Our client, in his 60’s had cancer and went to the hospital for a CAT scan. While at the hospital, he was prescribed Lorazepam and took it, apparently to help with the CAT scan procedure. He underwent the CAT scan there and then had lunch before deciding to drive home. The doctors did not tell him or warn him against driving.
He got in his car and drove about ten miles before finding himself on Hawthorne Boulevard, heading south towards his home in Redondo Beach. It was an extremely hot day, with unusually warm weather into the low 100’s.
Summary in 50 Words or Less: Client goes to the doctor and undergoes a CAT scan, during which time the doctor gives his Lorazepam. He then drives home and passes out while driving on Hawthorne Boulevard. A subsequent blood test showed negative for any drug and no case was filed.
The driver behind him allegedly noticed our client swerving on the road and “almost hitting the curb a few times.” He or she then called 911 and reported such observations.
The observer followed our client for about a mile while talking to dispatch, but when the caller got to 190th Street, he or she advised 911 that the following would stop because he or she needed to turn on 190th. The caller had reported little about the driver’s description or even the license plate number.
Torrance Police Department dispatched a motorcycle unit to wait for our client at Del Amo Boulevard and Hawthorne. The motorcycle unit then saw what he thought was our client and pulled behind the car and activated his blue and red flashing lights to make a traffic stop.
At this point, the reader may wonder if the motorcycle unit was pulling over the same car that the 911 caller described. After the traffic stop was initiated, our client responded by trying to pull over to the right and to turn onto Spencer.
However, just before making the turn, he apparently lost control and veered to the left across all four lanes of southbound Hawthorne, up and over the center divider and then across four lanes of oncoming northbound traffic and into an America’s Tire Center store parking lot, where he crashed into a wall.
The motorcycle officer helped our client out from the car and immediately suspected DUI, but observed no odor of alcohol and our client’s mental acuity was sharp and he was cooperative. Our client’s gait was reported as staggered, yet this was to be expected in a mid-60’s person when sober and moreover, our client had just experienced a traffic collision.
The officer searched the interior of our client’s car with his consent and found a bottle of Lorazepam, which our client explained as being received at the hospital.
The weather was so hot that the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) device did not work, so our client could not provide a breath sample at the scene for the police officer.
The officer then arrested our client for DUI and asked him to provide a blood sample at Torrance Memorial, which our client agreed to provide.
He was then taken to the hospital and provided this, then taken to the Torrance police station where he was cited for a violation of Vehicle Code § 23152(e), driving while under the influence of a drug, and promised to appear in the Torrance Superior Court on a certain date about two months later.
The client then called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg, describing what had happened and asking what he faced. Greg explained that in such cases, the defenses begin with arguing that the mere presence of such a drug in one’s bloodstream is meaningless unless it quantified and of sufficient concentration to impair one’s physical and mental ability to safely operate a vehicle. Greg explained that often, the county’s blood analysis only tests for the presence, but not the quantity, so it is necessary to have a retest of the blood for quantity.
Greg further described the consequences of a conviction for violating 23152(e).
On the day of the arraignment, Greg appeared on the client’s behalf in the Torrance Superior Court, but no case was filed. However, a new arraignment date was set about two months later and Greg appeared on this date as well. When that date arrived, the case was yet again not filed and a third arraignment date was set.
Before the third arraignment date arrived, the DMV mailed Greg the blood results, which surprisingly were negative for the presence of any drug.
The Torrance City Prosecutor’s Office then decided not to file the case at all, much to the client’s relief.
For more information about non-alcohol DUI issues, please click on the following articles:
- DUI Based on Being under the Influence of Drugs
- What Punishment Do I Face for First-Time DUI?
- Why Do Police Ask If a Driver Has Diabetes in a DUI?