George Maloof, owner of the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas and part owner of the Sacramento Kings, was arrested on Saturday, October 9 in Las Vegas for drunk driving.
Maloof was pulled over while driving home with his assistant from a friend’s wedding at The Mirage. His BAC level was .086—just over the Nevada legal limit of .08. He admitted to consuming four beers during the event and felt “nowhere near intoxicated” when he got into the car.
This was irrelevant to the arresting officer who pulled him over for driving 20 – 30 miles over the speed limit, having no proof of insurance or valid driver’s license, and making an illegal left turn. Maloof spent the night in jail and opted not to post bail. He has taken full responsibility for his actions and claims that it will never happen again. Because he was so close to the legal limit, Maloof says he may fight the DWI charge in court.
In Nevada a first-time DWI can result in any combination of the following: a 90-day driver’s license revocation, two days jail time, a fine of $400 – 1,000, and mandatory DWI classes. Had Maloof been arrested in Minnestoa, he would have likely been charged with a fourth degree DWI, the penalty for which is a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 90 days in jail.
The type of BAC test administered to Maloof has not been reported. Maloof’s defense attorneys could explore a few possible legal avenues in fighting the DWI charge—all of which are dependent on the nature of the BAC test:
Maloof could fight this on the G.E.R.D. issue. Las Vegas police use the Intoxilyzer 5000 to test BAC levels through breath, the same device used by Minnesota law enforcement. The device has been under scrutiny for some time now, causing many open DWI cases to be put on hold until further legislation rules on the Intoxilyzer 5000’s validity. Defense attorneys claim that contaminates other than alcohol in one’s throat, mouth, and lungs can cause inaccurate results. If Maloof suffers from Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (G.E.R.D.), he could have given an inexact BAC reading—giving him legitimate grounds for defense.
If Maloof had an independent urine test conducted after the state test and his BAC was on the way down (not up), then his results could come back lower than .08. This is because it often takes a while for an independent tester to get to the station. As long as it had been a while since Maloof’s last drink, his independent test results would probably be lower than 0.086.
If Maloof had an independent blood test conducted after the state test and his BAC was on the way down (because it had been a while since his last drink), then his results could come back lower than 0.086.
Even if Maloof’s attorneys are able to cast doubt on the BAC test, he could still be found guilty of a DWI based on his additional charges of speeding and making an illegal left turn. In Minnesota drivers may be convicted of a DWI if they are driving erratically with a BAC of as low as .04—even though the legal limit is .08. However, prosecutors find such a case harder to prove because the determination “erratic” driving is based solely on the arresting officer’s word. Juries tend to convict more when the BAC test is ruled valid by the courts, because the scientific nature of the test is much more objective.