San Diego DUI Law Center

San Diego DUI Victories: Most recent cases

San Diego DUI Victories

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Getting in a DUI accident hitting parked vehicles in San Diego County is common.

In August, while looking for a parking space, a gentleman with insurance drinking small “Good Day Original Soju” bottles (Korean Vodka, a 375 ML bottle with 13.5% alcohol content plus AdiosMutherfucker (AMFS) clipped non-moving vehicles – a U.S. and a German vehicle.

Vehicle Code 22107 prohibits unsafe road movements which obviously include accidentally getting in a collision with vehicle already parked.

San Diego Police Department DUI officers contacted the driver and passenger, both fortunately unhurt.  Driver had heavy odor of alcoholic beverage from his exhaled breath.  His eyes appeared glassy and slightly bloodshot.  With a slurred speech, he stuttered and repeated himself.

Driver wisely exercised his right to refuse to participate in acrobatics or gymnastics (“standardized field sobriety tests”) and the hand-held Preliminary Screening Test (PAS) breath device, voluntary exercises given with the main design to convict a driver who admits drinking and driving.

Driver initially refused a breath or blood test but fortunately agreed on a blood test so the officer changed his answer from NO to YES.  He was a .084%.  He retained San Diego DUI lawyer Rick Mueller to successfully make sure he was not convicted.



Things change when one has a DUI prior conviction within 10 years of the new offense, even if not in San Diego County, as that will be used to enhance penalties and punishment on the second DUI offense. 

As a plumbing technician, he needs to drive.  Don’t let a pizza and beer event ruin your career or put you in jail, even with a prior and a high BAC of .20% or more.

Had he checked his rear license plate light, he would have noticed it was inoperative.  This California Vehicle Code section 24601 requires the light to be working.  It is an increasingly popular reason to stop drivers by all DUI police departments:  San Diego PD, California Highway Patrol, La Mesa Police Department, or name any county drunk driving cops.

Upon contact, red & watery eyes, smell of alcohol, unsteady gait, and inconclusive field sobriety tests led the DUI arrest and high blood alcohol content level.

Critical questions include can jail be avoided?  Can I drive?  San Diego County DUI Law Center avoided the mandatory custody in San Diego County Jail, arranged home and work detention for a very short period time and volunteer work service (in lieu of jail).  Driving with ignition interlock device, enrollment in multiple conviction program, filing of SR-22 and payment of DMV reissue fees. 



Federal DUI court in San Diego’s U.S. District Court happens when people accidentally drive on base including when they set their GPS for a restaurant or gas station but instead GPS takes one to the Miramar gate.  Or the person may be on base by permission, living there, coming home, etc.

Often it’s a Military Police (MP) stopping you at the gate or while you are driving on base.  He/she hears slurred words, smells alcohol, or sees red/watery eyes.  Or the driver says something not very smart, like admit drinking.

In March, a Naval Base San Diego by the Gate Sentry reported a white Toyota recklessly swerving between lanes, cutting off other vehicles. A DUI MP is brought in, sometimes experienced, sometimes not so much.  They note sluggish movements and signs of intoxication.  Driver favorably refuses to do Standard Field Sobriety Tests and unfavorably refuses to do chemical breath testing (unfavorable if CA DMV suspends 1 one year for a refusal).

Needing to protect a security clearance as an engineer working on base, a record number of AA’s were attended, MADD Victim Impact Panel was completed, anger management course was attended, and San Diego DUI attorney Rick Mueller got a dismissal from a respectful and esteemed Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA).


In a separate February incident, after taking the wrong exit, a Hispanic female pulled into a Gate at the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot.  She was asked to provide insurance proof.  She did so, smelling of alcohol emitting from her breath and person. 

The DUI MP’s conducted pre-exit screening test which she could not do properly.  Then she did sobriety tests outside her car but was unable to do properly.  Arrested for DUI.  The Intoximeters breath test machine reported insufficient sample/test aborted.   She was then considered a refusal.  Refusal was dismissed.  DUI reduced to a reckless.  Fortunately, San Diego County DUI Law Center secured a reckless driving charge with minimum AA’s and MADD.  



