In 2008, our client was pulled over on Pacific Coast Highway after he had left a bar in Hermosa Beach. He had been out with co-workers and, despite leaving rather early (it was only 8:00 p.m.), he managed to drink more than he should have to drive home. He was driving his work truck, as he worked in construction.
The client was not a U.S. citizen. He was in the United States on a work visa from England.
Our client’s blood alcohol content (BAC) at the scene on a portable alcohol screening device was 0.18%. He was then arrested and taken to the Redondo Beach Police Department, where he submitted to a second breath test machine, where his BAC was measured at 0.17%. This was his first DUI.
At the time, our client was 33 years old, married and the father of a seven year old, so this type of behavior was not consistent with the role model he hoped to be for his son or the type of husband he wanted to be to his wife. It was not pleasant to call his wife and explain that he had to stay at the jail for several hours before the police would release him because he was too impaired to safely drive. The hours in the jail, about twelve, seemed like an eternity of embarrassment.
The client, who was not represented by Greg Hill & Associates at the time, opted to be represented by the public defender’s office and resolved the case at the arraignment in the Torrance Superior Court.
Our client agreed to plead no contest to a violation of Vehicle Code § 23152(b) and admit the high blood alcohol content allegation. He was placed on three years of informal probation (summary probation) with an obligation to attend the six-month DUI program called the AB 762 program, pay a court fine of $390, plus penalties and assessments (total of $1,870) and pay the $245 City of Redondo Beach booking fee.
When our client finished his summary probation, he and his wife moved to England, where each was born. They felt the Southern California lifestyle was too wild for them and they did not want their son growing up here.
When their son graduated from what is the equivalent of high school in England, he ironically decided to attend Pepperdine University. So he returned to the Southern California, much to the chagrin of his parents.
Our client called us in 2021, asking if we could expunge his DUI conviction because it was causing difficulties in obtaining a travel visa to come to the United States to visit his son (who was a dual citizen, both American and British).
Greg explained that a conviction for DUI is eligible for expungement, however, the Penal Code (at §§ 1203.4(c)(1) and (c)(2), referencing a list of offenses under Vehicle Code §§ 12810(a) – (e), which includes DUI and even a “wet reckless” under Vehicle Code § 23103) does allow a judge discretion to deny expungement of a DUI.
Greg commented, however, that he had anecdotal information that while judges in Northern California apparently deny expungement of DUI convictions fairly regularly, he was not aware of any judge in Southern California exercising this discretion until recently.
Greg explained that he had seen a well-respected judge deny expungement of a felony DUI in Torrance and Greg was taken aback with surprise. While it was not Greg’s case, Greg assumed that the facts of the case were horrendous and that the defendant was exceptionally fortunate to resolve the case for probation.
More ominously, one of Greg’s own cases, wherein he sought expungement of a misdemeanor DUI, was denied. However, this was in Orange County, and the facts of the case included our client leading police on a high speed chase at over 110 miles per hour on a freeway before officers stopped our client using the PIT (pursuit intervention technique) maneuver to finally stop our client.
In the case in Torrance, our client was stopped for a simple DUI. It was a misdemeanor and he did not evade police or have any other aggravating circumstances involved in his case.
The client appreciated Greg’s candor, as he said he talked to some other attorneys who smugly told him expungement was a “slam dunk” as long as one successfully completed probation and was not currently on probation or facing a pending case. The other attorneys did not seem to understand the law and were charging about twice as much as Greg.
The client hired Greg Hill & Associates and our office then prepared the judicial council form for the petition, but also included a short memorandum of points and authorities and a declaration from our client explaining why he sought expungement.
The petition was then filed in the Torrance Superior Court and served to the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor’s office.
The Torrance judge assigned to the case granted the petition. Our client was extremely happy with this ruling.
For more information about expungement issues, please click on the following articles: