One term you’re likely to hear in the context of California criminal law than in other states is the term “wobbler” or “wobbler offense.” While other states do have “wobblers,” California law is known for them; in fact, there are over 100 “wobbler” offenses documented in the California penal code, including some related to DUI. What are these “wobbler DUIs,” what do you need to know about them, and how can your attorney address them in a way to help you obtain the most positive possible outcome?DUI-wobblers-los-angeles

“Wobbler” Defined

A wobbler is simply a crime that can be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or a felony. The decision to pursue one or the other is usually left to the prosecuting attorney who takes into account the circumstances surrounding the case to decide which is the more appropriate charge—or which he believes carries the best likelihood of a conviction.

doctor-license-and-DUI-los-angelesOn February 20, 2016, Dr. Rex Lloyd Patrick Rhoten, a neurosurgeon with Kaiser Permanente, was driving his Tesla along a stretch of road in Rancho Santa Fe, supposedly on his way to work, when official documents state he crashed his vehicle into some trees, according to NBC 7 in San Diego. The responding officer noticed possible signs of intoxication which were confirmed with several field sobriety tests. His BAC level was registered as .26, over three times the legal limit. A few months later, Rhoten was convicted on charges of DUI; shortly after, the California Attorney General filed a Matter of Accusation with the state Medical Board, putting Rhoten’s professional license in jeopardy.

According to official documents filed one year after the incident, Rhoten is prohibited from the solo practice of medicine for five years pending an evaluation—his medical license revoked, but stayed, during the five-year probation.

A DUI conviction can cause widespread repercussions, including jail time, fines, required treatment, driver’s license suspension and social embarrassment—but for people whose jobs involve professional licensing, a DUI can have even more serious repercussions. Licensing boards may invoke disciplinary action on members who receive DUI convictions—anything ranging from official reprimands to fines, mandatory treatment, suspensions and even permanently revoking their licenses.

Here in California, even a single DUI conviction can complicate your life greatly. A first-time conviction can cost you jail time, license restrictions, fines and mandatory classes—not to mention embarrassment in your home and professional life. However, these difficulties pale in comparison to what you could face for multiple DUIs. By the time you reach three or more convictions, California law places you in an entirely different category, in part thanks to the “three-strike” criminal penalty structure. If you are facing your third (or more) DUI conviction, you’ll need to be prepared for some major changes in your life.three_DUIs-los-angeles-300x199

The penalties for three or more DUI convictions within 10 years are spelled out in California Vehicle Code 23546 and 23548. We’ve summarized the key points below so you’ll know what to expect and how to prepare.

Be Prepared to Spend Time in Jail

You have always prided yourself on being a good driver. You’ve always been careful with consuming alcohol before getting behind the wheel; you know your limits and you err on the side of caution. You’ve had a safe driving record for the past 50 years—only an occasional speeding ticket. You’ve never had a DUI, never been arrested.senior-DUI-los-angeles

One night, you go to a restaurant with friends and you have the same glass of your favorite wine that you’ve enjoyed for years—the same glass of wine you’ve always been able to enjoy without it affecting your driving ability. But on your way home, you see a policeman’s lights in your rearview mirror. You pull over; the officer tells you that you were weaving, asks for your license and registration, then asks you to get out of the car. Before you realize what’s happening, you’ve been arrested on suspicion of DUI.

How did this happen? You’re always so careful.

For as long as mankind has been using vehicles to get around, some people have been unfortunately operating those vehicles while under the influence of some substance—mostly alcohol. At first, no laws were on the books to address the issue, but, as the roads became more crowded, public pressure eventually prompted lawmakers to set standards as to what constitutes driving under the influence (DUI)—also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI)—and what the penalties would be for violating those rules.history-of-DUI-300x241

If you’ve ever been arrested for DUI—especially if you believe you tested “false positive”—you might feel like the laws and standards of intoxication are too strict. Looking into the past often helps give us perspective as to where we are now and where we’re headed. So let’s look back at a few milestones in the history of DUI, and see what we can learn.

First Known DUI Arrest: 1897

It’s the scenario we all hope never happens—and one that in truth should never happen. Someone has a lapse in judgment, gets behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or another substance, gets into an accident—and another person dies as a result. Aside from the overwhelming sense of loss and guilt of knowing his actions have caused this death, now that person may be facing more serious criminal charges on top of the DUI.DUI-murder-300x200

In a perfect world, you should never find yourself in this situation, but if you are charged in California with a DUI incident involving a fatality, what can you expect? What, exactly, are you facing?

Three Possible Charges

You’re driving along a California highway, minding your own business, when you get pulled over by a police officer on suspicion of DUI. It can happen to anyone, even dDUI-complications-los-angeles-300x168rivers who have had nothing to drink—but how you respond in this situation can make things far more difficult for you or, in some cases, much easier. To give you a better chance at the latter, we’ve compiled a list of “don’ts”—eight things you should only do if you are a glutton for punishment or hell-bent on making your DUI arrest more difficult than it needs to be.

1. Don’t be rude to the police.

In this situation, the ancient proverb applies: “A soft answer turns away wrath.”

There’Los-Angeles-DUI-lessons-300x250s a lesson to be learned from every experience, good or bad—even being arrested for DUI. However, we can save ourselves a lot of pain by learning, whenever possible, from others’ negative experiences. No one can better explain what happens with a DUI arrest than someone who has gone through it, so let’s take a look at a few stories of real people and their experiences with DUI, and what they learned in the process.

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“If I’m going to drink at all, just don’t plan on driving. Or don’t drink.”

Juslos-angeles-DUI-celebrity-DUIstin Bieber. Lindsey Lohan. Paris Hilton. Kevin Hart. Chris Pine. Reese Witherspoon. Bella Hadid. This list represents a mere handful of known names who have been charged with DUI in Los Angeles (and elsewhere) over the past 10 years, with many others right alongside. It seems so commonplace that, as HuffPost reports, during an appearance on, Jason Priestly joked with Chelsea Handler on her show Chelsea Lately about his own DUI. “What self-respecting Los Angeleno doesn’t have a DUI under their belt?” he said. The joke was accompanied by high-fives with Handler, who, not surprisingly, also has a DUI on her record.

Aside from the controversy of famous people downplaying the seriousness of impaired driving, salacious reports of celebrity wrongdoing have been the guilty pleasure of millions of people for as long as anyone can remember. These impulses of ours are what keep websites like TMZ and The National Enquirer in business.

The question is: Why?

As the Ne2018-habits-to-improve-driving-for-DUI-defedants-300x150w Year gets underway, millions of people are trying to keep those resolutions they made over the holidays. Some of the most common resolutions are health related (e.g., get in shape, quit smoking, lose weight, eat healthy). However, let me propose an alternative resolution if you haven’t picked one yet: What about learning better driving habits (especially if police recently stopped you for a Los Angeles DUI)? Becoming a safer driver could be the healthiest choice of all—because it affects not just you, but everyone around you. Here in California where good driving habits seem scarce, why not become the exception to the rule? Let’s take a look at three smart driving habits you should consider adopting this year.

1. Know When Not to Drive

Ironically, one of the most important decisions you can make as a driver is the decision to let someone else get behind the wheel. If you’ve ever been arrested for DUI, this issue should be top-of-mind. However, avoiding DUI begins long before you find yourself in a bad situation. It starts with a quality decision not to drive if you indulge in alcohol or drugs, and moves forward from there.

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