Bellflower, Felony DUI with Five People Injured, 0.19% BAC

Our client, with a very minimal prior history, was coming home from work in downtown Los Angeles.  He had stayed in downtown to have a few drinks with co-workers and thought he was headed home to Torrance, straight down the 110 Harbor Freeway.

He had had three or four beers, but somehow turned onto the 105 Freeway and headed east.  He had almost reached the 605 Freeway, when he encountered traffic, as is common where the 605 ends when it reaches the 5.

A car in front of him and to the right suddenly changed lanes into our client’s lane, while slamming on his brakes.  Anyone familiar with this section of the eastbound 105 Freeway near Studebaker will appreciate how common this situation is at that area.  Our client could not avoid an accident (one wonders if he could have even if sober).  His truck rear-ended the minivan, propelling it forward into a third car.  Our client’s head slammed into his own windshield, breaking it.

An off duty police officer was in a car nearby and observed the entire chain of events.  He then watched as the driver of the minivan got out of his car and marched back towards our client, motioning for him to get out of the car as if to fight.

Our client, dazed from breaking his own windshield with his head, and confused by the man standing by his car window, put his car in reverse and quickly got over to the side of the road.  He intended to just stop on the side of the road, but then decided to instead go to the top of the off ramp and pull over.

The off-duty police officer watched what unfolded and called 911.  A marked black and white cop car then found our client stopped at the top of the off ramp, waiting for the other cars to exit the freeway.

Unfortunately, none of the other cars did this and our client was charged with felony hit and run (Vehicle Code § 20001(b)(1)) and felony DUI (Vehicle Code § 23153(a) and (b)).  His blood alcohol content was 0.19%, taken two hours after the collision.  This meant, assuming a normal rate of alcohol metabolism, that his BAC was higher at the time of the collision, most likely closer to 0.23%, or roughly three times the legal limit.

Making matters worse, between the two other cars involved in the crash, there were five people injured.  Luckily, no one had severe injuries, but two were admitted to the local emergency room and underwent x-rays.

From the outset, the District Attorney, starting in Bellflower and then later in Norwalk, wanted at least two years in state prison for our client and a $500 fine, plus penalties and assessments.  After all, there were five injured people, a hit and run and our client’s BAC was nearly triple the legal limit.

Over the course of six months of hearings, Greg was able to negotiate a plea bargain that reduced the custody time from two years in state prison to 90 days in county jail.  Greg had to speak with the top district attorney assigned to the Norwalk courthouse, where the file had been transferred for the preliminary hearing.  Greg was also able to reduce the court fine from $500 plus penalties and assessments to $390 plus penalties and assessments.  This saved the client about $500.

As this case was a felony, the client was obligated to enroll in and complete an SB-38 alcohol awareness program (18 months long), go to the Hospital and Morgue (HAM) program, the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and Victim Impact Panel (VIP).  In order to lower the amount of jail time, Greg offered and the prosecutor accepted an arrangement wherein our client would do 200 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, which are free.  He had already attended over 50 while the case was pending, so he felt comfortable and confident doing 150 more.

The client was happy with the plea, as he would be able to get house arrest through Sentinel, which would probably equate to about 35 days (of the 90 days) and he would not lose his job.

For more information about DUI, please click on the following articles:
  1. What Do DUI Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) Actually Show?
  2. I Got a Bill from the CHP After My DUI – What Should I Do?
  3. Court May Impose $2,450 Fine in Felony DUI Case Even If Plea Bargain Does Not Include Such a Fine
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