Bottom line:  You can always refuse to do field testing.  If suspected or detained for DUI, you should not refuse chemical testing for fear of the 1 year license suspension without any driving privileges; but if you do refuse the breath or blood test, you should do so on a military base for the best possible result in a DUI case and DMV action.    You may not be able to drive on base for a year unless you can show a need to, but at least you’ll have a shot at avoiding a refusal on California roads in the civilian world run by DMV.



Military Base DUI Federal Court results in San Diego

In January, while conducting duties as a uniformed Military Policeman, Traffic Unit 309, Cpl. Saw a white Japanese car fail to maintain lane on multiple movements on Basilone Rd. of the military base on a foggy, rainy night. MP’s repeatedly shined brights on the driver, causing “black & white” fever.
It didn’t help that the driver never had been on that base and was unfamiliar on how to get from one end to another. He and the passenger had an open bottle of booze in the car. The passenger gave out late instructions to turn so the driver missed a road; turning around he hit the center median causing no damage.
MP’s lit him up and had him only do HGN field sobriety test because of inclement weather, preventing physical coordination tests.
Advised of right to blood or breath, he chose a breath at the Fallbrook Naval Weapons Police Station and blew 50% over the limit at .12%. His out of state license was fortunately not taken.
With a.08% DUI per se BAC limit in California, odor of alcohol and bloodshot eyes are the kinds of things that get you in trouble. Detained for DUI and given a citation for a notice to appear in the federal United States District Court in downtown San Diego California 92101.
First thing to start are Smart Recovery meetings or AA’s. Lots of them. Take responsibility – be alcohol-free. Fortunately he only had to pay $500 fine to Central Violations Bureau and provide proof of MADD and self-help AA meetings.
The prosecutor naturally pushed for a DUI conviction. Luckily, the DUI prosecuting assistant U.S. attorney surprisingly agreed to a favorable, reckless driving plea, California Vehicle Code Section 23103(a) – drive in a reckless manner, with a conscious disregard for the safety of others in violation of the charge’s section.
Americans appreciate active military who serve their country and swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Folks from San Diego salute the dedicated United States Navy and United States Marine Corps personnel. San Diego DUI attorneys are proud and honored to represent our servicewomen and servicemen working at or going through:
32nd Street,
Point Loma,
Miramar, or
Camp Pendleton, California.

In March, a law enforcement Corporal in the Southern District of California stationed at the Military Base Gate 5 San Diego greeted a man who took the wrong exit and ended up at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, attempting to enter while emitting alcohol and providing proof of insurance. At first he didn’t stop at the first sign. He was argumentative.

Asked to do a Pre-Exit Screening test which he was unable to perform properly, he went outside to attempt the “Standardized Sobriety Tests” which she was unable to perform properly giving rise to the determination he was unable to safely operate his vehicle.

Processed at Building 217 (PMO) San Diego, cited for DUI, he tried to do the breath test. But the machine did not work for him. Intoximeters Inc. EC/IR II displayed:

“Insufficient sample

Test aborted.”

Advised of choice of blood or breath – having not gotten a breath test – he elected to refuse the blood test. Then he was cited for DUI Refusal. Fortunately he did not lose his license.

In federal DUI court, San Diego County DUI Law Center got a deal for reckless driving no fine, attend MADD and 32 AA’s. The prosecuting Lt. Assistant U.S. Attorney was reasonable and impressed by the mitigation presented.

In April, Traffic Patrol Military Police for U.S. Marines was dispatched to Base Camp Pendleton at Christianitos Road JWO entry control Building #620505 because of a multiple traffic collision involving a possible drunk driver who allegedly traveled in opposite direction on two lane roadway hitting a Provost Marshals Office posting van head on.

The wrong way driver had blood-shot watery eyes after drinking and smoking MJ, a thick slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol, an open bottle of liquor in vehicle, and a further reveal of signs of impairment.

The most reliable test was requested, a blood test, after the Trombetta Advisement that a sample of breath is not saved. Photographs, fingerprints, and a notice to appear in federal U.S. District Court for all violations. Fortunately there was insurance.

DUI was continued in federal court for a number of months so driver could attend MADD and tons of AA meetings plus pay a fine half the maximum, in exchange for a reckless driving plea. DUI was dropped by federal prosecutor. Everyone was happy.

