Last month, I received the dreaded letter from the government. No, the one that started with "Greetings" came about 35 years ago. This one was for jury duty. Now, I understand the need for calling folks to serve on juries and if I were on trial, I'd want some competent folks serving in the box as well. So I went and was selected to sit on the jury for a trial involving OWI (Operating a motor vehicle While Intoxicated). It was pretty clear case since the video cameras in the patrol car and the station were running and the video was the evidence. The defendant was found guilty and I was on my way after a day and a half. The defendant was not as fortunate, as he ended up with a fine, suspended sentence and loss of his license. That was really bad because he was an over the road truck driver.
Then later in the month, I saw an advertisement in the local newspaper warning drivers not to drink and drive or the penalties could be a $5,000 fine and a year in jail. Wow, I thought, they are really cracking down on the drunk driving in this part of the world. Until …
I noticed the results on driving while intoxicated cases of the rich and famous. Let's look at a few of them:
By now, everyone has heard the news about Paris Hilton. She pled no contest on alcohol related reckless driving and was sentenced to three years of probation which she broke within a short period of time. Then she was sentenced to 45 days in jail. Served three days and released with an electronic monitor and confined to her plush LA home.
Her TV co-star and buddy, Nicole Richie has had a similar fate. She pled guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of drugs. It was her second such conviction in as many years. She was sentenced to … drum roll please … four days in jail and three years probation. Thank goodness the sentence of four days was reduced to 82 minutes. After all, she is pregnant.
Lindsay Lohan couldn't be satisfied with alcohol she had to be caught and convicted with two counts of driving under the influence of cocaine. She had already pleaded no contest to two counts of driving under the influence of alcohol. Put a reckless driving charge with all of that and guess what? Her sentence was three years probation and 10 days of community service.
Extreme Home Makeover star and "hunk of a carpenter" (ABC's description, not mine) Ty Pennington recently plead no contest to driving with higher than allowed blood alcohol level. His sentence? Three years of probation, a 90 day alcohol abuse program and meet with members of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Haley Joel Osment started young. At age 18, the star of Sixth Sense, AI and Secondhand Lions, was charged with three alcohol related charges and one possession of marijuana. He was sentenced to three years probation, 60 hours in rehab and education program, a fine of $1,500 and attendance at weekly meetings of AA for 6 months.
Are you beginning to get the picture that the best way to get a light sentence for driving under the influence is to be famous? Mel Gibson was in the same position a couple of years ago and so was the rapper/actress Eve.
Not sure if the reason for the light sentences was the lawyers that were hired, I'm sure the best money can buy. Or maybe it was just the courts are not as strict in California. Or maybe the fear of fans camping out in front of the jail was a concern. But either way, drinking and driving is a bad idea.
It all goes to prove what I have taught my sons. Rule #2 – Life isn't fair.