Redondo Beach, Second Time DUI, 0.19% BAC, Plea to First
Our client was arrested just south of the South Bay Galleria on Hawthorne Boulevard. He had been at a friend’s house until about midnight. He and his friend, as well as a few others, had been drinking Roman Cokes and beer while watching a football game. Our client had a prior DUI from out of state three years ago and a second prior DUI, also from out of state, but more than ten years ago.
As our client, age 41, turned left onto Hawthorne Boulevard from Artesia Boulevard, a Redondo Beach Police Officer quickly pulled him over. The police officer promptly put our client through a series of roadside gymnastic tests, also known as Field Sobriety Tests, and immediately concluded our client was under the influence of alcohol. He then asked our client to submit to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test (PAS test) at the roadside, which our client complied with, blowing a 0.170% and 0.166% BAC.
On the police report for the arrest, however, the police officer neglected to fill out the “Officer’s Certification” portion of the report, wherein he is supposed to provide details of the roadside PAS test, such as the time, the serial number of the device and the measurements of the subject’s blood alcohol content.
Officers then asked our client to submit to further BAC testing and our client opted for a blood test. Officers then took him to Little Company of Mary Hospital, where he gave a blood sample. The sample allegedly showed a blood alcohol level of 0.19%.
Summary in 50 Words or Less: The following case should have been resolved as a second-time DUI with penalties above the minimums due to the client’s two prior DUI’s (one in the last ten years) and his high BAC, but we resolved it for a first-time DUI with minimum penalties and just a six-month (AB762) program.
The sample, however, was transported first to the Redondo Beach Police Department and then evaluated more than a month later at the Downey CHP laboratory by a “forensic alcohol analyst” who was not licensed, which is very unusual and exemplifies that importance of verifying this. The chain of custody required under Title 17 of the California Code and Bullcoming v. New Mexico (2011) 564 U.S. 647 was also violated.
Greg Hill of Greg Hill & Associates then pointed out these problems with the PAS test, the unlicensed blood test “analyst” and the chain of custody to the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor handling the case.
While our client certainly was not a first-time offender and eligible by statute to first-time DUI terms, the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor agreed to resolve the case for a six-month DUI program (AB762), a $390 fine, plus penalties and assessments (less credit of $30 toward the base fine for one day in custody), thirty-six months of summary, on informal, probation and payment of a $245 booking fee.
Normally, a first-time offender with such a high BAC, or anything over 0.15%, must take the nine-month DUI program (AB1352), but the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor recognized the not so insignificant problems with taking this case to trial and offered a great deal to encourage a plea bargain without trial and the possibility of a defense verdict.
In addition, normally a second time DUI is resolved for at least a $450 fine, plus penalties and assessments, a minimum of 96 hours of Los Angeles County Jail, five years of summary, or informal, probation, an eighteen-month DUI program (SB38) and a $245 City of Redondo Beach booking fee. The plea bargain will also often specify that the client must comply with any ignition interlock device requirement imposed by the DMV.
However, in this case, our client was quite lucky to have the police report so full of errors and omissions. Our client was very happy with this result, as his job required him to drive quite a bit and he did not have the time to fulfill all the terms of a second-time DUI conviction plea bargain or suffer through a ninety-day mandatory “hard suspension” of his driving privileges imposed by the DMV. With a first-time DUI, the DMV would only require a thirty-day “hard suspension” before one is eligible for a restricted license with an ignition interlock device (IID).
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