December 22, 2014

The Two Types of Reckless Driving Charges in the California Vehicle Code, and Why it Matters in DUI Cases, Pt. 2

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As previously discussed, the wet reckless charge is a tool prosecutors use to "split the baby" when there is a DUI case with problems for them. The wet has reduced punishments, but it is also priorable if the defendant gets another DUI.

The differences can be significant. For these purposes, I will use the San Diego Superior Court Standard Sentencing Guidelines for Infractions and Misdemeanors.

First, the Standard DUI, California Vehicle Code Sections 23152(a) or (b):

Five Years Summary Probation (terms, among others, to Violate No Laws (VNL))
$2,064, fine including $100 SAAU (Substance Abuse Assessment Unit) fee
PSP (Public Service)- days of PSP are dependent on BAC
.15% - .19% is 5 Days
.20% - .24% is 10 Days
.25% and above is 15 Days
FCP (First Conviction Program) is mandatory, and the length also depends on the BAC
.19% and below is three months
.20% and higher is Nine months
Driving under the influence victim impact panel (MADD)
*DMV handles license suspension, mostly
Refer to SAAU (Substance Abuse Assessment Unit)
VC 23593 advisal (upon being given, if defendant drinks and drives again, and kills someone, they can be charged with murder).
*Judges/Commissioners are advised to give "heightened consideration" to IID if the BAC is greater than .15%

Some notes, while VNL is the term that specifically states that violating no laws is a term of probation, the entire sentence becomes individual terms of probation. For instance, if a person does not attend the MADD victim impact panel, or report to SAAU, a notice of probation violation will be sent to the court and the defendant. A bench warrant will be issued for the non-compliant defendant. They will have to go into the court and request that probation be reinstated and the bench warrant dismissed. If not, the court has all statutory options from the original charge available to them. For a DUI, that means up to six months in jail or $1,000 fine (not including penalties and assessments).

The substance abuse assessment unit (SAAU) is an office in the courthouse that helps the defendant assess if they have a drinking problem. Depending on the responses, there may be additional terms of probation to help reduce the likelihood of recidivism. For instance, speaking with a counselor, or attending AA meetings.

The PSP, or public work service, is a program that is administered by the San Diego Sheriff's Department. The most common public service is cleaning up trash at the side of a road. Those performing public service must be present at 8:00am, then they are assigned to work crews that clean trash. They may also clear invasive vegetation from waterways.

Sometimes, if the person is physically challenged, handicapped, otherwise infirm, or otherwise logistically challenged, public work service can be satisfied by volunteer work service. Volunteer work service is volunteering for a non-profit organization, and 8 hours of volunteer work service satisfies one day of public work service. I recently got a clients public work service transferred into volunteer work service because she was going to be attending college out of the county and participating in collegiate athletics.

Volunteer work service is much less demanding, and can be more satisfying. I advise my clients to look up organizations and non-profits that they may be interested in and contact them. For instance, one client volunteered at a state park during a clean up. Volunteer work service is satisfied with a letter on the organizations letterhead saying that defendant performed so many hours of volunteer work.

In the next blog entry we will go over the dry and wet reckless standard sentences and why they are beneficial for most people charged with a DUI in San Diego County. As always, I am available to discuss either specific DUI cases, or general topics in DUI law and I can be reached here.


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The acronyms DUI, DWI, OMVI and OVI all refer to the same thing: operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The most commonly used terms are DUI, an acronym for Driving Under the Influence, and DWI, an acronym for Driving While Impaired.
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