a nearby car. If the unlicensed driver is unlucky enough to get spotted driving away, an awaiting patrol vehicle will swoop in and make a traffic stop. The driver will likely get arrested, have his car impounded and is often in violation of a prior term of probation.

This is where I come in. First, a bit of free legal advice: Don’t drive on a suspended license. Next, if you insist on driving on a suspended license, don’t drive to court on a suspended license. Get a ride from a friend or relative. Take an Uber or ride the Orange Line bus that it a block from the courthouse in Van Nuys. If you do become one of the “files” in the hands of the H2O Unit, they may follow you. But, after they see you are complying with the law, they will likely move on to another victim.

Next, let’s see what can be done about getting your license back. Maybe, with enrollment in an approved alcohol school, an SR-22 and an interlock device, you can get your license back sooner than you think. If there is some type of failure to appear or other hold on your license, maybe we can seek to get that lifted.

Finally, if you do have the bad luck of getting arrested by the H2O crew, you will either be booked into jail and bail will be set or you will be given a citation and released with a date to appear in court. If you need help with bail, call me and I will be happy to send you to a state licensed bail agent who will attend to this process and secure your release. Otherwise, please call me so that we can better assess your situation. Getting you validly licensed and getting you in compliance with all previous terms and conditions of probation will help to go a long way to resolve any new violations of probation or charges for driving on a suspended license. The sooner you get working on getting a license back, the better off you will be.

Remember, driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor. Driving on a suspended license for drunk driving or drugs carries MANDATORY jail time, mandatory minimum fines, and terms of probation. It is a 2 point violation for DMV and could give rise to another license suspension for being “negligent operator”. If you are on probation at the time of the alleged offense it is a violation of your probation and could result in jail time. Your car will be towed and stored for a month. The car could even be declared a nuisance and sold out from under you. Don’t get caught in the vicious circle of traffic offenses and don’t get caught by the H2O crew.

If you have questions about DUI arrests, driving on a suspended license, or any other criminal defense matter, call me:

Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340

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