Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer?

california breathalyzer laws

With all of the driving that people do every single day, it can be easy for everyone to forget that driving is a privilege, not a right. As such, there are all sorts of things that a driver has to do in order to retain their privilege of having a driver’s license. Most of these things are pretty obvious, such as following driving laws.

Despite the obvious things that people have to do, there is one thing that some people don’t realize they agreed to the moment they got their license. This task would be agreeing to take a breathalyzer test whenever an officer asks.

California Vehicle Code 23612

While people are right in assuming that tests can only be performed on them if they give their consent, they fail to realize that they already gave their consent for a breathalyzer test. Implied consent to a breathalyzer is given the minute a person obtains their driver’s license. Just by getting a license, a person has agreed to take a breathalyzer test whenever a police officer asks for one.

This means a person cannot refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test. If a person does, they are going to face some serious consequences, likely in addition to DUI charges. The arresting officer should warn the person of these consequences of refusing to submit to a breathalyzer.

All of this is laid out in California Vehicle Code (VC) 23612, which states that drivers have given their consent to chemical testing of their blood or breath to determine their alcohol content if they have been lawfully arrested.

Penalties of Refusing a DUI

Under VC 23612, a person faces the following penalties:

  • A fine.
  • Mandatory imprisonment if convicted of DUI.
  • Suspension of driver’s license for 1 year. A person can face longer suspensions if they have one or more DUI’s in the last 10 years. Can be avoided if the driver agrees to have an Interlocking Ignition Device installed into their car for 1 year.

The other thing to remember with this law, is that it is often in addition to a DUI charge, as well as anything else the officer might charge the person with. This means the penalties can add up really quick.

Refusing Just Makes Things Worse

Refusing a breathalyzer test is never a good idea. Often times, it simply makes a driver look even more guilty than they already are. A person has to remember that a breathalyzer is not the only way a police officer determines if a driver is drunk. They can also conduct a field sobriety test, and make simple observations about the driver. Some warning signs of a driver being drunk that an officer can observe include: slurred speech, red eyes, and an unsteady walk. Refusing the breathalyzer can even be used against a person in court.

Luckily for most people, they don’t have to deal with this law, because they know better than to drive drunk. What do you think of California’s law against refusing to submit to a breathalyzer? Is it acceptable, or too much? Let us know in the comments down below.

california open container laws

Open Container Laws in California

california open container laws

Everyone knows about the dangers of drinking and driving. Consuming alcohol puts a person’s mind in a weird place. The person is still sort of aware of what they are doing, but they are incapable of doing things precisely. An intoxicated person may see something happening, but won’t be able to react in time, or in the right way, to prevent it.

This is why drunk driving is prohibited by law in every single state. Drunk driving is very dangerous and claims thousands of lives across the country every single year. However, it is not only the act of being drunk and driving that is illegal, especially here in California. There are also laws aimed at preventing the act from ever happening in the first place.

What Are Open Container Laws?

Being drunk while driving is bad. Drinking while driving is worse. That is why there are so many laws that make it illegal to have an opened container of alcohol inside of a motor vehicle. No one wants someone to grab a drink while they are behind the wheel.

The state of California has several different laws against drunk driving. One particular set is often, collectively, referred to as California’s Open Container Laws. This grouping of laws from Vehicle Code (VC) 23221 to VC 23229 covers every type of situation that might see an open container of alcohol within a motor vehicle.

When it comes to the term “open container,” the law views the following as open containers:

  • A container that has been opened.
  • A container with a broken seal.
  • A container whose contents have been partially consumed.

Under these definitions, it doesn’t matter if a lid or cork has been placed onto the container, it is still considered open. This also means that a person does not have to actively be drinking from the container to get in trouble. Just having the open container in the vehicle is illegal.

