Hollywood, DUI Dismissed at Arraignment, 0.08% BAC

Our client was returning home on the 101 Freeway at approximately 1:00 a.m. after a late dinner and drinks with friends from college.  It was early Friday morning.
Summary:  DUI Dismissed at Arraignment after City Prosecutor Agrees That Single Lane Change Insufficient Probable Cause to Make Traffic Stop, Metro Courthouse.
She did have a few drinks, but her blood alcohol content (BAC) was .08%, or just at the legal limit.  A CHP officer allegedly observed our client make a lane change without using her turn signal as she exited at Vineland.

The officer stopped our client, who was driving alone.  She was a college graduate working for a large corporation in the accounting department. 

The officer allegedly detected the odor of alcohol, so he asked our client to perform a series of field sobriety tests (FST’s).  According to the officer, our client failed each of these tests.  She was wearing high heels and a miniskirt.  She asked to do the FST’s barefoot, but the officer told her no.

The officer then asked our client to provide a breath sample, which our client did.  Her BAC was 0.08%.  The officer then arrested our client.

Our client was devastated.  Age 27, with no criminal history, and a bright future ahead of her, she called our office.

Greg Hill met with the client and listened to the facts.  He also explained the law, specifically People v. Carmona (2011 DJDAR 7744), which held that an officer’s observation of a driver making a lane change without use of a turn signal (a violation of Vehicle Code § 22107 or 22108) is only a Vehicle Code violation if the lane change affects the safety of another driver.

In Carmona, a Fullerton police officer stopped a driver for allegedly making a turn without the use of his turn signal, in violation of Vehicle Code § 22108, which requires a driver to activate the turn signal for 100 feet prior to making a lane change or turn.  The driver, Mr. Carmona was on parole, so the officer performed a search of the vehicle and found methamphetamine and other drugs.  The officer than arrested Carmona.

Carmona was then charged with possession of a controlled substance.  He moved to suppress all evidence seized, arguing that the traffic stop was improper.  The trial court denied the motion, but Carmona appealed.  The appellate court reversed, agreeing with Carmona that the traffic stop was improper because the arresting officer did not see Carmona’s lane change create an unsafe situation by affecting the safety of another driver.

Prior to the arraignment of our client, our office had won at the DMV Hearing, based on this exact argument involving Carmona because the CHP report of the client’s driving stated that the freeway was nearly empty and did not describe our client’s lane change as affecting any other driver.  At the arraignment, the prosecutor asked Greg what he wanted to do with the case and Greg responded, “dismiss the case.”  Greg then discussed the facts of the case and Carmona, which, surprisingly, caused the prosecutor to agree and to decide not to proceed.  The case was then dismissed. 

The client was extremely happy with this outcome.

For more information about probable cause for a traffic stop, click on the following articles:
  1. Drug Evidence Suppressed When Police Improperly Stop Vehicle
  2. Traffic Stop Ruled Improper and Evidence Seized by Police Suppressed When Officer Lacked Reasonable Suspicion to Stop Driver
  3. Good Faith Exception to Officer’s Execution of an Improper Search Warrant Does Not Have Similar Application to an Improper Traffic Stop
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