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Articles Posted in DUI

ALICIA URBIETA ISLAS, Petitioner, v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Respondent; THE PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest. (Cal. Ct. App., May 20, 2022, No. H049445) 2022 WL 1597051, at *1–3

Summary: Islas was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). (Veh. Code, § 23152, subds. (a) and (b).) She moved for pretrial diversion under Penal Code section 1001.95, which gives judges discretion to offer diversion to misdemeanor defendants. The trial court denied diversion based on Vehicle Code section 23640, under which DUI defendants are categorically ineligible for diversion. Two appellate courts have published decisions finding misdemeanor DUI defendants similarly situated to petitioner categorically ineligible for Penal Code section 1001.95 diversion. (Grassi v. Superior Court (2021) 73 Cal.App.5th 283 (Grassi); Tan v. Superior Court (2022) 76 Cal.App.5th 130 (Tan).) We agree with the reasoning in those authorities and will therefore deny the petition for writ of mandate.

Issue: Whether misdemeanor DUI defendants are categorically ineligible from Penal Code section 1001.95 diversion by operation of Vehicle Code section 23640.

Grassi v. Superior Court of Orange County (Cal. Ct. App., Dec. 28, 2021, No. G060362) 2021 WL 6124764, at *1

Summary: Grassi filed a petition for writ of mandate after the trial court concluded that she was statutorily ineligible for misdemeanor diversion. Grassi claims that Penal Code section 1001.95’s plain language and legislative history makes diversion available to misdemeanor driving under the influence defendants despite Vehicle Code section 23640’s prohibition on granting diversion to driving under the influence defendants.

The Court of Appeal, in this case of first impression, we conclude the two statutes can be harmonized  to provide diversion to misdemeanor defendants, except for those defendants excluded in Penal Code section 1001.95, subdivision (e), and misdemeanor driving under the influence defendants pursuant to Vehicle Code section 23640. The court denied the petition.

People v. Nault (Cal. Ct. App., Dec. 20, 2021, No. B306460) 2021 WL 5997961, at *1–3

Summary: Nault, driving whiledrunk after four previous DUI convictions tried to pass an 18-wheeler on a narrow road. Nault’s pickup hit an oncoming car and killed its driver. While Nault was unconscious from the crash, police took a warrantless sample of his blood. Nault argues this violated the Fourth Amendment. The court of appeal affirmed but direct the trial court to stay a second sentence under Penal Code section 654.

Prior DUI Convictions: At his 2020 trial, Nault stipulated to four DUI convictions between 2000 and 2009. On August 11, 2017, a park ranger found Nault digging his pickup out of beach sand. Nault was stumbling about and he sounded and smelled drunk. He refused field sobriety tests and a blood test. He told the ranger to arrest  him and said his blood alcohol content was over 0.08 percent because he drank a Four Loko. The ranger arrested Nault and impounded his truck.  Nault’s license was suspended.

People v. Grabham (Cal. Ct. App., Aug. 31, 2021, No. A160384) 2021 WL 3909628, at *1

Summary:  Grabham was convicted of violating Vehicle Code 1 section 23152, subdivision (a) (section 23152(a)) and section 23152, subdivision (b) (section 23152(b)). Grabham arguesd that section 23152(a) and (b) are different statements of the same offense and Penal Code section 954 trequires vacatur of one of his convictions. The First Appellate District concluded that section 23152(a) and (b) are separate offenses and Grabham may properly be convicted of both. 

Facts: California Highway Patrol Officers initiated  a traffic stop due to Grabham’s cellphone use and expired registration. After smelling alcohol coming from the truck and observing that Grabham’s eyes were red and watery and that his speech was slurred a full DUI investigation was conducted.

People v. Sup. Ct. (Espeso); BS 175803; 7/14/21; Los Angeles Superior Court App. Div. ruled no diversion for DUI

People v. Sup. Ct. (Diaz‑Armstrong); APR12100008; 7/27/21; Riverside Sup. Ct. App. Div.-ruled diversion available for DUI

There is a split on this question. The Riverside Superior Court appellate division says that 23640 does not bar diversion for a misdemeanor DUI.  

People v. Schulz (Cal. Ct. App., July 20, 2021, No. F080978) 2021 WL 3047264, at *2–8

Summary: Schulz appealed  claiming that the trial court abused its discretion when it declined to reduce his felony convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol to misdemeanors pursuant to Penal Code section 17, subdivision (b).1 He also claims that under the Estrada presumption, he is entitled to relief under Assembly Bill No. 1950 (2019–2020 Reg. Sess.) which amended section 1203.1, subdivision (a), to limit probation for felony offenses to no more than two years, subject to certain exceptions. (Stats. 2020, ch. 328, § 2.)

