What are Some Lesser Charges in California DUI Cases?
A lot of people are asking this question because they’ve been arrested for a DUI. They don’t want to have a DUI conviction on their record. They don’t want to see that Vehicle Code Section 23152 on there.
They’d rather see some other charge because they know the stigma that DUI carries around with them should they have to plead guilty or no contest to it.
There definitely are lesser charges that Los Angeles prosecutors will allow some people who are charged with DUIs to plead to. The problem is, and I think the confusion is, that a lot of times people think they are going to get to plead to a lesser charge.
You Must Have The Right Type of Cases
They think that’s a standard practice that they get to plead to a lesser charge, and then they get some rookie attorney who has promised them all these things and that attorney doesn’t have the skill set or the right case to be able to get a lesser charge.
The first thing is you have to have the right case. The person has to have a clean record. There can’t be any accident or injury. The blood alcohol level can’t be that high.
If you’ve got double the legal limit and you think you’re going to get a lesser charge in Los Angeles county, you’re just dreaming.
It’s not going to happen and these lawyers that are tricking people and lying to them in order to get their money, are just doing them a disservice.
If you’re double the legal limit, you’re trying to avoid much more harsh penalties than what usually come with a first-time DUI for example.
So, the types of charges that are available are only available to those people who have the right circumstance and the right attorney to be able to mount a strong argument for a lesser charge.
Some of the lesser charges, going in descending order, would be a wet reckless. A wet reckless if very close to a first-time DUI, but it is one notch down from a DUI.
If you had a choice in LA county between a VC 23152(a) or (b) or a 23109(c) or a wet reckless, you’d obviously want the wet reckless over the full-fledged DUI.
A lot of times the prosecutors will still make you do all the same punishments as a first-time DUI in order to get that wet reckless. They’ll make you do an alcohol program and be on probation for three years. But obviously, having a lesser charge is a better result than having the more serious charge.
Moving down from there, I would say a dry reckless would be the next notch down. Those are very difficult to get in LA county when you’ve been arrested for a DUI and the prosecutors file the DUI charge against you.
You’d really have to show that your blood alcohol level was close to the legal limit or even under the legal limit and you were not dangerous out on the road and you didn’t completely fail the field sobriety test, then you might have a chance to get that dry reckless.
Another charge that I see all the time is what is called a speed exhibition. That’s one where you’re basically screeching your tires out of a parking lot, for example, non-DUI-related/non-alcohol-related.
More of a moving violation in my opinion. Still a misdemeanor, but you’d much rather have that than a full-fledged DUI. I see a lot of the prosecutors in LA county being willing to offer that, but you’re going to have to be right on the legal limit.
Your blood alcohol is going to have to be a .08, .07. You might say, Mr. Hedding, how can I be charged with a DUI if I’m a .07? That’s below the legal limit.
The reason you could be charged with that and I do see some people charged with it is, because Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) doesn’t talk anything about the legal limit. It talks about having alcohol in your system and not being able to safely drive a motor vehicle.
So, if you blew a .07 and you crash into a pole and you fail the field sobriety test, then the police are going to arrest you for a DUI and the prosecutor is probably going to file that case.
If on the other hand, you were just grabbed coming out of a bar and you weren’t doing anything wrong and you don’t have a criminal record and you blew a .07, we might even be able to avoid a filing in that case and if they do file it, certainly a speed contest or something else might be a good option.
The only other resolution that I’ve seen besides a dismissal if they don’t have the evidence against you as far as looking for a lesser charge, would be moving violations.
I’ve had some clients blow right on the legal limit, no record, did pretty well on the field sobriety test, even according to the police.
Police often like to jimmy those up and claim you’ve done horribly every time someone takes the field sobriety test. The reason they do that is because if they don’t do that, they can’t justify arresting you.
They’re not allowed to arrest you unless they say you failed the field sobriety test. That gives them the probable cause to take you into custody.
So, they’re gong to always say you failed the field sobriety test. But I have gotten moving violations for people who are right on the cusp, don’t want to risk going to trial and the prosecutors realize they can lose, then sometimes they will knuckle under.
So, if you’re looking for someone who’s done thousands of DUIs over the last 26 years, you’ve come to the right place.
Pick up the phone, ask to speak to Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you and will do everything I can to get you the best result.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our office for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0963.
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