Rodney King, once the victim of an infamous incident of police brutality, was arrested for a DUI offense this summer, and this week he entered a plea of not guilty during an initial court appearance.
King, who is African-American, was the subject of a brutal beating by four white police officers after a seemingly routine traffic stop in southern California in 1991.
Graphic footage of the beating was soon released to the public, and people across the country expressed outrage over his treatment. The officers, however, who were involved in the beating of King were acquitted a year later.
The officers’ acquittal sparked an intense race riot in Los Angeles in 1992, which led to the deaths of 55 people and untold amounts of property damage to houses and storefronts in Los Angeles.
Since the 1991 arrest was precipitated by a traffic arrest, King’s arrest this July in southern California for driving under the influence of alcohol struck a painful chord in Los Angeles.
According to the Washington Post, prosecutors are alleging that King was impaired by alcohol and marijuana when he was driving this summer through Moreno Valley, California.
In a court filing this month, King denied the charges, entering a plea of not guilty to misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence and driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. King filed his plea in Riverside Superior Court.
King’s DUI lawyer did not return phone calls from the Washington Post seeking more information, but sources indicate that the next step in King’s legal battle will take place at a hearing in late November.
For his part, King may be nervous about the potential consequences of his arrest, because he has had a prior DUI conviction.
While judges are guided by mandatory sentencing laws, they do have some discretion with DUI sentences, and tend to deliver harsher verdicts for offenders who have committed more than one DUI violation.
In addition, repeat DUI offenders are often required to install interlock ignition devices in their cars. These devices prevent drunk drivers from being able to turn on the ignition when they are intoxicated.
And, in addition to possible interlock ignition devices and longer sentences, repeat DUI drivers may also face large fines, mandatory community service, or the loss of their licenses.
So, the results of King’s trial will likely play a major role on his future freedom.