California’s Open Container Laws

California’s open container laws are as follows:

  • VC 23221 – This laws prohibits anyone from consuming alcohol while in any car, truck, or other automobile.
  • VC 23222 – This law prohibits anyone from possessing an open container of alcohol in their vehicle.
  • VC 23224 – This law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from possessing an open container of alcohol in the vehicle.
  • VC 23225 – This law lays out how alcohol can be transported in vehicles, namely that alcohol containers must be stored in the “trunk” of a car.
  • VC 23226 – This law prohibits anyone from storing containers of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.
  • VC 23229 – This law creates exceptions for in-hire vehicles, such as taxis and limousines. Basically, passengers of in-hire vehicles are allowed to drink in the vehicle, but drivers are not.
  • VC 23229.1 – This law prohibits in-hire vehicles from transporting alcohol when minors, under the age of 21, are riding in the vehicle.
  •  

    There is a bit of overlap between some of these laws, which is likely due to the fact that the lawmakers just wanted to be thorough.

    Penalties for Breaking These Laws

    The penalties for breaking this law aren’t as bad as one might expect. For starters, breaking an open container law is an infraction level offense. This means there are no criminal charges and a person will not face any jail time. For these offenses alone anyways. However, if a person was drunk behind the wheel, then they can face DUI charges on top of open container charges.

    Breaking an open container law in California has a max base fine of $250 dollars.

    If a minor, anyone under the age of 21, is caught breaking an open container law, they face harsher consequences. Breaking an open container law as a minor is a misdemeanor level offense. This comes with:

    • Up to 6 months in jail.
    • A max fine of $1,000.

    Both types will also add points to a person’s driver’s license, which can lead to worse penalties down the line and increased insurance rates. Basically, it is in a person’s best interest to follow these laws, especially if they are under the age of 21.

    Don’t Drink in a Car

    Drinking and driving is a terrible thing to do. Not only does it put the driver’s life at risk, but it endangers any passengers in the vehicle, as well as everyone else on the road. One small mistake and the driver could wind up in a horrible accident. That is why there are so many laws against drunk driving.

    No one wants to be in an accident, and no one wants to get into trouble with the law, so it is best to never drink in a vehicle, or have an open container improperly stored within the vehicle. Doing either of those things could very quickly ruin someone’s day.

    What do you think about California’s open container laws? Is it a good idea for California to worry about this sort of thing? Are the penalties for breaking these laws too small, or not enough? Let us know what you think about these laws in the comments down below.

    california marijuana laws

    What Are the Laws about Marijuana in California?

    california marijuana laws

    Proposition 64 was passed by voters in November 2016. This set the groundwork for the recreational use of marijuana to become legal in the state on January 1st, 2018. This changed up how marijuana could be used in the state, and removed many of the penalties for smaller marijuana based offenses. However, it did not legalize everything with marijuana usage, and that is where there is some confusion.

    Even though this change went into effect a year ago, it is still relatively new. This means that most people are a bit fuzzy on what exactly changed. Many people are unaware of what is now legal, and what can still get them into trouble when it comes to marijuana.

    The Law and Personal Use

    It is now legal for a person 21 years or older to possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana or up to 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. One thing that many people seem to forget, is that the law only allows recreational use of marijuana. This means that it can only be used on private property with permission from the property owner. Landlords and employers still have the right to restrict marijuana usage on their properties, which can affect renters and employees of businesses.

    Since smoking marijuana is a lot like smoking cigarettes, it is also prohibited anywhere that smoking is prohibited. Basically, if someone can’t smoke a cigarette someplace, then they cannot smoke marijuana there either. This typically includes any K-12 school, and other places where children are frequently present. The idea behind this ban is to protect kids from secondhand smoke.

    A person can still get into trouble for possessing marijuana if:

    • They are under the age of 21.
    • They have more than 28.5 grams of marijuana.
    • They have more than 4 grams of concentrated cannabis.
    • They have any marijuana in their possession while on any K-12 school grounds while school is in session.

    It is important to remember that the use of marijuana is still illegal under federal law. This means that at any time, federal prosecutors can decide to arrest and prosecute a person for marijuana use, even if they are following all state laws. While this is unlikely, for this reason, it is a good idea to never use marijuana on the premise of a federal building.

