Articles Posted in DUI

THE PEOPLE, Petitioner, v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Respondent; JESSICA ORTIZ, Real Party in Interest. (Cal. Ct. App., July 28, 2022, No. E077594) 2022 WL 2981170, at *1–2

Summary:Penal Code section 1001.95 authorizes superior court judges to offer pretrial diversion, over the prosecution’s objection, to persons being prosecuted for “a misdemeanor.” (Pen. Code § 1001.95, subd. (a).) The statute prohibits diversion for specified misdemeanors like registrable sex offenses, domestic violence, and stalking.  Misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence (DUI) (Veh. Code, §§ 23152, 23153) are not excluded from diversion in Penal Code section 1001.95.  But an older statute, Vehicle Code section 23640 bars any form of pretrial diversion for felony and misdemeanor DUI charges.

The superior court granted diversion to  Ortiz, on misdemeanor DUI charges (Veh. Code, § 23152) pursuant to Penal Code section 1001.95. The  appellate division of the superior court upheld the diversion order for Ortiz and two other defendants who had also been granted diversion on misdemeanor DUI charges.

People v. Murphy (Cal. Ct. App., May 25, 2022, No. B306773) 2022 WL 1673827, at *1

Summary: Murphy appealed his three convictions for second degree murder. (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a).). The court sentenced him to three concurrent terms of 15 years to life in prison, Murphy argued that the evidence supporting his convictions is insufficient because the prosecution failed to prove he acted with implied malice. Murphy, while under the influence of marijuana, drove his car at nearly 90 miles per hour through a red light and collided with another vehicle, killing its occupants.

The Court of Appeal concluded that sufficient evidence supported the jury’s verdict. Even though there is no standardized medical test equivalent to the blood alcohol concentration test that accurately determines a person’s level of impairment from marijuana, there was substantial evidence that Murphy was impaired from using marijuana and that acted with implied malice both when he smoked marijuana with the intent to drive, and when he drove in a manner that demonstrated a conscious disregard for human life.

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.

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