In April 2014, our client, then 39 years old, entered a no contest plea to resolve a misdemeanor charge of violating Vehicle Code § 23152(a), driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The second count, a violation of Vehicle Code § 23152(b), driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, was dismissed in plea negotiations.
In the underlying arrest for DUI, our client had run into an unoccupied parked car and had a blood alcohol content of 0.12%.
Pursuant to the agreed upon plea bargain reached by the client’s public defender and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, our client was placed on three years of summary probation on the following terms and conditions: payment of a court fine of $390, plus penalties and assessments (totaling about $1,900); payment of restitution of $1,781 for repairs to the parked car; and enrollment in and completion of the AB541 three-month alcohol awareness out-patient program.
Probation ended for the client with the passage of time in April 2017.
In 2021, the client, now 46, was living in San Francisco. He called our office to discuss expungement of the conviction. He spoke with Greg Hill and explained that he was working as a delivery driver for Postmates. He had been working for Postmates since 2018, but he wanted to change jobs and obtain a position as a truck driver.
Greg inquired further about this, explaining that his conviction for DUI might be an obstacle toward obtaining a commercial driver’s license. The client understood this and clarified that he did not plan on pursuing a commercial driver’s license.
Nonetheless, he anticipated that with a conviction for DUI on his record, he would face an uphill battle in becoming a truck driver. He did not want to continue paying for his past mistakes.
Greg explained that expungement does not delete or erase the record of the DUI case filing, but it would remove the record of the conviction. Moreover, with relief under Penal Code § 1203.4 (“expungement”), he would be legally permitted to state he had not been convicted of DUI on an employment application, with certain exceptions that did not apply to him (applying to operate a state lottery, applying for public office or applying for a state license or a government job).
Greg explained that expungement for a DUI was actually up to the judge’s discretion under a little-known provision under Penal Code §§ 1203.4(c)(1) and (c)(2), which allow a judge to deny relief if one is convicted of certain offenses listed under Vehicle Code § 12810(a) to (e). Vehicle Code § 12810(b) contains a list including Vehicle Code § 23152, misdemeanor DUI. However, Greg explained, most judge were not aware of this code section or if aware, did not exercise their discretion to deny expungement relief.
Instead, most judges proceed with the understanding that if probation has been successfully completed or terminated early, and the defendant is not then serving a sentence, on probation, or charged with any offense, relief must be granted. People v. Hawley (1991) 228 Cal.App.3d 247, 249, 278 Cal. Rptr. 389. A defendant is entitled as a matter of right to the benefits of Penal Code § 1203.4 upon a showing that he or she has fulfilled the conditions of probation. People v. Chandler (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d 782.
The client said he had spoken with several attorneys and not one had been told him this, which he appreciated. He then retained Greg Hill & Associates to prepare, file, pay the $120 Los Angeles County Superior Court filing fee, serve and then appear at the hearing on his petition for dismissal. The petition included a supplemental memorandum with a declaration signed by the client explaining his employment status and goals.
The judge at the Airport Courthouse granted the motion with no opposition from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
The client was quite happy to have this dark shadow from his past removed, or more accurately understood, minimized.