    Penalties for Illegal Possession

    The punishment for illegal possession of marijuana is dependent on the crime itself. For instance, a minor in possession of marijuana is an infraction level offense that comes with drug counselling and community service for someone under 18, and a $100 fine for anyone between the age of 18 and 21.

  • Possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor. This comes with up to 6 months in county jail and a max fine of $500.
  • Possession of marijuana on school grounds is a misdemeanor and comes with a $250 fine for a first offense.
  • That covers possession laws pretty well, now onto cultivation laws.
  • The Law and Personal Cultivation

    Under this new law, anyone 21 and older is allowed to grow and maintain up to 6 plants of marijuana. The plants need to be grown indoors, unless local regulations allow people to grow the plants outside. Whenever the plants are grown must be a secure location to ensure that minors cannot get ahold of the plants.

    Again, minors face restrictions with this law as well. No one under the age of 21 is allowed to grow marijuana. If caught doing so, anyone under 18 will need to go to drug counseling and perform community service. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 21 will have to pay a small fine of $100.

    Anyone over the age of 21 who grows more than 6 plants of marijuana will likely face misdemeanor charges. This means up to 6 months in jail and a max fine of $500. For some people, growing more than 6 plants could earn them felony charges if:

    • They’ve committed serious felonies in the past.
    • They are registered sex offenders.
    • They’ve been convicted of this crime twice already.
    • They’ve violated California environmental laws.

    What Is Legal in California

    The passing of Prop 64 3 years ago legalized the recreational usage of marijuana in the state of California. This made it legal for people to use marijuana in certain areas, and to grow up to 6 plants. However, it is still illegal for minors, anyone younger than 21, to possess, use, or grow marijuana.

    This legalization also permitted licensed businesses to sell marijuana legally in the state. However, unlicensed individuals are not allowed to sell any of the marijuana that they grew or have. That is still a crime in California. For more information on selling marijuana laws, click here.

    What do you think of California’s take on recreational marijuana? Was it a bad idea, or the right thing to do? Let us know in the comments down below.

    california marijuana sale laws

    California’s Laws on the Sale of Marijuana

    california marijuana sale laws

    While voters passed Proposition 64 back in 2016 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana within the state, there are still instances where a person can get into trouble with the drug. For more information about laws surrounding the selling of marijuana, keep reading.

    Who Can Sell Marijuana?

    When it comes to the sale of marijuana within the state of California, only licensed individuals are permitted to make sales. In order for a business to get a license to sell marijuana within the state, they have to apply for one through the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC).

    The BCC is responsible for overseeing all commercial sales of marijuana within the state. Anyone looking to get a license to sell any form of marijuana or cannabis within California needs to get a license from this agency. If a person fails to do that, then they will face legal consequences for selling marijuana without a license. Not only is selling marijuana illegal, but just possessing with the intent of selling it can get a person into trouble.

    Possessing marijuana with the intent to sell is typically a misdemeanor offense. It earns a person up to 6 months in jail and a max fine of $500. However, this crime can become a felony level offense if:

    • A person has a prior conviction of a violent felony.
    • A person has 2 or more prior misdemeanor convictions of intent to sell marijuana.
    • A person possessed marijuana in the attempt to sell it to a minor, someone under 18.

    If one of these instances occurs, than the person can face anywhere from 16 months to 3 years in jail.

    The unlicensed sale of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense in most cases. It comes with a jail stay of no more than 6 months and a max fine of $1,000. As with the intent to sell marijuana, if a person meets any of the above exceptions, then they could face felony charges. Felony charges of sale without a license can earn a person anywhere from 2 to 4 years in jail.

    A person is allowed to transport and give away marijuana, provided the total amount is less than or equal to the legal limit of 28.5 grams of marijuana and the person they are giving the marijuana to is 21 or older.

