DUI in Los Angeles

Car crash photo by Sciliystuff

Driving under the influence of alcohol, or another substance such as marijuana, is one of the most common and dangerous crimes in Los Angeles. Every day people put themselves and others at serious risk of bodily injury and death. According to the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, in 2010, 1,768 people died in traffic collisions that were caused by alcohol or drugs. For that year there was a total of 195,879 DUI arrests. Many people are lucky and get a DUI without causing any harm to other people. As a result, they hopefully receive a wake up call. Some are not so lucky and end up destroying the lives of others as well as their own. A recent case of DUI in Los Angeles became tragic and resulted in the death of six people.

Wrong Way Crash on 60 Freeway in Los Angeles

According to a report in the LA Times by Joseph Serna and Ruben Vives, 21-year-old Olivia Culbreath entered the wrong side of the 60 freeway-heading west in Los Angeles as a result of being under the influence. Within a short duration, Culbreath collided into two other vehicles at an estimated speed of 100 miles per hour. In one of the vehicles was a family of five, none of whom survived the crash. Based on statistical data gathered from adp.ca.gov, in fatal crashes involving alcohol, 34.7% of the time fixed objects are hit, while crashes involving multiple vehicles constitutes 52.7% of fatal crashes. More often than not, drunk drivers collide with and injure. One of the passengers in Culbreath’s vehicles was also killed while she suffered a broken leg and ruptured bladder. For this, Olivia Culbreath will likely be charged suspicion of DUI and manslaughter upon being discharged from medical care.

DUI Charges and Penalties in Los Angeles

The tragic incident was not Ms. Culbreath’s first time being in trouble with the law for driving drunk. In fact, she had been previously convicted of driving under the influence in San Bernardino County during April of 2010 while she was still a juvenile. According to adp.ca.gov, it is thought that less than 1% of DUI offenders are under the age of 18. Additionally, the same study states that females make up 22.4% of all DUI arrests in 2010, while males made up the majority of 77.6%. Since driving under the influence can lead to terrible tragedy, the punishment for those convicted of a DUI in Los Angeles is typically very severe. The penalties normally entail several hefty fines, suspension or revocation of one’s driver’s license, and lengthy DUI education classes.

According to the California DMV’s website, individuals arrested for DUI will have their driver’s license confiscated and suspended. First offenders who are above the ago of 21 and have a blood alcohol content level of 0.08% or above receive a suspension of 4 months. Based on Vehicle Code 23136, those under the legal drinking age need only a BAC level of 0.01% to qualify as a DUI and the punishment is a suspended license for 1 year. Based on DUI statistics by adp.ca.gov, the average BAC level for convicted DUI offenders in California was 0.15% in 2009. Subsequent offenses result in much harsher punishments. For instance, for those both above and below the legal drinking age, a second offense within 10 years results in a revocation of one’s driving license for 2 years. Subsequently, a third offense with 10 years results in revocation for 3 years.

Opportunity For Expunging a DUI Charge in Los Angeles

First time offenders convicted of a DUI who did not cause bodily injury to others are typically first offenders are charged with a misdemeanor DUI. Those who hurt others or have prior convictions could potentially receive a felony DUI. In Culbreath’s case, she will likely be convicted of felony charges for both manslaughter and DUI. For those fortunate enough not to have harmed anyone with driving under the influence, California Penal Code 1203.4 allows the offender to have their case reopened and potentially expunged. Individuals charged with a felony DUI conviction may also have the opportunity to expunge their DUI offense from their criminal record. Expunging a felony, however, could be more of a challenge.