Murrieta, 0.13% BAC, Plea to Wet Reckless, No Jail
Our client, age 54, went on a short vacation of wine-tasting with his wife in the Murrieta vineyards. He had never been arrested in his life. He had a good job as an executive with a national corporation that involved significant travel each week. His two children had already graduated from college.
As he was returning with his wife from the vineyards to their hotel, traffic became congested. A driver in front of him slowed suddenly, causing our client to also slow suddenly.
A police officer about 100 yards behind noticed this back up and made a traffic stop of our client. Upon making contact with him, he smelled the odor of alcohol coming from inside the car. Our client’s wife had drank considerably more, but the officer attributed the odor entirely to our client. So the officer proceeded to ask our client to submit to an Evidentiary Preliminary Alcohol Screening (EPAS) breath test.
An EPAS is a device rarely used in Los Angeles or Orange County. It is similar to a portable PAS that is used at the roadside, but the EPAS results may be used in court as evidence because the device is of higher reliability and the suspect usually signs a consent form to have his breath sample not saved for retesting (a Trombetta waiver).
What to Take Away: First-time DUI for client, age 54. Arrested as he left wine-tasting at a Murrieta vineyard. 0.13% BAC; resolved for a wet reckless (Vehicle Code § 23103 pursuant to § 23103.5).
In our case, the arresting officer administered the EPAS test without waiting the required fifteen minutes and without securing a Trombetta waiver. Our client, however, registered a 0.13% BAC, which is more than one and a half times the legal limit.
The client was then arrested and spent the night in the Murrieta jail, which was quite traumatic for a 54 year old man with no prior record. He was subsequently charged in the Murrieta Superior Court with a violation of California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) (“Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs, or Both”) and California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) (“Driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher”).
The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates. The Murrieta District Attorney’s office has a “standard first offer” for any person charged with DUI for the first time with a BAC of 0.15% or lower. This offer mandated six days in the Riverside County Jail.
Greg Hill then negotiated with the handling District Attorney and then the head district attorney, finally, over several months, receiving a reduced offer of a “wet reckless” (Vehicle Code § 23103) and a dismissal of the DUI charges. The police officer’s failure to properly follow the EPAS procedures did not mean the case would be dismissed or dropped, but it allowed the jury to assign less weight to the results, which worried the DA.
The Client was happy with this result, as he avoided a DUI and the problems with driving in Canada that a DUI caused with renting a car in Canada (due to his work travels).
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