    Minors and Marijuana

    While the recreational use of marijuana may be legal in California, a person has to be over the age of 21 to take advantage of that law. Anyone under the age of 21 is prohibited from doing anything with marijuana, this includes:

  • Administer
  • Carry
  • Give away
  • Prepare for sale
  • Sell
  • Transport
  • Use
    • If a person is caught allowing a minor to do any of these things, they can face harsh prison sentences. If the minor was under the age of 14, then the person can face anywhere from 3 to 7 years in state prison. If the minor was between the ages of 14 and 18, then the person faces anywhere from 3 to 5 years in state prison.

      California’s Take on the Sale of Marijuana

      It may be legal for a person to use marijuana in a recreational sense here in California, but that does not mean that a person can do whatever they want with the drug. There are still rules to follow. For instance, only licensed businesses are allowed to sell marijuana in any quantity.

      Another big law is that a person has to be 21 or older to be able to use or do anything with marijuana. Anyone younger than 21 is considered a minor when it comes to marijuana, and can get into serious legal trouble for dealing with the drug.

      What do you think about California’s take on the sale of marijuana and how it punishes people who break those laws? Is it too much, or just enough? How about when minors are involved? Let us know what you think in the comments down below.

    What Kind of Driving Is Worse Than Drunk Driving?

    distracted driving

    Driving is something that pretty much every single adult does every day. They drive to get to work, to run errands, and take their kids wherever they need to go. Driving is such a part of everyone’s day to day life that no one really bats an eye at it. Everyone is used to driving, which makes driving more dangerous.

    When people deal with something on a daily basis, they tend to forget how risky that something can be. This is definitely the case with driving. On its own, driving can be very dangerous. When travelling that quickly, it doesn’t take much for something to go wrong. This is why a driver needs to keep their focus on the road and the task at hand. Looking away for even a second can have deadly consequences.

    Distracted Driving Isn’t Harmless

    Distracted driving often seems harmless, which is why millions of people do it every single day. However, these people often fail to realize that by distracting themselves like that, they are increasing their chances of being in an accident. Cellphone use while driving is responsible for roughly 1.6 million car accidents in the US each year. This is around 64% of all car accidents in the US.

    Cars are large, heavy objects moving at very high speeds. They need precise control to keep them operating the way we want them to. One small jerk of the steering wheel while driving at 50mph can send the car careening in an unintended direction. If a person takes their eyes off of the car in front of them, they might not see it slam on the brakes, which means they won’t have time to stop their car before slamming into the one in front.

    It doesn’t cause much to cause a distraction, which is why certain activities should never be performed while driving. Some of these activities include:

    • Texting
    • Phone calls, hands-free or not
    • Smartphone usage
    • Eating
    • Applying makeup
    • Looking for something in the car
    • Talking to other passengers

    All of these activities seem harmless, but reduce a driver’s concentration, thereby increasing their chances of being in an accident.

    In some studies, it has been found that texting and driving actually reduces a driver’s response time more than being drunk. This means that texting and driving is more dangerous than driving drunk.

    California Laws against Distracted Driving

    Distracted driving is such a big deal that the state of California even has laws against it. What started out as laws against using a cellphone, expanded to cover other, common activities that could be considered distracted driving.

    If any over the age of 18 is caught using a cellphone or other electronic devices, without hands-free, while driving will face infraction level charges, which means some small fines. Anyone under the age of 18 using any sort of electronic device, even hands-free, while face an infraction and possible suspension of their driver’s license or permit.

    Don’t Drive While Distracted

    When driving, it is very easy to become distracted. In most cases, looking away for a second seems harmless, and sometimes it is. However, there are plenty of examples of when a person looked away for a second and caused a car accident. If the driver is lucky, they will be able to walk away for the incident. Unfortunately, not all drivers are lucky.

    Distracted driving affects everyone, from fresh new drivers to seasoned veterans. It is every driver’s problem, and everyone needs to commit to the idea of remaining focused while behind the wheel of a vehicle.

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    Don’t Let Road Rage Ruin Your Life

    road rage rialto bail bonds

    With summer in full swing, people from all over the state of California, and the rest of the country, are busy enjoying summer their vacation. While this is fun for a lot of people, the trips can be a bit taxing. Nobody likes to be stuck in a car for extended periods of time. Doing that can make just about anyone cranky. If this affects the driver, it can easily lead to a bit of road rage.

