Does PC 1001.95 Apply to Misdemeanor DUIs?

Prosecutors say no but the plain language of the new misdemeanor judicial diversion statute PC 1001.95 clearly states that it applies to all misdemeanors except those specifically excluded. DUI offenses are not specifically excluded in the language of the statute.

The Legislative intent of a statute as determined by the plain language of the statute is discussed in detail in Burden v. Snowden, (1992) 2 Cal. 4th 556:

The rules governing statutory construction are well settled. We begin with the fundamental premise that the objective of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate legislative intent. (Kimmel v. Goland (1990) 51 Cal.3d 202, 208 [271 Cal.Rptr. 191, 793 P.2d 524]; California Teachers Assn. v. San Diego Community College Dist., supra, 28 Cal.3d at p. 698.) “In determining intent, we look first to the language of the statute, giving effect to its ‘plain meaning.’ ” (Emphasis added.) (Kimmel, supra, 51 Cal.3d at pp. 208-209, citing Tiernan v. Trustees of Cal. State University & Colleges (1982) 33 Cal.3d 211, 218-219 [188 Cal.Rptr. 115, 655 P.2d 317]; California Teachers Assn., supra, 28 Cal.3d at p. 698.) Although we may properly rely on extrinsic aids, we should first turn to the words of the statute to determine the intent of the Legislature. (California Teachers Assn., supra, 28 Cal.3d at p. 698.)  See also People v. Lawrence (2000) 24 Cal.4th 219, 230, 99 Cal.Rptr. 2d 570, 6 P.3d, 228; People v. Lopez (2003) 31 Cal 4th 1051, 1056, 6 Cal.Rptr. 3d 432, 79 P.3d 548.  

The Court in Khajavj v. Feather River Anesthesia Medical Group, (2000) 84 Cal. App. 4th 32 , 34 further explained that:

the most powerful safeguard for the courts’ adherence to their constitutional role of construing, rather than writing, statutes is to rely on the statute’s plain language.  

Furthermore, although the direct issue in question in Tellez v. Superior Court of Riverside was mental health diversion, the court discussed PC 1001.95 Misdemeanor Diversion in anticipation of the question as to DUI eligibility for the newly enacted PC 1001.95.  That court stated in pertinent part:

“…Misdemeanor diversion already exists.  In 1982, the Legislature enacted two sets of statutes providing for misdemeanor diversion programs.  (Pen. Code, §§ 1001-1001.9, 1001.50-1001.55; Davis v. Municipal Court(1988) 46 Cal.3d 64, 75.)  When the Legislature did so, it expressly excluded DUI offenses from eligibility.  (Pen. Code, §§1001.2, subd. (a), 1001.51, subds. (b), (c)(6).)  In view of that history, the Legislature’s failure to expressly exclude DUI offenses this time around is a good indicator that it intended DUI offenses to be eligible for the new misdemeanor program.(Emphasis Added).  (Tellez v. Superior Court of Riverside, Filed Oct. 23, 2020, from the Fourth Appellate District, Division Two, Case No. E074244, Superior Ct. No. INF1800977).

 Despite opposition from California prosecutors, PC 1001.95 misdemeanor judicial diversion applies to misdemeanor DUI offenses.  

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Five-Year-Old Dies Tragically in DUI Accident Caused by her Father

On Sunday afternoon, five-year-old Alexa Avalos lost her life and another young boy suffered serious injuries in a single-car crash in Colton, California. Their father, Ernesto Avalos, 28, was suspected of driving while intoxicated when he crashed into a light pole on South Cooley Drive.

The incident occurred on April 11th at approximately 2:25 p.m. Witnesses told investigators that the vehicle driven by the defendant was traveling southbound in a Toyota 4Runner when he rolled over a raised center median and blew past a stop sign at a dangerously accelerated speed before slamming head-on into a pole. While preliminary investigations suggest Avalos may have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the collision, authorities have not ruled out the possibility that other substances might have been used and contributed to the tragic crash.

When emergency personnel arrived at the scene of the crime, they found Avalos and two children entrapped in the vehicle and carefully extracted them. The impact of the crash was severe and all three occupants were transported to a nearby hospital for medical attention. Sadly, Alexa’s injuries were fatal, and she passed away shortly upon arrival. Her father was released from the hospital the following day and was arrested immediately on suspicion of drunk driving. Unfortunately, this is not Avalos’ first DUI offense. In February of 2021, he was charged with a misdemeanor of DUI which, according to the court, is still an open case.

On Tuesday, prosecutors filed additional charges associated with the crash that killed his little girl in a new case. In addition to murder, he now faces child endangerment and a felony DUI. The defendant is currently being held at West Valley Detention Center on no bail.

Driving while under the influence is not only extremely dangerous, but has consequences that can completely disrupt the trajectory of your life. If you find yourself in a compromising position such as this, please make the wise decision to opt for a mode of transportation that does not require to you get behind the wheel—a decision like this can not only salvage your life, but the lives of others as well.

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Alleged DUI Suspect Charged for Killing Two Victims in DUI Accident

A Novita woman identified as Keilah Marie Coyle was arrested on allegations of intoxicated driving after a crash that killed two people in Lake County, California. According to Lake County District Attorney Susan Krones, Coyle’s scheduled arraignment took place this past Tuesday afternoon on charges of vehicular manslaughter and causing great bodily injury by driving under the influence. The suspect remains in custody in lieu of $2 million bail.

