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Torrance, DMV Hearing for DUI under a Controlled Substance

Our client, age 66, went to the hospital for a CAT scan to help better monitor his cancer. While there, doctors prescribed and he took Lorazepam under their direction. After the CAT scan, he had lunch and proceeded to drive home. It was about 2:00 p.m. when he left the hospital in Hollywood.

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It was an extremely hot day and our client’s air conditioning was working hard, but not keeping our client’s car too cool. As he was heading south on Hawthorne Boulevard near Artesia Boulevard, he began losing consciousness from the excessive heat. He swerved to the left twice, allegedly, and almost ran into the curb, only to correct course at the last moment and avoid driving up on the center divider. He then swerved to the right and crossed into the adjacent lane.

In a Nutshell:  Client arrested for DUI following a car accident on Hawthorne Boulevard, although the police officer did not detect the odor of alcohol and our client appeared mentally intact. Client told police officers that he had just undergone a CAT scan and was given Lorazepam. Blood test given and results showed no alcohol in his system.

A driver behind our client used her cell phone to call 911 and report what she was observing. In doing so, she did not give our client’s license plate or even his make or model of car, only saying it was a silver car.

The 911 call went through to the Torrance Police Department, who dispatched a police officer on a motorcycle to intercept the driver coming south on Hawthorne. The traffic light facing our client at 190th Street turned red and our client came to a stop. The 911 caller told dispatch that she needed to turn left on 190th to go home, so our client continued southbound on Hawthorne until meeting the waiting police officer at Del Amo Boulevard, a distance of about a half mile.

The motorcycle officer quickly positioned himself behind our client and activated his blue and white lights to alert our client to pull over, who appeared to try to do so at Spencer, slowing down and even putting on his blinker to turn right on Spencer.

Just as out client needed to turn right, however, his car struck the right curb, causing the car to careen to the left across four lanes of Hawthorn Boulevard. The car continued over the center divider and across four lanes of busy traffic on northbound Hawthorne Boulevard, eventually coming to a stop in an America’s Tire Center on the east side of Hawthorne.

The police officer arriving at the scene noted that our client had no odor of alcohol and appeared mentally intact. Our client explained that he had just come from undergoing a CAT scan and that the doctor there had given him Lorazepam.

The police officer was suspicious of this claim, so he called in back up officers, who arrested our client and took him to Torrance Memorial Hospital for a blood test and then was taken to the Torrance Police Station where he booked and then released. He was told he would be charged with DUI.

The client had no prior criminal history. He was the general manager of an 800-employee company.

He called up his insurance broker, who referred him to Greg Hill & Associates. Greg spoke with the client and explained the process of a DUI and how the first thing necessary was to reserve a DMV hearing, which our office did while Greg continued speaking to the client.


Greg then explained the process of a DMV hearing and how the DMV was solely concerned with alcohol for an admin per se hearing. Therefore, the results of the blood test were of paramount importance and dispositive toward suspension of his license. If there was no alcohol in his blood, the DMV could not suspend his license in a admin per se hearing (it could do so, however, in a negligent operator hearing based on the presence of a controlled substance under certain circumstances).

Greg further explained to the client that the contents of the 911 call would be important to review, as People v. Wells required four elements to allow a traffic stop if the police officer did other observe any impaired driving himself before starting the traffic stop. Here, that was the issue, as the officer did initiate a traffic stop without seeing an impairment, but after he began the traffic stop, our client certainly exhibited impairment.

Our office then received the 911 call recording and wrote a DMV brief on this, as well as because the DMV never showed our client had any alcohol in his blood.

At the DMV Hearing, the arresting officer showed up and testified as to how he came about making a traffic stop and all of his observations.

However, the DMV did not have any evidence that our client drove with alcohol in his system, so his license was reinstated, which made our client extremely happy.

For more information about DUI and DMV issues, please click on the following articles:

  1. What Is a DMV Hearing for a DUI?
  2. DUI Based on Being under the Influence of Drugs
  3. Can an Anonymous Cell Phone Call to Police Support a Traffic Stop for DUI?
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"Thank you so much for putting so much effort in this case. We really appreciate it and we are happy that all turned out well." S.A., Torrance
"Greg Hill did an outstanding job on every level. He was efficient, thorough, knowledgeable, courteous, responsive & brilliant. He welcomed my input and my concerns. . . from the first conversation to the last - I always felt 'it mattered' to him." S.C., Rolling Hills Estates
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