Out of state license holder unknowingly going 40 mph in a 25 mph zone (radar) in north San Diego county. Cop detects faint odor of alcoholic beverage.  Driver displays glassy watery eyes with a bit of a slurred speech.  Uh-oh.  Denies drinking.  Still uh-oh. Asked to get out of car.  Performs field tests even with discomfort in ankle. Arrested.  Could not provide breath sample.  Blood test not offered.  Charged with DUI Refusal.  Case dismissed.

On San Diego’s Barona Casino property, young sheet metal worker tried a U-turn onto shoulder but did not see old utility pole lying on shoulder.  Bam.  Disabled vehicle.  Busted for Driving Under the Influence by Tribal Enforcement.  Poor performance on roadside tests, then blows .123% and .133% on PAS.  At California Highway Patrol station, blows .137% and .119%   Attorney Rick Mueller’s Result:  no DUI conviction.  No DMV driver’s license suspension penalty.   Lots of reasons to use DUI Specialist.

African American in his thirties with Prior DUI and out-of-state license leaves Japanese restaurant, heads back to hotel.  Drives with multiple open containers, failed to signal, stopped many feet from limit line after erratic lane change. Odor of booze. Reddened Eyes.  Blows .19%/.19% after numerous clues on 3 FST’s.  DUI and driving with .08% dropped.  No license suspension by California DMV.  Reckless Driving = final charge.

Stopped for weaving after vehicle touched lines on a windy and rainy night, while driving a curvy road; bloodshot eyes unable to track or follow the officer’s HGN test because of “lazy eye,” older person has unsteady gait and bad balance from physical issues like back brace from weaning after broken back, knee surgery, arthritis in ankles.  El Cajon court: DUI and Driving with .08% or more BAC violations dropped even with 4 double-digit breath test results of .11% and .10% at time of arrest and subsequently .10% and .10% on the breath test machine at East County CHP office.

Local bank employee visits San Diego brewery, drinks killer IPA with Mexican food.   In a hurry to get home, passes all traffic, going over 100 mph on SR-52.   Stopped by California Highway Patrol DUI cop, says his car often gets stuck in 4th gear and unable to control speed. Said he had a beer. Cooperative but rambling.  Weak physical testing, then .113% and .110% PAS.  At station, .086% and .083%.  Avoided 60 days jail required by Vehicle Code Section 23582; DUI and driving with .08% charges also dismissed.  Outcome: Reckless driving.  It’s all about avoiding a DUI, San Diego attorneys know.

Self-employed Hispanic leaves Pacific Beach after drinking “3 Corona beers.”  Lucky to avoid San Diego DUI checkpoint.  Stopped on 5 freeway going 95 mph.  Thick speech, cooperative demeanor, red watery eyes which did not have a smooth pursuit, displaying nystagmus at the extremes and then at angle of onset prior to 45 degrees.  Dropped foot a few times on 1 leg stande.  Had trouble with the count.  Guessed 30 seconds as 15 seconds. Missed heel to toe.  Blew .117% and .115% on PAS test.  Blew .09/.09% at CHP office.  DUI and driving with .08% dropped. No sixty days jail per Excessive Speed enhancement statute.  Understanding of Articles is beginning of San Diego DUI success.

Full Story Victories

.20% BAC & live out of state – never legally drive again, unless….       

Many people visit or serve in the military in San Diego county.  When someone gets a DUI in the San Diego county, it is not unusual for someone to have to return to their home state. A high Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .20% or more means a mandatory 9-month DUI alcohol program. While many San Diego courts do, the California DMV however, will not accept an out-of-state alcohol program. The DMV will indefinitely suspend one’s driving privilege in California until an in-state licensed California program is completed. Unfortunately, in this particular instance, there are no online option is available.

Single Vehicle Accident case in San Diego. Very droopy eyelids. Watery eyes. Smells of alcohol. No insurance. Adamant they were not drinking. Agrees to take a PAS to prove sobriety; blows .209% (2 x hand-held PAS gadget). Unfortunately denies a DUI cop a blood test, but cop gets a telephonic search warrant. Blood result of .20%.

DUI Attorney Prosecutor stipulates to a .19% BAC which allows the DMV to eventually terminate suspension action as the court could have ordered an out-of-state program. Order exemption/waiver forms from Mandatory Actions Unit, honored by the California DMV, in order to reinstate privilege at the conclusion of a suspension period.  If .20% had stuck, DMV would have required a California 9-month program or else suspend until done.