The crash occurred at approximately 11 p.m. on Saturday, March 13th, 2021 on Highway 29 near Middletown. According to the California Highway Patrol report, Coyle was traveling southbound in a Ford F-250 pickup truck when she lost control and drifted over the solid double yellow lines. Consequently, the truck collided with a GMC van that was traveling northbound.

Sadly, the impact of the crash was severe, and the occupants of the van were pronounced dead at the scene of the crime. The fatal crash resulted in the highway being closed for about five hours. Investigative reports identified the two victims as Miguel Maciel Dominguez, 47, and Cassandra Elaine Rolicheck, 53, both residents of Clearlake.

The police officers at the scene noted that she showed signs of alcohol intoxication. As a result, they arrested Coyle on suspicion of driving under the influence and causing injury and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, among other charges.

Considering the Facts of the DUI Case

Earlier that Saturday prior to the incident, Coyle was also identified as the suspect in a hit-and-run collision in Sonoma County. She allegedly made an unsafe lane change on Highway 101 South and sideswiped another vehicle. Thankfully, the victims were uninjured and were able to record Coyle’s license plate number to file a report.

Coyle faces incarceration but it is possible for the families of the victims to also file a wrongful death claim, separate from her criminal case. A case like this may turn out to be difficult to navigate. The DUI defense team will need to proceed with the tact and care necessary to help bring about the best results possible.

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Is it Possible to Get a DUI While Parked?

Many people do not realize that you can get charged with a DUI while your vehicle is parked. Although it is not very common, the possibility still does exist. A parked DUI looks slightly different from a standard DUI because the criminal charge is contingent upon the prosecutor being able to prove to the court that the operator of the vehicle was actually driving while they were intoxicated. Additionally, they must prove that the police office at the scene reasonably saw that the vehicle’s owner had the intention to drive or was preparing to drive while intoxicated at the time of the traffic stop. 

The aforementioned action is referred to as an attempted DUI. This means you are not guilty of having actually driven under the influence, but instead you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol with the intent to drive. Criminal attempted DUIs exist so that the authorities may prevent a potentially dangerous incident before it happens.

Also, you may still get a DUI if you were sleeping in your vehicle but not operating it. The police may have probable cause to arrest you for DUI if there are signs that you were driving under the influence before pulling over to sleep. In this case, it is very important to note where you were located in the car when you were found sleeping to determine whether you were drunk driving. Being in the driver’s seat, for example, gives police officers probable cause to believe the operator of the vehicle had been driving. 

Addressing a Parked DUI in Court

In the interest of public safety, many courts will look at whether the driver was attempting to drive or reasonably could have been driving when permitting prosecution. Courts will generally consider all of the indicators that a person was about to operate their vehicle, like:

  • Whether or not the vehicle’s lights were on
  • If the parking brake was released 
  • Whether or not the keys were in the ignition
  • If the vehicle was on at the time of the police stop, and 
  • Whether or not the driver placed their belongings on the passenger seat.

The most common circumstantial evidence of a DUI includes a warm engine or tires or a direct admission from the driver that they were driving under the influence.  The best possible way to avoid a parked DUI is to simply not drive while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. If you are faced with an attempted DUI, consulting with an experienced attorney is well advised. A good attorney will evaluate the circumstantial evidence against you and determine whether they will be able to stand in court. From there, they can navigate the case with you step-by-step so that they can try to disprove the officer’s determination of probable cause.

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Implied Consent Laws in California

In the state of California, it is implied that the license holder has given their consent to a breath test to measure their blood alcohol content upon being arrested for a DUI. It is important to understand that implied consent laws only apply to chemical testing required following a DUI arrest.

How Chemical Tests Differ from Field Sobriety Tests

Once you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI, an officer will ask you to submit a Field Sobriety Test (FST). If an officer administers an FST, he or she has likely already made up their mind to arrest you and is simply compiling more evidence. FSTs can look like heel-toe-walk, one leg, fingers-to-nose, and/or alphabet recitation.

Officers will also ask you to submit a chemical test in order to determine your blood alcohol content. Two tests are commonly used: the blood sample method and the breathalyzer method.  A person can in fact refuse to take FSTs and a roadside breath test if an arrest has not been made. However, if arrested, implied consent laws require a chemical test submission.

Consequences for Refusing to Submit Chemical Tests After a DUI Arrest

The consequences for refusing to submit a chemical test after an arrest is made are severe in California. The penalties for refusal, referred to as ‘refusal enhancement penalties’, will be levied on top of standard DUI penalties. Refusal enhancement penalties can include:

  • First-time DUI offense: Driver’s license suspension for 1 year with possible jail time up to 48 hours, and 9 months of alcohol education courses
  • Second-time DUI offense: Driver’s license suspension for 3 years with possible jail time up to 96 hours
  • Third-time DUI offense: Driver’s license suspension for 3 years with possible jail time up to 10 days.

Failure to submit to a chemical test can result in charges for both the DUI offense as well as the refusal. The fact of your refusal can be introduced as evidence at a trial that you had a guilty conscience. Disputes involving implied consent can be complicated. By their nature, they require an analysis of the person’s actions to determine whether the person actually consented.

In a criminal law context, if you refused a chemical test after a DUI arrest, you should contact a DUI lawyer so they can explain what course of action should be taken next. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Taylor and Taylor will vigorously represent you in a court of law should you find yourself in this position.

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