    Pretty much every driver out there assumes they are better than everyone else at driving. Their feelings often get “proven” when another driver makes a bad decision. This can lead to road rage, which if not kept in check, can quickly spiral out of control. One Alabama woman recently learned this fact the hard way.

    Road Rage Shooting Incident

    In Dodge City, Alabama, couple were driving their car when things got a bit heated between them and another driver. As their road rage grew worse, the woman pulled a gun out. She attempted to shoot the other driver, but missed. She somehow ended up shooting her husband.

    The wife was arrested and her husband taken to a local hospital in critical condition after being shot in the head. The wife is facing charges of attempted murder, second-degree assault, and reckless endangerment.

    Tips to Deal with Road Rage

    The fact that people have very little patience when they are tired and stressed is no secret. Everyone gets a bit cranky like this. For many people, they are most cranky and stressed when they are behind the wheel of vehicle. A person has to deal with so many people while driving, and it’s a good chance that they are just as upset. This is why driving creates prime conditions for road rage.

    At the end of the day, no one wants to drive while angry. It just isn’t fun. Luckily there are ways to avoid and/or manage road rage.

    • Be kind. A person can prevent road rage from spreading by not shouting at other drivers or using rude gestures.
    • Drive safely. This not only means following the rules of the road, but expecting other drivers to not follow those rules. By being prepared for another driver to make a bad decision, a person is less likely to be caught off guard and become enraged.
    • Plan ahead. While not always possible, planning ahead and leaving at a decent time will make drives less stressful. When a person is running late, they become stressed and more susceptible to road rage.
    • Remain calm. This can be done by taking deep breaths and either listening to calming music or podcasts that get a person thinking about things other than driving. This also includes being understanding of other drivers and recognizing that everyone makes mistakes from time to time.
    • Stay safe. If an angry person ever gets out of their car to talk to a person, that person should make sure their doors are locked and keep on driving. If the other driver begins to follow the person, don’t stop. That person should keep driving and either call the police or drive to the nearest police station.

    By doing these things, a person stands a better chance of not getting upset themselves, and not upsetting other drivers as well.

    Stay Calm and Safe This Summer

    Driving is a big part of everyday life, especially if someone is driving to their vacation. A person should never let road rage ruin their summer vacation, or their life. Things can change in an instant, especially when someone is angry. Don’t let that happen. Stay calm and remember that every other driver on the road is just trying to get to somewhere alive like you are.

    Do you have a favorite summer vacation drive? Have you ever had a terrifying road rage encounter before? If so, tell us about it in the comments below.

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    Be Careful Where You Walk Your Dog This Summer

    pet safety during summer

    Taking care of others isn’t always easy. Often times, the other person or creature needs constant supervision to keep them safe and healthy. Without a constant, watchful eye, the dependent could cause trouble, get hurt, or worse. This is often the case with pets, especially dogs.

    Dogs have a tendency to be more high maintenance than cats. Of course, this isn’t to say there are no high maintenance cats out there, but dogs take the lead. They need to be walked and cleaned regularly. Luckily, with summer here, walking dogs is no big deal. The mornings and evening in summer provide the best weather for taking a pup on a nice stroll around a park or along a hiking trail. However, there is a danger for dogs lurking along trails and out there in the wilderness, one that many people would not initially expect.

    Foxtails Can Be Harmful to Dogs

    Everyone knows that summer brings warmer weather with it. While this warmer weather can be enjoyable for going outside, it cooks the landscape. As plants begin to dry up, many of them begin to seed before dying. One grass in particular has what, at first glance, may appear harmless, but in actuality can be dangerous to dogs. These plants are called foxtail grasses.

    Foxtail grasses are clumps of grasses that come in varying sizes. The grasses can be recognized by their fluffy looking flower and seed cluster. These seed clusters often hold hundreds of seeds that all look like tiny foxtails, which is where the name comes from.