This way, a return-to-home-state order allows drivers to do home-state programs in order to satisfy both the court and the CA DMV.  Great results; otherwise home-state honors and reciprocates your CA license suspension until California ends the suspension. California will not end the suspension until the program is done in California. California permits a waiver of a three-month program (.19% or less) but not nine-month program (.20% or higher). Bonus: the driver gets to do home-state volunteer work for any non-profit organization instead of picking up trash along the California freeways.

Miramar U.S. Marine Corps Military Base Gate            

If you’re in the service and you arrive back at base just before midnight, after a night out drinking, you should beware of the sentry at the gate. If the sentry smells alcohol on you, notices anything unusual about you/your passengers behavior, or you admit to drinking, you may be subject to an examination by the MP to determine if you are DUI. Even if you live in the barracks, a DOD/Armed Forces Identification Card is not be a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card.

The smell of alcohol coming out of the vehicle and is the first tipoff to the sentry that you need to be evaluated prior to your entry on to base.  When the Military Police askes you to recite the alphabet E to P and count backwards from 67 to 54, it’s not surprising that you would have difficulties doing so. These are not tests given to California drivers prior to issuance of a driver’s license. They’re also not tests which a person is exposed to regularly. Throwing curveballs with odd letters and numbers can seem like a set-up. Skipping letters of the alphabet, skipping numbers, and not stopping at the instructed number give MP’s even more reason to issue you a DUI.

The driver was asked to exit the vehicle but did not place the vehicle in park before turning vehicle off.  When asked to do the finger test, the driver’s eyes did not pursue smoothly, therefore there was distinct nystagmus at maximum deviation and nystagmus onset prior to 45 degrees.  Taken to the breath test building, two Intoximeter samples of .11 and .12 means a day in court. Fortunately, a witness attested to normal driving prior to base entry and safely maintaining position on the road at the speed limit. DUI Attorney Mueller will successfully handle everything else. He will get the DUI & .08% dismissed. (Camp Pendleton, Oceanside California)

Not everyone has such a desirable outcome, military-wise, after an on-base DUI arrest. In other instances, a military enlistee lost rank, lost pay, was on restriction for months, was barred from leaving barracks, was required to check in every 2 hours, or was given lots of extra duties (i.e cleaning and landscaping).

Aggravating factors: showing signs of aggression towards the MP, continuing to swear at the MP after being detained for drunken/reckless operation of vehicle and a DUI.  Blowing almost double legal limit of .08%.  Good thing he did as his lawyer asked:

  • Attended AA meetings
  • Completed an 8-hour driving course

It was necessary to do as his lawyer asked to successfully get his DUI dismissed because of his future career plans.

Dismissal means:

  • No County Jail
  • No DUI on your record (because of dismissal)
  • No $2,133 + DUI fine
  • No 3-month to 9-month expensive first Conviction Alcohol Program
  • No Trash Detail
  • No Vehicle Impound
  • No Public Work Service Program
  • No Community Service
  • No Ignition Interlock Device
  • No Volunteer Work
  • No MADD Victim Impact Panel
  • No Order to not drive with a measurable amount of alcohol in your system
  • No Order to submit to a chemical test upon request of an officer
  • No Order to not drive without a valid license or without insurance
  • No Order to not violate any same or similar DUI laws

U.S. Naval Base San Diego

Not everyone is able to save their driving privileges even when a dismissal concludes the criminal case.  Some San Diego military bases tend to issue a DMV Order of Suspension of driving privileges upon making an arrest for a DUI.  While a home-state may or may not catch the suspension action, it is important for one’s lawyer to contest the California DMV administrative suspension action initiated by the military police. This is essential because if California suspends one’s driving privilege by assigning that out-of-state driver a random seven-digit Index X number, one can be cited for driving on a suspended privilege independent of the court dismissal.

A Washington resident lost his driving privileges in California for one-year for refusing to submit to the required chemical test of blood/breath even though his case was dismissed in court. Relying on the misplaced refusal to provide a test without representation – even though advised in the six-point Refusal Admonition that he did not have the right to talk to an attorney or have a lawyer present before stating whether to submit to a test – the California DMV never hesitated to pull the privilege for the required one-year period without any restrictionavailable.

