With 12,998 Americans killed in alcohol-related traffic wrecks in 2007—including 150 in Oregon and 195 in Washington state—drunken drivers should get no breaks.
And since that goes double if the accused is in law enforcement, we're naming Chris Sundstrom this week's Rogue.As first reported in Portland by KATU, Sundstrom—a part-time prosecutor for Battle Ground, Wash.—got a hot case Sept. 24. One month previously, a Washington state trooper had arrested Joseph Loughlin, a Vancouver city prosecutor, for drunken driving.
According to police reports, Loughlin was northbound on I-5 in Vancouver in his 2005 Jeep shortly before 3 am on Aug. 23 when he crashed into two cars stopped in connection with another accident. Trooper Ben Taylor's report noted Loughlin's "slurred speech," "thousand-yard stare" and "very strong odor" of booze. The report says Loughlin "staggered" out of his car and blew .218 on a breath test—more than twice the legal blood-alcohol limit.
(Although Loughlin was stopped in Vancouver, the case went to Battle Ground because he works in Vancouver courts.)
Drunk drivers usually lose their licenses for at least 90 days. But in the deal Sundstrom cut, Loughlin—who had a 1999 drunken driving arrest in North Carolina—will plead guilty after two years to the lesser charge of negligent driving if he stays arrest-free. He'd pay only a $500 fine.
Alex Hamalian, a Portland defense lawyer who also works in Washington, calls the plea deal "fucking unheard of" unless there were "serious evidentiary issues."
We couldn't determine if that was the case, since Sundstrom did not respond to repeated phone calls for comment.