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19th DUI Conviction Sends California Man to Prison for 18 Months

By Jim Greene

on February 04, 2011

A California man will spend 18 months in prison for violating the terms of probation for his 19th DUI conviction by having alcohol in his house. A judge rejected the man’s defense that he was waiting for a friend to remove the alcohol for him.

William Beal, 65, was convicted Dec. 16. The terms of his five-year probation included not drinking or possessing alcohol. Two days later, a Sonoma County probation officer and Santa Rosa city police found wine, Irish liqueur, and tequila in Beal’s house.

Lawyer Says Defendant Feared Disposing of Alcohol

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Julie Conger rejected attorney Steve Weiss’ defense that the alcohol found in Beal’s house did not constitute a violation of his probation because it was there at the time of his conviction. Weiss said that Beal feared being caught trying to remove it or throw it in the trash, and so asked a friend to do it for him.

Beal gave probation officers the friend’s name and telephone number, in order to verify the story, according to Weiss. He said officers took no action to contact the friend.

At the time of the original conviction, Conger sentenced Beal to the probation, along with six months in county jail, in lieu of three years in state prison. His jail term was to begin Jan. 21.

Deal Cuts Original Sentence in Half

Sonoma County Chief Deputy District Attorney Spencer Brady, who originally objected to Conger’s decision not to send Beal to prison, said he was pleased with the new ruling. He confirmed that Beal would receive four days’ credit for each two days served, cutting his time behind bars to half the original term imposed.

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, contact an experienced DUI attorney. The state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and mistakes are often made in the process of documenting alleged drunk driving. If you are convicted, the court has sentencing options, as shown in the Beal case. Your attorney will fight to see that your punishment is just.

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