Redondo Beach, 0.10% BAC, Client under Age 21, Dry Reckless
Our client, age 19, and his friends were heading northbound on Pacific Coast Highway near the Redondo Beach Police Department by Redondo Union High School. It was about 10:00 p.m. on a weeknight during the summer. As he was passing the high school, which is right across the street from the Redondo Beach police station, an officer driving away from the station starting his patrol visually estimated our client’s speed at 60 miles per hour.
The police officer made a traffic stop for the apparent speeding he saw and, upon speaking to our client, noticed the odor of alcohol.
Our client had indeed been drinking and submitted to a breath alcohol test, which showed his blood alcohol content, or BAC, was 0.10%, or double the legal limit for an underage person (under 21).
Our client had a prior criminal history for disturbing the peace while under the influence of alcohol, so the case was worrisome as it suggested a pattern of irresponsible alcohol use, let alone by someone who legally is not allowed to consume alcohol.
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.
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 when they combine with lung air exhaled that contains ethanol expelled into the lungs from the blood metabolizing alcohol. Sometimes, with someone with serious GERD, up to 0.05% of the BAC can be attributable to stomach gas, overstating the blood alcohol content by 0.05%.
After the client was arrested and released from the police station upon signing a promise to appear in the Torrance Courthouse in about six weeks, he called Greg Hill & Associates. Greg Hill had represented a friend of the client and the friend recommended Greg Hill to him.
Greg then met with the client and listened to the client explain what had happened. Greg was critical of the officer being able to visually estimate the speed of a car crossing in front of him because Pacific Coast Highway along that section dips and turns, making an estimate of speed difficult.
Torrance Superior Courthouse
Greg then appeared for the client in court (the client stayed at work) 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 its turning and undulating route. It was not a straight, flat section of road like officers are trained on in visual estimations.
The City Prosecutor seemed dubious, so Greg also showed her the doctor’s report of our client suffering from 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. Such testimony would make the 0.05% BAC legal limit subject to question.
The City Prosecutor consequently agreed to offer our client a dry reckless (Vehicle Code § 23103), contingent upon our client serving two years of informal, or summary, probation, paying a $150 fine (plus penalties and assessments, making the total owed approximately $700) and paying the $215 booking fee for Redondo Beach (now the booking fee is higher). The client was able to reduce the base fine by $60 for two days of credit for being in custody at the Redondo Beach police station. This reduced the total owed to approximately $450.
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.
It merits mention that in 2016, the law changed on the dollar amount credited to one for each day in custody. In 2016, it changed to $125 of credit toward the base fine, which in this case with two days of credit would have wiped out the fine completely.
For more information about GERD and what one can expect as punishment in a first-time DUI, click on the following articles:
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