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Extreme BAC results questioned in official's drunk-driving arrest

When police responded to a call about a woman with a flat tire in Los Angeles recently, they claim to have noticed signs that the 33-year-old driver was intoxicated, and she was arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence. The police say she had a blood-alcohol content of .19 -- more than twice the legal limit. Her 11-year-old daughter was also in the car, which added a count of child endangerment to the criminal charges the driver faces.

It turns out that the driver was the president of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works, and there is a second, high-profile case the police and prosecutors likely knew about. The woman's father is a Los Angeles city councilman, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office is also in the midst of prosecuting him and his wife for perjury and voter fraud.

The official herself is also under investigation for a separate incident of alleged child endangerment involving her daughter, in which the girl was found walking around unattended near midnight in November. The woman has not been arrested or charged for that incident.

Nevertheless, the deputy prosecutor for the DUI case said the allegations "didn't help her case out here."

The woman's attorney questions the accuracy of the surprisingly high blood-alcohol content, and had hoped to work with the prosecutors to reduce or dismiss the DUI charges against her.

The prosecution has offered a plea deal, but they are not budging far. She would have to plead guilty to both DUI and child endangerment for the alleged drunk driving incident, but she would not serve any jail time. However, she would be on probation for four years, pay more than $2,000 in fines, and would have to enroll in a DUI class as well as a year-long program for child abusers.

Since the DUI arrest, she has taken a leave of absence from her job. She has not yet accepted the plea agreement, and the next hearing in her case is scheduled for January.

Here in Colorado as in other states, it can be difficult to know what factors truly play into prosecutors' decisions on precisely what to charge and how willing they will be to work with defendants. If you're ever arrested for drunk driving, it's important to have a quality DUI defense attorney who can consider the issues afresh, challenge any potentially unreliable blood-alcohol evidence and protect your rights.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "L.A. official is offered deal on drunk driving," Phil Willon, Dec. 11, 2012

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