Our client, age 27, was returning from a night out with his friend. The two had been in Downtown Los Angeles and our client was heading west on the I-10. Our client had no prior criminal history. He had a steady job, but still lived at home with his parents in the El Sereno area.
As he was rounding the long turn by the old Sears building, a CHP officer behind him illuminated his overhead pink and blue flashing lights to signal for our client to pull over. Our client did so and was told the reason for the stop was he was weaving within his lane.
As the reader of this summary may realize, no one drives perfectly parallel to the lane lines within one’s lane, especially on a turn. So weaving within one’s lane may seem like a pretext for some other reason that the officer decided to stop a person, especially if it 1:00 a.m. and a Saturday or Sunday morning. However, weaving within one’s lane can indeed be a legal basis for a traffic stop if the weaving is “pronounced,” i.e., repeatedly moving from side to side within the lane and almost hitting or touching the lane markers over and over. People v. Perez (1985) 221 Cal. Rptr. 776, 778.
After our client was pulled over and admitting to the officer’s questions that he drank two beers, he submitted to a roadside preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test of his breath alcohol content (BAC). The test measured 0.11% and 0.10%. Our client was promptly arrested and taken to the Huntington Park CHP station.
At the CHP station, his blood alcohol content was tested again, this time on an Intoxilyzer machine at the station and his BAC measured 0.099% and 0.098%.
After signing a promise to appear in the Metropolitan Courthouse in a few months, he was released a few hours later. He then scoured the Internet for DUI attorneys. He spoke with friends, too, and one suggested he call Greg Hill & Associates because Greg had represented him in the past.
The client then called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg. He explained the facts of the case, his BAC, the reason for the stop and his concerns with losing his job. Greg explained how the weaving that the client allegedly exhibited may not be enough for a legal traffic stop, so the officer’s description of how much he was weaving and over what distance would be needed for the prosecution to “keep” the traffic stop and the evidence gathered thereafter, most importantly the client’s BAC.
Greg then explained that the client’s BAC was at the upper limit of what a prosecutor might consider appropriate for resolution as a wet reckless, meaning the DUI charges would be dismissed and the client would be able to resolve the case as reckless driving (Vehicle Code § 23103 pursuant to Vehicle Code § 23103.5) and the client would avoid the obligation normally triggered with a DUI conviction to serve a driver’s license suspension (in addition to the one the client faced separately through a DMV admin per se hearing).
Greg then explained how DUI’s have historically been handled at the Metropolitan Courthouse, commenting that resolving a case as a wet reckless is generally easier there than in other courts, but cautioned that what took place in the past did not necessarily guarantee it would happen again in the future. Greg added that a 0.11% BAC might be too high for even a kind Los Angeles City Attorney to offer resolution as a wet reckless.
At the arraignment at the Metropolitan Courthouse, the Los Angeles City Attorney assigned to the case at first did not agree to resolve the case as a wet reckless. Greg, however, suggested adding an obligation for the client to attend ten Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings to allow resolution as a wet reckless. The prosecutor considered this and countered with an agreement that our client perform 100 hours of community service and attend 10 AA meetings.
Greg presented this offer to the client, who agreed that while the terms were a bit heavier than anticipated, it was well worth a wet reckless and avoiding a DMV license suspension (and being able to say the DUI was dismissed).
At the next hearing, Greg entered a plea for the client to a wet reckless, which involved just one year of informal probation now that Assembly Bill 1950 had been passed, reducing probation for a misdemeanor to one year in all cases except DUI and domestic violence (and a few others). The client also had to enroll in and complete an AB 541 three-month alcohol awareness program and pay a court fine of $265 plus penalties and assessments ($390 was the base fine, credited with $125 for the client spending one day in custody when arrested).
The client was happy with the resolution.