Airport Courthouse, Third Time DUI, Case Dismissed

Sometimes, it is vital to have an attorney who visits the scene of the arrest to simply try to recreate the events.  In the following case, the factual basis for the traffic stop seemed a bit odd, so we went to the location where the alleged Vehicle Code violation was observed.

Our client was charged with one count of driving under the influence of alcohol (Vehicle Code Section 23152(a)), a misdemeanor and one count of driving without a valid driver’s license (Vehicle Code Section 12500(a)).  Our client had previously been convicted of DUI two times.
In a Nutshell:  Airport Courthouse, Third-Time DUI, Case Dismissed for Lack of Probable Cause to Arrest.
Police stopped our client at approximately at 1:20 a.m., as he allegedly was “burning out” at a traffic light near an on ramp to the 105 Freeway.  At the time of the incident, it was raining lightly.  When arrested, police asked our client to submit to a breathalyzer test at the roadside.  Our client refused any test at all.

It was clear to us from the time of the arrest, and the location being nearby several strip clubs, that the officer strongly suspected alcohol was involved in client’s attempt to “burn out.”

The case was filed in the Airport Courthouse.  Greg Hill of Greg Hill & Associates (formerly John Hill & Associates) visited the scene of the arrest and took pictures of the roadway where our client was allegedly observed “burning out.”  The road surface was very smooth from many cars having skidded over the road.  Combined with automobile oil and rain, the surface was icelike.  

Greg Hill showed the prosecutor the color photographs, enlarged to eight inches by ten inches, to point out the smooth road surface.  Greg commented that the El Segundo Police Department officer surely was aware of this dangerous condition and that this was why he was parked nearby to have a convenient reason for stopping any motorist who appeared to have difficult driving.

Greg Hill argued there was no probable cause for the arrest, as the road surface was the cause of the apparently reckless, supposedly alcohol-induced, driving because the officer knew why our client slid about the roadway.  At first, the DA was dubious of the road surface condition, especially given our client’s obvious self-interest in avoiding a third DUI.  Greg Hill convinced the DA to visit the scene himself, which he did, but even after this, still wanted a plea bargain.

Greg Hill pushed the case to jury trial, hiring an accident reconstructionist to testify at trial about the coefficient of friction on the wet road surface and how it would induce “burning out.”  The District Attorney, flustered and sensing we were intent on taking the case to trial, announced on the first day of trial that the People asked to dismiss the case (even the second charge concerning driving without a valid driver’s license).

Our client was very happy with the result. He had spent a good deal of money on the accident reconstructionist, but it clearly was worth it, as he avoided a lengthy license suspension that the DMV would have imposed if he were convicted in court.  He also avoided the minimum 120 days in county jail, which most certainly would have led him to lose his job.

For more information about probable cause to make a traffic stop, such as for DUI, click on the following articles:
  1. Can an Anonymous Cell Phone Call to Police Support a Traffic Stop for DUI?
  2. U.S. Supreme Court Lowers Standards for Allowing a DUI Traffic Stop Based on an Anonymous Call to 911
  3. Traffic Stop Ruled Improper and Evidence Seized by Police Suppressed When Officer Lacked Reasonable Suspicion to Stop Driver
Watch our video about DUI by clicking here.

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Thank you so much for putting so much effort in this case. We really appreciate it and we are happy that all turned out well.
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Greg Hill did an outstanding job on every level. He was efficient, thorough, knowledgeable, courteous, responsive & brilliant. He welcomed my input and my concerns. . . from the first conversation to the last - I always felt 'it mattered' to him. S.C., Rolling Hills Estates
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Dear Greg, Thank you again for all your help. Your professionalism and thoroughness is greatly admired. I will definitely recommend you to my friends if they ever need legal help. V.L., Carson
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