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Newport Beach DUI, Age 20, Driving 100 m.p.h., 0.08% BAC

In late March 2022, at about 3:00 a.m., a California Highway Patrol officer and his partner were parked along the northbound I-5 Freeway shoulder by the Camino de Estrella offramp.  The officers were there to spot speeding cars, which was common at this time of the morning with no traffic and people often returning from parties in San Diego.  After all, bars typically close at 2:00 a.m., so given an hour to drive, one could make it to southern Orange County in an hour with light traffic.

The two then saw our client pass by in the far left lane of northbound traffic at what they estimated was 100 miles per hour.  This took place at 3:13 a.m. on a Monday morning.  Our client was driving a Honda Civic with no passengers.

The CHP duo then turned on their overhead pink and blue flashing lights and set out after our client.  They had radar (“Lidar”) which was reading our client’s speed: 101 miles per hour.

Officers stated in their report that it took our client some time to pull over, but when he did, he pulled over at the Junipero Serra offramp.

The distance from where the officers first saw our client to where our client pulled over was 5.7 miles and, therefore, this took about four or five minutes, so it was now about 3:17 a.m. or 3:18 a.m.

Officers had noted the license plate number of our client’s car and traced it to a Ford, but our client was driving a Honda Civic.

Therefore, the first issue that officers hoped to address was whether the Honda Civic was stolen. 
Officers asked our client for his drivers’ license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.  He explained that he had just bought the car from a friend an produced the sales and purchase documents which allayed the officers’ concern.

They noticed the odor of alcohol and that our client was under twenty-one.  Our client was respectful and submitted to a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test at 3:28 a.m., which was too soon.  Officers had to directly observe him for a minimum of fifteen minutes prior to administering the test as required by California Title 17, section 1219.3, and the manufacturers guidelines of the device.  One officer signed a certification under penalty of perjury that he administered the test in accordance with the law and the manufacturer’s guidelines, which obviously was untrue.

The PAS test measured our client’s breath alcohol content at 0.092% and .090% and he was then promptly arrested.
Our client also submitted to a breath test at the CHP station and his breath alcohol content, considered a proxy for his blood alcohol content, was measured at 0.088% and 0.087%.

After spending a few hours in the Santa Ana jail, our client was released to his parents and called Greg Hill & Associates.  The client explained what had happened, but he was not aware of the officer giving his PAS test too soon (this would only be revealed when Greg later received and reviewed the police report).

The client wanted to know what punishment he faced.  Greg’s answer was that this would depend upon the charges filed.  Greg stated that the client would most likely face a criminal complaint alleging a violation of Vehicle Code § 23136 (“DUI of a Person under Age 21 with a Blood Alcohol Content Above 0.0%), as well as Vehicle Code §§ 23152(a) (“Driving While Impaired by Alcohol”) and 23152(b) (“Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08% or Higher by Weight”).   

The toughest part of any sentence the client would potentially face was a charge of violating Vehicle Code § 23582, which allowed a sentence enhancement of 60 days or more in county jail if the Client was traveling at more than thirty miles per hour above the posted speed limit, which he was.

The client also faced a one-year license suspension for being DUI under age 21.

The client then hired Greg Hill & Associates and Greg went to the client’s arraignment at the Newport Beach Superior Court.  At the arraignment, the young district attorney assigned to the courtroom gave Greg the complaint and the police report.  The People’s initial offer was that our client would have to plead guilty to all charges (not just one as in Los Angeles County, but all charges, as is customary in Orange County) and be placed on three years of informal probation with an obligation to pay a court fine of $390, plus penalties and assessments (total of about $2,050); enroll in and complete the three-month alcohol awareness program (called the AB 541 program); enroll in and attend the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel (VIP) class; enroll in and attend the Youthful Drug and Alcohol Class (new to Orange County) and provided a DNA sample in the District Attorney’s Office.  No jail was included.

Greg was relieved that there was no punishment extra for our client for his speed.

However, as Greg had been before this particular judge many times, he knew the judge would often also make an offer to resolve the case.  Usually, the judge’s offer was better.  So, Greg asked the judge for his offer in the case.  His offer was the same as the District Attorney’s, but with no MADD VIP, no DNA sample and an agreement that the judge would find the client’s ability to drive was a “critical need” to allow the client to get a critical needs license at the DMV and be able to drive for the year’s suspension period on restricted basis.

Greg explained the two offers to the client, who wisely chose to accept the judge’s offer.

For more information about DUI when under age 21, please click on the following articles:
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