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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Repeat DUI Offender Faces Murder Following Fatal DUI Pedestrian Accident

On May 20th at approximately 10:09 p.m. in Orange, California, a 19-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed by Sitani Pinomi. The victim, Aden Uriostegui, was walking home from work when a 2002 Ford F-250 pickup truck traveling southbound ran through a red traffic light and fatally struck him. The crash occurred at the intersection of Tustin Street and Heim Avenue.

According to investigative reports, Pinomi pulled over following the collision to try and wake up the teen who at the time was unresponsive. By the time emergency personnel arrived, Uriostegui sadly succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. Consequently, Orange police officers conducted a field sobriety test on the driver and shortly thereafter arrested him for a DUI and driving on a suspended license.

Sadly, this was not Pinomi’s first DUI offense. He was previously arrested on January 24th, 2020 in Salt Lake City and was cited for using or having drug paraphernalia, interfering with an arresting officer, and failing to comply with police commands.

Due to his criminal history, Orange Police booked him at the Orange County Jail for muder and remained in custody until his court date, June 9th, 2021.

A GoFund Me Page has since been set up to help the victim’s family with funeral expenses.

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DUI and the Booking and Bail Process in California

DUI arrests are nearly impossible to challenge. If there is probable cause to believe a driver is impaired, police officers can legally take them into custody after an arrest is made. Once in custody, the officer will confiscate the driver’s license and subject them to a breath, blood, or urine test to verify their intoxication level. However, prior to conducting any of the aforementioned tests, the police will inform you of your chemical tests rights which includes the consequences of refusing to consent to a test. The penalties of refusing to submit to a chemical test in California after being lawfully arrested are:

· increased penalties in addition to the standard California DUI penalties

· a mandatory driver’s license suspension that will occur regardless of the outcome in your DUI case

If the police fails to inform you of your rights, you may be able to challenge any penalties that result from a refusal.

What Happens Once You are Booked

After an arrest has been made, police officers book the suspect. This process generally involves:

· documentation of the suspect’s personal information

· a description of the committed crime, criminal background search

· a full body search, fingerprinting, and a mugshot

· confiscation of all personal belongings

· and placement of suspect in holding cell or jail

Bail Process

If a DUI suspect is placed in jail, they will usually be able to obtain pre-arraignment release through bail–an agreement to pay money in order to obtain release from custody. As part of the release agreement, the suspect agrees to appear back in court for all scheduled court appearances including pre-trial motion, preliminary hearings, arraignment, and if necessary, trial.

A DUI suspect is typically released several hours after being processed, however in the event that the DUI suspect is not allowed to post bail immediately, it is possible for a judge to later decide to allow release on bail at a separate hearing or the arraignment.

What Determines the Bail Amount?

Each crime has a specific bail amount attached to it. The amount of bail is determined by a schedule that is set by local law. Bail for DUI in California can range from $5,000 minimum to $25,000. With DUI, the exact money you may have to pay will depend on whether or not it is your first DUI offense amongst other factors such as:

· seriousness of your DUI offense in terms of possible injuries

· your age

· the threat you would pose to the community upon release

· the risk that you will commit another crime if released

Bail Bonds and Bail Agencies

If you are unable to afford bail a bondsman or bail bond is a commonly used alternative. A bail bond is a short-term loan to cover bail. Many local bail bond services are open 24 hours a day and can often get your bond approved in a timely manner. The only caveat is that you must typically pay interest of 10% on the loan. If you are unable to pay that percentage, you can request that the judge lower it. In order to go this route, you must first request a bail hearing. It is imperative that you have a good DUI lawyer representing you to increase your chances of bail reduction.

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Chelsea Annmarie Stiles, 27, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in a DUI crash that left an elderly man dead in 2019 in San Luis Obispo, California. This week, District Attorney Dan Dow announced that Stiles has been sentenced to  serve 15 years and eight months in state prison.

In December 2020, the San Louis Obispo County jury convicted Stiles of numerous offenses. However, after several days of deliberation, the jury was initially unable to reach an unanimous verdict on the most serious charge—murder. Stiles was convicted of  the following felonies: gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of a drug causing death, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon using an automobile, fleeing the scene of a vehicle collision causing injury, child abuse, and a misdemeanor possession of cocaine.

The deadly crash sequence occurred on December 1, 2019 at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Highway 227. According to investigative reports, Stiles, while under the influence of cocaine, seemingly lost control of her vehicle and rear-ended an automobile carrying a family of four at over 70 miles per hour, disabling the vehicle as a result. Moments later, Stiles inexplicably drove into the opposite lane and struck a 77-year-old San Luis Obispo man identified as Terry Tilton head on at 68 miles per hour. Unfortunately, the impact of collision was severe and killed Tilton instantly. Stiles’s 18-month old daughter and her two dogs were also in her vehicle at the time of both collisions.

Stiles suffered from moderate injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment along with her young daughter who thankfully only sustained minor injuries.

During trial, court testimonies suggested that prior to the deadly crash, Stiles cut her daughter’s scheduled visitation with the father short. The father told investigators that Stiles’ strangely aggressive behavior lead him to believe that she was under the influence of drugs.

A CHP officer Trevor Ashton testified that Stiles was generally incoherent as she was being transported into the ambulance. At the hospital, Stiles admitted to intentionally crashing her vehicle into the two cars she hit but gave no explanation as to why.

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Is it Possible to be Extradited for a DUI?

Each state handles charges for driving under the influence. However, leaving a state after being charged with a DUI does not necessarily mean you will escape prosecution. This is because sometimes states can extradite you for DUI charges. Extradition is the process by which a person is arrested in one state to face charges in another. This can become a costly process and for this reason, most state court systems only pursue extradition proceedings in cases involving felony charges. It is important to note however, that there are some cases where individuals can be extradited on misdemeanor charges.

DUI Charges and Extradition in California

As aforementioned, felony charges are generally when states pursue extradition. While most DUI charges are commonly treated as misdemeanors, some DUI offenses in California are prosecuted as felonies. The court can use felony DUI charges to prosecute you if you committed at least four DUIs within a span of 10 years, the DUI accident you caused resulted in serious bodily harm, and/or if the DUI accident resulted in a death. Likewise, if you have received a felony DUI charge in the past, your new DUI will also be charged in California as a felony. Either of these alternatives could easily cause you to be extradited by the state to face charges.

You can still face serious consequences even if you are not extradited to face prosecution for a DUI in California. Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI, your life will still be affected. In particular, California initiates an automatic license suspension when you are arrested for DUI that goes into effect within 30 days of your arrest. This still occurs even if your DUI case is dismissed by a judge. The only way to possibly stop this is by requesting a hearing within 10 days of your arrest. In the event that you fail to respond to the notice of the hearing, the California DMV will suspend your license for a minimum of four months and does not only apply in California, but across state lines.

If you fail to appear in court to address a DUI charge, a bench warrant for your arrest can be issued by the court. This has no statute of limitations so any return trip to California will come with the knowledge that every police officer will be able to identify you as a wanted individual and will likely arrest you immediately.

If you are aware of an outstanding DUI in California, it would be wise to seek legal counsel as opposed to waiting it out. Contacting a DUI attorney will place you in a much better position in regards to handling your pending charge. An experienced attorney can possibly negotiate for an alternative penalty that allows you to stay in your home state instead of returning to California to serve a jail sentence.

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