Our client, age 30, went out drinking with her boyfriend to a bar on El Segundo Boulevard in the City of Hawthorne. The two had dinner at the bar (chicken wings) and continued drinking until about midnight when the two decided to drive home to Carson.
Our client was less intoxicated than her boyfriend. However, our client did drink four or five glasses of wine and a few shots. Her boyfriend immediately passed out once in the car.
Our client got on the San Diego Freeway (I-405) and headed north instead of south. When she reached the intersection of the 405 and the I-10 Freeway, she recognized that she was near UCLA and realized she needed to turn around to go back south to Carson. She exited the freeway and attempted to rejoin the southbound 405.
In attempting to do this, she headed west under the 405 and somehow became lost in a residential neighborhood south of the Westwood VA.
As she was driving down a residential street, a homeless man riding a bike with no light darted out in front of our client and our client ran him over. She then kept driving, eventually running into a parked car and a wall about two blocks away.
The sound of the impact of our client’s Hyundai Sonata was heard by security officers patrolling the VA by bike. They called 911 and police were then dispatched to the area south of the VA and to the west of the 405.
The police quickly found our client’s crashed vehicle with part of a bicycle under her front right tire. Police traced back up the road from where our client had driven and found a mangled bicycle on the road and a body of a 38 year old homeless man the police recognized from prior contacts with him.
Police asked our client if she recalled colliding with anyone before crashing into the parked car and the wall. Our client responded that she did not remember hitting anyone. Her boyfriend also denied such a collision.
Our client was then arrested and taken to UCLA Medical Center, where she provided a blood sample that was later measured for its ethanol content. The blood draw was about two hours after the collision, so our client’s BAC declined approximately 0.04% during the delay. Our client’s blood alcohol content (BAC) was measured at 0.23%.
It is relevant at this point in the summary to mention our client was on Warfarin, an anticoagulant, as well as several other medications related to her Lupus diagnosis (each which warn against mixing alcohol). When a DUI suspect is considered for a blood test, the requesting agency is not supposed to perform a blood draw if a person in on anticoagulants, as the person may bleed profusely, but it is unclear if one’s BAC is elevated by the anticoagulant.
In this case, our client told police that she had consumed four of five glasses of wine, as well as several shots, before driving, so it did not appear that her BAC was inaccurate.
The client was then released after posting a $100,000 bail bond. She then called Greg Hill & Associates.
Greg then met with the client and her mom and the client described what had happened. She was adamant that she did not recall hitting anyone on a bicycle.
Greg then explained what charges were possible based on the conduct that the client described and Greg described what he would do to defend her. He also described his experience handling such cases and how those cases resolved.
Greg explained that a probationary offer (with a joint suspended) would be difficult to get, but the client could enroll in the SB 38 program in advance and attend AA meetings prior to the arraignment to help her chances of such an offer.
At the arraignment, the District Attorney provided Greg with a DVD that included numerous videos, including a Ring Doorbell video from a house directly in front of the location where the bicyclist was hit. The video showed our client’s car hitting the bicyclist without braking and continuing to drive forward, never hitting the brakes. This was devastating evidence.
The focus of the case then became damage control and to negotiate the lowest offer, Greg submitted mitigation documents, which included our client’s record of attending over 150 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and over six months of classes toward completing the 18-month SB 38 program. Our client also had enrolled in a college course to become a nurse.
While the facts of the case seemed quite dire, including hit and run, the Airport District Attorney’s Offer agreed to resolve the case for low-term of four years on the gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (Penal Code § 191.5(a)) charge. The client would serve a maximum of 50% of the four years on this charge, so he recommended that our client accept this offer, although it was not probation with a joint suspended.
Our client did accept this offer, knowing that she most likely would be released from state prison in about a year or 18 months due to her being female and COVID-19 protocols that had decreased the amount of time prisoners were serving to minimize exposure to the coronavirus.
For more information about gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (Penal Code § 191.5(a)) and felony DUI issues, please click on the following articles: