DUI Driver Who Killed Google Engineer Given Long Prison Sentence

By Mike

A 57-year-old Washington resident who was driving “drunk and angry” when he killed a man during a DUI car crash was recently sentenced to four years in prison for committing vehicular homicide, according to a report from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The accident occurred last July, when Patrick Stevan Rexroat lost his control and crashed his car while trying to chase down another car in an apparent episode of wild road rage.

After he lost control of his Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, Rexroat slammed into a car traveling in the opposite direction. The impact of the collision killed Stephen Lacey, a father of two who worked as an engineer for Google.

Sources indicate that Lacey was returning home after a shopping trip to Costco when Rexroat slammed into his vehicle.

Tragically, the accident was apparently caused by a senseless act of road rage. After the accident, Rexroat reportedly told a responding officer that he had been cut off by another driver while on Interstate 405 and that he had chased the offending driver off an exit ramp into an arterial road.

In February, after recognizing the potential costs of a trial, Rexroat pleaded guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and reckless driving. At his sentencing this week, King County prosecutors recommended the maximum jail term for the wayward driver.

Superior Court Judge Susan Armstrong agreed with this assessment, and sentenced Rexroat to the maximum possible sentence of four years in prison.

In her sentencing decision, Judge Armstrong may have been swayed by witness testimony that claimd Rexroat started beating on his chest as he was standing on the side of the road after the crash.

Even more disturbingly, one witness told police investigators that Rexroat allegedly responded to the news that the other driver was dead by simply saying, “eh.”

Because of these actions, the prosecutor said Rexroat had a “flagrant disregard for the value of human life.”

Though this may not be true, it cannot be argued that Rexroat showed a blatant disregard for DUI laws and the health of his liver.

Sources indicate that, at the time of his arrest, Rexroat had a blood alcohol level of .29, which is more than three times the legal limit of .08.

In the words of King County Prosecutor Don Satterberg, “[t]he tragic death of Steve Lacey was not an accident. It was the predictable result of aggressive driving under extreme intoxication.” Rexroat will now suffer the consequences of this aggressive driving for several years.



California Study Claims that DUI Checkpoints Reduce Traffic Fatalities

By Mike

A survey performed by a state auditor found that DUI checkpoints in California prevent deadly accidents and typically follow the rules that restrict their use, although there are very few rules to follow, according to an article in the Merced Sun-Star.

The auditor’s report observed that DUI checkpoints in California are not governed by any federal or state DUI laws. In addition, the California Office of Traffic Safety does not have to monitor the activities at its checkpoints, despite funding more than 2,000 such checkpoints each year.

Of course, despite some criticism of the checkpoints’ perceived status as existing outside the law, the report observed that fatalities on California roads dropped by almost 12 percent in the least year, which could be attributed to the increase in DUI checkpoints.

According to the director of the traffic safety office, Chris Murphy, the report “speaks volumes to the work” that he and his staff have been doing, and it proves that the checkpoint program “has been running very efficiently and effectively.”

The traffic safety office has a lot invested in the checkpoints, so it’s natural that its leaders are touting the merits of the checkpoint program.

Sources indicate that the office spent almost $17 million for police overtime work at 2,500 different checkpoints during the 2010 fiscal year. All this work led to roughly 28,000 citations for unlicensed drivers, and 7,000 drunk driving arrests.

Much of the criticism leveled at the checkpoints has related to the thousands of arrests for driving without a license.

After such an arrest, police typically impounded the drivers’ cars, often for up to 30 days. In order to retrieve their cars, these drivers had to pay upwards of $1,500 in fees and towing charges. As a result, cars that were worth less than that sum were often simply abandoned at the impoundment lot.

The majority of drivers who lost their cars for driving without a license were undocumented immigrants, who are not allowed to have official driver’s licenses in California.

Critics of the checkpoints observe that the fees gained from checkpoint arrests are a major cash source for local governments. They also claim that the disparity between drunk driving arrests and other, more minor, offenses at these checkpoints show that combating drunk driving is not the main purpose of the program.

Nevertheless, despite these claims, fatal traffic accidents in California are on the decline, so the state will likely continue its current checkpoint practices for the foreseeable future.



