Hermosa Beach, Second Time DUI, Plea to First Time Terms

Our client was arrested after Hermosa Beach police officers stopped her vehicle as she left the parking lot of a Hermosa Beach bar.  She did not drive too far, but police claimed they stopped her because she was weaving within her lane.  She only drove about 200 feet on Pier Avenue before being stopped, so it was of dubious credibility how much weaving officers could have observed.
Without All the Details, What Happened?:  Hermosa Beach, second-time DUI and probation violation resolved for first-time DUI and no probation violation.
If the reader of this summary believes the officers’ claim is outrageous, the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit would agree.  In United States v. Eric Colin (9th Cir., 2002) 314 F. 3d. 439, the Ninth Circuit evaluated a traffic stop with far more distance involved for law enforcement to observe driving, but the court ruled such distance was still insufficient.

In Colin’s case, the CHP stopped him on the I-15 Freeway for allegedly weaving within his lane for over a mile.  The weaving even included times when the defendant’s right car tires touched the fog line that separates the slowest traffic lane from the shoulder area.  The driver alleged that the officer made an improper traffic stop because he did not violate any Vehicle Code section.  The case made its way up to the Ninth Circuit, which agreed with the driver.  Here, the “weaving” was not only within a lane like in Colin, but it was only for 200 feet, far less than the mile plus in Colin.

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In this Hermosa Beach case, a test of her breath at the scene showed a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .22%, or nearly three times the legal limit.  She literally fell down on the pavement when asked to do to the “walk the line” test.  She allegedly also counted to 13 in the thirty seconds marked by the police officer during the Rhomberg field sobriety test.

The client was charged with one count of driving under the influence of alcohol (Vehicle Code § 23152(a)), a misdemeanor, as well as one count of driving while having a 0.08% or higher blood alcohol level (Vehicle Code § 23152(b)). 

Our client had been previously convicted for DUI within the last two years in Los Angeles County, which meant she faced at least three years (and probably five years) of informal, or summary, probation, significant fines, a minimum of 96 hours in county jail, loss of her driving privileges for two years and an 18-month driving under the influence program called the SB38 program.  She also faced a probation violation, as she was on probation for the first DUI when the second DUI took place.

The case was filed in Torrance Superior Court.  At the arraignment, it became clear that the Hermosa Beach City Prosecutor was unaware of the prior conviction because the initial plea bargain offered was for a “first time offender.”  This type of situation is pure luck and has zero to do with anything our office did or did not do.

Greg Hill immediately telephoned the client from court and advised her of this fortuitous situation.  He asked her to come to the courthouse before the prosecution could leave and possibly look into the case further. 

The client did come to the courthouse that morning and entered into a plea bargain with terms for a first-time offender, which included a $390 fine, plus penalties and assessments (less credit for two days in custody, or $30 per day off the base fine), no jail time and a three-month driving under the influence program called the AB541 program.  She also was obligated to pay the booking fee for the Hermosa Beach Police Department booking her.

To this day, the client repeatedly thanks us for being “on our toes” when it counted and knowing how to seize the opportunity to avoid a more punishing result. 

We present this summary to illustrate how a compelling argument about one issue, here the lane weaving, had to be abandoned in favor of taking advantage of an opportunity to resolve a case on remarkably favorable terms.  Had our office belabored the swerving issue, indulging in a scholarly argument about Colin and comparing it to this case, the prosecutor may have discovered his error.  While the case might have been eventually dismissed by the judge, the judge also may have found the traffic stop legal.  We did not want the client to take that chance and the client agreed.

For more information about what the punishment is on a second-time DUI, the probation violation, the first-time DUI punishment, click on the following articles:
  1. What Punishment Do I Face for a Second-Time DUI?
  2. What Is House Arrest As an Alternative to Jail?
  3. What Punishment Do I Face for a First-Time DUI?
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