    A person has often encountered these seeds while hiking when they feel something poking them in their sock. These seeds are great at getting lodged into anything scraggily, such as socks, and can be very uncomfortable. Luckily, when a person feels the seed poking them, it can be removed easily enough with a bit of firm pulling to untangle it. Unfortunately, for fury companions, getting stuck with one of these seeds can be more harmful.

    These seeds like to get lodged in dog’s furs, ears, and noses. Not only is this likely incredibly annoying for the poor pooch, it can cause a bit of harm to the pup if left untreated. The seeds can end up getting lodged further into the skin, where it can cause an infection. The infection can become lethal to the dog if left untreated.

    In order to keep dogs healthy and happy, and owner needs to brush down their dog after any walk. This should remove any foxtails from the pup’s fur. Then the owner should checks for any foxtails in their dog’s ears, nose, and in-between paws. If any are found, they should be removed as soon as possible. If things start to get bad, the person should take their dog to the vet.

    Keep an Eye out for Foxtails

    After California’s surprisingly rainy spring, there are plenty of foxtails out their just waiting to get lodged in some poor dog’s fur. A dog owner should choose their walking locations carefully, and avoid any areas where foxtails. A person should also weed their yard and get rid of any foxtail grasses there to help keep the yard safe for dogs.

    All any good dog owner wants to do is keep their pup healthy and happy, and keeping the pooch away from foxtails is a great way to do that. Has your pooch ever had a bad encounter with foxtails? Do you have any tips for dealing with foxtails, or for any other problems that a caring dog owner should know about? Share them in the comments below and help others keep their pups safe from harm.

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    Beware of Extreme Heat This Summer

    avoiding a heat stroke

    Summer is in full swing here in California, and many parts of the state are feeling the heat. While for some this is a nice change of pace from the cold of winter, for others this is just another extreme to be dealt with. Just like the cold, the heat can become harmful and even deadly. That is why people need to take the proper steps to ensure their health and well-being this summer.

    When the weather grows indescribably hot, there are several things a person should do to keep cool. At excessive temperatures, keeping cool isn’t just about comfort, it is about staying healthy. At high temperatures, a person can suffer from heatstroke or heat exhaustion. Both can be very serious conditions, have their own unique symptoms, and require their own responses to keep the person suffering from them safe. The following information comes from the National Weather Service’s website.

    In addition, heat cramps could be a warning sign of these illnesses starting to take effect in the person. If a person has been in hot weather and is suffering from cramps, usually in their legs or abdomen, they should:

    • Apply firm pressure to the cramping muscle.
    • Massage the muscle.
    • Sip on water so long as the person isn’t nauseous.

    Feeling Tired from the Heat?

    Spending too much time in the sun, or even just a warm area, can cause a person to suffer from heat exhaustion. When a person is suffering from heat exhaustion, they will experience the following symptoms:

    • Cool, pale, clammy skin.
    • Dizziness.
    • Fainting.
    • Fast, weak pulse.
    • Heavy sweating.
    • Muscle cramps.
    • Nausea, vomiting.
    • Weakness.

    If a person is suffering these symptoms, they should get to a cooler area as soon as possible. They should loosen, or if possible, remove clothing to help cool off. If the person is conscious, give them sips of water. Apply cool, wet clothes to as much of the body as possible.

    If the person vomits more than once, seek immediate medical attention.

    The Signs of Heat Stroke

    Heat stroke is another, more serious heat related condition. The symptoms of heat stroke include:

    • Altered mental state.
    • Body temperature over 103 degrees.
    • Confusion.
    • Dizziness.
    • Faints.
    • Hot, red, dry, or moist skin.
    • Nausea.
    • Rapid, strong pulse.
    • Shallow breathing.
    • Throbbing headache.

    If a person exhibits these symptoms, contact 911 or get them to a hospitable immediately. If waiting for emergency services, move the person into a cooler area, preferably with air conditioning. Apply cool, wet cloths to as much as the body as possible or put them in a cool bath. Fan them only if the air temperature is under 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Do not give the person fluids.

