Our client, age 44, was driving to a job interview and it was raining “cats and dogs.” She was lost and could barely see the address numbers of the buildings out her rain-splattered windshield.
She did not want to be late to a job interview, so with a few minutes to spare, she decided to pull over and check her cell phone for navigation instructions. She pulled into a disabled person parking stall, using her husband’s disabled person parking permit, and checked her cell phone.
As she was doing so, she heard a tapping on her window. A DMV Officer was monitoring the parking stall in the rain! He flashed his DMV badge and handed our client his business card, which identified him by name and by his title, “DMV Investigator.” He asked our client to provide him her driver’s license and the disabled person parking placard “so I can verify it matches.” Our client, who had not even turned off her engine to park, volunteered that the parking placard was her husband’s and that she was just stopping for a second to check on directions.
The investigator did not seem too sympathetic, or even empathetic. He went into his car parked alongside the stall and checked on the parking permit holder’s name. He then found it was indeed for our client’s husband, not our client, and issued our client a citation for misuse of a disable person parking placard, Vehicle Code § 22507.8(a).
The DMV Investigator quickly handed our client a ticket and politely asked our client to move her car out of the disabled person parking stall. He was obviously trying to issue as many such tickets as possible and wanted our client to move out so he could issue another ticket to the next person making a similar mistake as our client just made.
Our client was devastated. She had no prior criminal history. She cancelled her employment interview and drove home, worried that she would lose her license as a registered nurse with such a conviction. She also worried that her immigration status might be in jeopardy with such a conviction, as she understood the offense might be considered a crime of moral turpitude, as it did involve dishonesty.
Once home, our client called the Nursing Board, which advised her that a conviction for the violation, an infraction, was not required to even be reported unless the fine exceeded $1,000.
The client then called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg Hill. She described what had happened earlier in the day and asked what the court fine might be. Greg explained that, in general, the maximum fine for violation of an infraction is $250, which with penalties and assessments added in, would boost the total owed to approximately $1,175.
Greg also explained that a conviction for an infraction, even if theoretically a crime of moral turpitude, would not result in any immigration consequences for the client.
Greg then explained how he thought he could persuade the judge to lower the fine to $150 or so in order to make the total fine less than $1,000 and prevent the client having to report the conviction to the Nursing Board.
Greg recommended that the client write a short essay on why Vehicle Code § 22507.8(a) is a law at all. Greg also recommended that the client take an online course from Tom Wilson Counseling called “Thinking Errors” and that she photocopy her Registered Nurse license and send it to Greg to take to court.
The client immediately enrolled in and completed the online class from Tom Wilson Counseling, wrote the essay and sent Greg a photocopy of her RN license.
Greg then appeared at the arraignment in the Glendale Superior Court. He set the case for trial, hoping the DMV Investigator would not show up for trial and the case would be dismissed.
Trial was set for about two months later and Greg appeared for trial in the Glendale Superior Court as before. To Greg’s surprise, the DMV Investigator did appear for trial.
Greg spoke with the DMV Investigator about the client taking the “Thinking Errors” class, how her intention was not to park, but just check her phone, how she was an RN (ironically) and showed the Investigator the client’s essay on why the law at issue exists.
Greg then asked the Investigator if he would oppose a $150 fine, as compared to a $250 fine, due to the reporting obligations the client had if the total fine was over $1,000.
The Investigator agreed not to oppose a request for a lower fine.
The judge then called the case and Greg entered a “no contest” plea with a request for a $150 fine, explaining that the DMV Investigator and he had conferred on the factors in mitigation and the Investigator was not opposed to this.
The judge then ordered a $150 fine, which with penalties and assessments totaled $744.50.
The client was extremely happy to resolve the case at this fine level to preserve her RN license and not have to report the conviction to the Nursing Board.