Rodney King Pleads Not Guilty After DUI Arrest

By Mike

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.



Faulty Breathalyzers Prompt Review of DUI Arrests in Bay Area

By Topher

The results of blood alcohol tests—commonly administered via breathalyzers—often mean the difference between jail sentences and freedom for drivers who are pulled over for allegedly driving under the influence.

These tests, however, may sometimes malfunction. According to a press release in the San Francisco Chronicle, a few cities in the Bay Area recently reviewed hundreds of DUI cases that involved the use of faulty breathalyzers.

Some observers believe that the problem with breathalyzers extends beyond a few faulty machines. In fact, the fundamental technology and interpretation of breathalyzer results may have flaws, as well.

First, there is the threat of condensation. These blood alcohol testing machines are used more than once, and some critics claim that the breath of one person may remain on the machine until it is used by someone else.

Unless a test is given that can be used once and only once, this problem is likely to remain.

In addition, breathalyzers test for a number of different chemicals in the body, rather than just alcohol. Some people claim this broad scope may skew the alcohol-related results.

Third, the blood alcohol testers are designed to study the “average” person. If someone falls outside the average range—for example, if a person is very small or unusually large—the machine might find that person intoxicated even though he or she is able to pass field sobriety tests.

Fourth, breathalyzers have faced criticism because of the machine’s built-in margins of error. Most prosecuting attorneys will admit that the tests have margins of error of about .01 percent.

While this may seem like a minor defect, the legal blood alcohol limit is only .08. Thus, if someone has a .07 blood alcohol level, a potential breathalyzer error could have drastic consequences.

Moreover, the same machine often provides different testing results for the same person within just a few minutes. In order for breathalyzer results to be admissible as evidence, police officers must get a suspect to blow two different readings within .02 percent of each other.

Again, this seems like a relatively small difference, but DUI arrests are often determined by fractions of a percent.

In addition, margins of error not only decide the line between driving under the influence and legal driving, they may also determine whether a person has committed a misdemeanor offense or a more serious DUI crime – which may increase the penalties from a mere fine to a prison sentence.

While breathalyzers are not perfect, they do provide an efficient, objective means for police officers to determine the level of a driver’s intoxication.

Until a more reliable method of measuring intoxication is discovered, breathalyzer tests are likely here to stay.



Former California Firefighter Gets Nine Year Sentence in DUI Death

By Mike

Mitchell Green, of Kern County, California, near Bakersfield, served in the army for six years in Bosnia and Afghanistan, and he was a firefighter on the local force. He didn’t have a criminal record to speak of, and his friends called him a model citizen.

Before the night of February 2, 2010 , that is. On that night, Green drove drunk, and he got into a car accident. He collided with a vehicle carrying Michelle Maxwell and her teenage daughter. Michelle Maxwell died, and Mitchell Green now faces nine years in prison for charges related to California DUI, according to the Bakersfield Californian.

Her husband, Jerry Maxwell, acknowledged that, no matter what the sentence was, their lives were forever changed by Green’s decision. Judge Charles H. Brehmer noted during the sentencing that Green didn’t mean to hurt anyone, much less cause their death.

Maxwell’s mother, Marceline Seberger, spoke in court about the loss that she had suffered, emphasizing that there was no way that Green could know the way that they felt. She did believe that Green was remorseful, however, following the trial, saying that she could see the emotion in Green’s eyes. The last thing she said to Green was, “May you make peace with God before you see him face to face.”

Maxwell’s daughters told the Californian that they forgave Green for his actions the night his DUI caused their mother’s death. But they acknowledged the continued pain they would face. “She will never be able to spoil my children or even meet them,” said Michaela Maxwell, who was in the car the night of the crash.

Jerry Maxwell felt less kindness in the hours following the crash. Green was in a hospital bed near his family, according to the Californian, and he acknowledged a desire to hurt Green after learning that his wife had died. But his wife’s memory stayed his hand. “I heard my wife’s voice saying, ‘It’s not worth it,'” he told the paper.

Green had plead no contest to the felony gross vehicular manslaughter charge in December. His pickup truck collided with the Hyundai Sonata occupied by the Maxwells. Green had run a red light, and he didn’t brake even as he hit the smaller car.

