Lindsay Lohan Gets “Celebrity Justice”

Lindsay Lohan in CourtHollywood bad-girl, Lindsay Lohan, was released from jail Monday, August 2 after serving only 13 days of her original 90-day sentence for violating the terms of her probation, stemming from two DUI arrests back in 2007.  When news broke about Lohan’s shortened sentence, internet chatter erupted into a (predictable) chorus of “special treatment” for celebrities.

While the public outcry insistantly portrays this as a case of a celebrity getting off easy, Lohan’s scenario is quite the opposite.  The only “celebrity justice” she received was a stiffer sentence!  According to NBC’s chief legal analyst, if she were anyone else, she’d be serving even less time.  “The question is does the punishment fit the crime?  Ninety days for this type of crime is a big deal…Lindsay Lohan is getting a very, very tough sentence.”

Good behavior (which is achieved simply by maintaining the rules of the jail) automatically reduced Lohan’s sentence down to 51 days.  Acording to the L.A. Times, most inmates serve–at most–25 percent of their actual sentence, which is consistent with the 13 days served by Lohan.  In addition we must keep in mind that Lohan’s DUI violations were in 2007.  That means she spent almost three years on probation with (virtually) no legal troubles!

It’s also important to note that upon release from jail, Lohan will have to serve 90 days of in-patient rehab.  For public safety reasons, it’s more productive to treat Lohan’s alcohol addiction with rehab, rather than keeping her locked up behind bars, just to have her re-offend shortly upon release.

While we may not have a bevy of celebrities like they do in Hollywood, Minnesotans who are charged with drunk driving often have reduced sentences similar or less than Lohan’s.  Often DWI offenders in this state can be diverted from prison, initially and permanently, so long as they do not violation the conditions of their probation.  Generally it makes more sense for DWI offenders to be on probation where the court can impose requirements that the offender seeks treatment and does not commit any similar violations and holding the threat of prison time as a motivational tactic.

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Minnesota Will Require Ignition Interlock Device for DWI Offenders

Ignition Interlock DeviceEffective July 1, 2011, new legislation passed by Governor Tim Pawlenty will require all Minnesota DWI offenders whose alcohol-concentration levels test .16 and above to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicle.

The ignition interlock is a car device which analyzes the breath alcohol content of the driver before allowing the car to start. The machine is similar to the size of cellular phone and is wired into the vehicle’s starting system by a cord hidden under the dashboard. To ensure alcohol is not consumed while operating the vehicle, the device requires random retests while the car is driven. If throughout the course of the route, the driver blows over .02, the device will stop the vehicle.

Pawlenty’s new legislation extends to DWI offenders with certain aggravating factors: first-time offenders with alcohol-concentration of .16 or higher and offenders with three or more DWI’s within 10 years. Drivers who install the ignition interlock device will regain full driving privileges immediately following their offense.

Although a slightly higher cost, the ignition interlock provides DWI offenders the opportunity to return to their daily routines with driving privileges as well as ensure safer roads for the rest of the public. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the device costs about $100 for vehicle installation in addition to the $60 to $125 monthly service charge. However, the benefit of returning quickly to a daily routine of work, soccer practice, and kids’ religious school far outweighs the financial cost of installing the device.

In July 2009 Minnesota implemented the statewide Ignition Interlock Device Pilot Project, allowing drivers with suspended, revoked, cancelled, or withdrawn driver’s licenses (as a result of multiple DWI convictions) to get their driving privileges reinstated earlier on the condition that they install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. The Ignition Interlock Device Pilot Project began after New Mexico’s reported success from standardizing the device’s installation for DWI offenders.

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