Pity the poor judges who have to spend multiple hours in court each week hearing cases involving DUIs in Los Angeles. The stories they hear about deaths and destruction caused by people driving under the influence are often devastating.
One judge in Laramie County, Wyoming, has had enough. A recent article in the online Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported that Judge Steven Sharpe is taking a hard line when it comes to plea deals for drivers accused of DUI. When faced with a repeat offender, he now won’t accept a deal unless it includes some jail time for the driver.
In a case highlighted by the Tribune Eagle, Jeremy Shutt, now 28, had appeared before the judge last year on his fourth DUI charge in four years. Under Wyoming law, that would make Shutt’s latest arrest a felony, which meant incarceration time.
Shutt’s attorney had negotiated a plea deal with the county: five years of probation, with three to five years in prison if Shutt failed to live up to his end of the bargain (i.e. stay sober and stay out of trouble). But the judge, noting that Shutt had spent only a single day in jail on this latest charge, said that wasn’t enough. He’d keep Shutt out of state prison, but only if Shutt agreed to spend 120 days in jail.
Since Shutt he could have been looking at up to seven years in jail and $10,000 in fines as a fourth-time offender, he didn’t have a lot of choice, and he went along with the judge’s decision. He appeared in court again after completing his four months in jail and promised Judge Sharpe that he wouldn’t drink again because of his responsibilities to his family.
If Shutt lived in California, California Vehicle Code 23152 (a) dictates that he would be looking at up to 16 months in state prison, payment of up to $18,000 in fines and penalties, impoundment and possible forfeiture of his vehicle and loss of his driver’s license for four years. He’d also have to complete a 30-month alcohol treatment program if he wanted his license back.
If you need to develop a sound, systematic defense to a Los Angeles DUI charge, call experienced Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, Michael Kraut, of the Kraut Law Group.