Our client, age 33, travelled a lot for work. He was in Southern California for meetings with folks at some of the refineries in Long Beach, El Segundo and Wilmington.
He would drive from Oklahoma in his new pick-up truck, which was really a luxury vehicle. He would often take short naps while parked with his air conditioning running if necessary.
In 30 Words or Less: Client parks his car along street in Long Beach to nap, but drinks one-third of a bottle of Jack Daniels after parking. Passerby sees him asleep and calls police to claim he damaged another car. Police arrest our client for DUI. Greg shows photographs to prosecutor that no collision took place and about client drinking after parking. Case resolved for wet reckless despite client’s 0.125/0.127% BAC.
One day, after a series of meetings, he decided to take a short nap. He parked his car on a Long Beach street, directly in front of a barber shop. It was about 9:30 a.m. It was too early to check into a hotel. Before nodding off for a nap, he drank about a third of a bottle of Jack Daniels to help himself sleep.
He then fell asleep in the driver’s seat with the engine running and the air conditioning on. He awoke to tapping on his driver’s side window. It was a Long Beach Police Officer. It was about noon.
Our client turned off his truck engine and exited his vehicle to speak with the police officer. The officer allegedly noticed the odor of alcohol in our client’s breath and saw a bottle of Jack Daniels in the front seat of the truck.
The officer then asked our client why he rammed the parked car in front of his car, put his truck in reverse and then nodded off to sleep.
The client replied that he did not collide with the parked car and went to inspect the damage to the parked car, which was obviously weeks, months or even years old, and the lack of even a scratch to our client’s bumper. Moreover, the heights of the two bumpers did not line up in a way that would be consistent with the damage to the parked car.
The officer told our client that the owner of the barber shop witnessed the collision and that she called the police. Our client responded, “well, the evidence here shows that simply could not have happened” and invited the officer to take a look at the client’s perfectly new bumper with no scratches at all.
The officer refused to do so and proceeded to ask our client to submit to a breath test, which measured out client’s blood alcohol content (BAC) at 0.117% twice. Our client was then arrested.
The client was taken to the Long Beach Police Station, where he submitted to a further breath test, which measured his BAC at 0.125% and 0.127%. The police then held our client for a few hours before releasing him after signing a promise to appear in court in a few weeks.
The client was angry at the police officer for ignoring him and solely listening to the barbershop owner. He was adamant that he drank the Jack Daniels after parking and that he never drove while intoxicated. He furthermore went back to the barbershop and parked directly behind the same car that was allegedly hit by him. Our client then took several photographs with his cell phone.
The client then called Greg Hill & Associates and explained what had happened to him. Greg listened and explained what he could do, as well as how he expected the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office to prosecute the case.
Greg then appeared in court on the client’s behalf and, over the course of four months, eventually was able to negotiate a plea bargain to a wet reckless (Vehicle Code § 23013 pursuant to Vehicle Code § 23103.5). This was much appreciated by the client because it avoided a suspension of his license from the court notifying the California DMV, which would in turn otherwise notify the Oklahoma DMV, who would then suspend the client’s license.
The road to a wet reckless in this case was tough, as the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office thought the BAC was too high to allow a wet reckless and were skeptical of the photographs, insisting instead upon a jury trial to let the jury decide if any driving took place as the witness claimed.
In the end, however, the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s office reluctantly did agree to resolve case as reckless driving and dismiss the DUI charges.