During the COVID-19 pandemic, it certainly seemed like we handled a few cases with extreme facts. As others have observed, it seemed like some people were trying to make up for missed time out from being in quarantine, so some crimes involved people doing surprising things.
The following case seems to exemplify this. Our client, age twenty-four, and a neighbor, also twenty-four, went for West Covina to West Hollywood to enjoy an evening at the Abbey, a well-known, famous bar.
The two enjoyed several drinks there, our client and his female friend left in his Tesla Model 3. Our client was upset for some reason and began driving eastbound on Santa Monica Boulevard in westbound lanes at a high rate of speed.
According to the police report, he nearly collided head-on with a patrolling Los Angeles Police Department cruiser in the area. When police pulled over, our client’s female friend was hysterically yelling at him to slow down and return to the proper lanes for eastbound traffic.
Officers had our client exit his car and officers then realized he may be impaired by alcohol, as he did smell of alcohol. It was about 1:00 a.m. and a Saturday morning.
Our client agreed to provide a breath sample on the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) device, but gave only one breath sample. It was measured at a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.204%. The client then refused to provide a second sample. After all, there is no legal requirement that one submit to a PAS test unless one is on probation for DUI, which our client was not.
Officers then arrested our client for DUI and our client agreed to submit to a blood test. As officers were driving him to the hospital to give his blood, the officers repeatedly asked him, “Are you really sure you want to give a blood sample?” Our client insisted upon doing so. “Yes,” replied more than once. However, the officers persisted in their questioning, leading our client to believe he might be rewarded with being released if he agreed not to have a blood test, as officers suggested. He therefore acquiesced to the officers’ suggestion and agreed not to take a blood test.
He was then reported to have refused to take a breath or blood test.
After being released from the West Los Angeles jail upon signing a promise to appear in the Airport Courthouse for his arraignment in about three months, he called Greg Hill & Associates.
The client spoke with Greg Hill and explained what had happened. He said he felt tricked by the police into agreeing not to take a blood test.
Greg then explained how a “refusal” case is handled at the Airport Courthouse and the punishment that usually results in the plea bargain or sentence imposed.
The client seemed to understand our criminal justice system much better than most 24 year olds and Greg complimented him on this. In response, the client explained that it was because at age 19 and 20, he was convicted at each age for shoplifting (Penal Code § 459.5) and one year later, petty theft (Penal Code § 484(a)), while also being arrested for possession of burglary tools, so he had learned a bit about our courts through such experiences. However, he had recently been accepted to U.C.L.A. in the school’s master’s program, so he was quite excited about his future.
Greg then appeared for the client in the Airport Courthouse and was surprised at the initial plea bargain terms offered: 60 days of county jail, the SB 38 program (an eighteen month program usually reserved for second-time DUI offenders, not first-time offenders), three years of informal probation, payment of a court fine of $390 plus penalties and assessments, attendance at the nine-hour, two day Hospital and Morgue (HAM) program, and attendance at the two-hour long the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) victim impact panel. The client would also have to admit the high BAC allegation and the refusal to submit allegation.
Over several court appearances, Greg was able to reduce the terms of the plea bargain to 36 months of summary probation, no jail, but 40 hours of community service instead, a nine-month DUI alcohol program (the AB 1353 program), a $390 court fine plus penalties and assessments, and attendance at both the HAM and MADD programs. The high BAC and refusal allegations were also stricken, so our client did not have to admit to those.
The client was happy with the terms of the final resolution of the case, happy to avoid jail time and the eighteen month DUI program.
For more information about DUI in general and a refusal to submit to a breath or blood sample, please click on the following articles: