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Why SDPD/City Attorney won’t release Kraska DUI records

June 26, 2009 - 4:15 pm

Normally CityBeat stays away from certain high-profile stories—like when a local TV sports reporter is arrested for drunk driving. But, on Wednesday the U-T reported that City Attorney Jan Goldsmith opted not to charge Channel 8 sports guy Kyle Kraska with drunken driving, saying there’s not enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Neither the City Attorney nor the San Diego Police Department will say whether Kraska’s blood-alcohol content was above the legal limit. If it wasn’t, say that it wasn’t. But not releasing the info leads folks to wonder if this is a case of special treatment.

California Newspaper Publishers Association legal counsel Jim Ewert has opined that blood-alcohol content is a matter of public record. SDPD spokesperson Monica Munoz told me that because the BAC results are part of an investigatory file, they’re exempt under California’s Public Records law.

But, according to CalAware’s Guide to Journalism Law in California, a public agency must disclose the “who/what/when/where facts in crime, incident and arrest reports.” This includes “all charges the individual is being held upon.” Kraska was arrested and booked into jail back in March. So, did his BAC factor into being booked? I don’t know much about DUI arrests—whether they jail you until test results come back or they jail you after test results. (Anyone here know the answer?)

Sitting on my desk is a file from a story I never wrote about a guy who went to prison in 2006 in a case that had more reasonable doubt than Bush’s justification for the Iraq War. In other words, it was a flimsy case. But a combination of poor legal representation and overly aggressive sentencing by the DA resulted in a guilty plea. I regret not writing that story. My point is that someone needs to release the records to quiet people like me who’ve seen how unfair our legal system can be to folks who aren’t white and aren’t rich.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sunny C permalink
    June 30, 2009 - 8:17 pm 8:17 pm

    DUI arrests; the police arrest you for suspicion of DUI, which is usually from failure to pass a field breathalyzer test. They can also arrest if any of the field sobriety tests are refused or failed.

    Once the suspect is at the station the arresting agency will usually request a breath test on a more sophisticated machine that is much more reliable and accurate than the handheld devices used in the field. A blood test (draw) may also be offered and is sometimes demanded by the police is drugs are considered a cause of the DUI/DWI.

    If the suspect “blows” a .08 or above at the station he is booked for DUI/DWI. If the suspect refuses the breath test at the station, then a blood test will be taken. If the suspect refused both, they will still be booked and spend a good 8 hours or more in jail.

    The breathalyzer test is the final piece of evidence that will be entered as evidence to the prosecutor. Blood tests can take a week or longer to process and those results will be forwarded to the prosecutor from the crime lab. A blood test trumps a breathalyzer test, so if a breathalyzer resulted in a .10 reading but the blood test returned a .07 reading, chances are the charges would be dropped /

    More jail time is served after a plea bargain or conviction for DUI depending on the circumstances, BAC level, any enhancement and any prior DUI’s. Days in jail can be from nothing (time served on initial arrest) to as much as 365 days for the first offense.

  2. Sunny C permalink
    June 30, 2009 - 8:27 pm 8:27 pm

    Regarding Kraska, it is key that the public know his BAC to uncover any special treatment. The BAC is the “key” evidence that results in an arrest and/or conviction. It is considered per se illegal to have a BAC of .08 or higher. If Kraska had a breath and/or blood BAC of .08 or higher, then he had some special treatment because those charges are very rarely dropped. .08 is the defacto guilty rule in prosecuting DUI’s

    Some wisdom if you ever get arrested for DUI. Don’t take any field tests, no matter what the police tell you. It’s a hassle to go to the station, but if they are not sure, they may not arrest you unless you reek of alcohol. You may not be drunk and they are going to have to take an hour of more of their time to find out. Plus, if you are drunk and takes any tests, you’re going to jail anyway. Why give them field evidence?

    When you get to the station take the breathalyzer test first. If you fail that also request a blood draw. (You’re screwed on the breath test now, you might as well take a chance on a lower blood BAC test result).

  3. Gary permalink
    July 20, 2009 - 2:17 pm 2:17 pm

    what if you blew a .08 on the field, would you still go to the station and blow or request a blood? I couldn’t believe that I came in at .08 on the field blow. It did take 5 blows though. Thx for your response. Gary

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