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January 18, 2016


Just imagine you go out to meet your friends for dinner at a new restaurant, hotel or bar. When you get there you see they have valet parking. You debate parking your vehicle rather than paying a valet to park your car. The valet fee is under $5, which is a plus. You just had your car cleaned which is also a plus. Briefly look around for street parking at a meter which will cost you about $1.25 and quickly realize that all the metered spots are being used – a total minus. So after quickly scanning your car to make sure there are not valuables, you pull to the valet station and leave your vehicle and keys with the valet.


You meet your friends inside the restaurant. You eat a light meal and have 1 ½ glasses of wine. When you leave you go to the valet stand, give your ticket to a valet and get start fumbling for cash to pay the valet fee and tip. When the valet returns your car you do not realize that your headlights are turned off. Actually you never check your headlights because your car has automatic headlights. You have never manually turned on your headlights since purchasing your car.


You drive away from the restaurant and notice a police officer pull out from the shadows. You make sure that you drive 5 mph under the speed limit, use your turn signal to change lanes, and stay at least 2-3 car lengths behind the car in front of you. Despite all of your efforts to stay under the cop’s radar after driving 2 blocks from the restaurant the officer turns on his lights and sirens. You pull over and provide your license and registration. You ask the officer why he pulled you over. He replies that you failed to turn on your headlights. You stare at the officer in shock…you did not ever realize that you could disable the automatic headlights. The valet, you conclude (although too late), turned the automatic headlights off. Your night ends with you being arrested for a DUI.


Is the above situation unusual? Absolutely not! In fact, this is a common circumstance. This is where California law collides with valet driver’s habits. California law requires that a person has the headlights on during hours of darkness. Valets, however, as a matter of practice often turn off automatic headlights. I have often wondered why they do this. Still haven’t been able to figure out why. Can you plead this as a defense to a DUI? Nope.

In conclusion, I hope you find this informative. Stay tuned for to future blogs when we address other fun topics like what happens when the valet or hotel concierge reports you to the police as DUI.

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About the Author

At the Law Offices of Top Gun DUI Defense Attorney Myles L. Berman, our experienced team of DUI / Drunk Driving defense lawyers are dedicated to aggressively defending people arrested for DUI.