Redondo Beach, 0.10% BAC, Client Under Age 21, Dry Reckless

Our client, under age 21, and his friends were heading northbound on Pacific Coast Highway near the Redondo Beach Police Department by Redondo Union High School.  As he was passing the high school, an officer estimated the speed of our client’s car at 60 miles per hour.
Synopsis:  Under 21 client with GERD speeding along PCH in Redondo Beach, 0.10% BAC, resolved as dry reckless with $150 fine, 24 months summary probation, 30 AA’s, Torrance courthouse.
The police officer made a traffic stop for the apparent speeding he saw and, upon speaking to our client, allegedly noticed the odor of alcohol. 

Our client had indeed been drinking and submitted to a breath alcohol test, which showed his BAC (blood alcohol content) was 0.10%, or double the legal limit for an underage person.

Our client had a prior criminal history for disturbing the peace while under the influence of alcohol, so the case was worrisome.  Greg and the client were concerned that the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor might believe our client had a serious alcohol problem, especially since he was not even 21 years old.

However, the client also was diagnosed with GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux disease) and was able to produce a doctor’s report showing this diagnosis.  As the reader of this summary may know, someone afflicted with GERD can expel stomach gasses containing excessive levels of alcohol that can lead to an artificially elevated breath alcohol level.

The breath test, after all, is supposed to be a reflection of one’s blood alcohol content using a multiplier called the partition ratio.  As alcohol is metabolized in the body, it dissipates through the blood and out the lungs, which a breath test is intended to measure.  However, if the suspect’s stomach is expelling large amounts of gas laced with alcohol, the breath test will record a supposed BAC that is really the sum of the blood alcohol and stomach alcohol levels.  Therefore, when someone has GERD, the breath test can be quite inaccurate and, thus, legally meaningless.

Greg Hill appeared for the client in court and explained to the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor that it would have been very difficult for the police officer to accurately estimate the speed of the car along the particular stretch of Pacific Coast Highway due to the way Pacific Coast Highway dips and turns slightly as it passes where the officer claimed to have observed our client. 

The City Prosecutor seemed dubious, so Greg also showed her the doctor’s report of GERD.

The City Prosecutor understood the issue well and commented that she dreaded the medical expert testimony that could be needed were the case to proceed to trial.

She consequently agreed to offer our client a dry reckless (Vehicle Code § 23103), contingent upon our client serving two years of summary probation, paying a $150 fine (plus penalties and assessments) and paying the  booking fee for Redondo Beach.

Our client readily agreed, happy to avoid the ignition interlock device that is required in Los Angeles County with a DUI conviction.  He was also relieved to avoid even a wet reckless, as with even a wet reckless, he would lose his job. 

For more information about GERD and what one can expect as punishment in a first-time DUI, click on the following articles:
  1. What Is GERD and How Does It Affect DUI?
  2. 10 Things to Do If Stopped for DUI
  3. What Punishment Do I Face for First-Time DUI?
Watch our video about DUI by clicking here.
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