Our client, age 37, had no prior criminal history. She worked for a Fortune-500 company and had a brother who was a police officer. She was nervous about keeping her job amid COVID-19 shutdowns, however, and that drew her to socializing more with her co-workers to relieve stress.
One weekday afternoon, she and a few of her co-workers got together to relax and have a few drinks at the condominium of one of her friends. One drink led to two drinks, which led to three drinks, which led to four drinks. However, our client felt safe to drive as she got into her car to drive the fifteen miles home at about 6:00 p.m.
As she was heading southbound on the I-215, she knew she had to turn right to head west on the I-91 Freeway. She started seeing signs to the 91 Freeway and got over to the right lane. When she saw an exit that looked like the transition ramp to the 91, she followed her lane in that direction.
Partway onto the offramp, however, she realized she was not on the transition ramp to the 91 and veered to her left to remain on the I-215. Her attempt to rejoin the 215, however, was blocked by a bright yellow attenuator barrier and she collided with the barrier, only to bounce off and come to an abrupt stop in a parking lane.
The force of the collision inflated her airbags and shocked her by being stopped on a freeway. Her shock turned to embarrassment when a CHP officer, like her brother, came to her window to ask if she was injured. Our client sheepishly answered that she was OK and the officer helped her drive her car off the freeway to a nearby parking lot, where she got out.
According to the police officer, our client’s gait was unsteady, which would be expected from some one who was just involved in a significant collision. But the officer also detected the odor of alcohol and asked our client to provide a breath sample, which she did. Her breath’s blood alcohol content (BAC), measured by the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device, was 0.137% and 0.135%.
Our client was promptly arrested for DUI and taken to a makeshift booking tent the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department set up in a parking lot to allow booking photos and fingerprinting in the open air to avoid spreading the corona virus. The client also provided two more breath samples in the tent, on a more permanent Datamaster machine, registering a BAC of 0.13% and 0.12%.
After a few hours of sitting on a folding cot in the tent, our client was released upon signing a promise to appear for her arraignment in the Riverside Superior Court for DUI.
Our client was quite embarrassed and nervous how the charges would be handled. She spoke with her brother, who helped calm her down, but nonetheless told her spending ten days in the Riverside County jail was common among first-time DUI offenders.
The client then called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg Hill. The client explained what had happened. She asked how the case would be prosecuted and whether she faced ten days in Riverside County county jail (which Riverside County charges defendants $142.42 per day for being housed there).
Greg answered her questions and explained how Riverside County District Attorneys indeed often do begin with an initial offer of ten days in county jail for a first-time DUI, but this is often negotiable. In our client’s case, she was pre-diabetic, so her BAC could have been falsely high, or at least unreliable because of how her insulin was regulated and how the glucose (and hence ethanol) in alcohol was digested by her.
Greg then appeared in the Riverside Superior Court and over the span of perhaps six months, he was able to negotiate the case to resolution with no jail, but nine days of work release, as well as an obligation to enroll in and complete the three-month outpatient alcohol awareness program (the AB 541 program), payment of a court fine of approximately $1,150, payment of a booking fee of $514.58 and attendance at ten Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. No restitution was sought by the People for the damage to the highway attenuators.
The client was happy with the resolution, as she did not have to appear in court except to enter into the plea bargain and did not have to otherwise miss work or serve time in jail.
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