    Stay Cool This Summer

    During the warm summer months, it is important for person to keep cool, not just to remain comfortable, but to remain in good health as well. Not only does a person need to keep an eye on themselves during these warm times, but they need to watch out for those who can’t take care of themselves or those who are more susceptible to heat such as young children and the elderly. Doing so could keep them safe this summer.

    It is also important to remember to stay hydrated when in hot weather. The human body uses water, in the form of sweat, to help regulate the body’s temperature. Without enough water, the body can begin to suffer from one of these illnesses.

    What are some ways that you like to keep cool during the summer, especially while working? Let us know in the comments down below and help other people keep cool this summer.

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    What Kind of Video Games Is Your Child Playing?

    video game rating

    Parenting is not an easy task, but at least school is there to take the kids away for a few hours each day. That helps. However, summer is now here and the kids are free from school for the season. It can be tough for parents to figure out how to keep their kids busy and entertained over the summer.

    Nowadays, many kids are easily entertained with a video game of some sort. Luckily, there are plenty of games to choose from to keep the kiddies entertained. However, a parent needs to make sure that the game their kid is playing is appropriate for them. Some parents don’t realize that there is a way to determine what is in a game without having to play it.

    How to Rate a Game

    Video games come in all sorts of “shapes and sizes.” There truly is something for everyone, so long as they are willing to look for the right game. One of the ways that people can tell what is in a game, aside from reading the back of the box, is to look at the rating system. Every single game in the United States has a rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).

    The ESRB is tasked with providing consumers with the information to determine what kind of audience the game is made for. The ESRB examines a game and determines if its content is meant more for kids, or adults. Once a decision has been decided on for a game, the game receives a letter rating.

    While some people may be confused by the letter system used for rating video games, it is actually pretty straightforward. The following letters can be used for ratings:

  • EC – EC stands for early childhood and are usually meant as educational games for very young kids. This rating isn’t used much in most games.
  • E – E stands for everyone, meaning that the game is suitable for all ages. An E game can contain minimal cartoon, fantasy, mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language. Games like Pokémon fall into this category.
  • E10+ – E10+ stands for everyone age ten and up. These games can contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes. Minecraft falls into this category.
  • T – T stands for teen, meaning the game is meant for anyone 13 and older. These games can contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language. The popular battle royal style game Fortnite falls into this category.
  • M – M stands for mature, meaning a player should be 17 or older to buy or play the game. These games contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language. Any first-person shooter (FPS) game, like Call of Duty, typically fits into this category.
  • AO – AO stands for adults only, meaning a person should be 18 or older to play the game. Admittedly, this rating is very rarely used. These games can contain prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content and/or gambling with real currency.
  • RP – RP stands for rating pending, meaning the game hasn’t gotten an official rating yet. This is usually seen on adds for games long before their official release and therefore will never be on a game once it is available to purchase.
  • More information can be found on the ESRB website, as well as a helpful lookup tool, here.

    Be Wary of Loot Boxes

    Another thing a parent should be wary of in their child’s games, are loot boxes. Loot boxes are highly controversial at the moment with many people debating whether or not they constitute gambling.

    Loot boxes typically work as follows: A player acquires a box in game, sometimes by earning, though usually through purchasing the box with real world money. The player then opens the box is given a random in-game reward. If a player didn’t get the reward they wanted, they can always purchase another loot box to try again. This can very quickly add up to a lot of money.

    Some popular games that include loot boxes include:

    • Apex Legends
    • Counter-Strike
    • FIFA
    • Fortnite
    • Overwatch
    • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
    • Star Wars Battlefront 2

    Due to these questionable practices, many governments around the world are weighing in on whether or not loot boxes count as gambling. Until governments can come to any sort of decision on this front, parents should pay attention to games with these, as kids have been known to use their parent’s credit cards to buy a lot of these loot boxes.

    Pay Close Attention

    Video games can be a great way to keep a child entertained this summer, so long as a parent is aware of what games their letting their child play. When a parent buys a game for their child, they need to make sure that the game is appropriate. If they don’t want their child seeing anything super violent, then M rated games are out of the picture. No cartoon violence, then T games are out as well. E and E10+ games are usually a safe bet for young children.

