On Halloween night in 2021, our client was driving home from work after having a dinner with some co-workers who similarly wanted to avoid trick or treaters at their house. Our client was single and did not want to deal with a ringing doorbell and handing out candy over and over. She was thirty-one, single and had a Ph.D. She was a licensed occupational therapist.
While her education and profession suggested she was successful, she struggled with depression, bulimia nervosa since a teenager and a panic disorder. She also enjoyed “Molly,” also known as Ecstasy. She also was fond of energy drinks with high caffeine content.
On Halloween night, after dining with other single friends who sought to avoid being at home, our client ingested some Molly and had a Monster energy drink. Earlier in the day, she had taken her regular dosage of prescribed Wellbutrin (for her depression), propranolol (for her anxiety), Zoloft (for her panic disorder), Trazodone (for her depression) and Klonopin (for her panic disorder).
As she was driving home to her condominium in Fullerton, the car in front of her stopped suddenly. Our client stopped as fast as she could, but the front of her car bumped the rear of the other car just slightly.
There was no property damage at all to either car, but the driver of the car that was rear-ended jumped out and began yelling at our client, explaining there was a child in a car seat his car, and told our client she needed to be more careful.
It was about 10:00 p.m. at night, begging the question of why such a parent would have such a young child out at such a late hour (the child should be in bed for the evening well before 10:00 p.m.). Therefore, the driver’s accusations of our client lacking due care seemed hypocritical when he himself had a toddler out at such an hour, especially since such young children are eager to start trick or treating even before sundown, which is usually about 5:30 p.m. in late October.
A passerby called 911 and the CHP arrived. The CHP immediately accused our client of being drunk, but our client explained she had not consumed any alcohol. The officer then accused our client of being high on drugs and arrested our client for suspicion of violating Vehicle Code § 23152(f), driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
Our client then provided a blood test, which she expected to show positive results for opiates and possibly Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), the active ingredient in Ecstasy.
The police only held our client for about an hour before releasing her once she signed a promise to appear at the Fullerton Courthouse for her arraignment about three months later.
The client then called our office about her case and described what had happened. She explained that her medications were all prescribed, but not the Molly, which she bought from a friend. She also explained her own professional license and how she was concerned a DUI conviction may affect her license renewal.
Greg explained his experience in such “non-alcohol” DUI cases and how many were resolved for reckless driving, not DUI, which allowed the client to avoid the ignition interlock device (IID) installation obligation.
Greg also explained that our office would certainly reserve a DMV hearing just to prevent the automatic suspension of her driver’s license, but since the case did not involve alcohol, she would “win” at the DMV once the DMV hearing officer looked into her case facts. Greg explained that our office’s role in the DMV hearing was only to reserve the hearing to help the client avoid the otherwise automatic 120 day suspension that the DMV would impose 30 days after the arrest if our client did not reserve such a hearing within ten days of her arrest.
About ten days before the scheduled date for the DMV Hearing, as we predicted to the client, the DMV set aside the suspension of our client’s driving privileges and reinstated her driving privileges. The client was happy with this, knowing the reservation of the DMV Hearing was what prevented the suspension and avoided the otherwise automatic suspension.
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