The court ordered the parties to file supplemental letter briefs pursuant to Government Code section 68081, addressing whether, assuming Assembly Bill No. 1950 applies retroactively, defendant’s convictions for violation of Vehicle Code section 23153, subdivisions (a) and (b), qualify for a reduction in the probationary period under section 1203.1, subdivision (a), given that subdivision (m) of section 1203.1, which was added by Assembly Bill No. 1950, excludes “an offense that includes specific probation lengths within its provisions.” (See Veh. Code, § 23600, subd. (b)(1) [“If any person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 and is granted probation, the terms and conditions of probation shall include … a period of probation not less than three nor more than five years ….”].

People v. Cummings (Cal. Ct. App., Mar. 3, 2021, No. C084505) 2021 WL 803686, at *1–5

Summary:Cummings entered a plea of no contest to attempted driving with a blood alcohol-level of 0.08 percent or more within 10 years of a felony conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) (Pen. Code, § 664/Veh. Code, §§ 23152, subd. (b), 23550.51) and admitting two prior DUI convictions.

Cummings was granted five years of formal probation.

David Peter Moore, Sr., Petitioner, V. The Superior Court of Riverside County, Respondent; THE PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest. Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 2, California. December 11, 2020 — Cal.Rptr.3d —- 2020 WL 7296513

Summary: Vehicle Code section 23640 and its predecessor, Vehicle Code former section 23202, have generally made DUI defendants ineligible for any form of pretrial diversion. In 2018, the Legislature enacted Penal Code section 1001.36, making defendants charged with “a misdemeanor or felony” and who suffer from a qualifying mental health disorder generally eligible for pretrial mental health diversion. (Stats. 2018, ch. 34, § 24.) The Legislature then amended Penal Code section 1001.36 to make defendants charged with murder and other specified offenses categorically ineligible for pretrial mental health diversion. (§ 1001.36, subd. (b)(2); Stats. 2018, ch. 1005, § 1.) But the Legislature did not amend Penal Code section 1001.36 to clarify that DUI defendants are eligible for pretrial mental health diversion, notwithstanding Vehicle Code section 23640.

The issue in this case is one of statutory interpretation: In light of Vehicle Code section 23640, are DUI defendants categorically ineligible for pretrial mental health diversion under Penal Code section 1001.36? In Tellez v. Superior Court (2020) 56 Cal.App.5th 439 (Tellez), the Court  addressed the same question and concluded, based on the legislative history of Penal Code sections 1001.36 and 1001.80 (military diversion), that the Legislature did not intend DUI defendants to be eligible for pretrial mental health diversion under section 1001.36. (Tellez, at pp. 447-448.)

AB 3234,  taking effect on January 1, 2021, allows for diversion in almost all misdemeanor cases, including DUI, vehicular manslaughter, elder abuse, child abuse, assault, hate crimes, carrying a concealed firearm, possession of a firearm in a school zone, criminal threats, and dissuading a witness.  Upon completion of diversion, as defined by the judge, the case shall be dismissed and the crime deemed to never have occurred.

Diversion and dismissal of the case under AB 3234

Under AB 3234, a judge in the superior court in which a misdemeanor is being prosecuted can offer misdemeanor diversion to a defendant over the objection of a prosecuting attorney, except as specified. A judge can continue a diverted case for a period not to exceed 24 months and order the defendant to comply with the terms, conditions, and programs the judge deems appropriate based on the defendant’s specific situation. At the end of the diversion period, if the defendant complies with all required terms, conditions, and programs, the judge is required to  dismiss the case  against the defendant. The arrest upon which diversion was imposed  will be deemed to have never occurred.  The court may end the diversion and order resumption of the criminal proceedings if the court finds that the defendant is not complying with the terms and conditions of diversion.

People v. Shumake (Cal. App. Dep’t Super. Ct., Dec. 16, 2019, No. 6093) 2019 WL 8128736

Stop by Specialized Dui Patrol Officer: Admission that driver had marijuana in the car

While on specialized DUI patrol Berkeley Police Officer Megan Jones stopped a Hyundai with no front license plate, a violation of Vehicle Code Section 5200. Officer Jones testified that she stops cars for traffic violations, to see if the driver might be impaired. She testified that Shumake’s driving was normal, and that he immediately and safely pulled to the curb when she activated her lights and siren, and that he was cooperative. Officer Jones testified that she has conducted about 800 DUI investigations, with about 500 involving marijuana.

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