The young man was detained by the posted sentry at the gate check point near Norman Scott Road when he attempted to access the base.  He nearly collided with a yellow plastic jersey barrier due to swerving as he approached the gate with authority to enter the base.  He was contacted by a DUI MP because he displayed numerous  signs of intoxication. He failed the standardized field sobriety tests – the walk and turn test, he started too soon, stepped off the line, missed heel to toe and incorrectly turned.  On the one leg stand, he counted too quickly and incorrectly due to not using the one-thousand-one method as instructed.

After explaining the Implied Consent Laws, including the opportunity to provide a breath test on an Intoximeter EC-IR II machine, he refused to do so without an attorney. No warrant was obtained for a blood test. He was issued violation notices for DUI & Refusal which were ultimately dismissed by his DUI lawyer, Rick Mueller. He will still need to terminate suspension once the DMV suspension concludes by electronically filing an SR-22 certificate and paying the DMV reissue fees but he won’t have to do the alcohol program since he was not convicted of a Vehicle Code Section 23152 [DUI].

Solo Collision Refusal/Forced Blood Draw .09% + MJ, San Diego Police Dept.

The key is getting the VC 23152(a) DUI dropped.  By doing that, even after a one-year suspension is issued for a refusal, the license can be reinstated with payment of the DMV reissue fees and the insurance company filing the certificate.

One Los Angeles resident accidentally ran off the road after consuming alcohol and marijuana. He called for a tow truck. The tow truck driver decided to then call San Diego Police Department who got him to admit driving, saw his eyes, smelled his breath, looked at his walking issues and to then remember the car in the ditch. A blood and breath test were offered? No. This is the wrong answer because a DUI officer can, without issue, get a warrant for your blood and the refusal can be used against you as consciousness of guilt mandating jail, enhanced penalties, and a longer program. A DMV hearing was then requested within  10 days but the evidence revealed that norefusal defenses applied.

A .09% blood test with numerous nanograms of marijuana did not help this criminal case. Nonetheless his DUI Specialist lawyer, Rick Mueller, secured a reduction of charges with a dismissal of the DUI and refusal charges.

Fiesta Island Crossing I-5 DUI Dismissed

One unfortunate night, a fine east-coast born US Navy serviceman from the USS Alexandria, received a San Diego DUI after drinking White Claw and Beer on Fiesta Island.

Being in the military trains you to be respectful and cooperative, amongst other things. This training came in handy when the Navy serviceman was stopped by a CHP while heading southbound I-5 north of I-8 after leaving fiesta island.

While driving his Hyundai in the second lane, he began to veere out of the lane, eventually crossing the gore point of the exit lane onto Rosecrans Ave. off-ramp. This automatically put him in violation of Vehicle Code Section 21651(a) [crossing divided highway].

That prompted the California Highway Patrolmen to turn on his overhead emergency lights and pull over our Navy serviceman. The CHP used the public-address system to direct the serviceman’s car off the freeway and to the curb edge of a safe stopping location.

The CHP approached the serviceman’s open passenger window. At first glance, the officer spots an open beer can in the center console. The CHP proceeded by asking the passenger to hand the beer can over. Not only was the beer can open, but it was half full and still cold. The officer immediately poured out the rest of the beer.

Exiting his vehicle with red, watery eyes, and the strong smell of alcohol on his breath, the serviceman was now locked in as a DUI suspect. He was soon going to be asked to participate in the roadside testing protocol, known as the field sobriety tests or “acrobatics.”

Testing deficiencies included distinct nystagmus in both eyes, immediate onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees in both eyes, unsteady feet, eyelid tremors throughout the modified Romberg test tilting his head, closing his eyes and estimating 30 seconds, raising his right food on one leg test while swaying from side to side, and stepping off the walk and turn test line, missing the heel to toe on several steps.

On the roadside PAS breath test, the Navy serviceman blew .088% and .082% 4 minutes apart. However, his blood test came back at .093%.

Result by attorney:

Dismissal of Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) [DUI], 23152(b) [.08% or more], VC 21651(a), and open container charges in exchange for VC 23103(a) per 23103.5 [reckless driving alcohol-related aka wet reckless].

San Diego Superior Court per lawyer:

Substantially reduced fine. Driving privileges remained intact. No trash detail (public work service program). No 5-year DUI probation. Lastly, when the probation terminates, we will file a petition to dismiss (expunge) pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.4.

Military penalties: No military penalties. No reduction in pay or rank. No extra duties.