His blood alcohol content registered at .13, over the .08 legal limit across the country.



California Beach Considers Posting DUIs to Facebook

By Mike

Facebook and other social media sites are playing a much larger role in the way that lawyers and lawmakers publicize information. Now, according to an article in the LA Times, officials in Huntington Beach, California, have sparked a new debate surrounding DUI information and the social media giant.

Officials in Huntington Beach are considering posting the names of suspected drunk drivers on the city’s Facebook page.

This potential tactic of publicly putting those arrested for DUI to shame by spreading their names online would be one part of a broader campaign to discourage drunk driving in the community, according to Lt. Russell Reinhart of the Huntington Police Department.

The idea came up in a City Council meeting, when Councilman Devin Dwyer put the idea on the table for police officials to consider. He posed the idea as a response to the local newspaper’s lapsed practice of publishing the names of those facing DUI charges.

“I didn’t think public shaming for driving under the influence was such a bad idea,” Dwyer told the LA Times. “I would use any tool necessary to bring down the numbers of drunk drivers.”

This isn’t the first time that a police force has had the idea, and it’s part of an aggressively anti-DUI campaign.

Other parts of the campaign include committing more police officers to focusing their attention on drunk driving arrests, and sending written notices to drinking holes and bars when someone is arrested who was patronizing the establishment.

Huntington Beach is known for its alcohol-related incidents, and what the LA Times calls “a sudsy reputation.” There were almost 1,700 DUI arrests in 2009, and 274 collisions that were attributed to alcohol impairment. These figures put it in the top tier for cities around the same size in California in terms of drunk driving and alcohol-related crashes.

A report from the city referred to the situation as “a significant DUI problem in Huntington Beach.”

Understandable, then, that officials would be willing to toss around the idea of a more direct way to get drunk driving suspects into the public eye, in hopes of deterring others from deciding to drink and drive.

Publicizing the information isn’t necessarily scandalous, as it is already public information. “Anybody could go to the counter, get it and put it on their own web page,” said Lt. Reinhart.

These won’t be the first efforts made. In similar attempts to curb the combination of booze and driving, police banned beer pong and other alcohol-related games at bars in the city’s downtown area.

The City’s attorney will review the Facebook proposal, to make sure there are no legal problems with it.



California Man Charged With Manslaughter in DUI Crash

By Mike

Anthony Guarino, 57, of San Diego, California, will stand trial on felony charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI and other charges, following a deadly crash that killed an area father.

According to an article from 10 News, Marc William Durham was killed in the crash of August 20, 2010. He was a father of five who was driving his family to the movies when they were rear-ended by Guarino’s BMW as they pulled up to a red light. Afterward, Guarino was charged with drunk driving in California.

Durham, a former security chief for General Dynamics, had retired just one week before he was killed in the accident. Other members of his family were in the car at the time of the DUI crash, though they escaped with injuries, saying that their father got the worst of it.

Guarino was allegedly drunk at the wheel of his BMW, and he will stand trial on the felony DUI charges after admitting to police that he had been drinking whiskey at a bar before he took to the roads that night.

The accident happened at about 9 p.m. The accident investigator in the case told the court that Guarino was traveling between 50 and 60 miles per hour in the BMW when it hit the Toyota Corolla owned by Durham.

When Guarino rear-ended the car, it started a chain reaction of collisions, and ultimately four other vehicles were involved, with additional injuries to passengers in those vehicles, including an 8-year-old boy.

Guarino told police that he had consumed around five Jack Daniels before he headed home from the bar. He admitted to police also that his driving was affected by how much alcohol he drank, but, according to the article, “he didn’t know how.”

Officers at the scene determined based on their judgment and observation that Guarino was intoxicated. When his blood alcohol content was measured several hours later, he registered a BAC of .15 percent, which is well over the .08 legal limit for driving while intoxicated. And it is likely, according to the claim of Deputy District Attorney Chandelle Konstanzer in court, that it was much higher at the time of the accident.

The defense for Guarino made the argument that his client was not guilty of gross negligence, and that a sleep apnea condition may have contributed to Guarino passing out while at the wheel.

