Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The "Watson Murder Rule" and California DUI Law

July 31, 2013 - Not many people are aware that in California you can be charged with 2nd Degree Murder (15 years to life in the State prison). Many people have heard of vehicular manslaughter in the context of drunk driving, but where a defendant has a prior conviction or convictions for drunk driving, the State is free to charge them with 2nd degree murder.

In People vs. Watson, 30 Cal. 3d 290 (1981) the defendant ran a red light and barely avoided a collision with another vehicle. He then sped away reaching speeds of 84 mph in a 35 mph zone before striking another vehicle, killing the driver and her 6 year old daughter. His BAC was later determined to be 0.23%, much higher than the legal limit at the time. The DA decided to prosecute the defendant with 2 counts of murder. This set the stage for many years of back and forth legal wrangling before California enacted the "Watson Murder Rule". The Watson Murder Rule essentially states that when there is evidence of implied malice (i.e., pretty much not caring what your actions can do to human life, or a reckless indifference to actions that have a high probability of causing great bodily injury/death), the state can charge you with 2nd degree murder.

Implied malice can also be found when a defendant has prior convictions for DUIs. When a defendant is found or pleads guilty to a DUI in California, they will be "advised" that drinking and driving is dangerous to human life, and if you kill someone other than yourself, then you can be charged with 2nd degree murder.  This sets the stage for the DA to charge someone with prior DUIs with a 2nd degree murder charge if death to another results from drinking and driving.

If you have been charged with a DUI that results in injury and/or death to another, it is absolutely imperative you retain qualified counsel that is aware of the defenses to DUI charges and 2nd degree murder. Contact an Orange County DUI Attorney to vigorously defend you against formidable charges.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

LA County DUI Arrests Up More Than 40% over Last Year

July 23, 2013 - Los Angeles County DUI (Driving under the Influence of Alcohol and/or Drugs) arrests surged 43% over 2012 figures, according to preliminary data released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, during the 4th of July long weekend. From midnight Thursday (July 4, 2013) to midnight Saturday (July 6, 2013), DUI arrests totaled 490, compared to 343 for the same period last year. The total number of DUI arrests countywide topped 685 people (midnight Thursday to midnight Sunday), compared to 503 arrests last year, when other county law enforcement agencies reported their figures.

Expect more aggressive enforcement from the LA County Sheriff's Department in the coming weeks as  part of their 18 day summer campaign slated to end on Labor Day, as the agency steps up DUI enforcement and adds more DUI checkpoints at undisclosed locations.

If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, contact the Law Offices of Kapesh V. Patel for aggressive, results-driven representation at 949-440-3240 or visit

Thursday, July 18, 2013

So what exactly is a "Wet Reckless" anyway?

You might have heard a friend talk about it (especially if you're friends with a DUI lawyer) or maybe you've come across the term while researching DUI law. A wet reckless, or VC 23103.5 is a "plea to a lesser charge", the "greater charge" being violations of VC 23152(a)/(b), your common DUI offense. So what exactly is a wet reckless? (and no, it's not an adult movie). A wet reckless is a subdivision of VC 23103, or reckless driving. A wet reckless, unlike a DUI, carries significantly less penalties than does a DUI, and is only offered as a "plea bargain" to a regular DUI charge.

So what are the advantages to a wet reckless? Well, there's no mandatory DMV suspension with a wet reckless. The "alcohol school" MAY be shorter (6 weeks compared to 3 months for 1st time DUI). The fines and penalties will be lessened. Plus you'll be looking at shorter jail times and probationary periods.

But WHAT is the REAL advantage of a wet reckless? The true beauty of a plea to wet reckless involves cases where the accused has prior DUIs. Let me give you an example. Suppose Mr. X goes out and parties one night (very hard I might add), proceeds to drive home, and is arrested. If he's convicted of a DUI, that DUI will "stay on his record" (at least with respect to sentence enhancements) for 10 years. Now Mr. X, being the socialite that he is, violates California drinking and driving laws again in 4 years from his initial DUI conviction. He's subsequently convicted for VC 23152(b) (DUI) and will have to spend at least 96 hours in jail (or an alternative such as "house arrest"), in addition to the other fines and penalties he'll face (e.g. 18 month drink-driver program plus DMV suspensions of two years, restriction-eligible in 1 year).

Here's where it gets interesting. Say Mr. X after another 5 years (so we're within the 10 year "look back" period) gets arrested and charged for yet another DUI. A 3rd DUI, among other things, carries with it a 120 day minimum jail sentence. In addition to 4 months minimum in jail, he could lose his job (how's he going to be able to go to work while he's in jail?). However, depending on his BAC and various other factors, if through the skill and expertise of his DUI lawyer, the DA agrees to let him plead to the lesser charge of a wet reckless (instead of his 3rd DUI), Mr. X would face little to no jail time. Sounds like a good deal don't you think? Plus, for all the other reasons previously mentioned (less fines, less alcohol school, less probation), he'd keep his job too. That's the true advantage of a wet reckless - a few days in jail vs. 120, you can do the math on this one.

Now, we're not done. Mr. X, in a jubilant mood due his not having to go to jail, goes out and parties hard again, drives home, arrested and charged with another DUI. DA shows no mercy, and he gets convicted of what he thinks is his 3rd DUI. Sounds good right, better than a felony right (4th DUI is a felony)? No, wrong. A wet reckless is a "priorable" offense, meaning the wet reckless plea he took in place of a 3rd DUI (saving him the 120 days in jail in our above example) now does a 180 and is considered a "prior DUI offense" for sentencing purposes. So that "3rd DUI" he got is in essence, his 4th DUI for sentencing purposes, because the wet reckless counted as a prior DUI offense. He's looking at a quite a bit more than 120 days in jail for a felony DUI conviction...

So the wet reckless can be great in some situations, but offenders with prior wet reckless convictions must be very careful to avoid future DUIs, since that "wet reckless" will come back to bite them in the derrière.

If you have a DUI related question or need to speak to a DUI attorney, visit or call 949-440-3240.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

DUI Arrests Up From Last Year

July 6, 2013: The California Highway Patrol (CHP) announced that 564 people were arrested statewide for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DUI), compared to 479 people the previous year, from 6:01 pm Wednesday to 6:00 am Friday. The CHP is operating under its "Maximum Enforcement Period" (MEP) whereby the agency utilizes all available resources to target suspected drunk drivers. Last years MEP only lasted 30 hours because the Independence Day holiday fell mid-week. This year's MEP will run longer because it includes the weekend.

Needless to say, if you drink to the point of being impaired, don't drive. And if any reason you are arrested on DUI charges, you need to act fast to save your driving privileges. Speak to a reputable DUI defense attorney at 949-440-3240 or visit for more information on DUIs.