Did Lindsay Lohan and Nichole Richie Get Off Easy for DUI?

By Guest Attorney

Lindsay Lohan served one day in jail for her second DUI offense. Nichole Richie served 82 minutes. What an outrage. Celebrities always get off easy. But, is that really true? ABC News recently took a closer look.

ABC’s conclusion is that DUI sentences are more lenient than many think. Ian Drew, of US Weekly, suggests that the real problem with celebrities is the enabling culture in Hollywood; “they’re given free drinks in order to keep going to the clubs.”

According to reporter, Linda Deutsch, officials in the legal system say celebrities are treated no differently than anyone else. L.A. County jails suffer from such overcrowding that Sheriff Lee Baca needs space for more serious offenders.

Under Sheriff Larry Waldie said 50 women serving sentences for charges similar to Richie’s were released on the same day. Loyola University Law School professor Laurie Stevenson said “the answer is there are too many bad girls and not enough cells.”

Stevenson warned that prosecutors may take to overcharging on crimes to enable judges to give offenders longer sentences.



Bill Murray Admits Taking a Drunken Caddyshack Ride in a Golf Cart

By Guest Attorney

The Seattle Times is reporting that Bill Murray, the star of great movies like Caddyshack, Ground Hog Day, and The Razor’s Edge, was arrested for DUI in Stockholm, Sweden.

Following a golf tournament, Murray was pulled over while driving his golf cart through downtown Stockholm.

Detective-Inspector Christer Holmlund said Murray refused to take a breath test citing American legislation, so he “applied the old method – a blood test.”

Murray was released and Holmlund believes he returned to the United States.

Holmlund said Murray would be charged with DUI if his BAC exceeded the legal limit. Murray signed a document admitting he was driving drunk and allowing a local police officer to plead guilty for him if his case goes to court.

Sweden’s BAC limit is only 0.02 percent. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Administration, Sweden’s DUI penalties range from fines for a first offense with a BAC between 0.02 and 0.10 percent to a possible prison sentence of 1 to 2 months for a BAC over 0.10 percent with aggravating circumstances.

Unlike the United States, Sweden imposes progressive fines based on income.



Nevada Deputy Arrests Wife for DUI–Twice

By Mary Ann

Life is hard enough when you have a conflict with a co-worker. Imagine working alongside a co-worker you had to arrest. Now, imagine that co-worker is….your spouse.

Deputy Sheriff Mike Moore, of Elko County, Nevada, met with this very situation recently, as he stopped his wife, Charlotte Moore, for a DUI offense, not once, but twice in one afternoon.

Charlotte Moore, a jail deputy and 11-year force veteran, had participated in a wine walk sponsored by a local business group just a couple of hours before her husband pulled her over the first time. Police reports filed by Mike Moore indicate that the initial stop was for something unrelated to a suspicion of DUI.

Without reporting what transpired between the two, newspaper reports indicated that Charlotte Moore left without taking a portable breathalyzer test. Mike then proceeded to call the Elko City Police Department for backup as he pulled her over again.

An Elko Police officer, Shane Diaz, and Elko Police Department Sgt. Mark Butterfield arrived to assist Moore in arresting his wife. According the breathalyzer reading taken then, her blood alcohol content was .114. Charlotte Moore was not on duty at the time of the incident.

After being held in jail, Charlotte Moore was released, and subsequently placed on administrative leave with pay. Needless to say, things might take a while to cool down at the Moore household after this event.



Decimal Point Error May Invalidate Spokane Washington Breathalyzer Results

By Guest Attorney

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that prosecutors in Spokane, Washington are playing down the significance of improper breathalyzer calculations, leading to hundreds of faulty alcohol test readings.

The State Crime Lab in Cheney, Washington recently announced that it had been using an erroneous spreadsheet formula to record lab test results for 584 defendants between February 2006 and January 2007. The lab said eight defendants who were harmed by the error have notified.

The Post-Intelligencer reports that a BAC of 0.79 would be elevated to 0.08 percent and 0.149 would read as 0.15. The Director of the Washington State Patrol Forensic Laboratory Services Bureau, Dr. Barry Logan, said 584 cases involved faulty test results, but 576 of the results could not have effected a defendant’s guilt or punishment.

The story appears to allege that the lab’s spreadsheet only showed Breathalyzer results to two decimal places. I tested Microsoft Excel. Breath alcohol level (BAC) results from 0.075 and 0.084 would all show as 0.08 percent, equal to the presumptive BAC level in all states. BAC results from 0.145 to 0.154 would show as 0.15 percent, requiring stiffer penalties under Washington’s excessive DUI law.

KNDO Television said Logan explained that the miscalculations occurred after software used to calibrate breath alcohol instruments was amended late in 2005 produced an error at the fourth decimal place in test readings.

Can this be right? An error in the fourth decimal place would not effect a value to only two decimal places.

My simple test, in Excel, showed that either the reporting was simplistic or many more cases should be re-examined.



Man Who Needed a Drink, Likely to Spend Life in Prison

By Guest Attorney

Last November, Lawrence Trujillo needed a drink, so he and friend stopped a downtown bar and had a few. Unfortunately, he did not get a cab.

About six blocks from his home, he ran over a family, killing two children and their mother. Trujillo then drove home. When police arrived four hours later, he had a blood alcohol level of 0.17. The father escaped serious injury.

Trujillo was charged with 13 counts, including vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, and child abuse.

In a surprise, Trujillo pled guilty to all counts. According to the Denver Post, his DUI attorney, Rob Bernhardt, said Trujillo had wanted to plead guilty since the day after the accident, but Bernhardt wanted to review the prosecutor’s evidence first.

Prosecutors had offered him a deal to 40 to 60 years in prison, but Trujillo decided to skip the deal and plead straight up.

Trujillo faces 16 to 176 years in prison.  KTVD reported that Denver District Court Judge Morris Hoffman told Trujillo his practice is to impose consecutive sentences.

The family father, Frank Bingham, said that while Trujillo’s plea brought some degree of closure, “if Mr. Trujillo ever comes out of prison, he should be quite an old man when it happens.”