The trial is set for early December, and Guarino is free on $100,000 bail, but he is not allowed to drink alcohol or drive.



DUI Trial for Driver in MLB Player’s Death Continues

By Mike

The trial of DUI defendant Andrew Gallo is now focused recently on whether Gallo knew that driving drunk was a dangerous decision just before he hit and killed Nick Adenhart, a pitcher for Major League Baseballs’ Anaheim Angels, and two other people.

The prosecution in the case, in its closing statements, made the claim that Gallo knew the dangers of what he was doing, and that he cared only about himself, according to an article in the Associated Press.

Deputy District Attorney Susan Price told the jury in the California DUI case that Gallo “made the decision to get intoxicated beyond the point of any reason.”

The defense argued that Gallo did not act out of malice, and did not mean to kill anybody. According to the defense, Gallo thought that his stepbrother would be the designated driver, and only drove after his stepbrother became intoxicated as well.

Gallo was in a state of blackout brought on by excessive drinking.

Price replied by saying, “He doesn’t get rewarded for three free murders because he chose to get too drunk. The car keys weren’t forced upon him. They weren’t glued to his hand.”

The prosecution allege that Gallo and his stepbrother drank beer and took shots at three different bars over the course of several hours before he ran a red light at 65 miles per hour and struck the car in which Adenhart was a passenger.

Adenhart was killed, as were his friends Courtney Stewart and Henry Pearson. Their car was allegedly T-boned by Gallo’s car. Stewart and Pearson were killed instantly, while Adenhart died while in surgery. Earlier that evening Adenhart had pitched his first game of the season for the Anaheim Angels.

Jon Wilhite was the fourth passenger in the car and the only survivor. He has endured a long rehabilitation after skull and spine injuries.

Gallo has pleaded not guilty to three counts of second degree murder. According to the prosecution, his blood alcohol content was three time over the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle.

If he is convicted of the charges, which include others for fleeing the scene and DUI-related charges, he faces 50 years in jail.



Brother of MLB Player Arrested After Alleged DUI Rampage

By Topher

A San Ramon, California, man is suspected of drunk driving and hit-and-run after police arrested him in the wake of what CBS 5 is calling a “drunken driving rampage.” The man, Cainan Schierholtz, is the brother of a pro baseball player for the San Francisco Giants, Nate Schierholtz.

Cainan Schierholtz was arrested on a recent Sunday morning, after, according to police, he hit a bicyclist, a pedestrian, a light pole and two cars.

The call came it at about 10 in the morning, with reports that a car was driving recklessly on Danville Boulevard, in Danville, California.

Then came the report that the driver allegedly hit a cyclist riding in a bike lane on the same road. Schierholtz allegedly did not stop, though, continuing down the road. Soon after that he allegedly hit a pedestrian who was standing in the bike lane.

Again, he didn’t stop to offer assistance or acknowledge either of the accidents. Instead, he allegedly continued driving, then swerved into traffic and hit a pickup truck. Not done yet, police said that he kept on driving still, until he veered up onto the sidewalk and rammed into a light pole, which fell to the ground.

Even after all of that, Schierholtz still kept driving, according to police. He rear-ended a sport utility vehicle, and then drove down a dead-end street.

The driver of the pick-up truck who had been previously hit followed Schierholtz, and then used his truck to pin him into the dead-end street so that he couldn’t get away.

According to a witness, the suspect’s airbags had deployed, so that he was awkwardly pinned in the car. And yet, despite even that, he was still driving.

Eventually Schierholtz realized he couldn’t get past the makeshift blockade, and he stopped in front of the pickup truck. The truck’s driver and several other bystanders pulled the suspect out of his car and restrained him until the police got there.

Schierholtz was booked on suspicion of four counts of DUI causing bodily harm, three counts of hit-and-run causing injury, two counts of hit-and-run causing property damage, and driving without a license, according to CBS. He was held on $350,000 bail.



Holdout Juror Leads to Mistrial in San Diego DUI Case

By Topher

A recent DUI case in San Diego was declared a mistrial after a single juror held off from deciding whether the defendant was behind the wheel when a car struck another vehicle and killed four people, according to 10 News.

