In December 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic led to a shutdown of many businesses and social gatherings, our client, age 34, was out at a party in downtown Los Angeles. He and his wife lived in South Torrance.
He went with his wife, who did not drink. Our client did drink, but not excessively. She was the designated driver. Our client had suffered a prior DUI in Arizona in 2011 and another more recent DUI in Redondo Beach earlier in 2019 and had refused to submit to a chemical test after it, so the DMV suspended his driving privileges for a year.
While the two were returning from the party about midnight, with his wife driving southbound on the 110 Freeway and our client as a passenger, the two began to argue. The couple then exited the 110 at Pacific Coast Highway and drove west toward South Torrance while continuing to argue.
Finally, our client’s wife had had enough, she decided. She brought the car to a dead stop in traffic and got out, walking away. Our client was dumbfounded. He called for her to return, explaining he could not drive because of his license suspension.
Finally, when she kept walking, he got into the driver’s seat and moved the car out of traffic so that no other car would collide with it. He moved the car over to a nearby parking lot and again set out on foot to find his wife.
His wife, it turned out, had hailed an Uber driver and gotten a ride home, which was only about 100 yards away.
Our client, upon not finding his wife, returned to the parked car, contemplating just driving it about 100 yards home.
In the meantime, our client’s wife called 911 to report her husband driving around “while drunk and on a suspended license.”
She told 911 that she could see him driving southbound on the 110 Freeway due to a cell-phone tracking device on his phone. She told 911 which exits he was passing and that she could see he was weaving all over the road and speeding. She provided the make and model of the car, its license number and she identified herself as the wife.
911 dispatched a CHP officer to track down and stop the client, who was actually in a parking lot in South Torrance.
Finally, our client decided to not walk home, but drive the car home. Coincidentally, at this time, our client’s wife was directing the CHP onto our client as he was pulling out onto Pacific Coast Highway, driving the 100 yards or so home.
At this point, the CHP spotted the car and pulled over our client as he turned left from Pacific Coast Highway to southbound Crenshaw. The CHP claimed he made an unsafe left turn and then an unsafe right turn into a bank parking lot.
When the officers came upon our client, they pulled him out and beat him up, claiming he was resisting arrest. He was then arrested for DUI and obstructing / delaying arrest. This would be his third DUI within the last ten years. His blood alcohol content (BAC) was measured at 0.11%.
The case was brought in the Compton Superior Court, being that the DUI allegedly took place on the 110 Freeway between the Century (105) Freeway and Pacific Coast Highway.
The police report did not understand that our client’s wife was lying to the 911 dispatcher – and the client had not told our office the truth yet, so what appeared to have happened is that our client’s wife was sitting at home, calling 911 about her husband being drunk and driving southbound on the 110 Freeway.
While this was not an anonymous phone call to report a drunk driver, it was a call by someone who was not actually observing the driving. Greg therefore filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained following the traffic stop, as the stop was based on a 911 call lacking the reliability required of an anonymous 911 caller directly observing a DUI driver based on current U.S. Supreme Court law (Prado Navarette v. California (2014) 572 U.S. 393) and California Supreme Court law (People v. Wells (2006) 38 Cal.4th 1078).
The Compton judge ruling on the motion denied the motion, finding that the officer observed a violation of the Vehicle Code and not whether the 911 call was unreliable and therefore improper for the officer to rely upon in making a traffic stop.
The prosecutor opposing the motion was forced to look closer at the evidence by a hearing on the motion taking place and reduced the plea bargain offer to our client from a third-time DUI to a second-time DUI, with 96 hours of county jail (credit 48 hours), enrollment in and completion of an SB 38 eighteen-month alcohol awareness program, payment of count fees of $450 and 36 months of informal probation. This was an exceptionally good deal for a third-time DUI and the client accepted the offer.
For more information about third-time DUI issues and 911 calls to make a DUI arrest, please click on the following articles: