Biggest DUI Cases in California since 2005Ted Burgess
I’ve found that most of the biggest cases of DUI in California almost always center around celebrities behaving badly. Since 2005, celebrity DUIs have been a public fascination, and why shouldn’t they be? Here are some of the biggest in recent memory.
Let’s start with the kid from The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment. He may have seen dead people in real life after flipping his car on its roof in 2006. He broke his rib and dislocated his shoulder and was found to be under the influence as well as in possession of some marijuana. Of course, the media ran with this one because of his childhood stardom, even though there are dozens of cases like this every month in California.
Paris Hilton is another one of those celebrities who kept finding herself in trouble for a few years. Her 2006 DUI, while not the most spectacular, did garner attention because of her 45-day jail sentence. Most celebrities don’t end up spending even a day in jail for DUI. In her case, it took getting caught driving twice on a suspended license that finally got her jail time.
For something more spectacular, we don’t have to look any further than Mel Gibson. Gibson was pulled over in 2006 doing 87 in a 35 mph zone and then launched into one of the most famous anti-Semitic rants in recent history. This came on the tails of his release of the controversial Jesus biopic The Passion of the Christ. The rant was focused on the officer who pulled him over, who he assumed to be Jewish. While there is an audio transcription of the encounter, the tape has never been released to the public. However, if you want to hear some alleged Mel Gibson rants, browse YouTube for a minute or two and you’ll find several examples.
Perhaps the biggest DUI case in California, at least as far as the media is concerned, was involving Lindsay Lohan. It’s not the actual 2007 DUI that was so special but the media circus that surrounded it. Her image quickly went from that of a wholesome teenage starlet who was the darling of Hollywood to an out-of-control young woman with multiple DUIs, drug problems, and a complete lack of discipline. She had multiple run-ins with the law and then even more problems following the instructions given to her by the court.
While celebrities get all of the media attention, perhaps the biggest DUI case in recent history was actually a case of laboratory error in Orange County. The lab in Orange County provided inaccurate blood alcohol tests in more than 2,000 cases filed by prosecutors in 2013, according to letters sent out by prosecutors in November of that year. In more than 900 of these cases, the accused was convicted, at least partially based on these inaccurate results. The lab is downplaying the errors and has stated that only about 20 cases will see the 0.08 percent over-the-limit reading fall below the legal limit once the results are recalculated. Still, in those other cases, defendants were arguing at a disadvantage and likely received greater punishments than they deserved. This is what makes this case the biggest and most important in California in the past 10 years.
By Ted Burgess