Deanna Fridley was on trial in the case in which the four were killed in Pala Casino, California. Fridley claimed that she was not the driver of the car that got into the deadly December 14, 2007, accident, and one of the jurors in the case would not conclude that it was her, leading to the mistrial.

The jurors in the case informed the judge that they had reached an 11-1 deadlock. They had been apart for a holiday break, and on their return they announced that they could not come to a unanimous agreement on the charges.

Fridley was also accused of DUI causing injury and misdemeanor driving on a suspended license.

Judge Runston Maino, serving in the case, declined to enact a motion by the prosecution to replace the juror with an alternate juror. “You haven’t failed as jurors; you haven’t failed as individuals,” he told the jurors in light of their lack of unanimity.

Fridley, 26, faced four 15-years-to-life sentences if she had been convicted in the case. Her defense attorney, James Boyd, addressed the media after the mistrial was declared, saying that he was “really happy” with the result. “My question,” he said, “is how is it that 11 of them actually thought she was driving? It’s a real who-done-it. Was she driving or not?”

A retrial of the case could come in six to eight months, and there will be a status update in July.

According to prosecutors, Fridley was driving over 85 miles per hour and swerved over the lane divider before crashing into and killing Luis De Santiago, his wife Lina, and Luis Baez and his wife Rubi. They also claimed that Fridely had spent the day smoking meth and drinking with a friend. Fridley was allegedly driving a GMC Yukon, while the victims were in a Toyota Camry.

Fridley testified that she had switched seats with her friend before the crash. The friend, Anthony Boles, denies this claim.

Fridley will remain in custody, and her bail is set at $1 million.



Smartphone Apps Look to Reduce DUI Arrests

By Topher

It seems like there is a smartphone app for everything these days, from silly video games to powerful GPS navigation systems. Now, several state governments are working to build apps that can help people stay safe on the roads and avoid being arrested for DUI title.

According to a story from, government agencies, with the help of average citizens who know how to create smartphone apps, are figuring out ways that they can use smartphone apps to cut down on drunk driving.

The Colorado Department of Transportation, for example, recently released an iPhone application called R-U-Buzzed. This app can estimate blood alcohol content by allowing the user to enter their weight and the number of drinks and alcohol type they’ve consumed. If users register as having had too much to drink and the app displays the message: “Don’t even think about it!”

Another app, created during the Apps for Democracy contest hosted by iStrategy Labs, is called Stumble Safely. This app is designed to help pedestrians walk home safely after a night out at the bars.

The app factors in crime rates, neighborhood information, bar locations, public transit options, and time of day to provide a safe path home for users.

The Office of Traffic Safety in California also announced a no-cost partnership with an app called Taxi Magic, which helps users to find a taxi cab. This app promotes finding a cab driver to drive you home instead of making a bad decision and getting a DUI or causing damage from behind the wheel.

“It gives those who need to get someplace when they’ve had too much to drink an easy way to do it,” said California OTS Spokesman Chris Cochran. “It’s one more tool in the anti-DUI tactics we have.”

He said that all a user had to do was get in the cab when it arrived, helping out anyone who can’t otherwise find a safe ride home.

Taxi Magic is a free application that was released in January of 2009. It became one of the top applications in the iTunes store. Customers with iPhones can summon a cab to their location with the press of a single button.



Orange County Teenager Suspected of Felony DUI

By admin

After a single-vehicle drunk driving crash that sent one man to a trauma center with severe injuries, an 18-year-old was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI.

Danielle Everman of Fountain Valley, Calif. was arrested in December after she crashed her Ford Explorer into a guard rail, severely injuring her passenger, 20-year-old Jacob Dearman.

According to a police report, Dearman was not wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident. He was rushed to a trauma center nearby and treated for his injuries.

Everman was arrested after the crash, and released on $100,000 bail. The Orange County Register reported that Everman was under the influence of alcohol when she was drove the Ford Explorer off the road and into the guard rail.

No further information is currently available about the incident.



Driving Under ‘The Hills’ Influence: Stephanie Pratt Busted for DUI

By admin

The newest reality celebrity to join the DUI arrest list was ‘The Hills’ cast member, Stephanie Pratt.