    Unfortunately, if a parent wants to avoid games with loot boxes, they are going to have to a look a little more closely at the rating box on the game’s case. Loot boxes themselves don’t currently affect a game’s rating with the ESRB, however they should be listed next to the games rating under the category of in-game purchases.

    Do you have a favorite child appropriate game? If so, share it in the comments below and help other parents find a good game for their child this summer.

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    Does the ShakeAlert System Work?

    shake alert

    While people all over the country were celebrating the Fourth of July, Southern California got quite a shocking surprise. A magnitude 6.4 earthquake centered near Ridgecrest, California struck around 10:35 am. People from as far away as Orange County and Las Vegas felt the shaking from the quake. The area remained seismically active for the rest of the day, with another 5.4 quake striking the area around 4:07 am.

    This quake was followed by a larger one, 7.1 magnitude, on July 5th.

    This was all an important reminder for Californians that larger earthquakes can and will happen here. This drew the usual concern about how people should prepare for earthquakes. Some tips that we have gathered in the past on how to do this can be found here. This also drew some concern as people in redlands wondered why they did not receive an alert from ShakeAlert.

    What Is ShakeAlert?

    ShakeAlert is an early earthquake warning system meant to alert people to earthquakes before they start shaking an area. The system began working in the fall of 2018. There are thousands of earthquake sensors all over the state of California. When one of the sensors detects a quake, it sends an alert to a research facility that then sends the alert out to anyone who has the app on their phone.

    It is important to note that this system does not detect earthquakes before they occur. It simply detects the shaking at the epicenter and alerts surrounding areas. Thanks to modern technology, an earthquake can be detected and an alert send to the surrounding areas almost minute before the shaking reaches those areas.

    The technology is still in development is largely being used by researchers to study quakes and fine tune the tech. they hope that they will be able to expand the system and give people greater early warnings. While a warning of less than a minute doesn’t sound like much, it can do a lot for people. This kind of warning can help prevent planes from taking off and landing during the shaking. It can stop people from driving onto bridges or into tunnels. It can help utility companies shut down systems and prevent fires from flaring up because of the quake. Those few seconds can actually make a huge difference.

    While this tech is amazing, many people in redlands realized that they never received an alert about the quake.

    Why Weren’t LA Citizens Notified?

    While many suspect that they didn’t receive an alert simply because the system doesn’t work, they would be wrong. The system worked, however it determined that the quake would not be strong enough to warrant alert residents of LA County to the earthquake.

    As it currently stands, the system only alerts LA County residents if either:

    • An earthquake of magnitude 5.0 or stronger strikes within the boundaries of LA County.
    • An earthquake that happened outside of LA County will shake the area with an estimated shaking intensity of 4.

    While the recent July 4th earthquake was a magnitude 6.4, it was not located within LA County. The ShakeAlert system estimated that shaking in the LA County are would only be intensity 3. This is understandable from a scientific standpoint, as the difference in shaking between a magnitudes is bigger than people realize. A magnitude 5.0 earthquake is 10 times more violent than a magnitude 3.0.

    However, for many people, not being alerted to the shaking before it began worried them, and caused them to question the effectiveness of the ShakeAlert system.

    The System Does Work

    The thing to take away from this is that the ShakeAlert System does work. It only sends alerts to areas that are about to experience large amounts of shaking. This is likely done to keep the alerts more important. If the system sent out alerts for every single earthquake, which California experiences hundreds of little ones each day, people would begin to ignore the alerts all together. It would become a lot like the story of the boy who cried wolf. No one would believe the system when a big earthquake finally hit.

    Instead of getting upset that the system didn’t issue a warning for minor shaking, use this as a reminder to stay prepared. A person should have an exit strategy for any room they spend a lot of time in, whether that be at home or work. It is also a good idea to have some supplies stored away in the event that roads are too damaged to use and stores run out of supplies.

    Did you feel the Fourth of July quake? Tell us about it, and how well you handled the shaking in the comments down below.