Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Finally, Former Utah State Senator Sheldon Killpack Pleads Guilty To DUI One Year After The Offense

After pointlessly contesting a DUI charge for over a year due to questions over whether police had sufficiently probable cause to pull him over, former Utah State Senator Sheldon Killpack finally did the right thing and pleaded guilty to class B misdemeanor DUI on January 19th, 2010. In exchange, prosecutors tacitly accepted Killpack's challenge of probable cause for the stop by dismissing the additional charge of failure to stay in one lane, a class C misdemeanor. It was a first-time DUI offense for Killpack. The Salt Lake Tribune notes that Killpack's attorney, Ed Brass, gave credit to the new district attorney, Sim Gill, for being more flexible.

The penalties:

-- 180 days in jail, all suspended
-- One year of probation
-- Two days of community service
-- Pay $1,350 in fines
-- Take at least 16 hours of DUI treatment classes
-- Participate in a victim impact panel within 100 days

Killpack's mandatory 18-month license suspension for refusing to take a breathalyzer became effective after he was initially apprehended, so it will expire in August. KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com


Killpack was first pulled over in Salt Lake City by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper around 12:17 A.M. on January 15th, 2010 when the trooper observed Killpack driving erratically. Upon encountering Killpack, the trooper noticed a strong odor of alcohol. Dissatisfied with the results of a field sobriety test, the trooper then asked Killpack to take a breath test on an intoxilizer; Killpack refused and was then arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail. On January 16th, Killpack, who was the Senate Majority Leader, resigned from the State Senate. But Killpack contested the charge because he did not believe the trooper had probable cause to stop him in the first place. In September, Killpack did compromise somewhat, abandoning his quest to overturn the state’s suspension of his driver license.

But regardless of whether or not the trooper had probable cause, a subsequent BAT showed that Killpack was at .11, over the legal .08 limit. So he was still legally DUI, and many were disappointed that Killpack insisted on contesting the charge. This falls back on the exclusionary rule, in which evidence collected or analyzed in violation of the defendant's constitutional rights is sometimes inadmissible for a criminal prosecution in a court of law.

The key word is "sometimes". Supposing the cops enter a home with a search warrant specifying "guns". During the search, they find illegal drugs. Should they ignore the drugs simply because they're not specified on the warrant? Absolutely not -- the drugs are still there -- and still illegal. In contrast, the presence of a computer in the home would not provide probable cause for the cops to seize the computer and search it for child porn without a warrant specification, because possession of a computer is legal, and the mere presence of a computer alone cannot be used to imply possession of child porn.

This plea deal should have been made months ago. Sheldon Killpack deserved swifter justice.

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