According to a CNN article, Pratt was arrested last month for a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence while on the way home from a Hollywood nightclub.

Earlier in the evening, Pratt attended fellow cast member Holly Montag’s birthday party. She was pulled over by California police around 3:45 a.m., on her way home from the party.

Pratt was taken to the Van Nuys jail for booking and she was released later that morning.

Pratt’s BAC content was 0.09 percent which was over the legal limit of 0.08 in the state of California. She pleaded not guilty to the DUI charges at her LA court hearing this month.

Pratt decided to enter a 30-day rehab facility. She told PEOPLE magazine that it, “was the worst thing to happen to me and, at the same time, it was the biggest blessing.”

Pratt’s DUI attorney, Jon Bryant Artz, claimed she was pulled over by the police because she has tinted windows on her vehicle. He continued to claim Pratt failed her sobriety tests due to her four-inch heels.

Pratt was not the first of the ‘Laguna Beach’ or ‘The Hills’ cast to run into trouble with the law.

Jason Whaler – Lauren Conrad’s infamous boyfriend on both reality shows – was arrested on a few assault charges and possession of alcohol as a minor.

Jessica Smith – former girlfriend of Jason Whaler and ‘Laguna Beach’ cast member – was arrested in 2007 for driving under the influence, according to an article in PEOPLE magazine.

Smith was driving with one passenger in her vehicle on a freeway near Laguna when she allegedly rear-ended the vehicle in front of her.

Both her passenger and the driver in the other vehicle suffered from minor injuries. Smith did not suffer any injuries.

The California highway patrol said in a statement that incident was caused due to, “the level of intoxication, unsafe speed, and wet roadway conditions.”

Reality celebrities are not immune to DUIs. This latest celebrity DUI arrest serves as another reminder that drinking under the influence imposes consequences for all.



California DUI Deaths Continue to Decrease

By admin

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, California DUI deaths have dropped 9.1% for the third year in a row. In 2007 nearly 1,132 people died in DUI accidents, while in 2008, the number decreased to 1,029.

“With this third year of declines in DUI deaths, we can truly call it a trend, a trend of life saving importance,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).

“Law enforcement, state and local agencies, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other safety advocates, and the people of California have come together to address this deadly problem and are now seeing the results. As positive as these figures are, though, we can never let up until we achieve our goal of zero deaths.”

The count for 2008 marks a total decrease of nearly 21% from the most recent high statistic in 2005.

California has used many different tactics to address the DUI problem, including increasing youth public awareness programs, as well as hospital and jail based intervention programs.

The state has also expanded prosecution and probation. Police have increased DUI checkpoints, the Avoid DUI Taskforces program and Report Drunk Drivers – Call 911 campaign.




Blogger Misunderstands Kiefer Sutherland’s DUI Charges and DUI Law

By Guest Attorney

Lea Anna Cooper suggests, on the American Chronicle Web site, that Kiefer Sutherland may face double jeopardy when tried for his recent DUI charges. Her claim of double jeopardy is simply a misunderstanding of DUI law.

Sutherland, star of the controversial hit show “24,” was arrested in September and charged with driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) above 0.08 percent and driving under the influence.

Cooper asserts that the two charges against Sutherland would amount to “double jeopardy.” Strangely, Cooper also reprints portions of a California criminal case that explains how she misunderstands DUI law, People v. Cosko, 152 Cal. App. 3d 54, 199 Cal. Rptr. 289 (1984).

As Cosko explains, Sutherland has been charged with two crimes; one is a “lesser included offense” of the other. In other words, the charge of driving with a BAC above 0.08 percent includes the elements of the misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence plus the element of having a blood alcohol level above 0.08 percent.

Cosko points out that a prosecutor has the right to charge a defendant with a crime and lesser included offenses to assure that she gets a conviction. A court cannot, however, actually convict a defendant of both the charged offense and the lesser included offenses.

Sutherland does actually face revocation of his probation stemming from his plea to driving under the influence in 2004. He was sentenced to 60 months probation and could now face up to 18 months in jail for violating his probation. However, it is very unlikely he will see any more than the 96 hours in jail required under California DUI law.