Celebrities Make Drunk Driving Headlines
We look up to celebrities as role models but often they let us down by driving drunk.
A case in point is decorated Olympian Michael Phelps who was arrested last year and charged with a DUI after cops in Baltimore clocked him for speeding. It was the second time he was arrested for DUI. He avoided jail time but a judge gave him a warning.
“You don’t need a lecture from the court,” Baltimore District Judge Nathan Braverman told the swimmer, the Associated Press reported. “If you haven’t gotten the message by now, or forget the message, the only option is jail.”
Police documents showed Phelps was stopped on Sept. 30 last year for speeding and crossing the double yellow line while driving in the Fort McHenry Tunnel. Police say Phelps registered a .14 percent on a blood-alcohol test. The legal limit is .08 percent in Maryland.
When he pleaded guilty to his first drunken driving charge back in 2004, Phelps was sentenced to probation and required to talk to high school students about alcohol awareness. As a young first-time offender he avoided conviction.
Many other well-known people have been convicted of drunk driving in recent years. Alcohol at the wheel has killed some celebrities. Billy Unger, star of Disney’s television show, “Lab Rats,” was recently arrested and charged with being intoxicated while driving in California.
Both actress Lindsey Lohan and her mother Dina have been in trouble. Dina was sentenced to 100 hours of community service in Nassau District Court in New York stemming from a September 2013 DWI arrest.
State police arrested Lohan after stopping her for allegedly driving 77 mph in a 55 mph zone on a Long Island parkway. Police said her blood-alcohol level was 0.20, more than double the legal limit of 0.08.
Lohan’s arrest came just months after her 27-year-old daughter completed her sixth stint in rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey Lindsay Lohan admitted an addiction to alcohol which she described as a gateway to other drugs.
Speed was also a factor when the actor and comedian Kevin Hart was arrested on suspicion of DUI after narrowly avoiding a collision with a gas tanker on the 101 freeway in Los Angeles.
California Highway Patrol said the 32-year-old was spotted driving erratically and going 90 miles per hour on the freeway. He showed “objective signs of intoxication” and was unable to pass a sobriety test.
In some cases alcohol has been linked to celebrity deaths. Princess Diana died in a Paris underpass in 1997 in a high speed crash. Her chauffeur, who had been speeding, was found to have a high level of alcohol in his blood – more than three times the legal threshold for drunk driving under French law. The princess was just 36.
Jackson Pollock, one of the most influential of the Abstract Expressionist painters, was killed a single car accident in Springs, New York in the summer of 1956. Pollock, who was 44 at the time, had been drinking.
Alcohol also claimed the life of Barak Obama, Sr., the father of the President of the United States, who drove his car into a tree and died in 1982, after a long session of drinking. He was 46. According to reports he had lost both his legs in a previous drunk driving accident.
Margaret Mitchell, the journalist and author of Gone with the Wind, lost her life to a drunk driver when she was not even in a car. She was walking with her husband to a movie theater when she was struck by a speeding car in the summer of 1949. The driver was charged with drunken driving at the time, but the public outrage faded quickly. It would another 30 years before tough laws were brought in to combat drunk driving, which at that time was killing some 25,000. The number of deaths caused by drunk driving has fallen significantly over the past three decades but remains unacceptably high in Virginia.
If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one to drunk driving, please contact Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077 or see CooperHurley.com.