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Hawthorne, Client Passes Out While Driving, Wet Reckless

Our client, age 28, was returning home to Inglewood from a bar in El Segundo. He fell asleep while driving on an exit from the 105 Freeway. He was jolted awake when his car slammed into the back of a taxi cab waiting to exit the 105 Freeway.

In 50 Words or Less:  Hawthorne, our client passes out while driving on 105 Freeway, runs into rear of taxi cab, client has 0.12% BAC, case resolved for wet reckless.

Luckily, the cab driver and its passenger were not injured. Our client also was not injured, however both cars were totaled.

The CHP was summoned to the scene by someone with a cell phone. The CHP immediately determined that our client was at fault and ordered him to perform a series of field sobriety tests. The CHP officer then arrested our client and took him to the Hawthorne police station.

Patrol car

Once at the Hawthorne Police Station, our client submitted to a breath test. His breath alcohol concentration (BAC) was measured at 0.12% twice. This was our client’s first and hopefully last DUI.

The client then came to Greg Hill & Associates, worried about the consequences for his license, as he was a delivery man for Fed-Ex. He also was aware that if there were injuries to anyone involved, he could face a felony DUI. While he did not think the taxi cab driver was injured, he was unsure about the taxi’s passenger.

Greg Hill met with the client and listened to his memory of events up until the point when he fell asleep at the wheel.

When Greg received the CHP report from the DMV, he noticed that the CHP never reported the time of the accident, the time of the dispatch call to the accident scene or asked anyone involved in the accident (our client, the taxi cab driver or the taxi cab passenger) when the actual collision took place.

Inglewood Superior CourtInglewood Superior Court

Greg then appeared with the client at the DMV hearing and won based on the critical point that the time of the accident was never established. This was significant because the BAC was legally irrelevant under Vehicle Code § 23152(b) unless it was established that the breath sample was taken within three hours of when our client drove. This is particularly true in car accidents, where police will typically spend a great deal of time at the scene before leaving with the client. Sometimes, this is well over three hours. Consequently, for our client here, the DMV had no proof to establish that the client’s BAC was 0.08% or higher by weight. Therefore, his driving privileges could not be suspended. The DMV agreed.

However, in court, different standards apply and the Hawthorne City Prosecutor understood this well. Greg explained that the client had won at the DMV and in response, the prosecutor offered our client a plea bargain to a “wet reckless.” This is a resolution wherein the complaint would be amended to allege a violation of Vehicle Code § 23103 (reckless driving) pursuant to 23103.5.  The defendant would plea to this and the DUI would be dismissed. This type of resolution is particularly good when there is a car accident.

The client accepted this offer, relieved that he would not be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) because his conviction was not for DUI. This was a relief for him with his job duties as a delivery driver. The other terms of the plea bargain included “standard DUI terms,” which included thirty-six months of informal, or summary probation, a three-month alcohol awareness program called the AB541 program, payment of fees of $390 plus penalties and assessments (totaling about $1,750, less credit for one day in custody) and a $200 booking fee to the City of Hawthorne.

It merits mention that at the time of this case, 2013, the credit for one day in custody was $30 toward the base fine, which meant our client saved perhaps another $70 on penalties and assessments. In 2018, the credit is $125 toward the base fine for each day in custody, saving the client about $470 in total.

For more information about why a wet reckless is better than a DUI, the normal punishment for a first-time DUI, click on the following articles:

  1. Why Is a “Wet Reckless” Better Than a DUI?
  2. Is Being Unconscious While DUI a Defense to Second Degree Murder Charge?
  3. What Punishment Do I Face for a First-Time DUI?

Watch our video about DUI by clicking here.

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