I was in Metropolitan Court yesterday representing a client charged with a first time DUI. The brief circumstances were that the defendant had consumed a number of shots of liquor and had tried to make it home before he felt the effects of the alcohol.
As he was driving on the freeway, he began to feel impaired and decided to pull over on the shoulder to sleep it off. The CHP approached his vehicle and observed him to be "passed out" in the driver's seat. He admitted to being "drunk" and explained that he had pulled over for this reason. He submitted to a breath test with a reading of .14%. The arraignment court deputy city prosecutor had offered me the standard minimum penalties for a first time DUI.
At the continued arraignment, I was able to convince the prosecutor that there was doubt as to when the defendant drove a vehicle, and that they had problems proving a specific breath alcohol level for a theoretical time of driving. Although the prosecutor was skeptical about the argument, given the circumstances, she offered my client a reduced charge of alcohol related reckless driving commonly called a "wet reckless."
The benefit to my client was that this would not appear as a DUI conviction on his record, and importantly for him, he would not need to install an ignition interlock device in his vehicle. A conviction for DUI in Los Angeles leads to a DMV requirement to install an IID in every vehicle owned or operated by the defendant as a condition of re-instatement of driving privileges following the conviction. A "wet reckless" does not result in this mandate.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, do not plead guilty unless you have consulted with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer first. A conviction can lead to punitive penalties and it is often possible to avoid a conviction even if your breath or blood alcohol level is over the legal limit.