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Lesser Charges In California DUI Cases

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Aug 17, 2018

When it comes to a DUI, most people are trying to figure out how they can avoid getting that DUI conviction on the record, losing their license, and also the ramifications that come along with having a criminal record and having to deal with the DMV, insurance and all the issues that surround that.

There are all kinds of lesser included offenses, depending on the circumstances of your DUI case – which court you're in, LA County. There used to be forty courts in Los Angeles County. Now there are twenty-five. That's still a lot of courts and a lot of different jurisdictions. As probably most of you know, California as a state is one of the toughest as it comes to DUI laws.

Wet Reckless

But listen, if you've got a good case and a good angle, there are lesser included defenses, and I have a whole list of them that I carry around in my head. I am again, depending on the circumstances.

The most apparent lesser included defense is a wet reckless. It's not much different than a DUI, but it does sound better. And if it's a second-time DUI and you get a wet reckless, then you can avoid the second-time DUI, so that comes in handy.

Usually, a lesser fine and some lesser penalties are associated with that. You're going to have to be pretty close to the legal limit, though, to get a wet reckless related to a DUI case.

Dry Reckless and Speed Contest

The next step down, I would say, would be a dry reckless. That's just driving around recklessly. It doesn't have anything to do with alcohol. That would be a great result if you were busted for a DUI and you had a drink in your system, and the police are trying to claim that you were driving under the influence in Los Angeles County.

Another crime I see as lesser than a DUI is a speed contest – Vehicle Code 23109c. That says you were screeching your tires. You weren't driving safely, but it's not a DUI. It doesn't come with all of the DUI ramifications.

It doesn't come with all the penalties in court. So, a speed contest is a heck of a lot better than a DUI when it comes to lesser charges in a Los Angeles County courtroom related to DUI's.

To get that speed contest, you're going to need to be pretty close to the legal limit, have no prior criminal record, obviously not being involved in any dangerous driving, or the prosecutors will never consider giving a speed contest as it relates to a DUI in Los Angeles County.

Traffic Violations

Also, I've had cases where I've been able to get just simple moving violations for people. I had an attorney that I represented in the Van Nuys court. He had a .08/.07. He could not have the misdemeanor conviction on his record for bar purposes and other reasons, so I convinced the prosecutor to give him two moving violations.

For example, if he ran a stop sign and made an illegal left turn without signaling, those would be two moving violations. He had a couple of points on his record, but he still maintained his driver's license. He didn't get a criminal conviction because moving violations are just infractions.

He didn't get a misdemeanor on his record. That's an excellent resolution when it comes to DUI's in LA County.

You don't necessarily have to be a .08 to get a DUI in LA county. Suppose you have alcohol in your system and you can't safely operate a motor vehicle. In that case, you don't pass the field sobriety test according to the police; your speech is slurred, your eyes are red and bloodshot and watery, you have an unsteady gait, then the police can say, you have alcohol. You're a DUI.

I've seen prosecutors try to go after these types of cases. So, there are all sorts of lesser included offenses. Another tactic I've used, if you get busted for a DUI and another charge – it has nothing to do with a DUI – sometimes we can get the DUI dismissed, and you work out a resolution related to the other direction.

So, all sorts of things can be done, but of course, it depends on your case. It depends on your attorney. It depends on what happened in your case – how high your blood alcohol level was, how dangerous you were on the road, and many other factors.

They're also going to look at your criminal record. If you have a bad driving record and you're busted for a DUI, don't expect the prosecutors to give you a break. If you have prior DUI's on your record – even if they're outside the ten years – don't expect the prosecutors to give you a break.

Local DUI Lawyer to Negotiate Lesser Charge

So, the biggest thing you want to do is get a great DUI attorney local to the jurisdiction where your case is pending. Give him all the facts. Be honest and straightforward. I wrote a book on this particular topic. Grab my book and give it a read. It's very inexpensive. You can get it on

It talks about the ins and outs of DUI's in an excellent common-sense approach. So, if you have a DUI and you're trying to get a lesser charge, sit down with an attorney who knows what they're doing. I'm always available for a consultation and see if it's realistic that you can get a lesser charge. If not, you need to minimize the penalties, which is a topic for another blog.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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