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Compton, Third-Time DUI, Car Crash, 0.19% BAC at Scene

In a Nutshell: Car accident in Compton wherein our client was not the driver of the car because his passenger reached over and steered, causing the crash. Our client had a 0.19% BAC and a pending second-time DUI.  Case resolved for minimum terms for a third-time DUI.
Our client, age 29, was going through a tough patch in life.  His mom had moved to Utah, leaving him in Compton to serve as the home-care provider for his grandmother and grandfather.  The grandmother suffered from dementia, so it was quite stressful just dealing with her, and his grandfather recently had his toes amputated due to complications from diabetes, so he was bedridden and angry.

Our client was attending Los Angeles Trade Tech to become an electrician.

One night, he and a friend went out to reduce the stress.  Our client had a pending second-time DUI out of the Compton Courthouse and he knew he faced some mandatory minimum jail time in that case, as well as a one-year driver’s license suspension because he allegedly refused to submit to a breath or blood test.  Greg Hill & Associates was representing the client on this second-time DUI, as we had also represented him on his first DUI five years earlier, which was reduced to a wet reckless (Vehicle Code § 23103 pursuant to Vehicle Code § 23103.5).
Compton CourthouseCompton Courthouse

When he and his friend went out, they each had a few beers and then proceeded to drive home.  It was about 2:30 a.m.  The two were heading northbound on Alameda Street when our client’s passenger grabbed the steering wheel because he thought our client was falling asleep.  The passenger caused the car to drive up on the center divider, into southbound lanes and then back over the center divider into northbound lanes, before coming to a stop at the curbside on northbound Alameda.

A CHP officer heading southbound on Alameda allegedly witnessed the car accident, but our client and his passenger contested this because once they came to a stop, they got out, inspected the car for a few minutes, tried to drive it away and then both sat on the curb nearby calling an Uber for a ride.  This took ten to fifteen minutes and then a police officer came to the scene.

Our client was never asked if he was driving, but he was holding the car keys, so police focused on him.  They had him submit to a breath test at the scene and his blood alcohol content (BAC) was measured at 0.19% and 0.20%.  He admitted to consuming five or six large IPA beers earlier in the evening. 

Our client’s passenger was also arrested for public intoxication (Penal Code § 647(f)).

The client called us the very next day after being released from the Compton Police Station.  He sheepishly told Greg Hill that he was arrested for DUI yet again and explained the facts of the case to Greg.

Greg quickly sent the passenger a declaration wherein the passenger stated that he was the driver of the car at the time of the crash because he was asserting control over the steering wheel.  The passenger signed the declaration, which Greg then sent to the declaration to the District Attorney’s office in Compton, explaining how this case was similar to the minor driving in In re Queen T. (1993) 14 Cal.App.4th 1143, at 1145, wherein the appellate court held that the “[m]inor’s act of steering the car, although she was not operating the accelerator or the brakes, renders her a ‘driver’ within the meaning of sections 305 and 23153” of the Vehicle Code.

Nonetheless, the Compton District Attorney’s office filed its DUI case against our client as the driver of the car.

Greg appeared in court for the arraignment and immediately began discussing the factual issues of the case, including that the police officer who allegedly witnessed the car accident failed to come to the scene for ten to fifteen minutes, undermining his credibility. 

The young DA countered that not only was this a third-time DUI, but our client committed the offense before his second DUI was even resolved.  Moreover, our client’s BAC was extremely high and he allegedly was not too cooperative at the scene.  He license was also suspended at the time of driving due to his first DUI – he had never reinstated it.

The initial offer from the prosecutor was that our client be placed on five years of summary, or informal probation, that he serve 210 days in county jail, enroll in and complete the SB38 program, attend the HAM (Hospital and Morgue) program, attend the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) victim impact panel and pay a court fine of $500 plus penalties and assessments.

Through negotiating and discussions about the facts of the case, the case was ultimately resolved for minimum terms for a third-time DUI (three years of informal probation, 120 days in county jail, a $390 fine and the SB38 program). 

Our client then served two days in county jail and received credit for 118 days, making his 120 days perhaps the fastest 120-day sentence ever served in Los Angeles County.

He then moved to Utah (his brother took over care for the grandparents) and was able to complete the SB38 program online, which necessitated him to file a 1650 waiver with the DMV to get the hold off his California license so he could get a Utah license. 

For more information about third-time DUI issues and a 1650 waive, please click on the following articles:

Client Reviews
"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." S.A., Torrance
"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
"Thanks again for your hard work. We want you to know that we are very appreciative of all that you have done [on our son's] behalf. With warmest regards." L.H., Torrance
"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
"Thanks for investing in my case. I talked to other attorneys out there and they had an arms-length of attitude, but not you. Your intensity and interest helped a lot." C.R., Pomona